Information need is an uncertainly that arise in an individual, and which the individual is believed to be satisfied by information. The concept of nature of information need is seldom if ever mentioned in the general literature about needs, but is a common term in the literature of information science. It has now been realized that information need is a composite concept of different types of requirements and approaches to information.


Nature of Information need:

Melvin Voigt clearly identified three types of information requirements. Later on, a fourth type was added by other workers in the field. Now it is generally accepted that there are four types of information requirement or approach. These are briefly deliberating below:

  1. Current Approach: Every single active worker has to keep himself abreast of current developments, up to a fair degree, only in his specific field of work but also in the boarder field or field of interest or areas, whose developments can substantially change the course of his present work. Here the worker interacts with the information system in a very general way browsing through his favorite periodicals, going through the abstract, journals etc. the very nature of this approach requires constant interaction with the information system.

⇒Current approach services: to fulfill current approach the following services should be served:

  • Title announcement service
  • Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI)
  • Announcement of research in progress
  • Notification of forthcoming conferences, meetings etc.
  • Newspaper clippings.
  1. Everyday Approach: The second approach stems from the research workers frequent need, in the course of his investigation for a specific piece of information. The nature of information sought in a such a situation in very specific and a quick answer is usually expected. Because of its frequency of occurrence, as compared to other approach.

⇒Everyday approach services: to fulfill the everyday approach some services should be served. These are:

  • Hand-books
  • Critical complication
  • Data service
  • Reader guidance
  • Ready reference
  • Retrospective document search
  • Referral service
  1. Exhaustive Approach: The third approach for which dependence on documents is very much necessary and hence had attracted the attention of documentalists quite early, almost all relevant literature on a subject that is why it is called exhaustive approach. When a worker or a team of workers want to take up a new area of investigation, such an approach to information is necessary. It can be easily realized that such approach should be occasional only.

⇒Exhaustive approach services: to fulfill the exhaustive approach such services should be served. These are:

  • Abstract
  • Extracts
  • Technical digest
  • Indexes
  • Bibliographies
  • Catalogues
  • Indexing and Abstracting
  1. Catching-up Approach: Next comes the catching-up approach which is still more occasional. A worker may at times need to have a brief but a complete picture of recent developments of related subjects, in this situation, you expect to have in the communication system a device which will help you in quickly catching-up with the subject.

⇒Catching-up approach services: To fulfill the catching-up approach such services should be followed. These are as follows:

  • Trend report
  • State of the art report

Difference between Exhaustive and Current approach: Some different are as being:

  1. Information sought is on a specific subject of inquiry needs in exhaustive approach whereas information in general on recent developments in broad subject areas is sought in current approach.
  2. Exhaustive approach needs arise only occasionally but current approach need is a continuous one.
  3. Exhaustive approach is important to follow search strategy to fulfill their services whereas not needed any search strategy to fulfill current approach.
  4. A search usually results in the retrieval of relevant documents in exhaustive approach whereas a search is not always for the retrieval of documents in current approach.
  5. Indexes are essential for providing multiple exhaustive approach whereas Indexes are not very necessary for current approach.
  6. Exhaustive approaches are permanent records of work admitted into the information system whereas current approaches are for temporary use only.
  7. Cumulation of the texts or indexes or both are necessary in exhaustive approach but cumulation is not at all necessary in current approach.
  8. Exhaustive coverage is the emphasis whereas speed is the main emphasis in current approach.

Finally, we can say that information need is the strategy which needs to fulfill based on some approaches those are really crucial for our library services.

Related Article: Types, Levels & Components of Information Need