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Overivew: Information Seekers


“Information seeking refers to the practical process of obtaining the information needed via specific information databases or information networks… The ways in which information users search information in the digital age depend ultimately on the information resources and information search tools they use” (LiLi, 2014, 127).

vaseIndividuals seek out audio and video sources for a wide range of reasons. Each person comes to the library with a unique set of informational interests and skills. While some people come to the library with audio or video sources in mind, others may not have considered non-print materials.

A Paris travel video might be more useful than a book in deciding whether to take a vacation in Europe. Many people would choose an audio tutorial rather than a book for language learning. Video games, popular movies, and audiobooks have all become popular leisure activities.

A person interested in pottery may come to the library seeking a book about making clay bowls, but leave with an instructional video once they realize it’s available.

Whether listening to jazz or watching a romantic comedy, people spend a substantial amount of leisure time enjoying audio and video. However, only a small percent use library resources. The PewResearchCenter report indicated that 27% of people used the library websites or mobile apps in the past 12 months. Of those, 44% of those website users reserved or placed holds on printed books, audiobooks, e-books, CDs or DVDs and 40% renewed books, DVDs or CDs (Horrigan, 2016).

try itTry It!
What kind of information seeker are you? What are your likes and dislike? It's important to understand your own interests and bias before you can help others. Be honest... do you hate a particular type of music? Do you prefer print books to audiobooks? Do you think gaming is fun or a waste of time? Your own preferences can impact how you think about audio and video resources and how you respond to inquiries from users.

Music Listeners

Whether checking out an audio CD of a broadway show to practice for a school musical or downloading popular music from Freegal, people use the library's music collections for a variety of purposes.

try itRead!
Read Dougan, Kirstin (2015). Finding the right notes: an observational study of score and recording seeking behaviors of music students. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41, 61-67. Available through IUPUI.

Increasingly, library users seek out videos for music access. Social media tools such as YouTube are used to share a wide range of musical experiences.

Diane Rasmussen Neal and Niall Conroy (2012) used blog accounts of music information behavior to study how people use and share music. Neal and Conroy (2012, 83) found that

“the emotional needs of users feature prominently in how music is searched for and shared. Users describe a preference for browsing and collecting behaviour, rather than targeted search-type activities.”

Dougan, Kirstin (March 2016). Music, Youtube, and academic libraries. Notes, 72(3), 491-508. Available through IUPUI.

Audiobook Readers

infseekerAudiobooks are becoming increasingly popular with many library users. Listener still seem to enjoy books on CD as well as the newer option of streaming and digital downloads.

According to a PewResearchCenter report (Perrin, 2016), 14% of Americans read an audiobook in 2015. This number has inched up gradually since 2011 when it was 11%. Although this is still a small percent of library users, the increase is important as access to digital audiobooks grows.

Men and women are equally likely to listen to an audiobook (Perrin, 2016). Audiobooks are popular with people of all ages.

Many information seekers have specific interests. They may like a particular genre, specific narrators, or productions that include sounds effects and music.

Jennifer M. Dowell writes a column in AudioFile exploring different perspectives on audiobook listening.

try itRead!
Read at least six of the following short profiles on audiobook readers. Then, think about your perspective on audiobook reading.

Dowell, Jennifer M. (December 2017). Listening with... Susan Sanders. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (October 2017). Listening with... Daniel Minter. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (August 2016). Listening with… Amy Chozick. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (April 2016). Listening with… Emmanuel Muya. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (February 2016). Listening with… Thomas Leighton. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (December 2015). Listening with… Viola Dyas. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (October 2015). Listening with… Janis Ian. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (June 2015). Listening with… Pamela Klinger-Horn. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (April 2015). Listening with… Adam Panzica. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (February 2015). Listening with… Jason Benetti. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (December 2014). Listening with… Alisha Langerman. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (October 2014). Listening with… Paul B. Janeczko. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (August 2014). Listening with… Jessica Tomasin. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (June 2014). Listening with… Steve Leveen. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.
Dowell, Jennifer M. (April 2014). Listening with… Audrey Mase. AudioFile, 72. Available through IUPUI.

Movie Lovers

Do you binge watch television series?
Do you love movie marathons?
Could you watch award-winning documentaries or Ken Burns films all day?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you're not alone. Many people rely on the library's collection of DVDs and digital downloads for entertainment. As cable and satellite subscriptions become more expensive, some people are dropping their providers in favorite of using the library's physical and digital resources.


"Video games have been popular for more than 30 years. In fact, three generations have grown up with video games - Generation Xers, Generation Y, and Millennials. It’s not only the digital natives who are playing video games. The average age of today’s gamer is 35-years old, and Baby Boomers and Seniors are playing them more than ever before! Libraries across the country are offering family gaming nights that bring the generations together for a gaming experience they can’t share anywhere else." - ilovelibraries

It's important not to stereotype video game players. Today's players include preschoolers, teens, adults, and seniors. Besides accessing game software and consoles, they may also be seeking recommendations for new games, "cheat sheets" to assist with their play, or a supportive gaming community.

Individuals with Special Needs

Audio and video collections provide essential resources for people with special needs. In addition to the materials of interest to all users, it's important to consider special needs as you select audio and video materials. 

Resources for Deaf and Hearing Impaired

cc wikimedia commonsClosed-captioning benefits millions of people each year. Closed captions are visible text that represent spoken audio and other sounds. The text appears somewhere on the screen. The written language of audio includes narration and other description to help the viewer understand what's happening. For example if an actor is singing, then a music symbol might be added to the text. You'll notice this if you watch the movie version of the popular musical Oklahoma.

Closed captions are hidden in the video signal. They can be accessed using the remote control on newer televisions. Laws address what video and programs must contain these captions. Broadcast, cable, and satellite television distributors are required to provide closed captioning in their programming.

In addition to the deaf and hearing impaired, people who are learning English as a second language benefit from closed-captioning.

try itRead!
Read the Closed Captioning wikipedia page.
Read the Federal Communication Communication (FCC) Guidelines on Closed Captioning on Television.

Open captioning is an integral part of the image. They are like subtitles that can't be turned off and on. DVDs sometimes provide a number of caption options.

Subtitling is not designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing audio because it doesn't provide notations for sound effects and other significant audio.

American Sign Language (ASL) is sometimes used in video. An interpreter is shown in the corner of the screen.

Libraries should be aware of the differences among closed-captioning, open-captioning, and subtitling when purchasing materials.

Resources for Blind and Visually Impaired

Descriptive Video Service / Descriptive Video Information (DVS/DVI) contains audio narration that explains the key visual elements within the program for people who are blind or visually impaired. To carry video description, a station must broadcast in stereo and be Second Audio Program (SAP)-equipped. The DVS/DVI provides the listening audience with descriptions of scenes, action, settings, costumes and body language in the natural pauses of dialogue or songs. The descriptions would be missed by people just listening to the standard sound track.

try itRead!
Read Descriptive Video Service from Wikipedia.

Since April 1, 2002, the FCC has mandated that the four major networks provide about four hours of described prime time and/or children's video programming per week. Public television (PBS) has been providing described video for a number of years in programs such as "The American Experience", "Masterpiece Theatre", "Nature", and "NOVA."

Audiobooks are useful to individuals with a wide range of special needs including those with visual challenges and those with reading challenges. In addition, some seniors prefer listening to reading.

try itRead Burkey, Mary (September 15, 2013). Accessible audiobooks for the print disabled. The Booklist, 110(2), 79. Available through IUPUI.

Talking Books are specially designed for people who are unable to read or hold conventional books. Although they are similar to audiobooks, they are made specifically for people with special needs.

Text-to-speech converts text such as a book or article into speech. Also, known as speech synthesis, this option is often used with text when a human reader version isn't available.

try itRead!
Read Lee, Andrew M.I. (2016). The difference between audiobooks and text-to-speech. Understood.org

Learning Ally is "dedicated to empowering blind, visually impaired, or dyslexic students achieve their goals. Your contribution will help support the next generation of academic achievers."
To learn more, go to Learning Ally.

Audio and Video Web Accessibility

Web accessibility is an issue for all kinds of special needs. Progress has been made in hardware such as large monitors and software such as screen readers. Unfortunately many of the web audio and video materials are not accessible.

Learning Disabilities

In addition to visual and hearing disabilities, special considerations must also be made for people with learning disabilities. Nonreaders may benefit from audiobooks and video presentations.

Language Needs

Librarians should consider the language needs of their library users. Whether working with immigrant populations or those learning new languages, it's important to provide audio and video materials to meet languge interests and needs.

try itRead!
Read Morales, Edgardo (September 15, 2015). Are Videos in Spanish the Way to Go. DigitalGov.


Horrigan, John B. (September 9, 2016). Libraries 2016. Pew/Internet.

LiLi, Li (2014). Chandos Professional Series: Scholarly Information Discovery in the Networked Academic Learning Environment. Chandos Publishing. Available through IUPUI ebooks.

Perrin, Andrew (September 1, 2016). Book Reading 2016. Pew/Internet.

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