Citizenship information. [Final report]
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MARCELLA, R. and BAXTER, G. 1999. Citizenship information. Final report. British library research and innovation report number 173. London: British library.
Citizenship information is information produced by or about national and local government, government departments and public sector organisations which may be of value to the citizen either as part of everyday life or in the participation by the citizen in government and policy formulation. This report describes a research project, funded by the British Library Research and Innovation Centre, which investigated the extent to which members of the UK public have expressed or unexpressed needs for citizenship information, their preferred routes to the acquisition of such information, and the suitability and approachability of the public library, among other agencies, for the user seeking citizenship information. The key elements of the project were: a national survey of almost 1,300 users of public libraries, Citizens Advice Bureaux and other information and advice agencies; another national survey, this time by personal doorstep interview, of almost 900 members of the UK public; a series of 9 focus group discussions with representatives of various sectors or interest groups, such as libraries, CABx and other information and advice agencies. The report discusses the background to the research, as well as the project methodology and major findings. The project found clear evidence that the public encounter situations in which information is required to help solve problems, and that they feel that access to information and freedom of information are very important to them in exercising their rights as citizens. The great majority of respondents saw public libraries as their preferred option in seeking citizenship information, although there were still areas of concern in that there was evidence to show that certain groups, such as disabled people and jobseekers, are less willing to use libraries. There was also a clear emphasis on public libraries as an appropriate location for computerised access to citizenship information, although other public places such as post offices and shopping centres would also attract a significant proportion of the public. The data suggested that no single mechanism for enabling access to information should be seen as the ultimate solution to the information needs of the citizen. Rather a complementary range of solutions must be offered to the citizen.