published quarterly by the university of borås, sweden

vol. 24 no. 4, December, 2019

Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 16-19, 2019

The societal impact of information behaviour research on developing models of academic information ecologies

Jela Steinerová

Introduction. The paper outlines selected issues of the societal impact of information behaviour studies. We ask the question: What is the impact of human information behaviour studies on modelling the information environment and academic information ecologies? The concept of academic information ecologies is introduced as a background of innovative information services.
Methods. Selected related studies of information behaviour research are briefly reviewed. Based on previous works we propose two models as results of conceptual modelling of the information environment. The first model is a model of academic information ecologies. The second model is a new model of the interactive academic library.
Analysis. The two models are exemplified by two studies of information behaviour of researchers in Slovakia. A qualitative study was based on semi-structured interviews with 19 researchers and concept modelling. We present examples of concept maps as representations of the discourse of researchers. A quantitative study was based on an online survey of 257 researchers focused on research data literacy.
Results. We determined the values of research, information and data as the main factors of the societal impact of information research modelled by academic information ecologies. Social values of information, shared understanding and collaboration are emphasized.
Conclusions. We recommend to pay more attention to societal impact of information behaviour studies and explore values of information, data and value-added services of academic libraries in digital information environment.


The aim of this paper is to outline the societal impact of information behaviour studies on models of academic information environment and library services. Information environment is determined as an intersection of people, information resources, information infrastructures and technologies. In the academic environment we introduce a concept of academic information ecologies which emerged from information behaviour studies of researchers, students and information managers. It is in line with looking for new frameworks for innovative information services. In spite of the fact that many studies of human information behaviour have been presented in the last fifty years, little attention has been paid to the impact of these studies. This has been expressed by Case & Given (2016) in articulating the trends of human information behaviour research:

An increased focus on the societal impact of research (i.e. extending beyond traditional measures of academic impact) will continue to shape the research questions, populations, and contexts that researchers (and grant agencies) will explore. (Case & Given, 2016, p. 364).

That is why we ask the question: What is the societal impact of human information behaviour studies on developing models of academic information ecologies? The aim is to discuss how theoretical frameworks and research can contribute to adding value to library services. The societal impact of information studies is embedded in contexts of information, mainly education, research, workplaces, or everyday information.

In this paper we focus on the academic information environment. We review selected related studies, introduce a model of academic information ecologies, and a model of the interactive academic library. As examples we present selected results of two studies of information behaviour of researchers in Slovakia.

Human information behaviour (HIB) studies developed in practice of people focused on information use in various contexts. These contexts help explain human experience and human knowing in communities and help evaluate information as a source, as a product, as knowledge / relevance and as target in changing information society. In this paper we focus on the societal impact of human information behaviour studies in non-economic and non-academic sense. This refers to information science as a social science as explained by Cronin (2008, 2012), Cibangu (2015), Buckland (2017) and others. Given et al. (2015) emphasized that the societal impact landscape is a new and emerging area. The authors pointed to the fact that there are no universal definitions and methodologies for documenting the social, non-academic impact of research generally. However, in the development of information science we can find development of new tools and services and new professions focused on information support of different communities, including scholars. These tools shape the societal impact of information in terms of information use and development of understanding. People turn information to knowledge and use information as value for decision making and problem solving. As Ford (2015) pointed out, we need integrated, cumulative understanding and robust applicable models and theories in order to determine the social impact of human information behaviour research. Moreover, when using the digital information, we must take into account the sensitivity to such complex values as trust, truth, human dignity, respect, intellectual property, moral responsibility, but also privacy, personal safety and security and freedom of expression. As the digital revolution proceeds, technologies make impact on human information behaviour. Therefore, the value-sensitive approaches and information ethics will be important drivers for 'unlocking' the hidden values of information for information literacy and information behaviour (Cheuk, 2017). At organizational level, the social factors of human information behaviour represent the roles, tasks, business functions, collaboration, or company cultures. Usage of information is part of information strategies, decision-making, problem solving, organization and presentation of information.

Since human information behaviour operates in special contexts, social structures, social order and social interactions become basic components of the conceptual background of information use. This has been reflected in several socio-cognitive concepts of information science; such as domain analysis (Hjørland, 2005) and socio-cultural frameworks (Limberg, Sundin, Talja, 2012). Social constructionism explained the social construction of meaning of information. This was reflected in conceptualization of social interactions in the digital information environment, collaborative information behaviour, participation in communities, social networks and social practices. Socio-technological perspectives emphasized that human information interactions in sociotechnical systems are based on adaptations of systems and people. Socio-cultural perspectives determined that information practices are embedded in people´s lives and cultures of communities, e.g. information landscapes (Lloyd, 2006). The holistic concept of human information interactions resulted in the concept of information ecology (e.g. Fidel, 2012) aimed at cultivation of the information environment. In order to understand the social impact of information we need to combine socio-cognitive, socio-cultural and socio-technological contexts of information practices in which shared understanding and shared spaces dominate.

In this context values of information and library services play a crucial part. Several authors call for more attention to values of information with regard to societal impact of information studies (Case and Given 2016; Cronin, 2012). Trends in the human information behaviour research (Vakkari, 2008, Greifeneder, 2014; Wilson, 2018; Greifeneder et al., 2018) confirmed that its societal impact is based on technological development (social media), development of information policies (e.g. digital divide), focus on special communities (children, immigrants, health information) and negative effects of information (e.g. misinformation, disinformation, distrust, information overload).

Main categories of the societal impact of human information behaviour studies were determined by Case (2012) as practical uses of information, outcomes, and applications. Social framework of human information behaviour studies usually applies such factors as demographic data, gender differences, collaboration, economic conditions, information sharing or human evolution (Spink and Cole, 2005, Hargittai and Hinnant, 2005, Talja and Hansen, 2005). Social framework of human information behaviour was introduced especially by Sense-Making methodology (Dervin, 2005) and by works by Chatman (2000) using the concept of small worlds. Further influential models included ELIS (everyday life information seeking) by Savolainen (2008), information grounds by K. Fisher (Fisher, 2005) or activity theory (Wilson, 2013). These and other frameworks used several selected social theories (Case &Given, 2016) and shifted the focus from scientific information towards contexts of everyday information. Digital tools have been changing the modes of human information behaviour in scholarly communication, education or workplaces. However, there are still some concepts which are less developed, e.g. the concept of understanding (Bawden & Robinson, 2016). Lack of methodologies for tracking social (non-academic) impact was found by Given et al. (2015) and better use of social theories were proposed by Julien & O´Brien (2014). Relationships between theories and implications were analysed by Koh et al. (2015) and building professional bridges to social environment by Sabelli (2010). Bornman (2013) pointed to the need to develop measures of the societal impact of information research based on a comprehensive review of existing research. In this context models of multiple social factors represent the societal impact of human information behaviour research and are related to the concept of information environment.

Information environment

The concept of the information environment can be determined as a complex system of information interactions of people and information resources in time and space aimed at support of the information process, namely acquisition, processing and use of information. Information environment is a framework for information use and is part of the social environment. Information use environments (IUE) were determined by Taylor (Byström, Heinström, & Ruthven, 2019). Most influential factors of IUE were communities of practice, information problems, objects and tools, while values and attitudes were less considered. Digital technologies have changed the information environment into interactions of people and information mediated by information tools. These changes are manifested by multiple ways of access, organization of information, information sharing, and problem resolution. Design of value-added information services, systems and products follows social contexts of shared understanding in communities. The societal impact of human information behaviour studies then depends on changing structures of the information environment. People use environmental scanning and intersubjective construction of meaning and maintenance of trust in communities.
Another influential concept for analysis of the societal impact of human information behaviour studies is the concept of information infrastructures (Bowker et al. 2015, Borgman, 2015). They are determined as networks of people, objects, sources, services and institutions, including values, social interactions and knowledge. In scholarly communication information infrastructures provide information, resources, and services for scholars. Characteristics of information infrastructures include invisibility of information practices, dynamics, fluidity. The impact of human information behaviour studies is hidden in information infrastructures and values of information. Values of information can be explained as worth, utility and desirability in context (Norton, 2010), whether we regard information as a resource, or as a product. In digital environment, values shape interactive information practices and digital ethics. That is why it is important to 'unlock' hidden values of information interactions in the information environment.
The structure of the information environment reflects social relationships, cultural and socioeconomic contexts of technologies, and social support networks. As Chatman (2000) stated, the small worlds are composed of social norms, worldviews, social types and information behaviour. The structure of the information environment can be conceptualized at the macro-level (social and economic contexts) and the micro-level (information behaviour of individuals and groups). Social factors are then manifested both in personal information management and organizational contexts. Values of information depend on goals and purposes of information activities, social support, and on autonomy of access to digital information. Broader social factors are integrated in a multidimensional conceptual space of social relations patterns, collaboration, information sharing, and adaptations. Following these multiple dimensions, we focus on the academic information environment which is referred to as information interactions of students, researchers and information managers in universities. In this context we introduce the concept of academic information ecologies as an innovative framework for bridging research and practice of human information behaviour studies.

A model of academic information ecologies

Based on our studies of information behaviour of researchers we designed a model of academic information ecologies as a framework for understanding information environment and scholarly communication. This model emphasizes the holistic perspective of information ecologies and balance between individual and social values of information, including social responsibility of digital information use. Ecological characteristics of information behaviour are inclusion of information as a resource and as value into the research process, digital access, participation in digital information spaces, re-use of data and information and cultures of disciplines. The model (Fig.1) determines academic information ecologies as adaptations between researchers and information environment composed of people, information resources and tools. At the lowest level the model represents the access to information through data, information and knowledge infrastructures with sustainable services of information systems.

The model of academic information ecologies
Figure 1: The model of academic information ecologies (Steinerová 2018)

Next levels include research process and the embedded information process, and on the top level are values and environmental influences. Values are inscribed into social interactions of scholarly communication and into cultures of academic disciplines. Creative scholars and knowledge of methodologies can lead to creative exploration and creative research products.

The societal impact of human information behaviour research then depends on information practices in the research process and academic cultures. The holistic picture of academic information ecologies depicts factors of interactions between social and information environments, academic disciplines and researchers. Values of information in academic information ecologies are connected with development of new models of open science, research assessment, science policy and new economic models of the information process. Ecological characteristics of the model include socio-technological co-evolution, socio-cultural variety of academic communities, context-dependent dynamics, re-use of data, information and information sources. Values of information integrate academic information ecologies both from the perspectives of a creative personality and a community (collaboration, participation). The creative research process can be represented by creative ecologies which are regarded as dynamic places and spaces used for research creativity and collaboration in digital environment.

The model of academic information ecologies determined needs of new services in which information ecosystems adapt to the creative information process. Values of academic cultures of disciplines can be used for design of services and information ecosystems. Academic information ecologies support information interactions as both creative exploration of researchers and value-added information products and services of academic libraries.

A model of the interactive academic library services

Based on the framework of academic information ecologies we developed a model of the interactive academic library. The model was designed with the use of proposals of participants of our studies with regard to new services and trends of academic libraries (Bourg et al., Kirchner et al. 2015, Mackenzie and Martin, 2016)). Our questions were articulated as follows: Which tools, e.g. information systems and databases are used in your disciplines? Which libraries do you use most frequently? Which services of libraries do you appreciate most? Which proposals do you have for the improvement of services?
Our analyses were represented by several concept maps which included the constructive discourse. The experts required mainly value-added and new information analytic services.

'The problem is that the narrow topics can be studied, found, but, especially students need the context of the disciplines (the young people have often problems with this). If a library could help this, to build a broader context, I cannot imagine a better service' (R7).

In social sciences and humanities, researchers appreciated digital access to information resources. Researchers required information support of the research process, namely registration of publications and the strategic planning of scholarly communication. Some of researchers emphasized the 'control of rubbish' (R16) and 'the improvement of people´s abilities (young researchers) to use sources '(R16).

Further proposals mentioned better collaboration, information professionals as part of research teams, and international research assessment. Some researchers required development of social tools for science, namely the scientific policy, policies of grant agencies, or special schemes for young researchers. Many researchers emphasized discussions and dialogue as a condition for the improvement of the research and information process. More active and interactive academic libraries were required as part of the improvement of information infrastructures, including the promotion of science for public and society.

Following the analyses represented by several concept maps (proposals for library services, information systems, information infrastructure) we developed a model of the interactive academic library (Fig. 2).

The model of the interactive academic library
Figure 2: A model of the interactive academic library (Steinerová 2018)

The model is designed as an interactive space based on interactions and dialogue of academic communities. The space is composed of the semantic dimension, the managerial dimension and the behavioural dimension. The semantic dimension represents the value of cognitive construction of meaning in information use. The behavioural dimension represents patterns of information behaviour of academic communities, knowledge of information styles, traditions, and values of information needs of researchers. The managerial dimension points to management of information resources, knowledge organization, registration of publications, bibliometric and citation analyses. The inner intertwined circles represent the required value-added services in the three dimensions. In the model we can discover pathways of transformation of data to knowledge and new ways of information interactions based on shift from access to interactive and collaborative information behaviour and creativity in digital spaces. Further required services represented needs for better organization of the research and information process, needs for interactive digital repositories, research data management and multiple uses of data and information. New digital spaces of the interactive academic library should reflect the characteristics of open science; such as transparency, open access, promotion of science, and support of digital publishing.

This model can help build digital services for academic communities, including support of social networking, project management, publishing strategies and digital ethics. Apart from services based on construction of meaning and sense making, designers should incorporate the construction of trust and the process of verification of truth. These values of information should be represented in the integrative value-added services and policies of academic libraries, e.g. data planning and protection, privacy, intellectual property.

The role of academic libraries is crucial for scholarly collaboration, networking and innovative teams. Researchers are interested in education, information literacy and research creativity. They would appreciate courses on research data planning and expressed concerns regarding data sharing and data protection. Research data management services have been confirmed as a trend of value-added services of academic libraries.

Values of information are part of the required services in the three-dimensional space of the interactive academic library. These values can be manifested in the personal, communitarian, local or international contexts. Information is appreciated as a resource, as understanding, as relevance and as a product. The ethical values as truth, freedom of expression and access, trustworthy organization of knowledge and evaluation of outputs should be reflected in re-design of value-added services and in value-sensitive design of digital libraries. The societal impact of information in academic libraries is represented directly by explicit needs of researchers and indirectly by hidden values of information infrastructures.

A case study of information behaviour of researchers in Slovakia: selected results

In this section we report on a case study of information behaviour of researchers in Slovakia as an example of data, analyses and interpretations which inspired development of our models of academic information ecologies and the interactive academic library. We report on one part of the findings, which represent the collective discourse of researchers with respect to values of research and research assessment. This qualitative study was conducted in 2015-2017 and focused on selected 19 expert researchers in Slovakia (Steinerová, 2018). The design of the study represented the structure of the information environment of researchers, i.e. the research process, the information process, the information infrastructure and factors of influence. We applied the methodology of semi-structured interviews, qualitative data analyses and concept modelling and mapping. Details of the methodology of this study were published elsewhere (Steinerová, 2018).

Researchers connected values of research with values of information. We asked the question: Which values are the most important for research work for you in your discipline? The resulting analysis is depicted on a concept map (Fig. 3). As with other similar studies, researchers appreciated especially the value of contribution to knowledge (Given et al. 2015). The concept map represents our analysis of the discourse regarding the topic (question). Researchers discussed the values from the perspectives of the individual values and the social values. The individual values refer to the characteristics of a creative personality of a researcher marked by his internal motivation, discovery of new perspectives, problem solving, making sense, interest in the subject, understanding, internal accomplishment and freedom of inquiry. For example:

If I enjoy something and it is a challenge for me, I want to achieve something (R6).

At social level the values were interpreted as the contribution to knowledge, help to people, basic understanding of life, discovery of culture, service to society, learned society and education of young scholars. For example:

'The possibility to be ahead in knowledge and to invent something which has not been invented by anyone else before' (R16).

The contexts of these values are represented by the position of science in society and the contrast between academic and commercial values.

Figure 3: The concept map Values of research
Figure 3: The concept map Values of research (Steinerová 2018)

The interpretations of values by researchers questioned some most discussed issues in scholarly communication with regard to societal impact of research. The framework of the societal impact is in line with the ongoing debate about methods of measurement and research assessment (Bornman, 2013). The discussed issues included social impact on knowledge, scholarship, education, workplaces, social and economic development and everyday life. We have noted other related concepts, especially societal benefits, societal products (outputs), societal use, public values, knowledge transfer, or societal relevance with values of information embedded in these concepts. Following these terms, we can regard the value of information as a resource, as a product, as knowledge, as relevance and as understanding, as utility, as a commodity, but also as truth, belief and trust.

As we were interested in attitudes of researchers to information, we also asked the questions regarding the evaluation of outputs of research and methods of assessment. What is your opinion on the present evaluation of research outputs (at home and abroad)? Does your discipline apply any scientometric measures? The majority of subjects expressed critical attitudes to the current system of evaluation of research publishing outputs (research assessment). We can confirm the effort of finding balance between scientific quality and social quality of research. The discourse of researchers was divided into the critical discourse and the constructive discourse. The result of our qualitative data analyses is depicted on the concept map (Fig. 4).

Figure 4: The concept map Evaluation of research
Figure 4: The concept map Evaluation of research (Steinerová 2018)

Researchers perceived critically the quantitative measures used for research assessment. They expressed the opinion that the quality of publications should be assessed within the academic disciplines by the international community. Some of our subjects admitted that the scholarly review process plays a crucial part in quality control, but can be questioned, as it operates on the principles of academic virtues. High academic values of publications cannot be assessed by simple reductionist administrative systems. Academic cultures, different disciplines and modes of inquiry should be taken into account. One-size-fits-all model is not appropriate for different disciplines. For example, there is a different time span of publishing in social sciences and humanities in contrast to the sciences.

The quality assessment should be objective, and it is not possible to do it in a mechanical way…(R8).

Researchers also emphasized the problem of the mixture of academic values (traditional inquiry) and commercial models of publishing and electronic resources. They have agreed that the academic culture is a complex issue with rich research information interactions and large differences among disciplines. Many respondents proposed that the assessment should take into the account inclusion into the international academic community. They called for reliance on basic academic values, e.g.:

simply that value…also with the people with whom I collaborate, they are doing it for that value which it really has, not for that inappropriate counting in our system… (R18).

We found that values of information are embedded in the academic values of research. As for the research assessment, researchers emphasized high quality of publications, international expert communities, contribution to complex societal problems and relationships with public (promotion of science). We noted and confirmed cultural differences among academic disciplines and national and language contexts. These findings point to relativity of values of information embedded in social structures.

A case study of research data literacy in Slovakia: selected results

In 2018 we conducted an online survey among selected researchers in Slovakia focused on research data literacy as part of a multinational survey in 29 countries (Ünal et al., 2018). Results were presented elsewhere (Steinerová and Ondrišová 2019). Research data literacy is referred to as a process of becoming aware of how to acquire, process, use and interpret research data. Research data management is one of the topical issues of information behaviour of researchers. However, understanding and proper use of research data is context-dependent, while research data are integrated into data infrastructures. Research data literacy can be regarded as a socio-cultural practice with the use of digital technologies for data processing and interpretations. The aim of the survey was to identify the production of research data, sharing of data, concerns regarding the research data and data management planning. We distributed 2600 questionnaires and analysed 257 completed responses (10% response rate).

We found that researchers have positive attitudes to research data management; three quarters of subjects collaborate and share their data mainly within their teams. They expressed concerns with regard to misinterpretation of data (mainly social sciences) and misuse of data (mainly sciences). Most participants had no formal training in data management and their institutions had no data management plans. Researchers used more data than they produced and were willing to share their data. Context-specific differences determined types, volume and variety of data.

This survey confirmed needs of researchers with regard to research data management courses as part of services of academic libraries and data infrastructures. Universities and academic libraries should provide new services of research data sharing and research data policies. Legal and ethical issues become challenges for researchers and information professionals. Research data management as an important part of researchers´ information interactions have implications for education and services. We noted needs of research data assistants and digital data curators who should provide data management services, including research data planning, protection, maintenance, analysis and visualization. Values of data are reflected especially in data-intensive sciences. Needs for big data management have also been increased (Borgman, 2015). In this respect, the social impact of research is manifested by transformations of data to information and enhanced by interpreting knowledge, discoveries and value-added products of scholarly communication. New conceptual questions of philosophy of (research) data could enrich our discussions on values of data and information (Furner, 2017).

The societal impact of human information behaviour research: values of information

Our analyses, models and examples of studies confirmed that the societal impact of human information behaviour studies reflects the dynamics and evolution of values of information in the academic information environment. The analyses of related studies have shown that the majority of human information behaviour studies is embedded in social theoretical frameworks and connected to special communities. Based on theoretical frameworks and applied methodologies we can delineate the studies into the socio-cognitive frameworks (focused on human knowing, values of information emphasize the construction of meaning and cognitive processes), the socio-cultural frameworks (focused on human experience, values of information emphasize making sense and social communities) and the socio-technological frameworks (focused on how technologies are inscribed into information infrastructures, change organizations, workplace information and information cultures). We proposed to interconnect the three frameworks in the model of academic information ecologies. Our model can help connect results of information behaviour studies with practice of information interactions and information use and develop innovative services of academic libraries.

The values of information are the main societal impact of human information behaviour studies. Values are manifested by value-added information products, systems and services and societal benefits. Academic libraries can enhance the value of information and data by improved practices of access, knowledge organization and digital spaces. In broader societal contexts the societal impact connects with informed information policies and information ethics. The challenge is to transform values of information into digital services and creative collaborative spaces. One of the ways for the improvement of theories and practices can be the concept of academic information ecologies applied to interactive academic libraries.

Values of information depend on goals and purposes of information activities, social support, and autonomy of access to digital information. Values of data are connected with analyses and interpretations, they depend on contexts, cultures of disciplines and research questions. Values of research were confirmed as contribution to societal development and knowledge. Broader social factors integrated in a multidimensional conceptual space include social relations patterns, collaboration, information sharing, and adaptations. Our studies confirmed the main factors of societal impact of human information behaviour studies, such as values of research, information and research data. These values are interwoven in social and information interactions, relationships, shared understanding of communities and collaborative information behaviour.


We have analysed some neglected issues regarding the societal, non-economic impact of the human information behaviour research. The societal impact of the human information behaviour studies can be assessed by manifold indicators; such as the societal use of information resources and societal benefits for education, research, workplaces and organizations. We discussed the contribution of the academic research to practice of scholarly communication and academic libraries in digital environment.

We proposed and analysed a model of academic information ecologies as a framework for linking social theoretical frameworks and practical services and systems. Academic information ecologies mean integration of information infrastructures, academic research and information processes, values and research creativity. The ecological features are mainly adaptations, information re-use, socio-technological co-evolution. We also discussed features of an interactive model of the academic library based on value-added services and systems. The model proposed development of interactive paths of constructing knowledge in digital spaces. Values of information depend on information needs of researchers, students and communities integrated by their roles, identities and orientation. We propose that value-added services should be designed in a mosaic-like way following the information needs of researchers and academic communities. These services include mainly the interactive support of access, analysis, digital publishing, digital literacy, and research data management. Digital information spaces should support creativity, collaboration, innovations, and open science in information access and publicity.

Selected results of our qualitative studies of researchers represented their discourse on values of research and information and evaluation of research results. The values of information are regarded as something worth, utilitarian and beneficial to the societal problems of education or science. Values of information are constructed by their identity in personal, communitarian, organizational and cultural contexts. Value of information regarded as a resource is manifested by making decisions; value of information as utility is applied in problem solving; while value of information as knowledge is connected with understanding, relevance and information literacy. Values of information as information products are integrated into information services. Value of information as power is embedded in social interactions, shared understanding, human experience and knowing, and connects with informing others in cultural contexts.

Based on academic information ecologies we determined value-added services of academic libraries as ecological and dynamic services. Further research of the societal values of information can contribute to development of information policies, research policies and educational policies. New methodologies and social theories for understanding the societal impact of human information behaviour studies are required. Most frequent contexts of the societal impact are education, research, but also everyday information, health information, marginal communities, children and seniors in digital environments. Societal benefits of information use should help us better articulate needs and values of information for special communities.

The societal impact of human information behaviour studies is linked with the history of this research in the last forty years in which the authors applied many social theories and it also follows the research trends (Case and Given, 2016, Wilson, 2018, Greifeneder, 2014, Spink, 2010, Given et al. 2015, Bornman, 2013). Direct applications to human experience are connected with human and social wellbeing; while problems appear with respect to such values of information as truth, freedom of expression in digital environment, digital divide, information poverty, information overload. That is why we should pay more attention to values of information, which means exploration of digital ethics, misinformation, co-evolution of intelligent systems and humans and social media. We should explore such values of information as trust, privacy, intellectual property, moral responsibility, human dignity, but also safety and security of digital spaces. Many further examples of the societal benefits of human information behaviour could be mentioned, e.g. the use of information by immigrants, refugees or other special communities. As these problems are marked by societal complexities, they need re-design of traditional library frameworks. New frameworks, such as our academic information ecologies could consider ecologies of knowledge, co-existence of people´s relationships and social order, co-evolution of information technologies and cultures, social norms, information patterns and social innovations. The challenge of human information behaviour research is finding balance between individual and social values of information, manifold stratified information interactions and adaptations and cultivation of the information environment. New social theories can inspire value-added services and systems and build professional bridges to the social environment. Values of information as knowledge, relevance and utility can help develop socially-driven ecological models connecting theories of information with information practices of communities in digital environment.


This work was supported by the research project APVV 15-0508 human information behaviourER.
The author expresses her thanks to two anonymous reviewers of the original paper proposal.

About the author

Jela Steinerová is a Professor in the Comenius University in Bratislava, Department of Library and Information Science, Gondova 2, 814 99 Bratislava, Slovakia. She received her degrees from the Comenius University in Bratislava. Her research interests are human information behaviour and theory and methodology of information science. She has been teaching information science since 1992. She published widely in national and international journals and conferences and has been a member of several international boards and projects (e.g. ENWI, ECIL, ISIC). She can be contacted at jela.steinerova@uniba.sk.


How to cite this paper

Steinerová, J. (2019). The societal impact of information behaviour research on developing models of academic information ecologies. In Proceedings of CoLIS, the Tenth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 16-19, 2019. Information Research, 24(4), paper colis1905. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/24-4/colis/colis1905.html (Archived by the Internet Archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20191216153846/http://informationr.net/ir/24-4/colis/colis1905.html)

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