Everyday Life Information Seeking of Children and Youth
This theme addresses the information seeking and use behaviors of children and youth across a range of everyday life contexts, and how libraries and information agencies, including school libraries, can develop responsive services and products. The trend of everyday-life information seeking (ELIS) research led by Professor Savolainen of Tampere University is most relevant to this theme because ELIS has focused primarily on non-job-related and non-school-related information seeking. Savolainen sees information seeking as an integral component of mastery of life because it "[facilitates] problem solving" and thus helps keep things in order. Most ELIS research focuses on adults. Some attention has been given to youth ELIS, concerning the issues specific to adolescents (ages 12 to 18), but the examination of children (ages 12 and under) ELIS is rare.
The studies undertaken by Dr. Ya-Ling Lu examined the effects of information on children's everyday hassles. Children encounter enormous challenges, including clinical and nonclinical stressors, as they grow and develop. How children deal with various challenges is of great interest to psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, and educators. Particularly, information seeking has been studied mostly as a response to the stresses of clinical or medical aspects of experiences. While these psychology studies contribute to the understanding of important effects of information seeking on children's mental and physical health, the multifacets of children's information seeking are often simplified to one single dimension of children's clinical experiences.
Many questions still remain unanswered; for example, whether or not children seek information to cope with nonclinical issues, how they seek information in this context, what prompts one child to seek information to cope with his problem while another does not, and what factors influence children's information seeking within this personal context. LIS practitioners, in particular, do not have an adequate understanding of the factors and needs that influence the information seeking of children in this daily-life coping context.
Dr. Lu's studies aim to address these issues. In her 2009 studies, she explored the students' use of "information seeking" to cope with their day-to-day personal stressors and problems. The sample consisted of 641 children in fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms from an urban public elementary school in Taiwan. Data were collected through semistructured, open-ended surveys. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed to analyze the data.
This study found that in coping with daily-life problems, nearly two thirds of the participating children would seek information; that sixth graders were more likely to do so; and that gender did not make information seeking more (or less) probable in this coping context. Findings also revealed some major reasons for children's information seeking in this coping context, for example, to solve problems, to escape, and to find a transition. Finally, five major different information seeking behaviors related to coping emerged from the findings: information seeking for problem solving, information seeking to escape, information seeking for a transition, information seeking to change mood, and information avoidance, which can be used as a platform to develop an explanatory and possibly predictive framework for future studies.