Information professionals serving disadvantaged communities

Shifra Baruchson-Arbib, Michel J. Menou, Kingo Mchombu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose This paper sets out to offer a holistic perception of the information ecology in which disadvantaged communities of the so-called third world operate with a view to contribute to overcoming its limitations in a more effective way. Design-methodology-approach The authors briefly review the major social, economic and cultural characteristics of disadvantaged communities that balance the common place trust in the power of modern information products and infrastructures. Based upon a number of field studies the notion of information needs is reconsidered and combined with concerns for information literacy, social autonomy and the role of indigenous knowledge. The authors then present a number of examples of innovative approaches to the delivery of information services that may support the role of information centers and libraries as change catalyst from within the communities rather than mere providers of ready made information. Findings To this end, information professionals have to be educated in order to become change agents and consider this role as essential for their practice to be rewarding for themselves and more importantly for the people they serve. There are numerous examples of information services and information professionals who make a difference in the life of their communities against the most severe circumstances. This however requires a radical shift in their value system and operation. Originality-value The authors hope that the paper will encourage information professionals and in first place those who educate them to give social responsibility toward disadvantaged communities the same emphasis and priority as alignment with the latest technological artifact or excellence in observance of standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-154
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2007


  • Assault
  • Modelling
  • Online operations
  • Social care
  • Violent crime
  • Women


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