Connecting government, libraries and communities: Information behavior theory and information intermediaries in the design of LibEGov.org
As e-government grows in scope and complexity, an increasing number of e-government services have surpassed the digital technology access and literacy of many members of the public. The “digitally excluded” often seek information intermediaries — such as public libraries and other community anchor institutions — to bridge their information needs and e-government systems. The purpose of this paper is to examine the phenomenon of user-librarian-agency government interaction within the context of the information worlds framework. In this paper, the authors describe the data — surveys, case studies, interviews, site visits, and usability and accessibility testing — used to analyze the needs of the public, libraries, and government agencies. The paper then describes how the authors, using key concepts from the theory of information worlds, developed an online resource to assist information intermediaries. The study yields findings about libraries as a social institution, as well as expands upon the theory of information worlds so that it better reflects the information behavior and needs of meso level institutions. By examining the development of this resource through the lens of the theory of information worlds and within the context of digital inclusion, this paper offers a new perspective on how libraries can best facilitate information access between government agencies and members of the public. Moreover, the diversity and dispersion of the group of meso level institutions studied revealed the need to consider a new element within this theory: bridges that serve as tangible (physical or digital) mechanisms and channels that facilitate the exchange of information and interaction across boundaries.
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