The concept of usefulness in library and information science research

Isto Huvila, Heidi Enwald, Noora Hirvonen, Kristina Eriksson-Backa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

There is not much doubt that information, information services and systems need to be useful. In this light, the relatively lack of conceptual elaboration of the concept of usefulness in the library and information science literature can be regarded as somewhat surprising. This paper provides a conceptual overview of the use of the notion of usefulness in library and information science literature, explicates its relation to key parallel concepts, and on the basis of an empirical vignette in the context of health information research, discusses the potential limits and advantages of referring to usefulness instead of and together with other related concepts. A review of literature relating to the concept of usefulness was conducted to examine how it has been used in library and information science. A close reading of the literature shows an overlap between related concepts but at the same time, diverging foci of interest in and emphasis on what and how information, information services and, for instance, information systems are considered beneficial or suitable for their users and particular uses. There is a need for better conceptual clarity in the literature regarding usefulness and related concepts. The review shows that usefulness can be literally a useful concept for addressing the user and use (versus e.g. system, content or topic) perspective to engagements with people, services, systems and beyond.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationProceedings of CoLIS, the Tenth International Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 16-19, 2019
Pages
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventConceptions of Library and Information Science -
Duration: 16 Jun 201919 Jun 2019

Conference

ConferenceConceptions of Library and Information Science
Period16/06/1919/06/19

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