The use of government publications: A twelve-year perspective

Beth Postema, Terry L. Weech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Updating an earlier review of the literature of government document use that was published in 1978, this article covers the period from mid-1977 through December, 1989. The literature is analyzed in terms of three categories: library surveys, citation studies, and user surveys. Six library surveys, three citation studies, and 13 user surveys (including studies using circulation data) are identified and analyzed. In addition, five non-U.S. studies are examined. It is noted that the research findings in some areas such as the conclusions that social scientists, especially economists and political scientists, are the heaviest users of documents; non-users believe either that documents do not contain information relevant to their information needs or that the time involved in retrieving the information from documents cannot be justified. Although some progress has been made in building on prior research, a need still exists for more consistency in the construction of the data gathering instruments and in categorization of the results. It is suggested that future studies focus on the impact of privatization and electronic dissemination of government information on use and user attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-238
Number of pages16
JournalGovernment Publications Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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