Understanding Information-Seeking: The Public Library Context

Gloria J. Leckie, Lisa Given

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter

8 Citations (Scopus)


The history of the public library is long and rich, and continues to reflect this institution's initial mission: to respond to the needs of an evolving democratic society. From its early days as a subscription service for the middle-class, through its evolution to become an educational site for the lower-classes and new immigrants, the public library has served as a touch-stone for urban industrial society in North America (Lerner, 1998, p. 138; Shera, 1974). Over the past century, public libraries have evolved to respond to the growing needs of the communities they serve and continue to do so with recent advances in technologies (such as DVDs, electronic books, the Internet, etc.), and with a more global outlook on the ways that people seek and share information. Indeed, the public library's constituents today are exceedingly diverse, including children and adults from a broad range of socio-economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds, all of whom seek information for a variety of personal and work-related purposes. The fact that public libraries have been fulfilling patrons' information needs for well over a century is a testament to their enduring success and versatility as information providers, and also points to the overall effectiveness of public librarians as intermediaries in the provision process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Librarianship, Volume 29
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages72
ISBN (Print)9780120246298
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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