What users want: Assessing government information preferences to drive information services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Access to government information has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. There are many indicators of information use, but it is challenging for service institutions to gain a current and comprehensive view of the research practices and preferences of their users. Information stakeholders must seek out current data to gauge the potential success of new initiatives and policies in order to meet user needs. To that end, a user study was conducted on the University of Montana campus in spring of 2006. The survey was sent to a random, stratified sample of the campus population. The instrument included questions on frequency of government information use, methods of locating and learning about government documents, awareness of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), and service and format preferences. The results show that the majority of researchers are using government information at least quarterly and that they most often use general search engines to find it. Respondents indicate a strong interest in alerting services, tutorials, virtual reference, and topic-oriented assistance. Although some respondents prefer printed materials for specific types of information, users generally want to find and access government information online. The results offer current data for program planning, collection development, and information policy creation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-218
Number of pages16
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic libraries
  • Data-driven decision making
  • FDLP
  • Government information
  • Information policy
  • Use study
  • User survey

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