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Everyday life information seeking behaviour of urban homeless youth Evelyn, Markwei D. 2013

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Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour Of Urban Homeless Youth by Evelyn D. Markwei  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Library, Archival and Information Studies)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) March, 2013 © Evelyn D. Markwei, 2013  Abstract  Youth homelessness, or the issue of street children, is a growing phenomenon in cities across the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa. Homeless youth, like all adolescents, deserve relevant information for successful transition to adulthood and for mastery of the challenges of homelessness. The pre-requisite for efficient provision of quality information services to any group is knowledge and understanding of their everyday life information seeking (ELIS) behaviour. The main objectives of this study of homeless youth in the market area of Accra, Ghana are to investigate their information needs, sources of information, patterns and problems encountered in information seeking and to determine how libraries and other stakeholders can meet their information needs. The study adopted the interpretive tradition and the ethnographic methodology. The field activities involved recruitment of 41 homeless youth, comprising 22 males and 19 females, ages 15 to 18 years using a snowball sampling procedure, collection of data using the critical incident technique and in-depth interviews, transcription of recorded interviews, and identification of categories and themes from participant interviews through content analysis using the NVivo qualitative data analysis software. The findings revealed eleven categories of needs comprising physiological, safety, esteem and self-actualization needs. Preferred sources of information are primarily interpersonal. Other sources are television, radio, print media and libraries. Information seeking patterns include active and passive searching, passive attention, and a heavy reliance on a social network of friends. Barriers to meeting information needs include cost, lack of education, lack of time, lack of access to relevant information and educational infrastructure, information poverty, powerlessness, and lack of confidence.  ii  The study is significant in many ways. It is the first study of ELIS behaviour of homeless youth in Africa. It makes a new proposition that, in an environment of limited information resources, people rely on their social networks to meet their information needs. The findings of the study add to knowledge and understanding of youth information seeking behaviour and ELIS of youth, especially homeless youth. They have implications for information dissemination and public library after-school programs and policies to facilitate provision of services and information resources for homeless youth in Ghana.  iii  Preface  This study was conducted as a requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Library, Archival, and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia. The objectives of the study were to investigate the information needs, sources of information, information seeking behaviour, and barriers to everyday life information seeking behaviour of urban homeless youth. The author was responsible for the research design, data collection and analysis, and the writing of the research report under the guidance of her Supervisor, Professor Edie Rasmussen, and her committee members, Professors Judith Saltman and Lisa Nathan, all from the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. An ethical review and approval were obtained from the UBC Research Ethics Board [Urban Youth Project: H10-00605] prior to the commencement of the fieldwork, which was funded with a Doctoral Research Award by the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. Information on the centre is available on the web at www.idrc.ca.  iv  Table of Contents ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................................................ii PREFACE .................................................................................................................................................... iv TABLE OF CONTENTS ................................................................................................................................v LIST OF TABLES...................................................................................................................................... viii LIST OF FIGURES ...................................................................................................................................... ix ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .............................................................................................................................x DEDICATION ............................................................................................................................................. xii CHAPTER 1: 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6  INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................1  BACKGROUND OF THE PROBLEM .......................................................................................................... 1 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY .............................................................................................................. 7 RESEARCH QUESTIONS ....................................................................................................................... 9 DEFINITION OF TERMS ....................................................................................................................... 10 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY ............................................................................................................... 10 STRUCTURE OF THE DISSERTATION.................................................................................................... 11  CHAPTER 2:  LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................................................... 13  2.1 HOMELESSNESS AND YOUTH ............................................................................................................. 14 2.1.1 Definition of Homeless Youth ..................................................................................................14 2.1.2 Categories of Homeless Youth ...............................................................................................16 2.1.3 Causes of Youth Homelessness .............................................................................................17 2.1.4 Characteristics of Homeless Youth .........................................................................................20 2.2 THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR (ISB) ............................................................... 21 2.2.1 The Concept of Information Need ...........................................................................................23 2.2.2 Defining Information Need ......................................................................................................25 2.2.3 Concepts of Information Need by Different Scholars ..............................................................26 2.3 EVERYDAY LIFE INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR (ELIS)................................................................ 32 2.3.1 Defining the Concept of Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour .................................34 2.3.2 Theories of ELIS......................................................................................................................35 2.4 EVERYDAY LIFE INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR OF THE POOR ..................................................... 43 2.4.1 Poverty and Information Poverty .............................................................................................44 2.4.2 Research on Information Seeking Behaviour of the Poor and the Disadvantaged ................48 2.5 YOUTH AND INFORMATION ................................................................................................................. 74 2.5.1 Research on Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour of Young People .......................78 2.5.2 Everyday life Information Seeking Behaviour of Homeless Youth ..........................................88 2.5.3 ELIS Studies in Africa .............................................................................................................94 2.6 SUMMARY OF THE LITERATURE ........................................................................................................ 105 2.7 CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................................. 107 CHAPTER 3:  METHODOLOGY ........................................................................................................... 108  3.1 THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE ............................................................................................................ 108 3.2 RESTATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS ................................................................................. 109 3.3 OPERATIONALISING CONCEPTS........................................................................................................ 110 3.4 ETHICAL ISSUES .............................................................................................................................. 111 3.4.1 Seeking Consent from Participants of the Study ..................................................................113 3.5 SELECTION OF LOCATION ................................................................................................................ 113 v  3.5.1 Population, Sampling Procedures, and Selection of Participants .........................................115 3.6 DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION OF INSTRUMENTS ........................................ 117 3.6.1 The Observations ..................................................................................................................117 3.6.2 The Interviews .......................................................................................................................118 3.7 TRANSCRIPTION .............................................................................................................................. 124 3.8 DATA ASSESSMENT ......................................................................................................................... 124 3.9 DATA ANALYSIS .............................................................................................................................. 125 3.9.1 The Coding Process ..............................................................................................................126 CHAPTER 4:  ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS ............................................................................................. 134  4.1 REPORT FROM OBSERVATIONS ........................................................................................................ 134 4.1.1 Problems of Homeless Youth ................................................................................................137 4.2 BACKGROUND OF PARTICIPANTS...................................................................................................... 138 4.2.1 Origin and Gender of Participants .........................................................................................138 4.2.2 Age of Participants ................................................................................................................139 4.2.3 Educational Level of Participants ..........................................................................................140 4.2.4 Marital Status of Participants ................................................................................................143 4.2.5 Socio-economic Status .........................................................................................................143 4.3 CAUSES OF HOMELESSNESS ........................................................................................................... 148 4.3.1 Summary of the Causes of Homelessness ...........................................................................150 4.4 DURATION OF STAY IN ACCRA.......................................................................................................... 151 4.5 THE EXPRESSED NEEDS OF HOMELESS YOUTH ................................................................................ 152 4.5.1 Money ....................................................................................................................................156 4.5.2 Employment ..........................................................................................................................160 4.5.3 Unfair Wages.........................................................................................................................161 4.5.4 Food ......................................................................................................................................162 4.5.5 Respect .................................................................................................................................162 4.5.6 Vocational Goals ...................................................................................................................163 4.5.7 Education ..............................................................................................................................166 4.5.8 Shelter ...................................................................................................................................167 4.5.9 Security .................................................................................................................................168 4.5.10 Justice ...................................................................................................................................169 4.5.11 Health ....................................................................................................................................169 4.6 INFORMATION BEHAVIOURS, SOURCES OF INFORMATION AND BARRIERS TO EVERYDAY LIFE INFORMATION SEEKING OF HOMELESS YOUTH .................................................................................. 170 4.6.1 Employment ..........................................................................................................................170 4.6.2 Shelter ...................................................................................................................................176 4.6.3 Vocational Goals ...................................................................................................................177 4.6.4 Health ....................................................................................................................................178 4.6.5 School Information Seeking Behaviour .................................................................................186 4.6.6 Financial Management ..........................................................................................................189 4.6.7 Food ......................................................................................................................................193 4.6.8 Strategies for Addressing Issue of Security ..........................................................................194 4.6.9 Everyday Information Seeking Behaviour for the Administration of Justice .........................195 4.6.10 The Issue of Respect and Unfair Wages ..............................................................................197 4.6.11 The Mass Media and Everyday Life Information Seeking for Homeless Youth ....................198 4.7 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS ................................................................................................................... 204 4.7.1 Background of Participants ...................................................................................................204 4.7.2 The Expressed Needs of Homeless Youth ..........................................................................205 4.7.3 Information Behaviours, Sources of Information, and Barriers to Everyday Life Information Seeking of Homeless Youth...............................................................................206 vi  CHAPTER 5:  DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS ......................................................................................... 210  5.1 BACKGROUND OF PARTICIPANTS...................................................................................................... 211 5.2 AGE OF PARTICIPANTS .................................................................................................................... 214 5.3 EDUCATIONAL LEVEL OF PARTICIPANTS............................................................................................ 215 5.4 MARITAL STATUS OF PARTICIPANTS ................................................................................................. 220 5.5 SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS OF PARTICIPANTS ................................................................................... 221 5.6 CAUSES OF HOMELESSNESS ........................................................................................................... 225 5.7 LENGTH OF STAY IN ACCRA ............................................................................................................. 227 5.8 THE EXPRESSED NEEDS OF HOMELESS YOUTH ................................................................................ 228 5.8.1 Nature of Problem Statements by Type of Need ..................................................................230 5.8.2 Categories of Need in Problem Statements ..........................................................................231 5.8.3 Esteem Need.........................................................................................................................242 5.8.4 Cognitive Need ......................................................................................................................243 5.8.5 Self Actualization ...................................................................................................................245 5.9 EVERYDAY LIFE INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOURS OF HOMELESS YOUTH ..................................... 246 5.9.1 Everyday Life Financial Management Behaviour of Homeless Youth ..................................246 5.9.2 Everyday Employment Seeking Behaviour of Homeless Youth ...........................................247 5.9.3 Strategies Dealing with the Issues of Respect and Unfair Wages ........................................250 5.9.4 Strategies for Dealing with Issues of Security .......................................................................251 5.9.5 Everyday Life Information Seeking for Justice ......................................................................252 5.9.6 Everyday Health Information Seeking Behaviours ................................................................253 5.9.7 Everyday School Information Seeking Behaviour of Homeless Youth .................................262 5.9.8 Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour for Shelter ....................................................266 5.9.9 Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour for Skills Development .................................267 5.9.10 Television and Radio as Sources of Information ..................................................................269 5.10 PATTERNS IN THEIR EVERYDAY LIFE INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOURS (ELIS) .............................. 273 5.12 THEORETICAL INTERPRETATIONS ..................................................................................................... 285 5.12.1 Theoretical Interpretations of the Findings in the Context of Chatman’s Theory of Normative Behaviour .............................................................................................................285 5.12.2 Theoretical Interpretations of the Findings in the Context of Savolainen concepts of way of life and mastery of life ................................................................................................291 5.12.3 Theoretical Interpretation of the Findings in the Context of Chatman’s Theory of Gratification ...........................................................................................................................295 5.13 SUMMARY OF THE DISCUSSIONS ...................................................................................................... 299 CHAPTER 6: 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7  SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION ................................................................................... 302  SUMMARY OF THE MAJOR FINDINGS ................................................................................................. 302 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY/CONTRIBUTIONS TO KNOWLEDGE ........................................................ 306 IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE ............................................................. 308 RECOMMENDATIONS ....................................................................................................................... 310 TRANSFERABILITY AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY .......................................................................... 313 SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE STUDIES............................................................................................... 315 CONCLUDING REMARKS .................................................................................................................. 317  BIBLIOGRAPHY ...................................................................................................................................... 319 APPENDIX A – LETTER OF CONSENT TO PARTICIPATE IN RESEARCH ........................................ 342 APPENDIX B – LETTER OF SUPPORT FROM INSTITUTION .............................................................. 345 APPENDIX C – INTERVIEW SCHEDULE ............................................................................................... 346  vii  List of Tables Table 4. 1 - Educational level of participants..................................................................... 141 Table 4. 2 - Parents' educational status ............................................................................ 145 Table 4. 3 - Nature of problem statement by type of need ................................................ 156 Table 4. 4 - Participants’ uses for money .......................................................................... 157 Table 4. 5 - Participants' vocational choices by gender..................................................... 165 Table 5. 1 - Origin of homeless youth, by regional population share ................................. 211 Table 5. 2 - Incidence of Poverty by region (2005/06)....................................................... 216  viii  List of Figures  Figure 2. 1 - A model of information behaviour from T.D. Wilson (1981).On user studies and information needs. Journal of Documentation, 37(1), p.4............ 23 Figure 2. 2 - Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs adapted from Huit, W. (2007) Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved July 20, 2008 from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/regsys/maslow.html .......................... 29 Figure 2. 3 - Sense-making Model adapted from T. D. Wilson (1999). Models of information behaviour research. Journal of Documentation, 55(3), p. 253. ..... 43 Figure 3. 1 - A screen shot showing transcript folders in the NVivo Internals folder .......... 127 Figure 3. 2 - A screen shot showing tree nodes ................................................................ 128 Figure 3. 3 - Tree node showing categories of information needs ..................................... 129 Figure 3. 4 - A screen shot showing free nodes ................................................................ 129 Figure 3. 5 - Coding for everyday employment seeking behaviour of homeless youth ...... 130 Figure 3. 6 - Spreadsheet of Categories ........................................................................... 131 Figure 3. 7 - Spreadsheet for analyzing participants' problem statements ........................ 131 Figure 3. 8 - Spreadsheet for recording the categorization of problem statements, to assess inter-rater reliability ........................................................................... 132 Figure 3. 9 - Screenshot of inter-rater categorizations table.............................................. 132 Figure 3.10 - Screen-shot of online Kappa Calculator....................................................... 133 Figure 4. 1 - A map of Ghana, showing the percentage of participants from each of the four regions of origin..................................................................................... 138 Figure 4. 2 - Age of participants ........................................................................................ 139 Figure 4. 3 - Educational level of participants (N-41) ........................................................ 140 Figure 4. 4 - Educational level of participants by gender ................................................... 141 Figure 4. 5 - Parents' educational status ........................................................................... 146 Figure 4. 6 - Parents' educational status by participants' gender ...................................... 147 Figure 4. 7 - Parents' number of children .......................................................................... 147 Figure 4. 8 - Participants' duration of stay in Accra ........................................................... 151 Figure 4. 9 – Nature of problem statements ...................................................................... 154 Figure 4.10 - Types of need expressed in problem statements ......................................... 155 Figure 4.11 - Nature of problem statement by type of need .............................................. 156 Figure 4.12 - Participants' uses for money ........................................................................ 157 Figure 4.13 - Participants' vocational choices ................................................................... 164 Figure 4.14 - Participants' vocational choices by gender .................................................. 165 Figure 5. 1 - National Gross Enrolment Ratios.................................................................. 218 Figure 5. 2 - Structure of GDP by Kind of Economic Activity in 2004 ................................ 222 Figure 5. 3 - Incidence of Poverty by Major Economic Activity .......................................... 222 Figure 5. 4 - Adult Literacy Rates ..................................................................................... 223 Figure 5. 5 - Categorization of needs of participants based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ........................................................................................................... 231 Figure 5. 6 - ELIS diagnostic chart, showing the basic and information needs, categories of sources, and intervening variables of homeless youth ............ 275  ix  Acknowledgements  This work would not have been possible without the assistance and support of a number of persons and organizations. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my supervisor and mentor, Professor Edie Rasmussen for her sincere, loving, gentle, and patient support, guidance, valuable feedback, pep talks, fair criticisms, and encouragement, throughout this study and my entire program. I thank my committee members, Professor Judith Saltman for the interest she showed in following my studies, her continuous encouragement, and valuable feedback and suggestions to enhance the value and quality of the thesis report, and Dr. Lisa Nathan for agreeing to serve on my supervisory committee at short notice and for raising pertinent questions to make my report better. I am indebted to these persons and organisations for making my study at all possible: The Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana (2002 to 2006), Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere was instrumental in securing much needed 4-year funding from the Ghana Education Trust Fund to pay for my living expenses for my PhD program. The University of British Columbia gave me a tuition grant and several financial awards to ensure continuity and completion of my program. The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada also provided a Doctoral Research award to pay for all the expenses of the fieldwork for the study. The Executive Director of HOMWAC, a non-governmental organisation for disadvantaged women and children, Ms. Alberta Adogla agreed to work with me and was instrumental in the recruitment of the study’s participants during the fieldwork. I am also grateful to Professor Akussah, Professor Anaba Alemna, Professor Christine Kisiedu, Professor Ellis Badu, Dr. Emmanuel Adjei, and Dr. Musah Adams of the School of Information Studies, and Professor Irene Odotei of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana for x  encouraging me to pursue the PhD program at UBC, and for their continuous support and well wishes throughout my program. I thank the office staff at the iSchool@UBC, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, Mary Grenier, Michelle Mallette, Debra Locke, Kiki Uppal and Heather Shand for their administrative support throughout my program. I am very grateful to my fellow PhD students, Donald Force, Elaine Goh, Elizabeth Shaffer, and Janet Mumford for their support, friendliness, valuable suggestions, encouragement, and also help with the coding of my data. I also appreciate the encouragement and prayer support I have received from members of the Liberty House of Worship, my church community in Vancouver. I owe a million thanks to my family members, my dear husband, Martei, who has been my ‘chief’ supporter, helper and encourager throughout this program; and my children Marki, Martekor and David for their understanding and support; my siblings, Ayi, Armah, KK, Osa, and Anang, and my cousin Amerley, and my dear Sister In-Law, Dr. Carol Markwei for their show of love and continuous support throughout my PhD program Finally, I thank God for the gifts of life and opportunity, and for grace to complete my PhD program.  xi  Dedication  This work is dedicated to: The glory of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for showing me this amazing grace; My Sweetheart, Martei for his selfless love for me; and My children Marki, Martekor, and Marmah. I love you all.  xii  Chapter 1: Introduction  Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to establish the need for and importance of investigating the everyday life information seeking behaviour of homeless youth. Such youths have become a major challenge to urban planners and national governments in many countries across the world. The chapter is divided into six sections. Section 1.1 discusses the background and purpose of the study and Section 1.2, the significance of the study. Section 1.3 defines the specific objectives of the study and Section 1.4, the main terms of the study. The chapter ends with statements on limitations of the study in Section 1.5 and an outline of the structure of the dissertation in Section 1.6.  1.1  Background of the Problem  Homeless youth, like all adolescents, are transitioning from childhood to adulthood and it is imperative that they have access to sufficient relevant information for mastery of their developmental challenges. However, their immediate living circumstances especially their state of homelessness, makes it extremely difficult for them to access information for workable solutions to many of those challenges. Ammerman et al. (2004) also ascribe homeless youth’s lack of access to information to their inexperience and lack of knowledge of service systems and resources which are primarily tailored for adults, and lack of understanding of how to access such service systems. Clearly they need an information service tailored to their needs. Provision of quality information services, according to Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2005), requires an understanding of the natural or day-to-day human information seeking behavior, that is, their everyday life information seeking behaviour (ELIS). Thus an investigation into the everyday life information needs and seeking of homeless youth is necessary if their information needs are to be met in an efficient manner. The purpose of the proposed study is to investigate everyday life information seeking behaviour of homeless youth in the city of Accra, Ghana to highlight their 1  information needs in order to inform stakeholders such as public libraries and other agencies, both governmental and non-governmental, that work with homeless youth to facilitate effective information service to this disadvantaged group. Youth homelessness, or the issue of street children, is a growing phenomenon in cities across Ghana. Recently a Chief in the Northern region of the country bemoaned the annual migration of hundreds of youth (from age 10 and up) to urban cities in the country immediately after the Basic Schools vacate in July (Ghana News Agency, 2009). In 2002 a head-count of street children in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, conducted by Catholic Action for Street Children (CAS), gave an estimate of 20,000 and this number is growing (CAS, 2003). Youth homelessness is not only a Ghanaian problem but a worldwide phenomenon. Although statistics on youth homelessness are difficult to gather because these youth tend to be isolated and hidden, the World Health Organization and UNICEF in the mid-nineties estimated that there were about 100 million street children in the world. A study in 2000 estimated there were 25 million in Asia, 40 million street children in Latin America,18 million in India and 10 million in Africa (Casa Alianza, Worldwide Statistics, 2000). In a more current set of data, the National Coalition for the Homeless (2008) in the United States estimates that homeless children in America number between 800,000 and 1.2 million. In Canada, non-governmental sources indicate that there are an estimated 8,000 to 11,000 homeless youth on any given night (United Way of Guelph and Wellington Newsletter, 2007). Homeless youth, like all adolescents, need stable and nurturing families to make a successful transition to adulthood. A family serves as a positive resource, promotes prosocial behaviours and protects youth/ adolescents from risky behaviours. Therefore homeless youth who are without families are prone to all kinds of risks and adversity (Molino and Franklin, 2007). Apart from the risk factors that drive them from their families they also experience all forms of risks on the streets. In Ghana, homeless youth or street children are at risk of child trafficking, vulnerable to sexual harassment, rape, and prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and youth 2  pregnancy (especially the girls) as well as conditions and diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis, jaundice, and typhoid; exploited by adults who underpay them for the work they do, and harassed by police and city authorities. They are also forced to work as fishers, farmers and hawkers (Boakye-Boaten, 2008; International Child and Youth Network, 2001; Orme and Seipel, 2007; Beauchemin, 1999; Shanahan, 1998). In a study of street children in the AsiaPacific region, West (2003) described the dangers and risks faced by street children. They include domestic and cross-border trafficking for the purposes of criminal activities such as street thefts, or in the case of young girls, they may be sold into marriage or to commercial sex gangs. There is also a belief in this region that having sex with a virgin results in prosperity and disease prevention and cure, putting street girls at more risk of rape and infection with HIV/AIDS. They lack identification papers causing them to be excluded from free social services such as education and healthcare and businesses in both the formal and informal sectors use them as a source of cheap labour. Younger street children face extortion of their monies and clothes by older ones and some adults. They also face the risk of police harassment and incarceration, often as a way of removing them from the streets. A study of street children in Pakistan also revealed that they are subjected to long working hours (8 to12hours) and inadequate wages (about $1 or less a day), snatching away of their daily earnings, police harassment and physical abuse, and poor nutrition leading to stunted growth (Moazzam, Shahab, Ushijima, and De Muynck (2004). The findings of a study by the Public Health Agency of Canada (2006) showed that homeless youth are at risk of dropping out of school, have high rates of STDs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, are sexually active with low levels of condom use, have multiple partners, trade in sex and smoke daily. In a United States Congressional report issued by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) (2003), homeless youth have been described as “the nation’s severely disconnected youth” (p.56), disconnected from family, absent from school and non-participants in the economy. Quoting several study sources the report further revealed that homeless youth have difficult schooling problems such as absenteeism, skipping of classes, expulsion, and school dropout before high school completion. 3  Their educational opportunities are also hampered by lack of proof of residency in a school district and other documentation, such as academic and immunization records which are required for school enrollment. These impediments lead to social and emotional challenges such as difficulty forming peer support systems and mentorship relationships with teachers, which can potentially cause academic failure. Reasons for work disconnection include inadequate skills and poor physical health such as addiction problems or mental illness. Some homeless youth are forced to engage in selling of drugs, prostitution and panhandling to earn income for survival. Youth homelessness has financial consequences as well. As potential school dropouts, homeless youths face a dismal and uncertain future in today’s competitive job market. Students who are school dropouts and have no high school diploma do not get jobs, or earn the minimum wage when they are employed. For example, a Carnegie Corporation report by Hood (2004) indicated that dropouts are more likely to make only a “little more than minimum wage their entire lives” (p. 3). In an economic downturn, they are the first to lose their jobs and even during economic prosperity, they will still earn less than high school graduates. They are also likely to end up on welfare or be incarcerated. The report further revealed that dropouts in California cost the state $50 billion per year. A report issued by the Center for Labour Market Studies Northeastern University (2007) claimed that adults who are school dropouts are susceptible to a host of “adverse labour market, economic, health and social consequences over their entire lifetime” (p. 2). They may end up on government food stamps, be less employed, and receive less pay than their peers who are well educated throughout their working lives. They will also pay less taxes but then receive more state and federal government funds in the form of rental subsidies, medical and health insurance, and food stamps. The report also revealed that “a high school dropout received $5,300 more in cash and kind transfers from the federal and state government than he/she paid in federal and state income and payroll taxes in 2002 and 2004” (p. 2). Duane (2006) has also stated that the United States current dropout rates translate into 4  lost revenues in social security and income tax in the range of $58-135 billion per year. In Connecticut, state statistics show that increase in high school graduation leads to reductions in car thefts and assault arrests, consequently reducing the high cost of maintaining prisons. Connecticut has one of the highest juvenile incarceration rates for African American and Hispanic males in the United States and spent about $622 million on prisons in 2005. Finally it is estimated that high school graduates have a life span nine years longer than high school dropouts (Duane, 2005). Wells (1980) also explains that taxes needed to support and maintain government welfare programs increase with increased dropout rates. There is also loss in government revenues through non-payment of taxes by dropouts who may not be working. A report by the US Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in 2003 emphasized that failure to help at risk youth results in an estimated $80 billion loss in earnings for about 450,000 high school drop-outs, and teenage pregnancy and child bearing also cost $30 billion annually. This includes costs of “helping young teen parents, as well as the productivity losses of teen mothers, fathers of their children and the children when they reach adulthood” (p.9). The longer homeless youths remain disconnected from their families, schools and communities, the higher the probability of their engagement in criminal and much riskier behaviours. In other words if governments around the world do nothing to improve the lives of these youths they may become social misfits and financial burdens on their countries in the future. There have been some attempts by governments, especially in the developed world, to improve the lives of homeless youth. For example, in 1974 the United States enacted the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) to establish and authorize funding for support services and programs for at-risk youth such as parenting and pregnant teens, and runaway and homeless youth. Some of these programs include the Basic Center Program (BCP) to provide shelter services for youth under 18 years, and counselling to reunite youth with families or placement in foster care and the Transitional Living Program (TLP) to provide food and shelter, life skills, education and employment training to help youth to acquire relevant skills to live independently 5  (National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2009). In addition to the US federal government, other agencies such as libraries also provide services for homeless youth. A US national survey by Dowd (1996) showed that libraries are collaborating with community agencies such as public schools, shelters, and NGOs such as the Salvation Army to provide special programs including book deposits, fine free library cards, and story times at shelters. By contrast, in developing countries, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, there is little government intervention in youth homelessness. The youth are left on the streets to fend for themselves and are often harassed by police and city authorities. In a few cases some NGOs provide homeless youth with some basic services. For example in Ghana the Catholic Action for Street Children (CAS) is an NGO whose three-fold mission is to: … interact with street children so that they can be understood and supported; assist those children who choose to get off the street and into a stable living situation; and create general awareness about the plight of street children 0-18 years old who sleep rough and work in the streets of Accra, Tema and towns in the Accra Catholic Archdiocese (CAS, n. d.).  It is evident from the discussion so far that youth homelessness is a social problem with negative consequences to its victims, the youth. There is therefore an urgent need to empower homeless youth with the necessary information to change their circumstances and facilitate their maturation process. In a report of a study of everyday life information needs of urban teenagers, Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2006) argue that the poor circumstances of inner city teens make the “cognitive, emotional, and physical aspects of the maturation process” (p. 1394) much more difficult than maturation for teens living in better conditions. Therefore homeless youth need factual information that will keep them healthy, ensure their survival, and facilitate the understanding of their world and their roles as future citizens. In the opinion of Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2006) public libraries are well placed to provide such information. They further emphasize that librarians and other information professionals do not know much about the everyday information needs of teens, neither are they able to assess the extent to which their 6  everyday information needs are met because only few youth centered studies have investigated young adult reference and information services and their information seeking behaviours. On a similar note, Schilderman (2002) emphasizes that knowledge and information are important livelihood assets needed by the urban poor to improve their lives. He is of the opinion that the urban poor are often deprived of this ‘asset’ or find it hard to assess. He further points out the growing concern over the failure of urban research and development efforts and ascribes such failure to the lack of research into the information seeking behaviour of the urban poor. He believes that effective knowledge and information systems for the urban poor can be strengthened based on suggestions offered by such studies.  1.2  Significance of the Study  The study is significant in many ways. It will increase the knowledge base and understanding of youth information seeking behaviour and everyday life information seeking (ELIS) behaviour of youth, especially homeless youth in the Library and Information Science (LIS) literature. A review of the literature also shows that this will be the first study of ELIS behaviour of homeless youth in Africa, and one of only a few studies of information needs of homeless youth worldwide. Finally, the findings and recommendations of the study are expected to inform information providers, government agencies and other stakeholders about the information needs of homeless youth and ways in which those needs can be met. In the LIS literature several authors have indicated that there is limited research in youth information seeking behaviour (Agosto and Hughes Hassell, 2005; Shenton and Dixon, 2004; Fourie, 1995). Available literature on youth information seeking behaviour has largely focused on the school and library context (Shenton and Dixon, 2004). This, according to Chelton and Cool (2007), has led to inaccurate perceptions and creation of gaps in the understanding of youth and their information seeking behaviour. For example, it has resulted in the reduction of all youth to “one-dimensional student beings” (p. xvi). They are also considered as individual 7  information seekers, contrary to their developmental needs. In other words during the adolescent age peers are very important to youth and so they tend to work together in peer groups and not as individuals. Other authors, for example Shenton and Dixon (2004), have described the knowledge base of youth information seeking behaviour as scanty and piecemeal. The implication of these claims is that researchers need to pay more attention to youth information seeking behaviour outside the library and school context, that is, their ELIS behaviour. In fact Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2005) acknowledge the limited research into the ELIS behaviour of young people and the need for more studies in this area. The above perceptions of young people and their information behaviour have consequently limited librarians’ perception of young people and how they can be served in the library. They contradict the ways in which young people themselves would want to be perceived and identified in the public arena (Bernier, 2007; Chelton and Cool, 2007). It is evident that more research is needed in youth ELIS behaviour for better understanding of this group and for improved information services which are tailored to their needs. With regard to ELIS behaviour of homeless youth the literature revealed little research, and most of the few available studies have been conducted in the developed world such as North America and the United Kingdom (Alexander, Edwards, Fisher and Hersberger, 2005; Reid and Klee, 1999; Ensign and Panke, 2002). Generally only a few studies on information seeking behaviour have been conducted in developing countries (Dutta, 2009). In Africa no studies were found on ELIS of homeless youth (or street children as they are normally called in developing countries). Research on ELIS of youth has focused mainly on health information seeking. Examples are studies of health information seeking among Mbararan adolescents in Uganda (Ybarra et al., 2008); on how teens in Ghana use the Internet to find health information (Borzekowski, Fobil, and Asante, 2006); and on how adolescent girls in Owerri, Nigeria use the Internet to find health information (Nwagwu, 2007). Thus the proposed study of ELIS behaviour with a focus on homeless youth in a large urban city in Africa will be the first of its kind. It will 8  add knowledge to the ELIS literature from an African perspective. It is predicted that the socioinformation circumstances of homeless youth from the developing world, especially SubSaharan Africa and those from the developed world are very different. For example a recent study of homeless youth in Seattle, Washington revealed that homeless youth have a range of services and information resources available to them. These include service agencies that satisfy the basic needs of homeless youth such as counselling, day shelters, meals, healthcare, together with hundreds of documents in the form of information flyers and brochures at physical locations and websites. Thus services and systems do exist, although there are clearly problems related to awareness of these services and the ability of youth to navigate them to satisfy their information needs (Woelfer and Hendry, 2009). The findings of the study are expected to reveal ELIS behaviour of homeless youth in an environment of limited services and information resources. The study is important because youth are the future of any nation and they deserve access to the information and knowledge that will empower them, mitigate their risks and ensure their maturation to successful adulthood. Homeless youth must not be marginalized with respect to information provision just because they are homeless. They need information that is “relevant, timely and presented in forms that can be understood” to take effective action to develop their potential (Narayan-Parker and Narayan, 2002, p. 15). This study is a positive step. It will investigate the everyday life information needs of urban homeless youth; identify their patterns of information seeking from their perspective and make recommendations for effective information provision based on the findings.  1.3  Research Questions  The study is focused on everyday life information seeking behaviour of homeless youth or street children in a large urban city. It seeks answers to the following research questions:   What are the expressed everyday information needs of urban homeless youth? 9      What sources do they use to satisfy their information needs?    What challenges/barriers hinder their information seeking?    What are the patterns in their information seeking behaviour?  How can the information needs of homeless youth be better satisfied by libraries and other appropriate agencies?  1.4  Definition of Terms Everyday life information seeking behaviour (ELIS) refers to the seeking of problem-specific information such as finding a fact and seeking information that is relevant to everyday events by using various sources and channels (Savolainen, 2004). Homeless youth and street children are used interchangeably and refer to young people ages 12 to 18 living under inadequate conditions with no adult or parental support and who spend most of their time on the street.  1.5  Limitations of the Study  The study has several limitations. One limitation is that there are homeless youth in other large cities of Ghana, such as Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale etc., but the study will be conducted only in Accra, the capital city of Ghana so the results may not reflect the conditions in other large urban centres in Ghana. Secondly Accra has a homeless youth or street children population of about 20,000. It is not feasible to conduct the study with a sample allowing statistical significance for the results due to the transient nature of homeless youth or street children. Therefore the results can only be generalized to the street children that participated in the study. Further research on the ELIS behaviour of homeless youth or street children in other cities of the country would be needed for a generalization of the findings to include all homeless youth across the country. In spite of these limitations the findings will generate discussion among information professionals  10  about the need to begin to provide information to this disadvantaged group, something that is non-existent in the country at the moment.  1.6  Structure of the Dissertation  This chapter provides the background to the problem to be studied. It introduces youth homelessness as a phenomenon in both the developed and developing countries, discusses the consequences of youth homelessness, establishes the purpose of the study, outlines the research questions, describes the significance of the study (that is, its contribution to knowledge of ELIS in the LIS literature and its potential benefits to the youth, government and information providers), and discusses the limitations of the study. Chapter Two is a review of the literature relevant to the study. It discusses the concept and categories of youth homelessness, causes of youth homelessness in different countries, and the characteristics of the homeless. It also discusses the concepts of information seeking behaviour, information needs, everyday life information seeking (ELIS), theories of ELIS, and research on ELIS of the poor or disadvantaged including homeless youth, youth information seeking and information seeking behaviour studies in Africa. Chapter Three describes the methodology followed in the study. It discusses the theoretical perspective of the study, operationalisation of the concepts underlying the research questions, i.e., information need, information sources and barriers to information seeking. It offers justifications for the selection of the research location and study population, and describes the data collection instruments, and the data analysis techniques used. The ethical issues relevant to the study are also discussed. Chapter Four provides a report of the field observations and a detailed analysis of the findings of the study including the background of study participants, causes of their homelessness, duration of their homelessness, and their expressed information needs. The information 11  behaviours, sources of information, and barriers to the everyday life information seeking behaviour of the eleven types of needs identified (namely shelter, employment, food, security, justice, health, respect, school information, financial management, fair wages and skills development) are also provided. Lastly descriptive statistics such as the type and nature of needs and demographic characteristics of homeless youth are also provided. Chapter Five discusses the findings in relation to the literature. The demographic characteristics of study participants are compared to national statistics of the location of the study (i.e. Accra, Ghana). The expressed information needs of study participants, their information sources, information seeking behaviours and barriers to their everyday life information seeking behaviour are compared to ELIS studies of the poor or disadvantaged, the youth including homeless youth or street children, ELIS studies in Africa, and other relevant literature. Theoretical interpretations of the findings based on three ELIS theories, namely Savolainen’s (1995) concepts of ‘way of life’ and ‘mastery of life’, and Chatman’s (1991) theory of gratification (Chatman, 1991), and theory of normative behaviour (Burnett, Besant and Chatman, 2001) are also provided. Chapter Six provides the summary, conclusions and recommendations based on the findings of the study and offers suggestions for further research.  12  Chapter 2: Literature Review  Introduction The overall purpose of the literature review is to provide an overview of the concepts, theoretical frameworks and positions, controversies and empirical research in everyday life information seeking (ELIS) of disadvantaged groups and the poor, the youth including homeless youth, and ELIS research in Africa. These detailed reviews offer the researcher a good understanding of these concepts and theories and facilitates their applicability to the study in areas such as operationalisation of concepts, discussions and theoretical interpretations of findings. Homeless youth are both youth and disadvantaged and the study is located in Accra, Ghana, that is, SubSaharan Africa. Hence the review is of ELIS studies of youth, the poor and Africa to provide a holistic background to inform the study and allow for comparison. Other purposes are to identify gaps in the literature and demonstrate how the present study can contribute to knowledge, and to identify the appropriate methodology for the study. The literature review is divided into six sections. Section 2.1 covers youth and homelessness and its purpose is to provide background information on homeless youth for the study. It discusses the definitions of homeless youth available in the literature, the categories of homeless youth and how the two terms ‘homeless youth’ and ‘street children’ relate to each other; and the causes and characteristics of homeless youth. The theories and concepts of ELIS in the LIS field are still evolving, with several ELIS theories available for ELIS research but no generalized theory. LIS scholars are not agreed on the definitions of some concepts such as information need and information seeking behaviour, therefore Section 2.2 reviews and discusses the concepts of information seeking behaviour and the different approaches to the study of the concept of information need by library and information science (LIS) scholars and how information need relates to the basic human needs. Section 2.3 identifies the definitions of ELIS and theories available for ELIS research. It also discusses the concepts of poverty and information poverty, and reviews the literature of ELIS of the poor and the disadvantaged. Section 2.4 includes an overview of youth information seeking 13  and discusses empirical research on ELIS of youth and homeless youth. Section 2.5 discusses ELIS research in Africa and Section 2.6 presents the summary and conclusion of the literature review.  2.1  Homelessness and Youth  “Homelessness: is an umbrella term applied to a variety of people who have no shelter of their own for different reasons and in a variety of situations” (Ploeg and Scholte, 1997, p. 4). The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 11302 of the United States defines a homeless person as: 1) An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and (2) an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is, (A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); (B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or (C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (2008).  MacKenzie and Chamberlain (2006) identified three categories of homelessness as primary, secondary and tertiary homelessness. Primary homelessness refers to people with no conventional accommodation, using cars and railway carriages among others as temporary shelters. Secondary homelessness refers to “people who move frequently from one form of temporary shelter to another, including boarding houses, emergency accommodation and shortterm stays with other households”, and “tertiary homelessness refers to people staying in boarding houses on a medium- to long term basis, defined as 13 weeks or longer” (p.18).  2.1.1  Definition of Homeless Youth  There is no universal definition of homeless youth. The range of definitions available in the literature is based on age, adequacy of shelter, parental or institutional care, and circumstances leading to the state of homelessness. For example, the National Coalition for the Homeless 14  (NCH) defines homeless youth as “individuals under the age of eighteen who lack parental, foster, or institutional care” (NCH, 2008, Definitions and dimensions, para. 1). The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (2004) of the United States defines a homeless youth as “an individual, not more than 21 years of age and not less than 16 years of age, for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative and who has no other safe alternative arrangement” (42 U.S.C. 5701 note). The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of the United States (2002) defines homeless children or youths as: (A) Individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and (B) Includes— (i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing or economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement; (ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; (iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and (iv) migratory children who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii). (SEC. 725, Definitions)  Ploeg and Scholte (1997) identify two approaches to defining homeless youth, the ‘broad-band’ and ‘narrow-band’ approaches. The broadband approach considers homeless youth as “those young people who have been cast out, abandoned or rejected by their families and who have no fixed address and find themselves frequently moving from one place to another”. In the narrowband approach homeless youth are defined as, “those youngsters who have no roof over their head and sleep every night on the street” (Ploeg and Scholte, 1997, p. 1-2).  15  2.1.2  Categories of Homeless Youth  Homeless youth is an umbrella term describing different varieties of young people such as runaways, throwaways, system youth, unaccompanied youth and street youth. They are explained as follows: Runaways are youth “who have left home without parental permission”. Throwaways are those “who have been forced out of their homes”. Systems youth are those “who have become homeless after aging out of foster homes or the juvenile justice system” (Toro, Dworsky, and Fowler, 2007, p. 6-2). Unaccompanied youth are youth below the age of 18 who are living on their own without their parents or guardians in unstable or inadequate living situations (The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, as cited in Moore, 2005). With regard to Street youth, there is no consensus in the literature. Julianelle and Naehcy (2008) describe street youth as youth who have adopted street culture as a result of their prolonged homelessness engaging in substance abuse and other risky behaviours. On the other hand, Scanlon, Tomkins and Lynch (1998) point out that the term street children is a broader term, referring to the homeless, abandoned and runaways. UNICEF (cited in Scanlon, Tomkins and Lynch,1998) describes two categories of street children, namely, children ‘on the street’ and children ‘of the street’. Children on the street are ‘home based’ who spend much of their day on the street but have family support and return home for the night”. Children of the street are “street based children who spend most days and nights on the street and are functionally without family support” (Definitions of street children adapted from Unicef 1986, para. 1 and 2). West (2003) notes that the use of the term ‘street children’ is restricted in developed countries. It has been replaced with ‘runaways’ or ‘homeless young people’. The reason for the avoidance/restriction of use is the fact that children under the age of 16 in most developed countries are considered under age and are not supposed to find work or be homeless. In developing countries in regions such as Asia and the Pacific children may often be sent by families to the cities to work because of poverty (West, 2003). In Sub-Saharan Africa, for 16  example Ghana, thousands of youth migrate from rural to urban areas to look for jobs which are limited or non-existent in the rural areas (Beauchemin, 1999). In other words in developing countries, children work out of necessity to escape from poverty. The discussions so far show that homeless youth irrespective of category are youth living on their own, often under inadequate living conditions without the support of a parent or a responsible adult. In this study the terms ‘homeless youth’, ‘street children’ or ‘street youth’ will be used interchangeably.  2.1.3  Causes of Youth Homelessness  The main causes of youth homelessness, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless (2008) are residential instability, economic and family problems. The findings of a survey conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada (2006) revealed that street youth leave home because of:       Fighting or arguing with parents /caregivers. Among the basis for these arguments are breaking of parental rules, financial difficulties, alcohol and drug use by both parents and youth. A quest for independence, travel or the attraction of moving to a larger city. Being forced out of the home. Parental neglect and sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Trouble with law enforcement agencies (p. 11).  A report on a study of youth homelessness in Calgary indicates that youth homelessness is caused by both push and pull factors. The push factors are parental neglect and abuse, learning and/developmental disabilities, poverty, and family conflict. The pull factors include street culture, substance use, and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships (Broadview Applied Research Group, 2005). Another study in Winnipeg by Higgit, Wingert, and Ristock (2003) identified normal adolescent behaviour such as rebelliousness at home and school, broken homes, and dysfunctional extended families as causes of homelessness. A study conducted by Hyde (2005) in Los Angeles to understand youth homelessness revealed that young people leave 17  home because of sexual and physical abuse, family conflict, substance abuse by parents, single parenthood, and poverty. Other reasons are conflicts over religious beliefs, sexual orientation, educational performance, and living styles such as hair colour and cut, body piercing and clothing. A report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (2006) in the United States indicates that youth homelessness can be ascribed to failure of government programs such as mental health, juvenile corrections and child welfare programs. For example the report indicated that youth, 16 years or older who age out of the foster care system in the United States every year often have limited resources and face numerous challenges including homelessness. In Asia and the Pacific, West (2003) reports that the street children phenomenon is caused by: Poverty: The factors leading to poverty might be flood, drought, shortage or loss of land, earthquake, and lack of state support after a disaster, and closure of industries. The consequences of poverty are selling or abandonment of children, sending children to work to supplement family incomes, or whole families moving onto the streets. Domestic violence and abuse: Domestic violence, including physical or sexual abuse, may stem from reconstituted families. For example a father or mother who re-marries may not take his/her children to the new household and they may end up on the streets, or stepparents may be violent or abusive to their step-children causing them to run away from home. Discrimination: Children of prisoners, especially those convicted of murder, may be shunned by their communities. These children are left to their own devices often without state support and so end up on the streets. Other forms of discrimination are of children who are or whose parents are HIV positive, or whose parents have died of the disease and in places like Bangladesh, girls who have suffered acid burning because they refused  18  advances from men. Such girls are considered unmarriageable and therefore abandoned by their families.  Other causes are pressures and violence at school such as bullying and anxieties about doing well, violence from teachers, drug abuse by children causing parents to throw them out, armed conflicts in countries like Sri Lanka and Tajikistan, and natural disasters. In Africa youth homelessness is caused by rural urban migration, armed conflicts, HIV/ Aids, domestic violence and obsolete traditions. There are an estimated 300,000 children and youth ages 15-24 currently participating in conflicts in over 30 countries and over 300 million young people under the age of 25 are living in these conflict zones. Some of these children become refugees in foreign countries and others are internally displaced. In Northern Uganda alone, there are about one million internally displaced children in overcrowded camps (Integrated Regional Information Network, 2007). In Ghana children have migrated from the rural areas to the cities for decades in search of jobs, vocational training, and education and most of them end up on the streets. The causes of the increasing number of street children are poverty, divorce, rural urban migration, child abuse, peer influence and dysfunctional families (Consortium for street children, n.d.). A study by Beauchemin (1999) showed that youth exodus from the urban to the rural areas is caused by poor economic conditions in rural areas, parental neglect and abuse, polygamy, poverty and lack of infrastructure such as good roads, water and electricity, poor school conditions (for example, lack of teachers and school materials which causes youth to drop out of school and head to the cities), lack of jobs, and obsolete traditions. In many Islamic communities for example, where Islamic beliefs and value systems are more highly regarded than secular values, children have to attend Islamic schools for three years to learn the Koran, and girls are less highly regarded than boys and therefore may be confined to do household chores without going to school. Girls without education have limited job opportunities and so many of them, especially from the rural areas of Ghana migrate to the cities in search of menial jobs and end up on the streets. Western cultures and growing poverty have undermined 19  the extended family system; that is, fathers are beginning to focus on their nuclear family alone, so that if a man dies his brothers are no longer willing to take care of his children, leading them in many cases to drop out of school and migrate to the city. A South African study by Le Roux (1996) involving street children ages 13-14 also indicates that children leave home because of parental abuse and alcoholism, personal reasons, family violence and poverty. Fall (1986) ascribed causes of youth homelessness to pull and push factors. He mentions independence, the possibility of improved living conditions, and the attractiveness of living in cities as some of the pull factors. Some of the push factors are urbanization, large family sizes and collapse of traditional families. The causes of youth homelessness are many and varied. Youth become homeless when they are separated from the safety net of family support due to poverty, broken homes, domestic, sexual and drug abuse, social disasters such as wars and HIV Aids, rural urban migration, failed government policies such as unfair distribution of resources and infrastructure, obsolete traditions and pressures of school.  2.1.4  Characteristics of Homeless Youth  Although homeless youth are many and diverse, a number of research studies by individuals and organizations such as Molino and Franklin (2007), Ferguson (2008), Burt (2007), Public Health Agency of Canada (2006), United States Department of Health and Human Services (2003), Robertson and Toro (1998), and the National Alliance to End Homelessness (2005) have identified some characteristics common to this group. These are: Gender and age: Homeless youth on the street tend to include more males than females, but the proportions of homeless males and females in shelters tend to be even. The majority of homeless youth are age 13 and older. Family characteristics: Many homeless youth have families which have low income, divorced parents, single parents, or had been homeless at some point in their lives.  20  Residential instability: Homeless youths have experienced repeated moves in their lifetime. Many have had contacts with public social systems such as foster care, criminal justice, and psychiatric facilities. Physical and substance abuse: Most homeless youth have experienced family conflict which has often been reported as a cause for leaving home. They have also experienced multiple types of abuse such physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse. Others are parental neglect, and substance abuse such as abuse of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, stimulants, analgesics, inhalants, and sedatives. Substance abuse is more prevalent among street youth than sheltered youth and runaways, and among older youths than younger ones. Physical health: Homeless youth tend to have chronic health conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, hepatitis, skin infestations, nutritional disorders, etc. As a result of constant exposure to violence, they also have mental health disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety. Lack of financial resources: Homeless youth lack adequate financial resources due to their minimal education levels and lack of job training and marketable skills, which only allow them to secure low-wage jobs. Thus they are not able to afford basic needs like food and shelter. The common characteristics of homeless youth revealed in the literature are dysfunctional families, chronic health conditions, drug and alcohol abuse, and lack of basic needs such as food and shelter, resources and skills.  2.2  The Concept of Information Seeking Behaviour (ISB)  Case (2007) observes that most accounts of empirical investigations have said little about the concept of information seeking and do not provide a definition of the term. He further 21  emphasized that the few authors who do provide an explicit definition describe it as a process of either discovering or filling in gaps in patterns that were previously recognized. Some of these definitions are as follows:   “Specific actions performed by an individual that are specifically aimed at satisfying information needs” ( Feinman, Mick, Saalberg and Thompson,1976, p. 3)    It is conceptualized as “how people need, seek, manage, give and use information in different contexts (Pettigrew, Fidel, Bruce, (2001, p. 44).    “An activity of an individual that is undertaken to identify a message that satisfies a need (Krikelas, 1983, p. 6).    “The purposeful seeking for information as a consequence of a need to satisfy some goal. In the course of seeking, the individual may interact with manual information systems and computer-based systems” (Wilson, 2000, p. 49).    “A conscious effort to acquire information in response to a need or gap in one’s own knowledge” (Case, 2007, p. 5).  The most influential advocate of the concept of information behaviour is Wilson (Case, 2007). In a paper entitled, On user studies and information needs, Wilson (1981) depicted an information behaviour model (Figure 2. 1) to show the interrelationships among concepts used in the field. He suggested that “information-seeking behaviour results from the recognition of some need, perceived by the user” (Wilson, 1981, User studies, para. 1). To satisfy this need a user may obtain information from formal information systems such as libraries, other systems like estate or car sale agents which perform both information and non-information functions, or from interpersonal sources described in reference to Figure 2. 1 as: ‘information exchange’. Wilson (1981) mentions that information exchange is reciprocal and considered a fundamental aspect of human interaction by both sociologists and social psychologists.  22  Figure 2. 1 - A model of information behaviour from T.D. Wilson (1981).On user studies and information needs. Journal of Documentation, 37(1), p. 4.  The diagram further shows that, in information seeking behaviour, failure may be experienced in using both formal information systems and people sources for information. Information accessed by users, irrespective of the source, will be used in one way or another. The use of the information may not always satisfy a need and the information sometimes may be transferred to another person because it meets his or her need. Thus information seeking behaviour starts with the identification of a need, and then a search for information which will be used to satisfy that need.  2.2.1  The Concept of Information Need  In the Library and Information Science literature there is no consensus on the meaning of the term information need (Shenton and Dixon, 2004). Wilson (1997) has suggested a number of reasons why the definition of the concept of information need has proved so difficult. He explains that “need is a subjective experience which takes place only in the mind of the person in need and consequently it is not directly accessible to an observer” (Wilson, 1997, p.552). Thus, the only way to discover any experience of need is to make deduction from a person’s 23  behaviour or through the reports of a person in need. Wilson (1981) also made the observation that the confusion over a definition also results from the lack of a single concept of information and failure to distinguish among alternative common sense meanings of the term information. Another reason is the association of the two words, ‘information’ and ‘need’. This association causes the combined concept to be equated to a “basic need qualitatively similar to other basic human needs” such as physiological (e.g. need for food and water), emotional or affective needs (e.g. need for attainment) and cognitive needs (e.g. need for achievement) (Wilson (1981, Information needs section, para. 11). He points out that there is an interrelationship between the three categories of needs since a physiological need for example may trigger an affective or cognitive need, and failure to satisfy a cognitive need may result in an affective need such as reassurance. These interrelationships suggest that in order to satisfy these basic needs, an individual may engage in a search for information. He therefore advocates the replacement of the term ‘information need’ with “information seeking towards the satisfaction of needs” (Information needs section, para. 12). The social role of an individual such as his or her responsibilities at work also determines his or her needs. Wilson’s assertion is that the motive of any search for information is ultimately to satisfy one or more of the basic human needs and so it is all right to do away with the phrase ‘information need’ which does not bring out the purpose or the motivation for the act of information seeking. He however notes that some affective or cognitive needs may not trigger an immediate information seeking response due to some factors other than a need situation. These factors include the importance attached to the satisfaction of the need, the consequences of taking action with limited information, and the availability and costs of using information sources. Other factors are the economic, political, cultural and physical environment of the information seeker. Campbell (1995) has also said that since it is the perception of the lack of information that provokes a person to develop the need for it, it is difficult for someone to describe information he perceives as lacking. Since “information lack is an elusive and unquantifiable concept, it 24  follows that the corresponding information need to fill the gap is equally elusive” (p. 2). Considering the elusive nature of an information need, Campbell describes as misleading the idea of clearly defining or understanding it. He emphasized further that, it is a lack of information that motivates a searching activity, and that lack is described as an information need. He concludes that the distinction between the two is subtle and they virtually mean the same thing. Campbell (1995) summarized the characteristics of information need as follows:       An information need is by its nature impossible to describe or define because we cannot describe information we do not have. An information need is present only in the mind of the information seeking agent. An information need will change with time, as a result of the agent’s exposure to information. Information encountered during information seeking activities is more likely to change the information need to a large extent than that encountered elsewhere. The behaviour of the agent during information seeking activities is most likely to be influenced to the greatest extent by the information need than by other perceptions (p. 3).  2.2.2  Defining Information Need  Despite the controversies with the term information need, some authors have attempted to define it as follows:   The “recognition that one’s knowledge is inadequate to satisfy a specific goal” (Case, 2007, p.5)    “A consciously identified gap in the knowledge available to an actor” (Ingwersen and Jarvelin, 2005, p.20).    “An individual’s conception of what information he or she needs to clarify an unclear aspect of a situation” (Kari, 1998, p.3).    “An awareness of a state of not knowing or some conceptual incongruity in which the learner’s cognitive structure is not adequate to the task” (Ford, 1980, p. 100).  25  2.2.3  Concepts of Information Need by Different Scholars  There is no explicit consensus in the literature regarding the meaning of the central concept of information need. It has been defined according to the particular interests and expertise of various scholars. Case (2007) provided an overview of the concept of information need and described the ways in which it has been conceptualized in the literature. Some of these concepts are discussed in this section. 2.2.3.1  Concept of Information Need Based on Seeking Answers  Taylor (1962, p. 392) identifies four levels of need in describing how and why people come to ask questions at the reference desk of a library. Visceral need – a vague form of need which is not verbally expressed and may change in or form or quality “as information is added” Conscious need – “an ambiguous and rambling statement of the need “, which may require communicating with another person to minimize the ambiguity. Formalized need – “a qualified and rational statement” of the question. Compromised need –“the question as presented to the information system” in the form of a search term or by asking a librarian. This conceptualization of information need, according to Case (2007), implies that what is perceived as need may be totally different from what is ultimately expressed in words. He emphasized that what is important is an individual’s ability to communicate his or her thoughts, ask and answer questions. 2.2.3.1.1  Information Need Based on Uncertainty  In the 1970’s a number of authors conceptualized an information need as a function of uncertainty (Case, 2007). In other words people are motivated to look for information in order to reduce uncertainty. For example, Atkin (cited in Case, 2007, p.73) defines information need as 26  “a function of extrinsic uncertainty produced by a perceived discrepancy between the individual’s current level of uncertainty about important environmental objects and criterion state that he seeks to achieve”. These environmental objects are “people, things, events, and ideas” of “psychological importance to the individual” (Case, 2007, p. 73). Belkin, Oddy, and Brooks (1982) maintain that information seeking is motivated by an ‘Anomalous State of Knowledge’ (ASK). A person is said to be in a state of ASK when there is a recognition of a gap or uncertainty in his or her knowledge about a “situation or topic” (p. 62). This anomaly or uncertainty is resolved by seeking information. 2.2.3.1.2  Information Need Based on Sense-making  The sense-making approach “posits an information need situation as one in which the individual’s internal sense has run out” and the person needs to create a new sense. (Dervin and Nilan, 1986, p. 21). This need situation is explained by the sense-making model labeled as SITUATION-GAP-USES. SITUATION is “the time space context at which sense is constructed”. The GAP is a discontinuity or gap in one’s knowledge, translated in most studies as an information need that needs to be bridged. The individual bridges the gap using different strategies. Dervin (1983b) says that: … need implies a state that arises within a person suggesting some kind of gap that requires filling. When applied to the word information, as in information need, what is suggested is; a gap that can be filled by something that the needing person calls information (p. 156). She further explains that an individual is constantly making sense of his/her world. This is done by asking questions about a situation in time and space. These questions are regarded as information needs. It is these questions or information needs that trigger a search for information. 2.2.3.1.3  Information Need Versus Basic Needs  Wilson (2006) argues that the satisfaction of basic human needs is what motivates an individual to engage in information seeking behaviour. Human needs theorists assert “that needs, unlike 27  interests, cannot be traded, suppressed or bargained for” (Marker, 2003, Arguments for the human needs approach, para. 1). They further maintain that one of the fundamental causes of prolonged conflict is people’s determination to satisfy their unmet needs at the individual, group or societal level (Marker, 2003). Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist who lived from 1908 to 1970 (Simons, Irwin, and Drinnien, 1987), identified five levels of basic human needs, namely physiological, safety, belonging, esteem needs, and need for self actualization. These needs are explained as follows: Physiological needs: These are basic human needs to sustain life such as oxygen, food, water, a relatively constant body temperature, clothing and shelter. In Maslow’s opinion, these are the most important needs and a person will always seek to satisfy them before any other need. Safety needs: These are the needs for structure, stability, protection and safe environment (Marker, 2003; Boeree, 2006). A person becomes concerned with safety once the physiological needs are met. Signs of insecurity are more pronounced in children such as in times of illness, in the midst of strangers or any rough handling by parents. Adults tend to exhibit insecurity during emergency situations such as war, natural disasters and high incidents of crime (Green, 2000). Belonging needs: These are the social or affiliation needs exhibited in our desires to marry, have, children, a family, and be part of a community such as church, association and club memberships (Boeree, 2006). Esteem needs: These are needs for both self esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Maslow identified two types of esteem needs: A lower one characterized by a need for attention, status, glory, reputation appreciation, respect, etc., and a higher one 28  characterized by the need for independence, freedom, self respect, feelings of competence, achievement, confidence and mastery (Boeree, 2006). When these needs are met, a person feels a valuable member of society. Unmet esteem needs leads to feelings of frustration, worthlessness and helplessness. Self actualization needs: Self actualization is the need for the fulfillment of one’s potential, or when a person ends up doing what he was born to do (Simons, Irwin, and Drinnien, 1987). Maslow asserts that self-actualization can be achieved only when the lower needs of physiological, safety, esteem, and belonging needs are truly met (Boeree, 2006). Maslow’s hierarchic theory is often represented as a pyramid (Figure 2. 2).  Figure 2. 2 - Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs adapted from Huit, W. (2007) Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved July 20, 2008 from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/regsys/maslow.html  He referred to the lower four levels as deficit needs and the upper point as being needs. He claimed that society hinders people from moving in the direction of self actualization and emphasized that self actualization can be met only when the lower needs are taken care of to a considerable extent. He further identified education as one of the hindrances to selfactualization and recommended ways in which education can be used to advance the growth of an individual (Simons et al., 1987). 29  Although Maslow’s theory is generally accepted and applied in various fields, including politics, business, and management, there are a few criticisms, notably that the methodology for his theoretical propositions is not scientific. For example Boeree (2006) has observed that in Maslow’s selection of subjects, he simply declared some people to be self-actualized, read about them and interviewed them for his study. Other critics also assert that self-actualization is a basic attribute of every living creature, that is, “to grow, to become and to fulfill its biological destiny” (Some Criticisms section, para. 3). This is contrary to Maslow’s proposition that selfactualization occurs only in about two percent of the population. Maslow proposed that humans normally satisfy the lower needs of his hierarchy before self actualization. However Boeree (2006) noted that throughout history there are many examples of renowned people who have self-actualized without satisfying the lower needs. Such people went through poverty, depression, bad upbringing, hunger and even neuroses. Some of the limitations of Maslow’s theory have been addressed by other motivation theories such as the ERG (Existence, Relatedness, and Growth) theory of motivation, proposed by Alderfer (1972). The theory is similar to Maslow’s theory. It is hierarchical, made up of three levels: Existence (i.e., physiological and safety needs), relatedness (i.e., social and external), and growth (i.e., self-actualization and internal esteem needs). However, unlike Maslow’s hierarchy, the different levels of need can be pursued at the same time. In other words, one does not need to fulfill physiological needs before safety needs, or lower needs before selfactualization needs. It also proposes that a person can take the easier road of fulfilling a lower level need if there is a difficulty fulfilling a higher level need. Because the ERG theory is flexible, it is able to explain a wider range of human behaviours such as the “starving artist” who wants to fulfill growth needs before existence needs, or like Mother Theresa who prioritized spiritual needs over existence needs. Apart from Maslow and Alderfer other researchers have identified other human needs. For example, Lawrence and Wilson (cited in Huit, 2007), using evidence from a sociobiology theory 30  of motivation, concluded that learning to make sense of themselves and their world , defending themselves and their beliefs, loved ones and resources from danger, bonding and commitment to long-term mutual relationships, and acquisition of things and experiences are the four basic needs of humans Taylor (1997) also listed nine basic needs: exchange, adventure, community, freedom, expansion, power, expression, security, and acceptance. She described the positive and negative aspects of each need, how they manifest themselves in different people, and how these needs affect the workplace. For example, she explained exchange as the need to trade information and knowledge, as well as socialize and give and receive something of value, such as friendship or money. Some of the manifestations of exchange for different people are participating in discussions, staying in touch with friends, family and colleagues, and working with contracts and agreements. The positive aspects of this need are a positive role model for relationships, keeping things moving, and promoting equality in all interactions. The negative aspects include: gossip, stinginess, criticism, and generally negative behaviour. In their relationships, persons with a need for exchange would always want to receive and give something valuable and often get upset with unethical behaviour or acts of discrimination. Human needs can be satisfied to a large extent by getting access to the right information in whatever source or format. Norwood (cited in Huit, 2007) has rightly observed that Maslow’s hierarchy can be used to describe the different kinds of information people need at each level. For example, belonging needs of individuals can be met by enlightening information through the reading of books, esteem needs can be satisfied by information that is empowering, selfactualization needs by information that is edifying and safety needs by helping information, that is, information that would facilitate security. Any information that is irrelevant in satisfying a person’s need is simply avoided.  31  The literature has shown that scholars in LIS have conceptualized information need variously as lack of information, a gap in one’s knowledge, a problem for which a person seeks help or an anomalous state of knowledge, showing clearly that there is no consensus on the meaning or concept of information need. This lack of consensus might be ascribed to the fact that information need exists in the mind of the information seeker, who is the only one qualified to articulate this need, and not an outsider. The researcher is of the opinion that this controversy over the concept of information need among LIS scholars will end if they agree with Wilson’s (2006) statement that “the full range of human personal needs is at the root of motivation towards information seeking behaviour” (p. 665). In other words information seeking must be regarded as an action to satisfy human needs and not information needs.  2.3  Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour (ELIS)  Much of the earlier research on information seeking behaviour in Library and Information Science (LIS) was focused on work-related information needs. Some authors have given reasons for this. For example, Case (2007) explains that the earlier focus on scientists was in response to public perception of scientists as working for public good and private profit, for example doctors working on treatments for heart disease. Leckie, Pettigrew and Sylvain (1996) have explained the shift of focus from scientists to other types of professionals such as lawyers, teachers, nurses, accountants, and the clergy in the late 1970s and early 1980s follows:   First, Library and Information Science scholars wanted to advance the theoretical analysis of the information seeking process by comparing the information seeking behaviour of these professionals to already established knowledge on scientists. Thus they sought to investigate the purposes for which their subjects sought information, how their work was influenced by their information need, searching and use and the barriers they encountered to information searching and use;  32    Second, commercial vendors were at the time offering customized information services to the second group of professionals, but lacked knowledge on the effectiveness of their services to them. Therefore, there was a need for research into the information required and used by them, to inform the vendors.    Finally, it was a natural expansion of knowledge from the focus on scientists and scholars (Leckie et al., 1996).  In recent times a number of studies have focused on non-work or ELIS (Carey et al., 2001). McKenzie (2003) believes that LIS researchers began to focus on ELIS and other nonpurposeful forms of information seeking when Wilson (1977) observed that people can discover information in their everyday life unintentionally that is, without planning to look for information. ELIS has often been referred to as non-work or citizen information seeking. Savolainen (1995) has however noted that situating ELIS in a non-work context “should not be interpreted as an attempt to create a dichotomy between job-related and other information seeking process because job-related information seeking and ELIS complement each other” (p. 266). He explained further that seeking information for a language course, for example, may be useful for both professional and leisure activities. Savolainen (1995) is of the view that the overlap between work and non-work information needs will provide a rich context for understanding individual approaches to information seeking. This view is supported by Smith (1987), who also maintains that divorcing the everyday life from the working world will hinder a full understanding of the everyday life of individuals. For the purposes of this study both work and non-work information needs of homeless youth will be considered in order to get a holistic understanding of their everyday information needs and seeking. Research on ELIS was started in the 1970s and 1980s, a time when extensive surveys were launched in the United States to investigate the everyday information needs and seeking of ordinary citizens. Examples are studies of information needs of urban residents by Warner, Murray and Palmour (1973), of the everyday information needs of the average citizen, creating 33  a taxonomy for analysis (Dervin, 1976), of the development of strategies for dealing with the information needs of urban residents (Dervin et al., 1976), and of the information needs of Californians (Dervin, 1984). Subsequently other studies of everyday life information seeking behaviour have focused on health information seeking (Wathen and Harris, 2006; Courtright, 2004) and information and poverty (Chatman, 1990, 1991 and 1996). The following section will define ELIS, describe models of ELIS and review the literature on ELIS of the poor and disadvantaged. 2.3.1  Defining the Concept of Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour  Spink and Cole (2001) have referred to ELIS as “a relatively new branch of user studies that examines information behaviour of daily activities” (p. 301). ELIS has also been defined by Savolainen (1995, p. 267) as “the acquisition of various informational (both cognitive and expressive) elements which people employ to orient themselves in daily life or to solve problems not directly connected with the performance of occupational tasks”. ELIS manifests itself in two modes, namely seeking of problem-specific information such as finding a fact and seeking for information that is relevant to everyday events by using various sources and channels (Savolainen, 2004). Spink and Cole (2001) define the difference between occupational (workrelated) information seeking and ELIS (non-work) as follows: In occupational or school information seeking, the user is seeking information in a controlled environment with a definite end product that has some sort of paradigmatic quality to it. ELIS on the other hand, is fluid, depending on the motivation, education and other characteristics of the multitude of ordinary people seeking information for a multitude of aspects of everyday life. (Spink and Cole, 2001, p. 301). In other words, ELIS involves unplanned or unsystematic ways of acquiring information for daily activities other than formal work environments.  34  2.3.2  Theories of ELIS  A number of theories or models have been developed for the study of ELIS, in addition to the many information seeking models available in the field of LIS. These became necessary because, as McKenzie (2003) explains:       Current models of information behaviour and information seeking behaviour are limited in their ability to describe ELIS. They tend to focus on active information seeking, to the neglect of less directed practices. Most of them have not incorporated findings from current research related to incidental forms of information behavior. Many research-based models of information seeking are derived from studies of scholars, or professionals (such as Ellis, 1993; Kuhlthau, 1993) and are useful for describing systematic information searches in workplace environments. They tend to reflect analysis of a single, focused current need, and therefore do not attempt a holistic consideration of the variety of information behaviours individuals describe in their everyday lives.  Many models have been developed using a cognitive approach (McKenzie, 2003, p.19 to 20.  Savolainen (1995) explains that adopting the cognitive approach alone fails to address the socio-cultural factors that affect information seekers. Some models for ELIS studies are Savolainen’s (1995) concepts of “way of life” and “mastery of life”, Williamson’s (1998) ecological model of ELIS, McKenzie’s (2003) model of information practices, Dervin’s (1983a) sense-making approach and Chatman’s (1999) theory of life in the round. Dervin’s sensemaking approach, as noted by Savolainen (2004), is the most influential model in the study of ELIS. This is because it has been used to study the information needs and seeking behaviour of specific groups of people, in numerous contexts. Some of the theories for ELIS are described below. 2.3.2.1.1  Everyday Life information Seeking (ELIS) in Context of Way of Life and Mastery of Life  In a study entitled, ‘Everyday life information seeking: Approaching information seeking in the context of way of life’, Savolainen (1995) introduced the concepts of ‘way of life’ and ‘mastery of life’ to explain ELIS. Way of life “refers to order of things which are based on the choices that individuals make in everyday life”. “Things stand for various activities taking place in the daily 35  life world including not only job, household care, and voluntary activities” such as hobbies. He explained order as “preferences given to these activities” (Savolainen, 1995, p. 262). He further claimed that order of things can be determined in both subjective and objective ways. For example, the length of a working day which also determines the leisure time a person has is determined objectively, whereas a person’s perception of the most pleasant ways of spending leisure hours is a subjective way of determining the order of things. A person’s daily activities comprising both work and non-work activities tend to be so well established that it is easily accepted as the most natural way in which one’s life is organized. Savolainen (1995) also mentioned the cognitive order which is a person’s perception of a normal way of life. This way of life comes about through the individual choices people have engaged in. They try to keep this way of life as long as it is meaningful. Mastery of life is the care an individual takes to ensure there is a meaningful order of things in his/her life. It also refers to “a general preparedness to approach everyday problems in certain ways in accordance with one’s values” (Savolainen, 1995, p. 264). In other words the mastery of life is molded by the individual’s culture and social class. It can be described as passive or active. The former refers to the situation where everything is generally moving as expected. The latter is a state involving pragmatic problem solving because “the order of things has been shaken or threatened” (p. 264). The mastery of life is a developmental process. If a person’s normal way of life is threatened in some way, he or she relies on past problem solving experiences to resolve the issues at hand. Concurrently, a person gains experience or becomes familiar with the information sources and channels which are useful in the resolution of the problems encountered in his or her daily life. Such experiences “affect the information orientation of the individual and lead to certain information-seeking habits”. Consequently, a “set of attitudes and dispositions” are developed “towards information seeking and use in certain problem situations”. These attitudes to information seeking unconsciously become part of the individual’s mastery of life (Savolainen, 1995, p. 265). Savolainen further mentions that the 36  factors that mold the mastery of life are individual orientations in problem situations and how people look for information to facilitate problem solving. In a problematic situation an individual can exhibit either a cognitive or an affective orientation to solving the problem. A cognitive orientation to problem solving adopts an analytic and systematic approach and an affective orientation is based on emotions and unpredictable reactions to the issues at hand. He further specified “four ideal types of mastery of life with implications for information seeking behaviour” (p. 265) based on the two dimensions to problem solving as follows: Optimistic-cognitive mastery of life: The individual conceives problems as positive and solvable and focuses on a detailed analysis, systematic information seeking; and selection of the most effective sources/channels for the resolution of the problem. Pessimistic-cognitive mastery of life: The individual does not envisage the problem to be solved, but nevertheless engages in systematic information activities to solve it. Defensive-affective mastery of life: The individual is optimistic about the solvability of the problem. However information seeking activities are dominated by affective factors, such as avoiding situations that imply risk of failure, and “wishful thinking instead of realistic considerations” (p.265). Pessimistic-affective mastery of life: This type is characterized by absence of systematic information seeking, dominance of emotional reactions and short-sightedness and search of instant pleasures. The individual lacks confidence in his/her abilities to solve the problem and simply avoids it.  2.3.2.1.2  Williamson’s Ecological Model of ELIS  Williamson’s ecological model of information seeking and use was developed after investigating the information seeking behaviour of 202 older adults (age 60 and over) in metropolitan and 37  rural areas in Australia. The model is termed ecological because the research was conducted in the social and cultural environment of the respondents (Williamson, 1998).The model suggests that as people engage in purposeful information seeking to satisfy their perceived needs, they monitor their world and acquire or stumble on “information which they were not always aware they needed” (p. 35). The monitoring of their world is influenced by their physical environment, personal characteristics such as their state of health and lifestyles, value systems and sociocultural backgrounds. The model further shows that they rely on the mass media, close personal networks such as family and friends, and wider personal networks including church and voluntary organizations in both their incidental and purposeful information seeking. 2.3.2.1.3  McKenzie’s Model of Information Practices  The model of information practices for describing ELIS was developed by McKenzie (2003) in her study of health information seeking of Canadian women pregnant with twins. Her model is a two-dimensional model comprising four modes of information practices revealed in the accounts of the subjects of the study. The four modes of information practices are: Active seeking – This involves the systematic and active seeking of known items using preplanned questions and active questioning strategies. Active scanning- This involves looking for information at likely places by semi-directed browsing or scanning coupled with spontaneous questioning, actively listening to conversations, and observations of behaviours and physical characteristics. Non-directed monitoring- This involves unexpected encountering of information in an unlikely place without actually looking for information at all, or while monitoring information sources with no intent of becoming informed.  38  By proxy- This involves consulting information sources that have been suggested by other people or information sources the seeker has contacted such as a gatekeeper or intermediary.  2.3.2.1.4  Interest-Concern-Caring  Wilson (1997) proposed a model based on the assumption that people would like to have some control or influence over things that happen in the world. He proposed a three-way concept of interest-concern-caring to explain the intensity and focus of ELIS in various phases of solving everyday problems. Interest is an expression of curiosity or wanting to know about things in a certain area. It might not lead to any action to change or control the objects of interest. It may be active, that is, a person is willing to look for information about a topic, or passive, that is, only available information will be received with no further seeking for information. Concern means a person is willing to control, influence, or act upon a situation. Similarly concern can be active or passive. In the former, a person looks for more information to solve a problem or make sense of a situation in a systematic manner. A concern changes to caring when one engages in an action to change or control a worrisome situation. The process may reverse as the situation improves; that is, caring may change to concern or interest (Wilson, 1997). 2.3.2.1.5  Dervin’s Sense-making Approach  The term 'sense-making' is a label used by Dervin (1983a) to describe a “coherent set of concepts and methods” used since 1972 to study information needs, seeking and use and how people make sense of their world (Dervin 1999, p.729). The sense-making project became necessary because a mass of evidence showed that formalized models for communication, education, and information systems were inefficient and ineffective. Dervin (1999) ascribed the inefficiencies of these models to the fact that they are transportation, or transmission-based rather than communication-based metaphors.  39  In the library and information science literature, Dervin’s approach to information behaviour studies through sense-making has been credited as a factor in the shift from system-centered to user-centered research (Naumer, Fisher, and Dervin, 2008). It is defined as “behaviour, both internal (that is cognitive) and external (that is procedural) which allows the individual to construct and design his/her movement through time-space” (Dervin, 1983b, p.2). Dervin (1992) further explained sense-making as a set of assumptions, propositions, and methods to study the everyday experiences of people or how they make sense of their world. She believes that information seeking and use and all forms of communication situations, whether intra-personal, interpersonal, mass, societal, cross-cultural or international, are central to sense-making. According to Dervin (1999) the sense-making approach is based on certain core theoretical assumptions as follows: The human subject is perceived as body, mind, heart and spirit “living in a time-space, moving from a past, in a present to a future, anchored in material conditions” (Dervin 1999, p. 730) yet possessing the abilities to dream, plan, fantasize, make abstractions and have memories. The human subject is the prime focus of the sense-making approach mandated to rely on both his outer and inner worlds simultaneously in his sense-making. Thus it is possible for humans to use both cognitive and affective behaviours such as feelings, emotions, dreams, ideas, pretenses, etc., to make sense of their world. Sense-making conceives humans as theorists of their world who must continually make new theories because of constant changes in their world. An individual is considered an expert of his/her world involved in developing strategies consciously and unconsciously to bridge the gaps he/she encounters on his/her way (Spurgin, 2006). Sense-making conceptualizes knowledge and information as a verb. There is no distinction between them. Dervin (1998) is of the view that knowledge versus information is a system distinction which is irrelevant and of no meaning to reality and movement across time and 40  space. This view is supported by Savolainen (2006) who explains that whether information or knowledge is used as an input to sense-making is of no significance. Both of them can “serve as input (fodder) and as output (product) for sense-making and sense unmaking” (Dervin, 1998, p. 36). Sense-making by an individual at a particular instance is referred to as knowledge. It can sometimes be shared, agreed upon by a group of individuals, unexpressed, suppressed, formalized and published, or take on the status of facts (Dervin, 1998). Sense-making assumes that “information is not a thing that exists independent of and external to human beings but rather is a product of human observing” (Dervin, 1983b, p.4). This applies to direct observations as well as observations made by others. These observations are guided and interpreted by the human mind. Dervin further asserts that human observings are constrained in four ways, namely physiological (humans are not capable of making some observations that other species are capable of making); present time- space (what we can observe over time depends on where we are, since we are bound in time- space); past timespace (our present observations rest on our past histories to the extent that sometimes, the present time-space is perceived as identical to the past); and future time space (our observations today have nothing to do with tomorrow and may also rest in part on our future focus). Sense-making assumes that ‘factizing (i.e. the making of facts or creation of knowledge) is not the only useful way humans make sense of their worlds. Strategies such as consensus building, negotiating, power-brokering, emoting, defining, muddling and suppressing are equally involved in the sense-making and sense-unmaking process. Dervin (1999) refers to these sense-making strategies as ‘verbings’ and maintains that by putting them on an equal footing, “it frees research from the implicit assumption that there is one right way to produce knowledge” (p. 732). In sense-making every ‘verbing’ of human sense-making is conceptualized as important and is mandated to reveal it.  41  Sense-making perceives humans and their institutions as constantly changing and evolving through sense-making. The focus is to ascertain both the external and internal processes involved in these continual sense-making. As Dervin (1999) states, “Sense-making mandates a focus on the varieties of internal and external cognizings, emotings, feelings, and communications that make, reinforce, challenge, resist, alter, and reinvent human worlds” (p. 731). In other words there is an emphasis on processes and verbs and not descriptors and nouns. Naumer et al. (2008) explain that research is mandated to examine “how people define situations, how they integrate their contextual understandings into sense-makings, how they define their information needs, and how they communicate with others” (p.3). Sense-making maintains that by focusing on the changes across time and space it is possible to study the patterns in the human condition. Sense-making acknowledges the role of energy/power as humans move across time and space. Such forces may facilitate, assist, motivate, constrain, hinder, or limit movement. Their sources can be natural, societal, and structural or from individuals themselves depending on their prevailing conditions. In the latter case Dervin (1999) observes that individuals possess the power “to resist, reinvent, challenge, deny and ignore” (p.732). Sense-making acknowledges that humans largely have the capacity to draw on ‘knowings’ from their inner realms, i.e., emotional, spiritual and the unconscious, to the external to make sense of their world. They are also able to articulate how these forces constrain or facilitate their across-space movements. Sense-making assumes human beings live in a world of gaps which is continually changing across time and space. Individuals react differently to particular time and space situations based on their own judgments or assessments. Metaphorically Dervin (1999b) envisions sense-making as taking a continuous step in the everyday world. Every step corresponds to an action towards the resolution of a problem 42  situation with the sense-maker drawing on previous understandings that were worked successfully in similar situations. In research, sense-making is implemented within the framework of the situations-gaps and uses model, often represented in a triangle (Figure 2. 3).  Figure 2. 3 - Sense-making Model adapted from T. D. Wilson (1999). Models of information behaviour research. Journal of Documentation, 55(3), p. 253.  Dervin (1983a) explains situation as “the time space contexts at which sense is constructed”. The gaps are the different situations in which people get stopped in their movement and need to bridge or figure out what sense they must construct to continue moving. It is often translated in information seeking and use studies as “information needs”. Uses is “the uses to which the individual puts newly created sense, translated in most studies as information helps and hurts” (Dervin, 1983b, p.7).  2.4  Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour of the Poor  This section will discuss the meaning of poverty and the characteristics of the poor including their attitude to information and information seeking, information poverty, and the relationship between poverty and information. It will also review research on the ELIS of the poor and disadvantaged, focusing on their information needs, sources of information and the problems they encounter in their everyday life information seeking.  43  2.4.1  Poverty and Information Poverty  The World Bank considers “a person as poor if his or her consumption or income level falls below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs. This minimum level is usually called the poverty line" (World Bank, n.d., Measuring poverty at the country level section, para. 1). The United Nations (UN) also describes poverty as: a human condition characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. (United Nations Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, 2001, Definitions section, para. 2).  The lives of the poor are characterized by inadequate education, food, shelter, and health. They are also vulnerable to natural disasters, diseases, economic dislocations and maltreatment by states, institutions and society as a whole. The fundamental freedoms of action and choice, which the middle class take for granted, are also beyond their reach. (UN, n.d.). The poor are also described by Lewis (1998) as having a special value system called the culture of poverty. People in this culture are characterized by a sense of powerlessness, inferiority, helplessness, marginality, personal unworthiness, and dependency. They feel alienated in the societies in which they live and believe that their interests and needs are not served by existing institutions. They tend to focus only on their immediate surroundings, problems, and their own way of life, and are not able to perceive the similarities between their problems and the poor in other parts of the world (Lewis, 1998). Obviously the poor lack the information that will empower them economically and socially. They need what Kagan (2000) suggests, the right information “in the most comprehensible format at the right time” (p. 29). The relationship between information and development has been corroborated by Narayan-Parker and Narayan (2002) who note that in any community those who exercise their rights, access services, hold their leaders accountable, negotiate effectively, and make use of available opportunities are the ones who are well informed. They emphasize that “without information that is relevant, timely, and presented in  44  forms that can be understood, it is impossible for poor people to take effective action” (NarayanParker and Narayan, 2002, p. 15). The poor are also regarded as information poor. ‘Information poor’ according to Britz (2004) is a relatively new concept which has been defined using three different approaches, namely information connectivity, information content and human approaches. These approaches are briefly explained below: Connectivity approach to information poverty: The focus of this approach is on lack of access to information communications technology (ICT). The assumption is that access to information using ICT is directly related to the socio-economic status of people. It is argued that much of the information that will help the poor, such as economic information, is available in digital format. These modern technologies are inaccessible to them as a result of the high cost and lack of expertise in using them. They are therefore excluded from the digital world economy (Britz, 2004). Content approach to information poverty: The view of this approach is that quality information is not affordable, available or suitable to the poor. In other words, the poor lack the economic power to access the quality information they need for their development. At the same time such quality information may not be suitable for their use (Britz, 2004). Human approach to information poverty: This refers to the processing of information for problem solving and decision making. Lievrouw and Farb (2003) argue that having access to information alone is not enough. What is important is that people have the skill, ability, and the experience to derive benefit from the information they access. Burket (2000) explains that people must be able to make sense of or transform the information they receive into knowledge. This sense-making requires interpretation,  45  evaluation, and understanding of the information and its subsequent use in decision making. Nath (2001) states that: Knowledge is empowering. Lack of knowledge is debilitating. Knowledge enables an individual to think, to analyze and to understand the existing situation, and the interlinkages and externalities of each action. Knowledge empowers an individual to form his or her own opinion, to act and transform conditions to lead to a better quality of life (Nath, 2001, Knowledge sharing for development, para. 4).  He further notes that most developing countries lack the ability to recognize knowledge, add value to it and transform it into their growth. Thus without the ability to make sense of information, the poor may not benefit from the information they receive. Based on the three approaches to defining information poverty described above, Britz (2004) proposed a new definition of information poverty as: That situation in which individuals and communities, within a given context, do not have the requisite skills, abilities or material means to obtain efficient access to information, interpret it and apply it appropriately. It is further characterized by a lack of essential information and a poorly developed information infrastructure (Britz, 2004, p. 194).  Essential information is information needed for development such as information about the basic minimum human needs, trade and economic development. It is obvious from the discussion so far that access to the right kind of information is crucial in alleviating poverty and every effort must be made by governments and other stakeholders to provide much-needed information. Spink and Cole (2001) emphasize that the development and implementation of effective information services for low income citizens (or the poor), required not just a simple description of information use, but a careful and specialized assessment of their information needs. In other words it must not be assumed that the availability of a variety of information sources and services means that the poor will make judicious use of them. Chatman and Pendleton (1995) have also said that the issue of concern and discussion among researchers interested in information seeking behaviour and poverty is the knowledge gap 46  phenomenon. The knowledge gap theory was first proposed by Tichenor, Donohue, and Olien (1970). They believe that although there is an increase in information in society, it is not equally available to members. It is readily accessible to people with higher socioeconomic status because they are better equipped to acquire information, leading to two categories of people: those who are better educated and very knowledgeable and those with limited education and knowledge. Those in the latter category are alienated from news and important discoveries, have limited knowledge about public affairs and care less about their lack of knowledge. Chatman and Pendleton (1995) also observes that there are significant differences in the ways the information poor and the information rich search for, use and share available sources of information. The fundamental attitude of the poor is that sources of information available in their world do not solve their problems or are insufficient to meet their needs. They are also skeptical and suspicious of mass and interpersonal channels of information. Chatman (1996) further explains that the information needs of the poor are shaped within a larger social context, and therefore any research to investigate their information needs must examine their social environment and define information from their perspective. Dervin and Nilan (1986) have emphasized that a person’s information need is what determines the information he or she seeks and processes from the environment, making information a subjective rather than an objective construct. On a similar note, Schramm (1954) has observed that an individual only selects communication messages that marches his/her needs from a pool of messages directed at him/her from the environment. In other words, the poor will only accept the information that is capable of solving their immediate problems. The nature of their problems probably does not give them the luxury of experimenting with information they regard as ‘useless’ in meeting their needs. The above discussions have shown that people are information poor because they lack quality or essential information and they are financially incapable of paying for information. They also lack the experience and technical skills to benefit from information using ICT, and even when 47  the information is available, they may lack the intellectual capacity to transform it into knowledge for their development. The cultural norms and values of the poor when it comes to information are also quite different from the rest of society. In other words the information that might resolve an information need for the middle class may not do so for the poor, hence the importance of studying their information seeking behaviour in order to provide the information that might change their situation. 2.4.2  Research on Information Seeking Behaviour of the Poor and the Disadvantaged  Many of the studies on the information seeking behaviour of the poor and disadvantaged were conducted by Elfreda Chatman. However, prior to her studies a significant study by Greenberg and Dervin (1972) investigated the communication behaviour of the urban poor. Their study was based on the following two hypotheses: the poor primarily use less print media and more TV than the population at large and secondly, that there are significant similarities between lowincome whites and low-income blacks. The interview method was used for the study. The respondents comprised a low-income sample of 150 whites, 131 blacks and 31 Latinos. A total of 285 respondents sampled from the general population were also interviewed. The interviews sought information about their media use, content preferences, ownership, and attitudes towards the media. The results showed that there was no significant difference between lowincome whites and low-income blacks with regard to media ownership. Respondents from the general population were likely to have more media available to them compared to the lowincome respondents. With regard to television use and content preferences, both white and black low-income respondents were found to watch more TV shows and spend more time watching TV than the general population. Furthermore, the general population was found to read much more of the contents of newspapers while the low- income respondents read only the headlines, front page and sports news. Similar results were obtained for use of radio and reading of magazines. The favourability rating for television was found to be higher than all other media attitude measures among the low-income sample. For example the low-income 48  sample chose to believe news from television over radio and a majority of them indicated television was their preferred source for local and world news. The newspaper was a preferred medium for local news among the general population. A few differences were reported between low-income whites and low-income blacks. With regard to local news, the whites gave low preference to people, but equal preference to TV, radio, newspapers while the blacks highly preferred people as sources. Although the study was not informed by any specific theoretical framework it did provide information on the preferred sources of information for the poor. The study also confirmed the initial working hypothesis. Greenberg and Dervin (1972) concluded that there is a need for more research into communication exchanges or the everyday media use between the poor and the general population. Chatman (1996) wanted to know the perception, use and sharing of information among the poor. Most of her studies were conducted in the context of what she called ‘small world lives’ (Chatman,1999). The concept of ‘small world lives’ refers to small scale communities with the following characteristics: They have common language, customs, mutual opinions and concerns, predictable activities and routines, easy access to both intellectual and material resources, a collective awareness of people’s status, that is, knowledge of those who are trustworthy, important or have relevant ideas. In other words, “a small world is a community of like-minded individuals who share co-ownership of social reality” (Chatman, 1999, p. 213). The populations of Chatman’s studies included women in a maximum security prison (Chatman, 1996), janitorial workers in a southern university (Chatman, 1990), and retired women (Chatman, 1992). Chatman (1990) examined the information needs and information seeking behaviour of female janitors in a southern university. She used Seaman’s (1959) five concepts of alienation theory as a theoretical framework. These concepts are powerlessness (a feeling of not being in control of one’s life); meaninglessness (lack of the intellectual ability to resolve problems); isolation (a situation where individuals lack a support system to address their concerns and problems); 49  estrangement (a feeling of being alienated from other people); and normlessness (absence of societal norms or standards of behaviour). Data collection was by participant observation and interviews. The results revealed attributes of powerlessness, isolation, meaninglessness and self-estrangement among the janitors. However normlessness was not evident. Chatman (1990) reported further that the information sources of her subjects were restricted to primarily television and occasionally newspapers. They perceived information from personal experience as most reliable while information from an outsider was viewed with suspicion and often ignored. Outsider information was considered as incompatible with the commonsense reality of their small world. Their needs for information about health, university regulations, and employment benefits were not met. She also noted that there was limited information sharing among them, contrary to her expectations. She ascribed this observation to three causes: lack of trust among them, the discouraging nature of the university’s unwritten code, and the fact that they work independently. She observed that what little communication occurred among them was centered on complaints about excessive workloads, the need for increased pay and the exchange of gossip about supervisors and coworkers (Chatman, 1990). She concluded that although the study was not a typical libraryfocused investigation, it was of value in revealing the information behaviour of poor people so that they are better served by members of the information profession. She also pointed out that the study provides direction in describing “the everyday information concerns of low-income people in a scientific manner” (Chatman, 1990, p.367). Chatman (1991) applied the gratification theory to study the social world and information behaviour of the janitorial workers in a southern university. The purpose of the study was to “investigate why some members of our society do not benefit from sources of information that could be helpful to them” (p.438). Her review of the literature on the gratification theory revealed six theoretical propositions about how poor meet their physical, social, and intellectual needs and their perception of social reality (Chatman, 1991). The six propositions are as follows: 50  Life in a small world: “Lower class persons have a more narrow and local view of the world” to the extent that they are interested in information that is not part of their social world. Lower expectations and the belief in luck: “Poor people have a lower expectation of their chances to succeed in unfamiliar endeavours”. This prevents them from seeking new opportunities and inclines them to attribute every success to luck, fate or chance. First level lifestyle: They become informed of important events in their social milieu through their peers (that is, people like themselves). Limited time horizon: Their perception of time horizon is different from that of the middle class. For example “their view of time is the immediate present and the very recent past”. An insider’s world view: They view their social world as “very local, concrete, unpredictable and often hostile”. Use of the mass media: “The mass media, particularly television, is viewed as a medium of escape, stimulation and fantasy” (Chatman, 1991, p. 438). The findings of the study indicate to a large extent that the gratification theory was adequate in explaining the information behaviour of the janitors, in that:   Respondents did seek some information about promotions and transfers, but did not have, or engage in long-term plans that could improve their situation (small world lives);    They perceived their chances of getting promotions as minimal and therefore did nothing to enhance their job opportunities. They believed promotions depended on favoritism from bosses (Lower expectations and belief in luck);    Acceptable information must derive from accessible, verified and familiar sources (First level lifestyle); 51    Their focus was on the performance of their daily routines with little hope of any advancement (Limited time horizon);    They focused on localized events, believed in themselves and showed a general mistrust towards non-members of their accepted social network (An insider world view);    They used television to pass time (entertainment) and as a source of diversion but not really for its fantasy content.  Chatman (1991) concluded that there is a need for librarians and other information professionals to educate themselves about how specialized populations perceive information in the everyday context in order to provide that information effectively. Chatman (1992) also studied the information and recreational needs of elderly women in a retirement complex. Fifty-five women participated in the study and data collection was by participant observation and interviews. She originally applied social capital theory as a theoretical framework but this proved inadequate to explain the information behaviour of the women. Social capital is explained by De Graaf and Flap (1988) as the number of people a person can mobilize to support him/her with the resources at their disposal. The main proposition of the social capital theory is that “networks of relationships constitute a valuable resource for the conduct of social affairs providing their members with the collectivity owned capital, a credential which entitles them to credit, in the various senses of the word” (Bourdieu 1986, p. 249). These networks of relationships include schoolmates, friends of friends, mutual acquaintances, family members, colleagues, etc. (Nahapiet and Goshal, 1996). Coleman (1988) lists some of the useful capital resources embedded in social capital as obligations, expectations and trustworthiness of structures and norms and effective sanctions. To clarify these capital resources, he explains that A shows B some favours and trusts that B will reciprocate this favour in the future. “This establishes an expectation in A and an obligation on the part of B” (p. 102). Coleman (1988) gave an example of an effective norm as a situation in which crime is inhibited so that individuals, especially the elderly, walk freely in a city without 52  fear for safety, or norms in a community that provide effective rewards for high achievement in schools, thus facilitating the task of schools or strengthening of families by the encouragement of members of a family to be selfless in the interest of the family. Chatman’s (1992) assumption was that because the women were living together in a residential facility they would have formed mutual relationships and friendships which would serve as a source of support and information to satisfy their information needs. On the contrary, the results revealed they imposed some social restrictions on themselves which created a barrier to their access to information. For example, information sharing among the respondents was guided by secrecy, risk taking, and deception. A condition for continued stay at Garden Towers was that the tenant be relatively healthy. Those who required nursing facilities had to leave. Therefore to continue to remain there the respondents lied to each other about their declining health and gave up on seeking information or gaining emotional support. However, respondents actively used the mass media, read books and magazines quite frequently, but were not active users of the public library. Chatman (1996) consequently proposed the theory of information poverty to explain her findings. The theory centered on the concepts of secrecy, deception, risk taking and situational relevance. The six propositional statements of the theory of information poverty are as follows:        People who are defined as information poor perceive themselves to be devoid of any sources that might help them. Information poverty is partially associated with class distinction. That is, the condition of information poverty is influenced by outsiders who withhold privileged access to information. Information poverty is determined by self-protective behaviours which are used in response to social norms. Both secrecy and deception are self-protecting mechanisms due to a sense of mistrust regarding the interest or ability of others to provide useful information. A decision to risk exposure about one’s true problems is often not taken due to a perception that negative consequences outweigh benefits. New knowledge will be selectively introduced into the information world of poor people. A condition that influences this process is the relevance of that information in response to everyday problems and concern (Chatman, 1996, pp. 197-198).  53  Chatman (1999) also conducted a study to find out how women in a maximum security prison in the northeastern United States redefine their social world to survive in prison. The study was informed by her proposed theory of ‘life in the round’. According to Chatman (1999) A life in the round is one lived within an acceptable degree of approximation and imprecision. It is a life lived with a high tolerance for ambiguity. But it is also lived in a world in which most phenomena are taken for granted. Occurrences are viewed as reasonable and somewhat predictable. It is a world in which most events fit within the natural order of things (Chatman, 1999, p. 213).  She used four concepts namely small world, social norms, worldview and social types as foundations for her propositional statements. These concepts are explained by Chatman (1999) as follows: A small world view is a society in which mutual opinions and concerns are reflected by its members, language and custom bind its participants, resources (both intellectual and material) are known and easily accessible, there is a collective awareness of people’s status; that is, who is important and who is not, which ideas are relevant or trivial, and who to trust and who to avoid (Chatman, 1999, p. 213).  In other words, a small world is a community of individuals with similar social reality (Chatman, 1999). Social norms “are the customary patterns that take place within a small world” (Chatman, 1999, p.213). Their purpose is to create a collective sense of balance, order and direction in a social world. They are codes of behaviour by which people are judged. Chatman illustrated social norms by quoting one of the white prisoners who was pregnant at the time she came to prison. She felt superior to the black inmates and would not talk to them. This attitude attracted contempt from fellow white prisoners and eventually she had to change her attitude and be nice to all like anybody else in order to make prison life tolerable (Chatman, 1999). Worldview is a “collective set of beliefs held by members who live within a small world. It is a mental picture or cognitive map that interprets the world” (Chatman, 1999, p.213). 54  Worldview can be applied to prisoners with alcohol or drug problems who initially try to continue these deviant behaviours even in prison. But they soon realize that they are better off adopting the new worldview or value system of prison life because it works. This system allows for minimal security, reduced sentences, and a new awareness that it is possible to live without using drugs. Thus they realize that it is in their interest to give up their deviant behaviours and begin to conform to the norms of prison life.  Social types are “persons who exhibit traits or characteristics that distinguish them from other members of their world” (p. 214). Social types are classified as regular or outsider, but never neutral. Individuals are assigned specific social roles based on social types. According to Chatman (1999):  We identify persons by types to assist us in anticipating how they will behave towards us and how we can expect to act toward them. Most of us tend to reveal and exchange information among peers of “our own type”. Conversely, the further removed persons are from our own typology, the less likely are they to become sharers of mutual interest or information (p. 124).  In applying the theory of ‘life in the round’ to prison life, Chatman observed that inmates tend to actively gather information from the outside world through various sources such as making calls to family and friends and using the mass media with the hope of staying in touch with the outside world. They soon realize that as prisoners, they are no more part of the outside world and tend to be upset and overly concerned with information coming in from the outside world because they are not able to do anything about it, especially when they receive bad news about their family members, friends and children. For example news about their children not coping or doing well brings emotional problems, misery, yearning and a sense of helplessness. Thus they soon observe that it is better to focus and tackle the issues of their daily life and relationships within the prison environment. Chatman (1999) pointed out that because the prison world is controlled and predictable, inmates are insulated from their past undesirable lives, and the pain of separation from their families and loved ones. 55  Chatman (1999) claimed that the ELIS of individuals will be affected by life in the round because they will not search for information they do not need. If a community chooses to ignore available information, it means their world is working without it. Members of a small world will only legitimize information that is compatible with what they deem credible. Conditions for accepting information are that the provider can be trusted or the information can easily be verified. Chatman (1999) concluded that “life in the round is a routine, taken-for-granted” life that acknowledges everyday reality (p.216). It is also constraining because appropriate standards of behaviour are determined by insiders who also hold this world together. Chatman (2000) also created her Theory of Normative Behaviour which Savolainen (2009) describes as an “elaboration and extension of the theory of life in the round” (p. 40). She defines the normative behaviour as “that behaviour which is viewed by inhabitants of a social world as most appropriate for that particular context” (p.13). The purpose of the theory is to explain the routine events that occur in a small world (Chatman, 2000). She mentioned that “much of the information that holds a small world together is appropriate, legitimate, and has a rightful place in the general scheme of things” (p. 10). Information from the outside or larger world, she continued, has little value in the small world. Chatman’s theory of normative behaviour is made up of four concepts, social norms, world view, social types and information behaviour. These concepts are the same as those for Chatman’s (1999) Theory of Life in the Round explained above. The difference is the new concept of ‘information behaviour’. Information behaviour is explained as “the state in which one may or may not act on information received” (Chatman, 2000, p. 12). It also includes avoidance of information seeking and the reasons associated with it, such as cost and the situation where the information is considered important but one can get along without it, or when the information is provided from a social type that is unacceptable to the small world community. Burnett and Jaeger (2008) explained information behaviour as the full spectrum of behaviours regarding information within a small world including formal information seeking, that is, when an individual presents an information need or query to a 56  formal information service such as a library; informal exchange of information among peers; and avoidance of information regarded as inappropriate or dangerous. Burnett, Besant, and Chatman (2001) also explained that information that conflicts with the social norms and worldview of its members of a small world is not trusted. It is considered dangerous, inaccurate and worthless and often ignored or resisted. The theory is made up of five propositional statements:       Social norms are standards with which members of a social world comply in order to exhibit desirable expressions of public behaviour. Members choose compliance because it allows for a way by which to affirm what is normative for this context at this time. Worldview is shaped by the normative values that influence how members think about the ways of the world. It is a collective taken-for-granted attitude that sensitizes members to be responsive to certain events and to ignore others. Everyday reality contains a belief that members of a social world do retain attention or interest sufficient enough to influence behaviour. The process of placing persons in ideal categories of lesser or greater quality can be taught of as social typification. Human information behaviour is a construct in which to approach everyday reality and its effect on actions to gain or avoid the possession of information. The choice to decide the appropriate course of action is driven by those members’ beliefs that are necessary to support a normative way of life (Chatman, 2000, pp 13-14).  Chatman’s Theory of Normative Behaviour according to Burnett, Jaeger, and Thompson (2008) is relevant to understanding social access to information in two main ways, First, how do the concepts of social types, worldview and social norms influence what information coming into a small world would be permissible, acceptable, or made available to members? Second, how does it defines the appropriate activities and mechanisms needed to access information prescribed based on the social norms and worldview of the small world? Burnett et al. (2008) are of the opinion that the four concepts of normative behaviour would equip Library and Information Science researchers with the necessary tools to understand how people from different socio-cultural environments with divergent beliefs and assumptions might approach information. In addition to Chatman, other researchers have conducted studies on the information needs of the poor and disadvantaged. For example Spink and Cole (2001) investigated the information 57  environment, information needs and information seeking of 300 African American households at Wynnewood Parks in Dallas, Texas. A 12 page questionnaire covering a broad range of life issues such as employment services, healthcare community activities and issues, use and need for financial services, security concerns, media usage, need for child care, and children’s activities and needs was used for data collection. The results of the study indicate that the information needs of respondents relate to everyday challenges such as finding money for food and rent, maintenance of the security of their households and health issues. The research participants used different sources of information to meet specific information needs. For example, the sources of employment information were newspapers, health information was accessed through the community’s physician, and family members were the main sources of news information. The respondents perceived that access to information could change their living conditions. However, information for improved education and employment was perceived as remote, that is, it did not satisfy an immediate need. The researchers explained that newspapers are not the primary source of news information for the poor because they often present a false image of low-income people and the news events they present do not conform to the way low-income persons process information. They further ascribed their participant’s lack of use of formal sources as resulting from a lack of options and not out of choice, citing lack of access to computers and the Internet, as well as limitations on the individual processing of such information caused by educational deficiencies. The study further revealed that the information environment of respondents was characterized by accessing information that is relevant to their needs. Arranging the channels and information needs in a circular model, it was observed that the formality of the channel increases as the scope of the information changes from inner (news) to outer (employment). In discussing the implications for developing appropriate information resources for this population, the researchers suggested the introduction of online technology as a source of health and employment information for the residents. With regard to news information, they suggested leveraging of technology to make  58  news media more relevant to the way poor people process information, through the use of interactive feedback loops that can present the information in a meaningful way. Information seeking behaviour of the poor is also important when it comes to health information. According to Sligo and Jameson (2000), the concern among health professionals is that the poor, who are substantially at risk of diseases, do not make use of the medical solutions available to them. The reason for this concern is the emotional and financial difficulties that individuals and their closest family members will experience if they lack access to preventive medicine and knowledge about living a healthy lifestyle. This will eventually cause an exponential demand for healthcare and health resources and infrastructure. It will also cause high morbidity and mortality among the poor. Sligo and Jameson (2000) conducted a study to find the barriers to the use of cervical screening among New Zealand Pacific women and to propose solutions for improved access to the service. The study adopted a qualitative approach. A snowball-sampling method was used to select 20 participants. Each participant was interviewed in-depth for one hour. The questions covered their health and cervical screening information sources, and barriers to health information seeking. The study was informed by the diffusion of information and innovations theory, the knowledge-gap theory and Merton’s dichotomy of insiders and outsiders. The results showed that most of the participants are knowledgeable about the purpose of cervical screening but were hindered in taking action because of a cultural barrier. Among New Zealand Pacific women, it is a taboo to discuss the female reproductive system. Their means of obtaining cervical screening information was by face-to-face communication with health professionals, community group members, friends, and through the media in descending order. The study revealed that respondents were apparently “tired of and resistant to information that targeted Pacific Island people as a socially problematic group” (Sligo and Jameson,2000, p. 865), They felt that the media publicized their community as prone to lower educational attainment, urban violence, higher disease rates and overcrowding in housing. It was this relegated status as a social problem that caused the 59  preference for interpersonal channels of communication. Respondents emphasized that advertising messages must present cervical screening as beneficial to all women and not just a single group. The findings of this study bring to the fore the importance of studying the socioinformation environment of a people/community for effective information delivery. Other studies on information seeking behaviour of the poor have focused on the homeless. For example Hersberger (2001) conducted a study to examine the everyday information needs and information sources of homeless parents. The rational for the study was that overcoming homelessness involves gathering relevant information from useful sources to address problems and resultant needs. Secondly, “people (including the homeless) in their everyday lives access information either to maintain or improve their everyday living conditions” (p. 120). The conceptual framework for the study was Dervin’s taxonomy for examining information needs of the average citizen based on studies she conducted in the United States. The study adopted a qualitative approach and used participant observation and interviews for data collection. Participant observation by the researcher involved a year of volunteering work at different shelters to observe and record daily life of homeless parents and to gain the trust of shelter residents. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 28 residents in six family shelters. Interviews were conducted to collect data on their demographic characteristics and everyday problems and how they were resolved using different information sources. Each interview session lasted for between 60 and 90 minutes and all interviews were audio-taped. Data was analyzed by coding and categorizations. The results of the study revealed that the everyday needs of participants revolve around finances, childcare and relationships, housing, health, public assistance, employment, education and transportation. These needs and the sources used to resolve them are as follows: Finances: Financial needs were reported as the number one problem and they involved dealing with bad credit, problems with handling money and limited funds. Sources used  60  to resolve them included knowledge from personal experience and social service agency staff. Child care and relationships: Information needs regarding child care were daycare and preschool issues, problem behaviour of children, relationship problems with spouses and family, domestic violence and a need to talk with others. Information sources included social staff in finding daycare resources and resolving children’s behavioural issues; and friends/families were used as sources for dealing with relationships as well as television talk shows. Housing: Housing information needs included finding a place, barriers to getting a place such as bad credit, number of children, and crime and safety concerns. Sources of information for resolving housing needs included staff from the township trustee office, housing authority staff, the shelter staff, family and friends, personal insight from past homeless experience, newspapers, looking for ‘for rent’ signs during bus rides etc. Health: Health needs were availability of healthcare, health information on specific diseases for themselves and their children, problems of alcoholism and drug addictions. Health professionals were reported as the main information source. Hersberger (2001) mentioned that the majority of the informants had Medicaid and those new to the welfare system were the ones who sought information about availability and adequacy of healthcare. Other sources mentioned were family/friends and other shelter residents with insights about childhood illnesses and personal health issues. Some informants mentioned God as a source of help, especially in dealing with stress. Employment: The main employment need was dealing with unemployment and barriers to getting jobs such as finding appropriate daycare, lack of job training programs, and transportation problems, for example poor timing of bus routes and multiple bus changes. 61  Education: Education information needs included parents seeking adult education opportunities and credentials, and educational issues of their children, especially parentteacher conflicts. Information sources used included shelter staff, other shelter residents, family/friends and teachers. Transportation: Needs regarding transportation included car breakdowns with limited or no money for repairs, directional problems in the case of new residents, purchasing cheap used cars (mentioned by two males in the study), getting information on public transportation and reading bus schedules, limited or no money for transport. Sources of information used included sources of cheap and dependable cars, any persons available, shelter staff and bus drivers. Public assistance: A few of the informants, especially those new to homelessness (11 or 39%), had information needs involving public assistance such as acquisition of food stamps, Medicaid, emergency housing and welfare benefits in general. Some mentioned acquisition of furniture for new apartments. The main information sources consulted or used for solving these problems were shelter staff and social services providers. Shelter residents were used when there was no competition for the same limited resources. Shelter: Shelter problems included coping with other residents, other shelter children, disciplining of children, shelter rules and regulations, and lack of privacy. Information sources involved seeking counsel and support from family and friends and use of personal experiences and insights. Lesser problem areas: A few of the informants mentioned problems involving crime and safety such as finding a safe place to live, legal problems involving husbands who were serving prison terms and needed legal advice, help with acquisition of legal documents such as getting duplicates of marriage certificates to satisfy shelter documentation. One informant mentioned the need for specific addresses and phone numbers and 62  information about summer recreational opportunities. Hersberger (2001) concluded that the “everyday life for homeless parents is complex and messy” (p.132). Problem areas are often inter-linked. For example housing problems are linked to bad credit, transitional housing programs, and education when parents wanted to live in certain areas where they can enroll their children in better schools. Financial problems are linked to employment and education needs in terms of getting job training. Homeless parents do not use formal channels like libraries and electronic resources but prefer social networks with close ties such as family and friends and weak ties such as social service providers. Hersberger (2002) conducted a study on the everyday life information needs, information seeking behaviours and information sources of homeless parents living in shelters in Indianapolis, Seattle and Greensboro in the United States. Twenty-five homeless parents participated in the study. Data collection was by observation and in-depth interviews. Participants were asked to describe or indicate their daily activities, problems they faced and the sources they consulted to solve their problems. The study was conducted within the framework of Chatman’s theory of information poverty. The results of the study showed that the everyday life of homeless parents involved searching for social service resources such as subsidized housing, healthcare, food stamps and subsidized daycare. They also needed information resources on finding permanent or stable housing, more money and repairing bad credit history, jobs, legal and transportation assistance; and dealing with domestic violence and substance abuse. The participants used both formal and informal information sources. The formal sources were social service agency personnel, members of the clergy, healthcare and education officials. Informal sources used were family, friends and shelter residents. The results revealed that the main concern of the participants was to identify sources that provided them with information that met their needs, and not in the volume of information sources available to them. With regard to information seeking, participants preferred face-to-face contacts rather than telephone conversation. This was because face-to-face contacts often yielded direct receipt of 63  information. On the other hand they were often put on hold during a telephone call or the contact appeared busy with other tasks. Participants reported their frustrations with searches for documents required by service providers, especially with services where they have been rejected. For example one of the participants pointed out that “it was discouraging to spend a lot of energy tracking down a piece of paper that just says you aren’t good enough to be helped” (p.55).The study also revealed that sometimes shelter officials identify a need and bring in experts to address that need. Such sessions are mandatory for shelter residents. For example the study reported a session on repairing bad credit history which was facilitated by a local bank official, and another on birth control facilitated by the Planned Parenthood Association. The participants were more enthusiastic about the latter and not the former because their focus or immediate need was to acquire the money to pay their credit card bills and not information on financial management. Generally, shelter residents reportedly resented these information sessions. They found them a waste of time and preferred seeking information on their own after getting contact information. Apart from the participants in Seattle, the majority of the participants from Indianapolis and Greensboro did not search for information on the Internet. The study also sought to determine whether homeless parents are information poor or whether their lack of Internet access resulted from the digital divide. Chatman’s six propositions of information poverty were applied as follows: People who are defined as information poor perceive themselves to be devoid of any sources that might help them: This proposition was not supported by the findings. The results showed that participants did not perceive themselves as lacking information. None of them mentioned that his/her everyday problems were a result of a lack of information. They rather reported being overwhelmed with information from emergency staff, clergy, and healthcare officials. Their main concern was unavailability of homes to rent.  64  Information poverty is partially associated with class distinction: That is, the condition of information poverty is influenced by outsiders who withhold privileged access to information: The results revealed that participants with a previous history of homelessness presented themselves as ‘insiders’, that is, knowing how the system worked whilst first time residents presented themselves as ‘information outsiders’ (p.57). Some participants complained that shelter staff withheld information based on favouritism. The researcher was not able to document whether this allegation was a matter of coping with rejection or some staff actually favoured some shelter residents over others. Information poverty is determined by self-protective behaviours which are used in response to social norms: This proposition was not supported by the research. The results revealed that residents freely shared information with the shelter staff because that was the only way to gain needed resources from shelter staff. No protective behaviours were observed although some shelter residents complained about the nosiness of other shelter members. Both secrecy and deception are self-protecting mechanisms due to a sense of mistrust regarding the interest or ability of others to provide useful information: Results did not show any behaviours of secrecy although some shelter residents employed deceptive behaviours to gain resources that they were ineligible for. A decision to risk exposure about one’s true problems is often not taken due to a perception that negative consequences outweigh benefits: The results were mixed. Shelter residents shared sensitive information on topics such as substance abuse, legal issues, and bad credit history with shelter staff but tried to hide such information from others. The need for information about resources on such issues from shelter staff was considered more important than any negative consequences. 65  New knowledge will be selectively introduced into the information world of poor people. A condition that influences this process is the relevance of that information in response to everyday problems and concern: This proposition was directly supported by the findings of the study. Shelter residents felt they had much less information on the Internet that was relevant to their efforts at meeting their everyday needs such as subsidized housing and daycare, employment, food stamps, transportation. Some residents also lacked knowledge about using the Internet. Others with the knowledge were of the opinion that social services were so localized that there was no need wasting time to search for such information on the Internet. Some of those who knew how to use the Internet had problems with transportation to a library (probably due to lack of money but the study did not report that). The study specifically sought to find out whether the participants felt they were information poor or whether their lack of access to the Internet had a negative impact on them. None of the participants felt they were information poor. With regard to the Internet, only six participants reported using the Internet at the public library to search for information on healthcare, employment and recreational information. The other 19 participants reported a lack of knowledge on using computers as a barrier to their use of the Internet. Apart from that, they preferred to get information face-to-face from local agencies. Those who had used the Internet previously expressed doubts about the credibility of some of the information on the Web, especially health information. The study concluded that homeless parents lack the resources to live in stable homes but they are not information poor, contrary to the literature on the digital divide that seems to suggest that the economically disadvantaged are vulnerable due to their inability to access digital information (Hersberger, 2002). Hersberger (2003) examined information transfer via social networks among homeless populations living in shelters at Seattle (Washington) and Greensboro (North Carolina) The study was conducted to answer the following research questions: 66         What forms of social capital exist within the social support networks of homeless parents? How is social network embedded in the social relations of homeless parents? For which situations do homeless parents utilize their social support networks to access different forms of social capital? What forms of social support, particularly informational, are needed, sought, obtained and used by homeless parents? What catalysts exist which motivate homeless parents to attempt to gain or gather informational social support? What impediments or barriers exist that discourage homeless parents in this process? (Hersberger 2003, p.100)  Twenty-one homeless parents participated in the study. The study used a qualitative approach and data was collected using structured interviews. The interviews gathered data on participants’ information needs, information seeking behaviour, information sharing, and information use. Each participant was asked to complete a social network map similar to that used by Pettigrew (as cited by Hersberger, 2003) in her study on “information needs and information seeking behaviours of senior citizens in their dyadic interactions with public health nurses” (p. 98). The map was made up of four quadrants (family, friends, neighbours, and others). In Hersberger’s study neighbour was replaced with shelter residents to suit the homeless environment. Each participant completed the map with information on “people who helped them, those who would help them upon request, and those they had helped either recently or regularly, and the nature of support and/or information exchanged” (p.101). All interviews were recorded. Preliminary findings of the study indicate that:   Homeless parents rely on the social capital embedded in their relations with social service staff to obtain information, resources and the emotional support needed to improve their living conditions.    Their social networks included shelter residents, Department of Social Services staff, shelter staff, church support staff, and physicians.    They use their social networks in situations such as: resolving their children’s health and education issues, repairing bad credit histories, dealing with domestic violence and substance abuse and finding permanent accommodation and jobs. 67    Homeless parents consider information as essential in improving their daily living conditions.    They access social capital and informational support based on physical proximity    Social services staff that provide information in a timely and caring manner are considered as family or friends.    The social networks of homeless parents were found to be small (two to 21 data points), sparse and unconnected. The emphasis was on the help they got from their connections.    Findings from the interviews and the social network maps confirmed some of Chatman’s (1996) propositions of information poverty such as secrecy and deception, employment of self protective behaviour, perceived risk of exposure, and acceptance of new knowledge based on its relevance to everyday life.  The study was perceived by Hersberger (2003) as significant because the study used qualitative methods instead of the survey methodology mostly used in traditional social network studies. Felton, Hendrickson, McDermott, and Walsh (n.d.) conducted a study into the everyday life information seeking patterns of the homeless in Seattle. Seven homeless people participated in the study. The study was informed by Chatman’s theory of information poverty. The purpose of the study was to find sources of information, information seeking and information sharing behaviour of the homeless. The study used the survey method and participant observation for data collection. The report revealed that the information behaviour of the homeless is focused on seeking information to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care. They use both formal and informal information sources depending on their personal circumstances of life on the streets. Their main sources of information are shelter workers and other homeless people. They do not use formal sources like libraries and outreach sources because they are not able to relate to the staff or the Internet. When they are new on the streets, they are reluctant to share information but those who have been on the streets longer share information freely. The participants generally felt they had a lot of general information and 68  were often overwhelmed with available information. However they indicated that there was not enough of the right kind of information about specific services. Secondly, the report revealed that those new to the street were often reluctant to share or ask for information from the insiders. Hersberger (2002) has said that the behaviour of those new to the street is not intentional but the fact is that those new to poverty often feel like outsiders. The findings of the study did not confirm Chatman’s first and second propositions of information poverty (already stated above) because the homeless felt they had plenty of information. However an alternate view is that Chatman’s first proposition was confirmed because the participants said they were not getting enough of the right information for specific services, meaning they lacked the information that will help them according to the first proposition. The homeless were willing to share personal information about food, shelter, clothing and medical care freely without any selfprotecting behaviours, as posited by Chatman’s third proposition. With regard to the fourth proposition, the study reported peer-to-peer deception as a defense mechanism involving a single participant and some mistrust of shelter workers. One respondent indicated that he seldom visited some shelters because he doubted the sincerity of the shelter workers to really want to help. The study did not report evidence of Chatman’s fifth proposition but reported support for the sixth which suggests selective dissemination of new and relevant knowledge or information among the poor. This was evident in the report because, although the report indicated an information overload scenario, much information was of no value to them, partly because of the lack of knowledge in using it. The study concluded that information poverty among the homeless had to do with access to information. This was because the homeless themselves withhold information from each other (insiders and outsiders). Secondly most of them do not make use of the resources of public libraries. Lastly information providers do not have an organized information pool tailored to meet the needs of the homeless in one location. The everyday information behaviour and information grounds of migrant Hispanic farm workers of the Yakima Valley (located at the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington 69  State) was studied by Fisher, Marcoux, Miller, Sanchez, and Cunningham (2004). The study was informed by the theories of information habits and information grounds. The former theory, developed by Harris and Dewdney (1994), asserts that “people follow deeply engrained patterns or habits in seeking information; that is, they tend to seek information that is easily accessible, preferably from interpersonal sources such as friends, relatives or co-workers rather than from institutions or organizations, unless there is a particular reason for avoiding interpersonal sources” (Theoretical framework and methodology section, para. 1). Pettigrew (1999) defines information grounds as “synergistic environment[s] temporarily created when people come together for a singular purpose but from whose behaviour emerges a social atmosphere that fosters the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information” (Pettigrew, 1999, p. 811). The study sought to investigate the role of interpersonal information seeking in the lives of migrant Hispanic farm workers and their families, their information grounds, the situations under which they share information and the media they use. Data was collected at Community Technology Centers (CTCs) from workers who use these centers for various purposes such as helping their children with their homework, translations from Spanish to English and vice-versa and sending emails. The main data collection instruments were interviews and observations. Fifty-one farm workers and eight CTC staff participated in the study. The results showed that with regard to their information habits, most of the participants used interpersonal sources in their everyday life information seeking. For example they got to know about the centers through friends, family and acquaintances and used the same sources to satisfy their everyday information needs. “Out of the 51 CTC user responses, 36 (71%) cited an interpersonal source, while seven (14%) answered 'the Internet', and five (10%) indicated an organization such as the library” (Information habits and information grounds section, para. 3). The report revealed that ease of communication, familiarity, ease of access, and reliability are the reasons for their preference for interpersonal sources. Interviews with the CTC staff revealed that barriers to everyday information seeking include cultural differences, language/literacy problems, a sense of being outside the community, suspicion, and loss of control. With regard to cultural 70  differences for example, a man who relies on food stamps and medical coupons in caring for his family in Mexican culture, is considered incapable of supporting his family. Consequently Hispanic men do not take advantage of information about welfare and may avoid seeking such assistance from the Department of Social and Health Services in order to uphold their cultural values. Their information grounds as revealed by the report include barber shops, church, a garage, Pizza Hut, school, workplace, farm workers, hair salons, a daycare centre, medical clinic and a bookstore. The participants elaborated on some of the benefits of using these information grounds as face to face communications, ease of communication, and access to relevant and needful information that is reliable and trustworthy. They accessed information on wide ranging topics including current events, employment, local history, recreation, English and computer literacy, domestic violence, gossip, parenting, family issues, and legal information. In discussing their study, the researchers explained that, … given the language, cultural, and economic barriers coupled with the deep extent of everyday needs associated with immigrants, especially those working in dangerous, lowtech occupations, it is consistent that they would rely heavily upon interpersonal information sources, especially close families and friends or people like themselves, finding credibility in the similarity of these populations (Fisher et al., 2004, Future Research, para. 2).  Schilderman (2002) conducted a study into the information needs and information sources of the urban poor in three developing countries, Peru, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe. The study was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The motivation for the study was a growing concern that researchers and development agencies have not been effective in applying their knowledge on urban development to improve upon the lives of the urban poor. Some of the reasons for this failure are limited knowledge about the information and resource needs of the urban poor and the inappropriate resources use to meet these needs. The field work was conducted in informal settlements of the capital cities of the three countries. Data collection was by interviews, focus groups using local teams of researchers, compilation of data on 40 projects with a focus on strengthening the knowledge information systems of the 71  urban poor by an international team, and a worldwide electronic conference involving 600 people. The study reveals that the urban poor have complex information needs, including information on employment, housing (access to credit for housing and utilities) infrastructure facilities, education, and health and security. (For example, in Zimbabwe, regarding security, they need information on the legal rights of residents and what to do in case of violation of their rights). Their main source of information was found to be social networks, such as reliance on family members, friends, and neighbours, leaders in the community, local groups and people at their work place. Participants in the electronic conference also referred to their reliance on social networks. Schilderman (2002) explained that poor people may rely on social capital to compensate for the lack of physical capital or financial means by adopting the principle of reciprocity, whereby people return something for the services they receive from others. Poor people are considered to be disadvantaged if they have few social capital resources because this may deprive them of some development resources and access to important sources of knowledge and information. For example, the report revealed that some poor communities in Peru were able to get pipe-borne water because of their links to local politicians. The report however revealed that sometimes information circulating among social networks is unreliable, incomplete, or of poor quality but the poor do not often check their facts, and on occasions when they do they tend to believe the people they perceive as trustworthy such as family, close friends, religious leaders, teachers, etc. Other sources of information identified in the study are infomediaries, that is, information producers or providers in the private and public sectors and non-governmental organizations, and key informants, that is, people who are knowledgeable in different aspects of community life and development or who have a range of links or contacts outside the community. The mass media, i.e. radio, television and newspapers, were found to be quite popular among the urban poor. However although the media were important for providing information on employment and also as a source of entertainment, the general consensus from participants was that they did not provide much-needed information for their day-to-day needs. Shadrach (cited by Schilderman, 2002) has said that the growing 72  commercialization of the media has led to a reduction of its service role and its globalization has led to a loss of local voices and local relevance with direct impact on the poor, particularly women. In answer to a question on how to strengthen the knowledge information system of the urban poor, the participants in the electronic conference emphasized the importance of involving the poor themselves. They pointed out that the poor might be illiterate, but may possess indigenous knowledge of great importance and relevance to an initiative. They advocate the rediscovery and strengthening of this indigenous knowledge by NGOs. The study concluded with a need for development agencies to re-access the methods of communicating information needed by the urban poor. For example it recommends the use of traditional media such as theatre, music and dance alongside modern ones to facilitate communication, overcome barriers such as illiteracy, and to adopt information strategies that will ensure equal access to information by the poor. Furthermore the study suggest the building of the capacity of key informants, investing in sustainable ICTs for the urban poor, and the adoption of a communication strategy that acknowledges the poor as a source of knowledge, and supports urban communities to build their knowledge and information capital by evaluating existing information resources and taking steps to address the gaps (Schilderman, 2002). The literature reviewed so far has shown clearly that the economic and social circumstances of the poor make their information seeking behaviour unique compared to that of the middle class and the rich. They tend to look for information that relates to their daily challenges or that will meet their immediate needs. These needs are often basic human needs such as food, shelter, security and health. They do not seek information for their long term developments such as improved education and employment. With regard to information sources they prefer interpersonal sources especially information from members of their social networks (insiders such as friends, family members, co-workers, community leaders, key informants, etc). They do not trust information from formal sources such as libraries, organizations, and the media because it does not meet their everyday needs or because they find these organizations 73  suspicious. As Chatman (1999) points out, conditions for accepting information in the small world of the poor are credibility and believability. This credibility is dependent on the trustworthiness of the provider. Perception by the poor of what information is credible also creates a barrier to their access to information. This is because they may not avail themselves of information that might be helpful to them just because they do not perceive it as credible, thus delaying the solutions to some of their problems. Other barriers to their information seeking as revealed in the literature are language barriers, especially among minorities who do not speak English, lack of knowledge of information processing due to limited education, lack of access to ICT, lack of seeking and use of information that does not conform to their cultural norms and values, and lack of checking the facts of information received from members of the social networks which sometimes are of poor quality, unreliable, and incomplete. These findings reaffirm the importance of studying the information seeking behaviour of the poor in order to devise appropriate strategies and methods for effective information delivery of the right information that meet their needs.  2.5  Youth and Information  The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2009) defines ‘youth’ as “the time of life when one is young especially the period between childhood and maturity” (that is, adolescence). Adolescence is the period within a person’s life span when his/her biological, cognitive, psychological, and social characteristics are changing from those of a child to those of an adult (Lerner and Spanier, 1980). UNICEF (2005) refers to adolescence as a time of transition involving multi-dimensional changes: biological, psychological (including cognitive) and social. Librarians for some time have searched for a term that best describe this group in libraries and words like ‘teenagers’ and ‘adolescents’ have been used in some libraries. Wilson-Lingbloom (1994) mentions that the term ‘adolescent’ has been found to be too clinical while ‘teenagers’ has been found to be insulting to the age group 18 to 21 years (p.3). Edwards (1974) also indicates that ‘teenagers’ was found to be an inappropriate designation and was considered 74  scornful, and it does not include the age range of 16 to 19; ‘adolescent’ was considered too biological and best suited for adult communication whilst ‘young people’ was generally considered by the public to mean children and not people of high school age. Consequently, the Young Adult Services of the American Library Association adopted the term ‘young adults’ to define its clientele (Edwards, 1974). The term ‘young adults’, as mentioned by WilsonLingbloom (1994) has been found to be acceptable and inoffensive to teens. It is defined by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), as “young people ages 12 to 18 who no longer see themselves as children but are not recognized by society as adults. The terms “teens,” “teenagers,” “adolescents,” “youth,” also identify young adults and will be used interchangeably throughout this document”. (Massachusetts Library Association youth services section, Introduction: Young adults as library users, para. 1). The focus of this study is on homeless youth ages 12 to 18. Adolescents are at a stage in their lives when they need to master certain tasks to reach successful adulthood. Havighurst, a developmental psychologist, lists the developmental tasks of adolescents ages 12 to 18 as:           Achieving new and more mature relations with age-mates of both sexes; Achieving a masculine or feminine social role; Accepting one's physique and using the body effectively; Achieving emotional independence of parents and other adults; Preparing for marriage and family life; Preparing for an economic career; Acquiring a set of values and an ethical system as a guide to behaviour; Developing an ideology; and Desiring and achieving socially responsible behaviour (Harvighurst, n.d., Developmental tasks of adolescents).  Mondowney (2001) observes that there is a need for adolescents to be independent of parents, siblings, and childhood friends. At the same time, they must “develop increasing autonomy in making personal decisions, assume responsibility for themselves, regulate their own behaviour, establish new friendships, move toward greater personal intimacy and adult sexuality and face 75  complex intellectual challenges” (p. 18). A report by the Carnegie Corporation in 1992 also mentioned the universal needs of adolescents as cognitive and educational competence, health and physical well being, personal and social competence, leadership and citizenship, and preparation for work. To meet these needs young people, including homeless and at-risk youth, need information, life skills, dependable relationships, a sense of usefulness and belonging, and bases for decision making and autonomy. Today’s information society also demands that young people develop or acquire multiple skills to be able to access the relevant information needed to make it to successful adulthood. However several writers including Shenton (2004), Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2006), and Chelton and Thomas (1999) have indicated that knowledge about young people’s information seeking behaviour is limited. Shenton (2004) describes the existing knowledge base on how young people seek information as ‘scanty’, ‘piecemeal’ and many of the topics addressed as ‘peripheral’ to the information seeking process (p. 243). He further emphasizes that coherent and comprehensive knowledge regarding young people’s information seeking is difficult to ascertain. Studies on youth information seeking in the 1980s, according to Bernier (2007), were focused on what they know and learn but since the 1990s the focus has shifted to how they learn, that is on issues of cognitive development and its relationship to information behaviour. This shift in research focus has revealed some insights about how young people acquire bibliographic skills. For example young people learn and acquire bibliographic skills differently from adults and instructors must take this into account as they teach them; the principles and methods of instruction for young people must adopt flexible tactics and take into consideration how social factors like self confidence contribute to the composition of search statements by young adults; and researchers must begin to use ethnographic methods in studying how young people learn. With regard to current research on youth information behaviour Bernier (2007) is of the opinion that all young people have been confined to “student” identities and all their actions reduced to “skills” (p. xiv). This is because the focus of most of these research studies is school related, 76  such as issues of school assignments, student perceptions of information technologies, studies on student web searching etc. These studies only capture information behaviour of students pursuing academic goals and do not include the complex embodiment of young people’s information seeking behaviours and the many ways in which young people themselves may want to be identified in the public sphere. These studies also portray young people as lone or independent learners which is contrary to developmental postures of young people who often work in groups. Much of the current research also portrays young people in a negative light. For example a study by Branch (2002) characterized them as novice searchers with poor search skills in tasks such as formulating and refining effective search terms, assessing and refining of results and synthesizing of data. Other negative behaviours described are copying one another’s work, cheating or plagiarizing. They are also portrayed in the literature as having difficulty with learning information seeking and being challenged by technical interfaces. These difficulties have been ascribed to their low skill levels, short attention spans, lack of systematic planning, superficial browsing, difficulty in making relevance judgments, and inability to manage and reduce large volumes of information, among other factors. They are also characterized as impatient, unprepared and always prone to violating behavioural norms. (Bernier, 2007). Current research is really less about youth information seeking than about framing youth as library, database or web users and about improving their achievements. Bernier (2007) is of the view that perceiving young people as information consumers has overshadowed the fact that young people are also producers of large amounts of information in various forms of media. He suggests that it would probably be more beneficial to consider youth as demanding rather than impatient, as customers requiring better designs from engineers and information managers rather than as unprepared and needing instruction in using software, as agents entitled to literary production rather than as mere information gatherers. Much of the available research on youth information seeking is task related, that is, school/academic-based and library-based and not related to their everyday lives. First, many studies are quantitative, investigating young 77  people’s use of particular providers and the ways in which they exploit these sources, and secondly, many are classroom/media center based qualitative studies to investigate the sources they use and the strategies they employ in using these sources (Shenton and Dixon, 2004). An understanding of the natural or day-to-day human information seeking behaviour according to Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2005) is essential to the provision of quality information services. Such information would influence “collection development, reference services, programming, and budget allotment practices” (p. 142). This overview of youth information seeking reveals that most of the studies on youth information seeking have been school, library, media or technology based. However as Bernier (2007) points out, the lives of teens are more complex than has been portrayed in the literature of youth information seeking. The lives of teens are not only about looking for information to meet the challenges in their academic life but include other tasks such as the developmental tasks mentioned by Havinghurst (see above). Therefore there is a need for researchers to adopt a holistic approach to youth information seeking. The ELIS approach is a way of finding the breadth of the information needs of teens and how they go about looking for information to meet these needs on a daily basis. 2.5.1  Research on Everyday Life Information Seeking Behaviour of Young People  Research on everyday life information seeking of young people has focused on health, careers, drugs and their day-to-day information needs, their sources of information, and problems they encounter when looking for information. Some of these studies are reviewed below. Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2005) conducted a study with the goal of determining the underlying problem of youth perception of libraries, whether it is an image problem or whether libraries are not able to meet the academic, health, and social information needs of young adults. The study sought answers to the questions:   “What types of information do urban young adults seek in their everyday lives?” 78     “What information media do urban youth favour?” “What information media do urban young adults favour when seeking everyday life information?” (p. 142)  Twenty-seven members of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Teen Leadership program and participants in the Girls and Boys Clubs after-school program, aged 14 to 17, participated in the study. Data collection methods used for the study were surveys, group interviews, photographic tours, audio journals and written activity logs. The results of the study showed that the participants preferred people as sources of information followed by non-people sources. The people consulted included “family and friends, school employees, mentors, customer service staff, librarians, and passers-by” (p. 158) in descending order of frequency. The non-people sources included “telephones, television, computers, radio, newspapers, product packaging, personal communication systems (such as instant messaging, emails and written notes), printed school materials, product catalogs, printed ephemera, books, magazines and phone books” (p.158), also in descending order of frequency. The last major category represents ‘topics’ for which the participants sought information, that is, their information needs. Twenty-eight information need topics were identified which included: schoolwork, social life/leisure, time/date, daily life routine (such as meal and clothing selection), activities, weather, current events, personal finances, transportation, consumer information, popular culture, and personal improvement (i.e., self help, college and scholarship information). Agosto and Hughes Hassell (2006) used Havighurst’s developmental task as a framework and combined the 28 teen information needs topic into seven areas of teen development: the social self, the emotional self, the reflective self, the physical self, the creative self, the cognitive self, and the sexual self. The researchers concluded that the purpose of ELIS of the teen is “the gathering and processing of information to facilitate the multifaceted teen-to-adulthood maturation process” (p.1399). Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2005) indicated that the study was very significant for three reasons. First it confirmed the findings of other researchers such as Shenton and Dixon (2003b) who also identified consumer information, transportation, personal finances, time, daily 79  routines and weather as some of the information needs of young people. Second, it was the first study to focus on urban youth. Previous studies dealt with rural populations and middle class suburban youth. Third, the similarities between the categories of needs identified in the study compared to previous studies implies that youth “have similar information needs across socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic boundaries” (Agosto and Hughes-Hassell, 2005, p. 160). With regard to teens’ perception of libraries and librarians, the findings revealed that participants were frustrated with strict library regulations, unpleasant library staff, and lack of culturally relevant materials, unattractive teen spaces and limited access to technology, among others. The study concluded that urban teens do not consider “libraries as places where their everyday life information needs can be met” (p. 162) since libraries and their collections, such as books and magazines, were found at the bottom of the list of information sources they consulted. The researchers also agreed with the conclusion of a study published by the Urban Library Council in the United States that “urban youth are the best sources of information about their needs and must serve as the cornerstone of all library initiatives designed to serve them” (Agosto and Hughes-Hassell, 2005, p. 162). Shenton and Dixon (2003) conducted a study to “investigate the information universes of youngsters as revealed by their own words and ideas” (p. 178) and to find out how information seeking behaviour changes during the years of childhood. The specific objectives of the study were to identify their information needs and how they responded to them. For the purposes of the study, information seeking was designated to include “any action taken by an individual to address a perceived need” (p. 8), and an information need was considered to be the “desire or necessity to acquire the intellectual material required by a person to ease, resolve, or otherwise respond to a situation arising in their life” (Shenton and Dixon, 2003, p. 8). The study was conducted in six schools at Whitley Bay, a town on the northeast coast of England. Three schools with pupils ages 4 to 9, two middle schools with students ages 9 to13, and one high school with students ages 13 to18 participated in the study. Each school designated one class 80  to participate in the study and random sampling was used to select the participants for the study. One hundred and eighty-eight pupils, made up of 95 boys and 93 girls, were selected. Data collection was by focus group discussions and interviews. To identify their information needs the study adopted a life-centred line of questioning, in which participants were required to narrate a recent incident when they needed to find something or learn about something for the purposes of school, personal interest or when they were worried about something. The results of the study revealed 13 types of information needs including need for advice, support for skill development, a spontaneous life situation in response to emerging problems and curiosities, empathetic understanding of others, school related information, personal information for the youngsters themselves or others in their social worlds, affective support , interest driven information, preparatory information to meet a challenge, reinterpretations of information already known to participants, and information to confirm or deny existing beliefs. With regard to information seeking, Shenton and Dixon (2003, p. 10) described what they called “the macrocosmic model” which involved:      Adoption of one or more information directions (such as taking decisions on the information sources to use, the formats of those sources, and their locations including the home, school, the public library etc.). Choice of a specific source or sources within the category or categories specified in the direction (such as identifying a particular book, a CD-ROM package, an organization etc.) Efforts to locate the appropriate part or parts of the source or sources (interacting with the source to identify useful or relevant information). Attempts to access the desired information (scrutinizing identified information to select that which will satisfy a need) (p.10)  The study also revealed that youngsters tend to use other people to satisfy their information needs. Shenton and Dixon (2003b) categorized the people consulted by the participants of the study into three types. These are “people of convenience” (for example parents and siblings because they are easily accessible); “those in a comparable position” (often friends who had encountered similar information needs); and “experts” (for example teachers believed to have specialist knowledge of the subject area of need to participants) (p. 221). The researchers further indicated that out of the 13 types of information needs identified in the study, other 81  people were used by participants to address 12 of them. The exceptional need was consumer information which participants consulted for the purposes of making purchases. The main problem with using other people as sources of information was that young children could not identify the strengths and weaknesses of the people they approached for information and rarely questioned the accuracy of the information they received. Other problems were unhelpful or biased information from authoritative figures like teachers, hostility from potential information providers, and inaccuracy of information received, conflicting information received, and unavailability of information providers. The study recommended that librarians and teachers instruct youngsters so they are equipped with the requisite skills for using other people as information sources in the same way as they teach the skills of using other resources such as electronic resources. This would enable youngsters to evaluate the information they receive from other people without simply accepting it at face value (Shenton and Dixon, 2003b). In a cross-national study involving adolescents from the United Kingdom and the United States Gray et al. (2004) explored perceptions and experiences of students using the Internet as a source of health information. One hundred and fifty-seven (157) students ages 11 to19 drawn from seven secondary schools and six-form colleges in England and Scotland, and three public and two private schools in upstate New York participated in the study. The study used focus groups as a data collection method. Twenty-six (26) focus groups comprising 15 United Kingdom and 11 United States groups, each lasting between 30 minutes to one hour, were convened on school premises on normal school days. The group discussions focused on how participants perceive the Internet as a source of health information and the effect of the Internet on their leisure /work activities. Twenty of the groups were also asked to choose a health topic and search the Internet for information on that topic. The results of the study showed that adolescents primarily use personal sources for health information where possible and use the Internet as a second choice, or cross-check information from their personal sources to that found on the Internet for consistency. Participants perceived using the Internet as a source of 82  information empowering because they could avoid seeing the doctor. It also provides anonymity and makes health information easily accessible. Comparing information on the Internet to other sources such as books and health leaflets, the participants observed that it is regularly updated and they could examine a health subject from different perspectives rather than from the lone opinion of the author of a book. It could be personalized through feedback loops and printed or stored if required. Some older participants mentioned using multiple sources such as radio and television in addition to the Internet for health information. Reasons for seeking health information were to address specific health information needs for family members or themselves, or look for information on everyday health matters such as diet, fitness, acne, etc. The findings also revealed that most of the participants tend to find relevant health information but a minority of them, especially students from the UK, were frustrated with unsolicited advertisements for health products or medicines. Some of the participants were fully aware of the issue of credibility of websites and reported various strategies for appraising websites such as the structure of the address; for example ‘edu’ in the address signified a credible academic institution. They also recognized websites created by individuals who shared only their opinions and not facts on health issues. The study concluded that the “Internet can potentially combine all the best features of existing health information sources such as empathy associated with lay personal sources, the expertise/trustworthiness of professional sources, and the feedback associated with personal sources” (p.1476). Other studies have focused on youth information seeking for career decision-making, which is important for adolescents about to finish high school. At this stage young people become very aware of the need to make plans for their lives after school, particularly the careers they would like to pursue and the educational paths they could follow to achieve their career goals. Julien (1999) investigated the information seeking behaviours of adolescents in relation to their future careers. The study explored the difficulties they experienced in looking for the information needed to make career-related decisions. The research participants were drawn from three 83  secondary schools from a medium sized Canadian city. Three hundred and ninety-nine adolescents participated in the study. The study used the survey methodology and data collection was by questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. The study was informed by Dervin’s sense-making theory of communication. The assumption was that the respondents were actively constructing meaning as they made sense of their world. The data was analyzed within the theoretical framework of Harren’s decision-making style. Harren (1979) identified three main decision-making styles as rational, intuitive and dependent. In the rational style, the individual anticipates the need for making decisions for the future, actively seeks information about self and the anticipated situation and makes a deliberate, objective and logical decision. The intuitive style is characterised by use of fantasy, attention to present feelings, and an emotional self-awareness as a basis for decision-making. In the dependent style the individual is passive, compliant and makes decisions based on the expectations of peers and outside authority. The findings of the study revealed that the main barriers to career decision-making faced by the participants included difficulty in finding all the resources they needed to make decisions, lack of knowledge about where to find answers to questions regarding the future, lack of knowledge on specific information such as grades and courses needed to achieve career goals, obtaining funds for further education, and finding information about different jobs. Participants of lower socioeconomic background reportedly lacked the confidence to seek appropriate help, especially if the sources of help would not protect their privacy. Barriers to information seeking revealed from findings of open-ended questions included in the questionnaire were information overload in terms of the volume and variety of information needed for making informed career decisions, and institutional barriers such as “inability to obtain information because of school scheduling” (p. 43). Others were lack of understanding about decisions they needed to make about their future and lack of clarity about what constitutes appropriate career-decision making, causing participants to be overwhelmed. The study concluded that the findings are significant and will inform service providers such as librarians and guidance counsellors on the information needs and difficulties of adolescents 84  making career decisions to improve on their services so that adolescents will be able to make good career decisions based on access to adequate and timely information. Edwards and Poston-Anderson (1996) examined the information seeking behaviour of young adolescent girls in relation to their future jobs and careers. The study adopted a qualitative approach and participants comprising 42 adolescent girls from grades seven to nine were drawn from two public and private schools respectively. The study was conducted in Sydney, Australia. Data collection was by in-depth interviews. Participants were asked to discuss in-depth an identified life concern such as future job, future education, drugs and money; to remember the questions they had about these concerns (that is, information problems), their actions and feelings regarding these concerns from the first instant until the time of the interview, and the answers they had received or sought about these concerns if any. They were also asked to keep a diary for one month regarding these concerns followed by a second interview to ascertain the status of their concerns. The results of the study indicated that the main life concerns of the participants were whether they would be able to attain higher education qualifications or secure jobs that required higher scores in their final examinations. With regard to their information needs they indicated information about their education such as subject choices and length of a university education, and job information such as requirements for the pursuit of specific careers, length of training for specific jobs and how to secure a job. It was also evident that the participants engaged in little or no formal information seeking. Those who sought any information consulted their parents, especially their mothers. Furthermore, contrary to the expectations of the researchers, the participants did not consult formal human sources such as librarians, teachers, and career advisors. Their perception was that adults did not expect them to seek information about their future plans at that early age of 12 to 14 years. Edwards and Poston-Anderson (1996) also acknowledged the findings of other studies that indicate that information systems targeted at teens are often under-utilised, and adolescent girls aged 12 to 14 do not normally patronise formal information systems. The study therefore 85  suggested that there is a need for professionals working with teens to be proactive in making information targeted at teens highly visible and readily accessible. They must also use informal media for the dissemination of information to this age group. Other studies focused on adolescents and drug information. For example, Todd (1999) investigated how older adolescents use the information they receive on the drug heroin. The study used a quasi-experimental approach. The objective of the study was to find out what happened in the minds of young people when they were exposed to drug information, that is, what they cognitively did with this information, how the information changed what they already knew and the effects of their exposure to the information (that is, the effect of heroin information on the cognitive construction of adolescents) (p. 11). Data was collected from four adolescent girls aged 17 and in their final year of secondary education in Sydney, Australia. The girls were characterized as above-average students, very fluent in English, motivated learners and of diverse backgrounds (Italian, Anglo-Celtic, Filipino, and Arabic). The reason for the selection of a small group was to get rich and well-grounded descriptions which would form the basis for further empirical examination. The results of the study showed that the existing knowledge structures of the girls went through three stages of revision conceptualized by the researcher as “construction, deconstruction and reconstruction” (p. 17). The effects of the exposure to heroin information on the girls were categorized as 1) “get a complete picture”, 2) “get a changed picture”, 3) “get a verified picture”, 4) “get a clearer picture”, and 5) “get a position in a picture” (Todd, 1999, p. 15). In other words the girls gained a more complete knowledge about heroin and its use which enabled them to form their own opinions about heroin. The study mentioned a number of practical applications of the findings to the dissemination of drug information to adolescents. For example, traditionally most drug awareness campaigns used graphics to portray the serious consequences of drug abuse with the hope of effecting a personal change of attitudes in adolescent behaviours. The researcher emphasizes that such authoritative and convincing information is not a guarantee that adolescents may receive or use the information. 86  He suggests that shifting the focus from mass communication facts to carefully selected content that takes into consideration the cognitive utilizations of the information might be much more effective. The literature review on ELIS of youth has shown that youth have a plethora of information needs related to their development into adulthood. For example Agosto and Hughes-Hassell (2005) identified 28 information needs topics including consumer information, daily life routine, personal improvement and finances, popular culture, skill development, schoolwork, time/date, social life/leisure activities, weather, current events, etc. Shenton and Dixon (2004) identified 13 information needs which included affective support, empathetic understanding of others, interest driven information, preparatory information to meet a challenge, etc. Their work also reveals that young people prefer human sources of information such as parents and siblings, peers and experts although they also use other sources such as the media (TV, computers, newspaper, and the Internet). With regard to the problem/barriers to their information seeking, their preference for human sources presents a major problem since they are not able to evaluate the strength, weaknesses, and accuracy or validity of the information they receive. Other barriers include information overload in that they are often overwhelmed with available information and lack the skills or ability to filter out the right kind of information to enable them to make the right decisions or to meet their specific information needs. Finally young people do not seek information from formal sources such as libraries. In fact the findings of Agosto and HughesHassell’s (2005) study revealed a number of grievances teens have against libraries such as strict library regulations, unpleasant library staff, and lack of culturally relevant materials. This is a rather serious problem since the very institution designed to provide timely and relevant information for all, including teens, is perceived by teens as hostile and ineffective. These findings underscore the importance of research in youth information seeking so that information providers will identify their needs, sources of information and barriers to their information seeking so that they provide more effective service. 87  2.5.2  Everyday life Information Seeking Behaviour of Homeless Youth  In the library and information science literature only a few studies have focused on the information seeking behaviour of homeless youth. For example Alexander, Edwards, Fisher and Hersberger (2005) conducted a study to identify the health and human services needs of homeless persons comprising both youth and adults on the east side of King County, Washington, in order to inform the planning of services and provision. The study was guided by the following research questions:        What factors lead to homelessness in otherwise stable living situations? What interventions, including informational, might have prevented homelessness for particular people? What types of information, and health and human services do the homeless need? How can these informational and services needs be facilitated? What barriers do homeless people encounter when seeking help? What factor(s) can lead a person out of homelessness? (p. 3)  The study adopted a qualitative approach and was conducted within the framework of Chatman’s theory of life in the round and Dervin’s sense-making approach. Data was collected using in-depth interviews, unobtrusive observation, and field notes. Fourteen homeless persons ages 16 to 44 participated in the study. The results showed that their homelessness is caused by both personal and situational factors, such as inability to pay rent, unhealthy/abusive home situation, a request by parents/family members to leave home, loss of job, drug abuse by self/others, and injury or theft. Their preferred means of obtaining general information included the Internet, newspaper, speaking with someone face-to-face or on the telephone, and informational pamphlet. The results revealed that generally, participants’ information needs were closely tied to service needs with a wide variety of information sources. They tended to use informal sources (other people) rather than formal sources (print and electronic sources). Newspapers were indicated as good sources for job information. Two of the participants located a shelter by using the yellow pages and a brochure from a family member respectively. They also received information from several social service agencies and other organizations such as 88  the YWCA and churches. Barriers to their help-seeking were economic problems, lack of cleaning facilities, suitable clothing for job hunting and transportation issues. They also indicated that they were often too overwhelmed emotionally and time-wise to pursue needed information. In other words it takes time, energy and daily struggle to resolve homelessness. Interventions that they indicated might have prevented homelessness included favorable financial conditions such as transitional housing, lower cost of living, and assistance in finding jobs, job retraining and an intervention using a one-on-one caseworker. The study reported a sense of community especially among younger homeless persons which translated into information sharing among them. This, according to researchers is consistent with Chatman’s “small world” conceptualizations in which insiders learn from other insiders as much as possible and seek information from other sources when necessary (Chatman, 1999). This is clearly illustrated by this quote from a participant: We’re kind of like a family [at the shelter], and [we’re used to] a few people, and then anybody who comes, we actually kind of look at them weird, and we accept them if they’re good people, but we kind of respect our own little group –everybody understands, you know? It’s kind of like a code. We make sure we all end up somewhere okay and we’re all happy for every single person that gets out of here (Alexander et al., 2005, p. 15).  The study concluded that the information sharing strategy among the homeless youth would be a useful one for information dissemination by shelter authorities among shelter residents. In other words relevant and important information from shelter authorities can be disseminated using shelter insiders. It also recommended a follow-up study of the observed phenomenon of community spirit among the youth because of its value as an information dissemination strategy. Reid and Klee (1999) investigated service provision and perception of homeless youth of these services in Greater Manchester in the United Kingdom. The study population included homeless youth in Manchester city and the surrounding towns such as Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, and Stockport. The objectives of the study were to examine access and use of formal and informal support services such as housing, health, advice and information, confidence in securing help 89  and appraisal of service provision. “The operational definition of the homeless used in this study was youth who were roofless, residing in hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation or staying temporarily with friends” (p. 17). Two hundred youth, ages14 to 25 comprising 143 males and 57 females participated in the study. The study adopted a quantitative approach and data was collected using semi-structured interviews. The study reported their information sources as: the Department of Housing for housing information, followed by advice agencies, social services, day centers, and friends or families in descending order. They obtained money or financial advice from friends/families, Department of Social Security, Hostel staff, probation or social services, and advice agencies in descending order. The majority of respondents used informal sources (family and friends) to satisfy their counselling needs and 32% or 64 of the respondents had no knowledge of where to get counselling. A few mentioned hostel staff, social services, and drug workers as sources for counselling. The majority of the respondents used voluntary organizations so they could have a place to shower, obtain clothes and enjoy the company of fellow homeless youth. With regard to their health seeking habits, the majority of them (156 or 78%) consulted GPs when they were sick followed by a small percentage that went to the accident or emergency departments of hospitals. Barriers to their health seeking included: limited income, the lack of an address, their perception that ‘sickness was not serious’ and the cumbersome process required to see a GP considering their homeless status. They were also dissatisfied with treatment they received at the hospitals and indicated they received better treatment at the hospitals than with the GPs. The main reasons for their dissatisfaction were discrimination because they were homeless or used drugs, and a general feeling that the symptoms of their sickness had not been well diagnosed and properly dealt with. The study further revealed, that majority of respondents had experienced drug-related health problems. They obtained “their injecting equipment from a specialist needle exchange service or from the pharmacy” (p.21), and received treatment or counselling from a drug agency. The main problem respondents had with the treatment agencies was the length of the waitlist, that is, the length of time they had to wait for their turn to be treated. The study concluded that youth homelessness 90  was becoming a problem in the United Kingdom and social service agencies must be proactive in identifying youth at risk of homelessness early in order to arrest their situation. Ensign and Panke (2002) conducted a study to examine the “reproductive health seeking behaviours, sources of advice, and access to care issues among clinic-based homeless adolescent” in Seattle (p.166). Twenty women ages 14 to 23 participated in the study. The study was ethnographic and data collection was by semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Their sources of health information included health advice from informal sources such as a friend, mother or grandmother, reference books from a library or bookstore, herbalists or herbal reference books, or ‘Ask-a-Nurse’ phone consulting service. The reason for their preference for using a female as health adviser was that women are understanding and can relate to the health problems/issues of other women. With regard to health seeking behaviour the participants indicated they first practice self care such as taking ‘Tylenol’ and went to the clinic as a last resort. Others sought advice from alternative sources such as naturopathic pharmacies. They expressed a wish that medical practitioners would teach them self-care practices so they could save themselves time and the trouble of going to see a doctor. The barriers to appropriate healthcare included structural issues of the health care system, individual issues, characteristics of providers and communication issues. Structurally participants preferred to seek care from a clinic designated for homeless or at-risk youth, except that they were not able to access help from these clinics during the weekends because they were closed. The barriers to using other hospitals and clinics included questions about consent for care, identification cards and source of insurance or payment which they did not have. Individual issues include lack of transportation and money. The majority also indicated the state of being sick as a potential barrier because it is often difficult for one to drag oneself anywhere when feeling indisposed. The last individual barrier was lack of social support. They mentioned that they always liked to be accompanied by a friend or a partner for support when going to seek healthcare and would appreciate the opportunity to enter the examination room with their 91  friends. Participants indicated some of the characteristics of the regular clinics that they did not like such as not being addressed by name, being questioned about confidential matters openly by front desk staff, filling in of multiple forms, and being reprimanded by clinic staff for being inquisitive about personal medical charts. They would also like healthcare providers to treat them with trust, respect and acceptance. (For example, respondents mentioned that the fact that they were homeless did not mean they lacked knowledge about personal health care issues and needed to be educated about them). The results also revealed that participants preferred a female doctor for easy bonding and would like the conversations to be in simple language without medical jargon. The study concluded by highlighting the power imbalances in clinical settings where the care provider is considered the expert whose responsibility is to diagnose, teach and treat while the patient is the weaker one seeking assistance. The report suggested that the patient/ provider