Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2011
It has been recognized that youth populations are the capital for nation building. According to the Malaysian National Census (2000) about 60% of Malaysian youth (age 15-29) are concentrated in the rural areas. This population as already known is a valuable asset for the successor of country development. They are believed to be the agents of change for economic and social growth of the society. They can play an active role for the development of themselves and their environment. They should be actively involved in giving their expertise and assistance in various fields such as education, business, rural industries and human development. The true development must mean the development of man, the creativity of improving their material conditions of living through the use of information available to them. The United Nation describes one of the more significant characteristics of young people is to live under conditions that encourage their imagination, ideals, energy and vision to flourish on the benefit of their societies (United Nation, 2007). They need to be imaginative, energetic and visionary for the benefit of their societies. As information and youth represent two of the largest in country development, it is important to understand the rural youth’s perception towards information sources and usage. They are expected to use the information for several reasons such as to complete a task, to solve a problem as well as to decide.
In seeking information, rural youth is likely to depend on a variety of sources. Among valuable sources, library service is recognized, in many studies of human information seeking behavior, as a major source of information. For instance, T.D. Wilson (2000) had reported that the origin studies of information seeking behavior are found related to the library use. However, the characteristics of being rural, especially those who lived in the underserved areas often make it hard for them to access information and translate that information into useful knowledge. In many discussions on the rural development, rural communities are often described as disadvantage communities. For people living in these underserved areas, it is crucial to have access to information in printed or online materials. Concern has been raised by several relevant studies about the poor services of rural libraries. Studies such as conducted by Momodu (2002) showed that rural populations in Nigeria are lack of access to information, which is a vital necessity for their developmental process. For this reason, it is important for the government to examine and, where necessary, improved and expanded services related to the information delivery. However, for library services to become more effective and meet the needs of groups, it is vital to identify the rural youths’ information needs and gaining an understanding of how and where rural youths seek information. As proposed by Israel and Ilvento (1995), community needs assessment is importance for rural development.
Over the past 20 years, little evidence has been found into youth’s information need. Shenton (2004) provided in depth analysis of the research of young people’s information seeking showing the limited nature of research on this area. In her analysis, she reported that much of the researches were difficult to synthesize a coherent and comprehensive knowledge base relating to what is known about youngster’s information seeking. Since research in this area is limited, this study should be conducted to examine youth’s information need as well as the perceptions they make of rural library services. This study enables librarian to plan an effective information service and meet the youth’s information needs. To achieve that goal, the study focused on the following research questions:
a) What kind of information sources do the rural youths use?
b) Do they satisfy with these sources?
c) What problems can be identified while seeking information?
d) How effective do the library services in meeting rural youth’s information needs?