Citizenship information service provision in the UK: a study of 27 case agencies.
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Reports results of 27 case study visits to UK public libraries, Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx) and other advice agencies to examine existing levels of citizenship information provision within these organizations. The study covered all 13 UK Government Office Regions and one library authority, plus either one CAB or other advice agency, was visited in each region. The visits consisted of interviews with staff and examination of the organizations’ collections of citizenship and community information. Data was gathered on: the extent to which these organizations provide citizenship information and/or advice; staff and training issues; types of citizenship enquiries most frequently received; local demographic factors that affect citizenship information needs; type and arrangement of materials used to answer enquiries; the public’s preferred methods of approaching the organizations; user satisfaction with services; use of information and communication technologies to aid citizenship information provision; links with other citizenship information providers; and future plans to develop services. The findings suggest that public libraries can learn from Citizens Advice Bureaux and vice versa. Concludes that public libraries could develop a more proactive approach to the identification of issues where information is being or will be required by users. Specialized local needs identified included: greater need for HIV/AIDS information; financial problems and debts; seasonal unemployment; and, in Belfast, dealing with the effects of bombing or intimidation. Problems identified included: users from other catchment areas utilizing the service; and users’ requirement for privacy and confidentiality in their approach to the agency, particularly in close-knit communities.