Mapping the everyday life information needs of catholic clergy: Savolainen’s ELIS model revisited

Published date09 May 2016
Date09 May 2016
AuthorJacob Dankasa
subjectMatterLibrary & information science,Records management & preservation,Document management
Mapping the everyday life information needs of catholic clergy:
Savolainen’s ELIS model revisited
Various models for the study of information seeking behavior have been developed in the
information science literature over the years (e.g., Bates, 1989; Ellis, 1993; Kuhlthau, 1991;
Wilson, 1999). There are other models that have emerged pointing to new directions in
information seeking behavior research (Spink and Heinström, 2011; Sin, 2011). The everyday
life information seeking (ELIS) model (Savolainen, 1995) is one of these models that have been
applied in several studies (e.g., O'Connor, 2011; Yadamsuren, 2010; Given, 2002; Yu, 2012;
Wimberley and McClean, 2012; Carey et al., 2001). The ELIS model was based on the context
of way of life and mastery of life, which together unfold the model of non-work information
seeking. The central thesis of this model is based on seeking orienting information and problem-
solving (practical) information. The former is associated with the concept of way of life, while
the latter is associated with mastery of life.
The ability to test models to see their applicability in varying contexts strengthens the
research process and advances the understanding of concepts and phenomena from various
points of view. Taylor (1991) asserts that the context in which the user lives or works is a strong
factor that determines the choices the user will make about information that is particularly useful
to them. The culture of a people, the environment in which they live, and even their religious
practices are contextual factors that can influence information seeking behavior.
Although the ELIS model has been applied in several studies, it has not been used as a
framework to study the information seeking behavior of the clergy, particularly Catholic clergy
in an African context. Many of the studies that applied this model in their research examined,
mostly, the use of information sources by study participants as they seek everyday life
information. Very little attention has been given to comparing how the major dimensions of the
model — seeking practical and orienting information — apply to information needs of a group
of people in a variety of contexts.
The Catholic clergy in Nigeria were chosen for this study because of their unique status
as celibates who are required to remain unmarried and chaste for life. They practice their
celibacy in a culture where marriage and the raising of children are highly valued and seen as an
intrinsic part of the African culture. In such a culture, celibacy is tolerated, but not really
understood, because it is contrary to the African culture’s emphasis on procreation.
Consequently, these clergy struggle to strike a balance between the expectations of local culture
and the norms of the universal Church. This cultural milieu may be very challenging, especially
when it comes to interaction with everyday life information. This study assumes that these
clergy’s unique status as celibates could lead to a way of life that may influence their information
practices, making them different from others. Understanding these clergy’s everyday life
information needs may reveal the influence of religious factors in information behavior.
The Catholic clergy need information to meet the demands of their profession. For them,
work and non-work activities are sometimes intertwined due to the nature of their vocation.
Particularly, the Catholic clergy in Nigeria live in a socio-cultural environment that is deeply
rooted in the spirit of community, but at the same time marred by unequal division of resources,
social inequality, and a high level of poverty. It is an environment where public libraries are not
common, high speed Internet broadband is still at the developmental phase, a lack of large
department stores limits purchasing choices, health facilities lack efficiency, and the concept of
health insurance is largely unknown. In such a society, many factors influence the way of life of
the people. However, there are no studies that explore how Catholic clergy in an African culture
decide what information is important to them, and what influences the choices they make on how
they seek, use, and handle everyday life information in an environment with limited access to
information. It would be erroneous to assume that because Catholic clergy share similar
education and hierarchical structure worldwide, they would also have similar information needs
or information seeking behavior. There is a need to examine and understand the underlying
context in which they live.
This paper was part of a doctoral research project that explored how Catholic clergy in
Northern Nigeria seek and use everyday life information in their particular environment. The
larger doctoral research project (Dankasa, 2015) investigated the everyday life information
seeking of Catholic clergy in Nigeria with a view to describing their information use
environment. This paper reports on the findings of a section of the doctoral research that was
based on the information needs of these clergy. The findings were compared with the major
dimensions of Savolainen’s model of everyday life information seeking, which formed part of
the guiding conceptual framework of the larger study.
The report presented in this paper aims at answering three questions:
1. What are the everyday life information needs of Catholic clergy in Nigeria?
2. What are the effects of years of experience and level of education on the type of
everyday life information the Catholic clergy in Nigeria need?
3. How do the everyday life information needs of Catholic clergy in Nigeria fit into
Savolainen’s ELIS model?
The findings of this study may help in the understanding of the Catholic clergy and their
everyday life information needs, especially in areas with limited access to information, and may

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT