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Information barriers in libraries: types, typologies and Polish empirical studies

Marzena Świgoń (Department of Archive Studies, Library & Information Science, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn (UWM), Olsztyn, Poland)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 26 July 2011




The aim of this paper is to describe the Polish empirical studies of information barriers. The focus is to highlight the hierarchy of barriers, and the relation between demographic variables (sex, age, discipline etc.) and perception of barriers.


After a deep literature review some empirical studies have been conducted. Respondents were divided into groups in terms of: sex, field of study (social sciences, human sciences, natural sciences and technical sciences), age, science degree and year of study. In analysis of data two statistical methods: analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a chi‐square test (χ2) were used.


The phenomenon of information barriers is very common, encountered by around 80 per cent of users. The most troublesome barriers were barriers connected with libraries. The study showed that the sex variable had varied the respondents' answers to the greatest extent. The women perceived information barriers as a more serious problem than men (p<0.001). With regard to types of discipline, the faculty group found information barriers more troublesome in such disciplines as humanities and social sciences than in natural or technical sciences (p=0.001).

Research limitations/implications

The hierarchy of barriers obtained from the study is related to a particular environment, a given group of users, the equipment of home library.

Practical implications

Studies of this subject may prove valuable in identifying people that are likely to experience difficulties in access to information.


The knowledge of the relation between demographic variables and perception of barriers, in earlier literature, was fragmentary. Findings may lead to a better understanding of the information barriers phenomenon by librarians and library users as well.



Świgoń, M. (2011), "Information barriers in libraries: types, typologies and Polish empirical studies", Library Management, Vol. 32 No. 6/7, pp. 475-484.



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