AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Crossing Borders: The Internet Public Library as a Global Information Service

Lily Rozaklis, Craig M. MacDonald and Eileen G. Abels

(Submission #25)


Since its inception in 1995, the Internet Public Library (IPL) has remained an online information enterprise currently consisting of a question answering service and a collection of approximately 40,000 critically-selected, authoritative digital resources in the form of links. As reference and information services have traveled into digital spaces and away from physical reference desks and print collections, the IPL is just one of many digital libraries available on the Web that may meet the information needs of information seekers. Traditional bricks-and-mortar libraries draw their user community from their surrounding physical environs; but, as the IPL has no physical counterpart, its community of users spans all parts of the world.

Previous studies of IPL usersí information needs have focused solely on painting a picture of users of the email-based question answering service and the questions they ask (e.g., Ryan, 1996; Carter & Janes, 2000), as well as usersí satisfaction with the question answering service (Chang & Holland, 2005). There has not been a holistic examination of the IPLís two services, question answering and digital collections, nor a focus solely on the use of those two services by a community of users located outside the borders of the United States. This study addresses research questions related to these issues:

RQ1: What are the characteristics of global information users of the IPLís question answering service and digital collections?

RQ2: What are the information needs and behaviors of the IPLís global information users?

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