UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


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. iii 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.

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