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Library 101: Identify a Need for Information

A guide to help you make the most out of your library experience. Learn what types of resources we have, and how you can get and use them.

Identifying a Need for Information

Part of your journey involves realizing that you have a need for information. It can be in your academic career, or in your life outside of school. 

  • A school assignment will often outline what you are required to have in terms of information. You need to know what kinds of sources you will be expected to use as well as how many.  The extent of information that you should find will depend on how much you already know.  If you don't know much about your topic, you will generally need to begin with the background information so that you can get up to speed.  If you are already knowledgeable on your topic, you may be able to begin with more in-depth or specific sources.
  • A work assignment may not give you as many specifics about what kind and amount of information you need.  You will need to look at what you already know and what types of sources will have the information you need to find.
  • Your personal information needs are just as important as those for school and work.  If you are making a large purchase, it is best to do so with a good background of information on the item you are buying.  The same for health decisions.  Set a plan for deciding how much information you need, as well as the best types of sources for obtaining that information.


Watch this video from CUW Library to get an idea about determining information needs.

CUW Library. What are Information Needs? YouTube. Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)


The links below will help guide you in your understanding of information needs.    



Your research should begin with a question. Formulating a question helps you identify your information need.  You may not necessarily find a specific answer to your question, depending on what it is, but it will guide you in your search.

Watch these videos from NKU and Oklahoma State Library to learn more about developing a research question for a school assignment.

Steely Library NKU. Developing a Research Question. YouTube.CC BY-NC 4.0.

OKStateLibrary. Inform Your Thinking: Episode 4 - It's All About the Questions. YouTube. CC BY-NC 4.0.


Use the following links to learn more about good research questions.