Information Behaviour(s) of Theologians: A Literature Review

Katharina Penner
2009 Theological Librarianship  
I nformation needs of various groups of users and their respective information search behaviours have received much attention throughout the last decades. Studies with theologians and their needs and behaviours are, however, rare. This seems odd because theological libraries, like any other library, need to intimately know how faculty and students conduct theological research, what problems they encounter in the process, and what methods their users employ to find needed sources. Verified
more » ... ce, and not only anecdotal hearsay knowledge, can provide the basis for tailoring library services to current users, designing meaningful collection development policies, justifying library budgets, and planning library space. In preparation for a study of research behaviours of theology students at my own institution, the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic, I conducted a literature survey in order to analyse whether and what kind of research has been conducted on the information behaviour of academicians in the area of theology and religious studies and what gaps can be identified that would require future attention. The purpose of this bibliographic essay is to describe findings of the literature search. The review will proceed in concentric circles from the immediate question of enquiry to include research on information-seeking of humanities scholars and, finally, research on information behaviour in general. This approach seems to be necessary because only a few studies were found that concern themselves with theologians, and literature in this area is quite scarce. On the other side, theology is usually perceived to be part of the humanities, and certain parallels in research approaches and behaviours are evident and can illumine the area of study. (annual or covering longer periods), and Lavonne Jahnke's annotated bibliography of ATLA all proved to be helpful in the evaluation of sources. The retrieved titles and abstracts were screened for applicability to the topic and preference was given to peer-reviewed materials that explicitly relate to the academic study of religion and theology, as opposed to studies with religious practitioners. Geographic setting, attention to cross cultural issues as well as studies with graduate/postgraduate students were important criteria for inclusion. Theology and religious sTudies The literature review starts at the core of the interest, with a discussion of studies that describe the information behaviour of theologians. 1 Some studies that address research behaviour in religion in general need to be noted 1 The terms "theology" and "theologians" are used broadly to include academicians who engage in the study of the Hebrew and Christian Bible, church and religious history, and theological doctrines and their application in church and synagogue. Due to the context in which this essay is being written and the availability of materials, focus will be limited to the Jewish and Christian traditions.
doi:10.31046/tl.v2i1.79 fatcat:ahkmzk26mrhc3em5r73yi7sili