McClure and Samuels’ Study on Information Sources Used for Decision Making and the Connection to Organizational Climate Still Resonates Today


  • Denise Koufogiannakis University of Alberta



academic librarianship, decision making, organizational climate, evidence sources


A Review of:
McClure, C. R., & Samuels, A. R. (1985). Factors affecting the use of information for academic library decision making. College & Research Libraries, 46(6), 483-498.


Objective - To investigate the use of information sources for decision making within academic libraries; specifically looking at what sources of information are used, whether information use is related to organizational climate, and what organizational factors lead to optimal information use in decision making.

Design - Cross-sectional survey on a random sample of libraries.

Setting - 18 medium to moderately large academic libraries from across the United States.
Subjects - 356 academic librarians holding a variety of positions and levels of responsibility within their organizations.

Methods - A questionnaire was mailed to participants in order to measure relationships between four main variables: information acquisition, information dissemination, information evaluation, and library climate. All instruments were validated and tested for reliability. Participants were given 10 library decision situations to consider, together with a list of potential information sources to inform the decision, and then choose which information source they would use primarily in each situation. Participants’ perception of their library climate was measured with five scales covering innovation, support, freedom, democratic governance, and esprit.

Main Results - The study found that academic librarians prefer internal sources of information, such as interpersonal communication with library staff, and library committees, for making decisions. However, paraprofessional staff members were not seen as meaningful sources of information within this grouping. The participants rarely chose to consult external information sources, such as other professionals outside of the library, or library users. Information sources such as conducting research, continuing education, past experience, or personal opinion were not found to be important to the participants’ decision making. Written documents such as articles, books, and brochures were also seldom used. Democratic governance was the organizational climate dimension found to be most closely linked to information dissemination.

Conclusion - The authors conclude that the study suggests that academic librarians are not using a full complement of information sources to assist with their decision making, and that the “information that is used tends to be ‘opinion-based’ rather than empirically based” (p. 495). Proximity of information plays a role, with information that is closer and easier to obtain being used more frequently. The authors strongly stress, with concern, that, “current academic library decision-making processes encourage ineffective activities since they preclude or limit clientele input, empirical research, and additional environmental input” (p. 495).


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How to Cite

Koufogiannakis, D. (2014). McClure and Samuels’ Study on Information Sources Used for Decision Making and the Connection to Organizational Climate Still Resonates Today. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 9(4), 78–81.



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