Information Institute Staff Present at ALISE

Laura I. Spears and Marcia A. Mardis recently represented the Information Use Management and Policy Institute at the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) annual conference which was held in Seattle, Washington, January 21st-25th, 2013. They presented a poster titled Do we look at broadband: A meta-analysis of study design in youth information seeking from 1991-2011.


This meta-analysis examines the use of broadband internet connectivity as a framework in studies of youth information seeking. National initiatives promote development of 21st century learning skills, but broadband’s role as a factor in children’s abilities to execute activities related to these new learning skills has not been specifically studied.

Broadband has been cited as an essential element of contemporary learning.  Despite federal investments in upgrading and expanding availability, Internet access in public libraries, homes and schools, especially in rural areas, has remained relatively flat.  

Insight into broadband’s role as a facilitating condition of information seeking can have implications for the study of children and technology.  If broadband access is found to be a key determinant of information behavior, broadband adoption will be important to implementation of digital learning policies. 

Databases were searched for peer reviewed, journal articles recounting studies conducted in the United States between 1991-2011 on youths, ages 5-17, about their information seeking behaviors.  The study seeks whether broadband is a consideration in the study design; if broadband is presented as a finding; and, what kinds of conclusions are drawn about broadband’s relationship to youth information seeking. 

Preliminary findings indicate that 1) very few studies include a consideration of broadband in the design; 2) studies that do report broadband as a factor do so in the findings; and, 3) most studies are found within the context of disciplines other than LIS. Youth are studied seeking Internet information about health, wellness, and sex-related behaviors but it appears rarely in LIS studies in the U. S.

While federal and state initiatives support the proliferation of digital education, unless research actively studies broadband deployment, children who do not have broadband in the home likely will be increasingly disadvantaged. This study will reveal the extent and types of studies conducted on broadband technology.