“Library users come to a library to find books”

Huvila Isto (Department of ALM, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 2 September 2013



Considering the perceived significance of librarians and information experts as professional information seekers and information seeking educators and of the institutional setting of information work, very little is known about the information practices of librarians and information professionals, their contexts and implications for libraries and their users. The aim of this study is to explore the information interactions of library professionals within and in relation to the context of the setting of the library.


The analysis is based on a qualitative case study of a large North European city library. Material was collected using information seeking diaries, interviews and ethnographic observation in the library space.


The information practices of librarians are contextual to the setting of the library within which the meeting of the assumptions of library users, of the use of that particular system plays a significant role. The systemic interplay of librarians, library users and other parts of the system constrains the breadth of the available information at libraries, but at the same time, keeping to a particular set of shared norms and practices of library use also facilitates the use of the system.

Research limitations/implications

The generalisability of the findings is limited by the fact that they are based on an individual case study.

Practical implications

The systemic nature of library and its reproduction in a process of structuration underlines the need to develop information services in libraries from a holistic perspective that takes into account the practical implications of the shared norms and assumptions of how a library should work.


There is little earlier research on the information practices of library and information professionals, particularly with specific reference to its implications for libraries and their users.



Isto Huvila (2013) "“Library users come to a library to find books”", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 69 No. 5, pp. 715-735

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: https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-06-2012-0080



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