GeoScience Information: User Needs and Library Information

Geoscience libraries and their users were the subjects of a two part questionnaire dealing with user background and attitudes in conjunction with library organization systems. The 23 libraries responding to the first questionnaire varied in size, setting, and organizational systems. A variety of classification systems are utilized in the libraries, but the majority (82.6%) of responding librarians felt the systems they use meet their users’ needs.

In contrast to this, the majority of libraries make use of Library of Congress subject headings, but there is a clear trend in librarians’ views that this system is not adequate for their users’ needs. 336 library users responded to the second questionnaire. A picture of the “average” geoscience information user emerged as a highly educated male geologist in his early thirties to forties.

Users generally took a positive attitude toward the library and their skills as a user. The information access points they consider the most important are: author name, subject heading, asking the librarian, and title. No difference was found in the type or importance of information access points used in libraries using only Library of Congress subject heading.

Further study into users’ information seeking habits in differing library environments is recommended, as well as an increase in libraries’ use of bibliographic instruction.