Information Grounds Research Efforts

According to Harris and Dewdney's (1994, p. 27) 6th principle of information behavior, people follow deeply engrained patterns or habits in seeking information. More specifically, they "tend to seek information that is easily accessible, preferably from interpersonal sources such as friends, relatives or coworkers rather than from institutions or organizations, unless (an important qualification) there is a particular reason for avoiding interpersonal sources." On a different note, and in reference to community clinics, bike shops, beauty parlors, story time hours, etc., Karen Fisher (writing then as Pettigrew, 1999) derived her information ground concept to describe "an environment temporarily created when people come together for a singular purpose but from whose behavior emerges a social atmosphere that fosters the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information."

The IHIG Project is part of our IMLS-funded series, "Approaches for Understanding Community Information Use" (2002-04), which is deriving a general, multi-component model of everyday information behavior that builds upon tenets discussed by Harris and Dewdney (1994) and Case (2002). The model is based on findings from several studies—such as the IHIG Project—each targeted at a specific problem or set of questions. Each study's methodology is additionally tested for how it might be adapted for use by information providers in varied organizations.

Links to other IBEC Information Grounds research projects


See our new publication in Amanda Spink and Charles Cole (Eds.) (2005). New Directions in Human Information Behavior. Springer: Berlin. Information Grounds: Theoretical Basis and Empirical Findings on Information Flow in Social Settings

"Waiting for Chiropody"(pdf) - the article in which Information Grounds were first described.

Read the ALA award-winning paper "Information Grounds and the Use of Need-Based Services by Immigrants in Queens, New York".

Anticipated themes for which series data are analyzed include:

  • How people express information needs
  • Their motivations for seeking information
  • The role of proxy searching
  • Why people prefer particular sources when seeking information
  • The role of serendipity
  • How individuals use information
  • How they devise and use particular strategies when giving information
  • The role of information grounds

The results from the IHIG Project and related studies will be integrated with our past findings to derive a general, multi-component framework of information behavior in everyday contexts.


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