My information community is parents of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They have specialized information seeking behaviors related to their specialized circumstances. This group’s informational needs include the need for medical information regarding the research surrounding the causes of ASD, educational research techniques to schools assist them in addressing the specialized needs of their children, legal understanding of laws surrounding individuals with ASD such as the IDEA act, parenting strategies for assisting individuals with ASD, and a myriad of other informational needs. Fisher and Durrance (2003) suggest that information communities form because of the collective needs of potential members. This community has formed due to the collective needs of these parents to assist their children and to understand their children’s specialized needs. This creates the need for information and drives this information community to explore therapies, strategies, laws, and services for their children. This group has diverse members and needs. Patricia Montiel Overall (2009) describes cultural competence as “the ability of professionals to understand… the needs of diverse populations” (p. 176). This information community not only has diverse needs they come from diverse backgrounds including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic backgrounds, and educational backgrounds. Their needs overlap several areas of studies from science, medicine, education, law, and political science. Information professionals need to understand the complexities of these information needs in order to assist parents of children with ASD as a community and to assist with their specialized needs.
These communities’ information seeking behaviors are related to their desire to assist their children to navigate the world around them. These parents have children who have disabilities that make it difficult to function in daily life. They face barriers to therapies, receiving an education, transportation, representation, employment, and forming relationships with others. Members of these communities seek information from multiple sources many go to medical and mental health professionals to find information related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. They also seek out professionals in special education, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and various therapeutic services professionals. They also seek out information on current trends in therapies, parenting strategies and the latest scientific or medical research related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Since so little is known about what causes ASD and no medication exists that effectively manages the symptoms of ASD. There is a lot of research being done related to ASD in attempt to understand this complex disorder. Parents of individuals with ASD seek out this information in order to better understand and assist their children in their everyday life. As information professionals, it is imperative that we understand these needs and demonstrate cultural competency in our working environments. Patricia Montiel Overall (2009) states that cultural competency is needed to address issues of disparity among diverse populations. Understanding this information community can help to bridge the gap between the disparities that exist in society for these parents and their children. Patricia Montiel Overall (2009) explains that Information professionals need to understand the issues affecting underserved populations in order to serve them properly and that increased understanding results increased use of libraries. As information professional exploring various information communities is helpful to create a positive image of libraries and to help these minority populations bridge the gap by meeting their informational and research needs. Patricia Montiel Overall (2009) believes that among information professionals it is recognized that understanding the needs and issues relating to culture is essential to providing appropriate library services..
Check out these sites for more information:
Fisher, K., & Durrance, J. (2003). Information communities. In K. Christensen, & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: From the village to the virtual world. (pp. 658-661). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/loginurl=http://knowledge.sagepub.com/view/community/n248.xml
Overall, P. (2009). Cultural competence: A conceptual framework for library and information science professionals. Library Quarterly, 79(2), 175-204. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=f4ce64e5-3a5a-456e-ba8c-2d6fd2ab4600%40sessionmgr4009