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Information Practices of Disaster Preparedness Professionals in Multidisciplinary Groups

Barbara Folb, Ellen Detlefsen, Sandra Quinn, Gerald Barron and Jeanette Trauth

(Submission #226)


OBJECTIVE: This article summarizes the results of a descriptive qualitative study addressing the question, what are the information practices of the various professionals involved in disaster preparedness? We present key results, but focus on issues of choice and adaptation of models and theories for the study. METHODS: Primary and secondary literature on theory and models of information behavior were consulted. Taylor’s Information Use Environments (IUE) model, Institutional Theory, and Dervin’s Sense-Making metatheory were used in the design of an open-ended interview schedule. Twelve individual face-to-face interviews were conducted with disaster professionals drawn from the Pennsylvania Preparedness Leadership Institute (PPLI) scholars. Taylor’s Information Use Environments (IUE) model served as a preliminary coding framework for the transcribed interviews. RESULTS: Disaster professionals varied in their use of libraries, peer-reviewed literature, and information management techniques, but many practices were similar across professions, including heavy Internet and email use, satisficing, and preference for sources that are socially and physically accessible. CONCLUSIONS: The IUE model provided an excellent foundation for the coding scheme, but required modification to place the workplace in the larger social context of the current information society. It is not possible to confidently attribute all work-related information practices to professional culture. Differences in information practice observed may arise from professional training and organizational environment, while many similarities observed seem to arise from everyday information practices common to non-work settings.


Program Track:  Track 1 - Information Behaviour
Submission Type:  Research Paper

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