In this paper we report the results of an offline survey of the information needs of members of the Israeli public about public and governmental services and entitlements. This survey was conducted as part of a research project on public use of online information: usage analysis of the Israeli Citizens Advice Bureau (SHIL) on the Web. The questionnaire was distributed in public places to a random selection of 437 Israeli citizens aged 18 and above, in the second half of 2008. Research assistants handed out the questionnaires and the participants filled in the surveys on the spot. If necessary the assistants provided help in the process. The questionnaire included questions on the information needs and major sources of information for fulfilling these needs. The respondents were mainly concerned about health, transportation and education related issues, but work relations were also of primary concern. The preferred sources of information were family and friends, followed by the Internet. There was very low awareness to the Israeli Citizen Advice Bureau - SHIL, that maintains physical offices throughout the country, telephone hotlines and an extensive Web site, and its aim is to provide citizen-related information. An interesting question that can be addressed in future research is the fact that while the SHIL service is relatively unpopular in Israel, respective Citizen Advice Bureaux (CABx) have much higher visibility and popularity in other countries. What are the dimensions of similarity and difference in the service and the populations served that might account for this difference?.
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This research was supported by The Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 556/07).