7.12 Information packs

Information packs are an economical way of providing information about a particular subject area to users who cannot visit the resource centre.

Information packs usually take the form of folders (cardboard wallets) or envelopes containing a variety of materials, such as articles from newsletters and journals, photocopied pages from books, factsheets, posters, leaflets, materials developed within the organisation, or materials distributed free by other organisations working in the same subject area.

When developing an information pack as a resource to distribute to users, it is important to obtain permission from the publisher to include an item (text or illustrations) in a pack, unless the publisher has indicated that this is not necessary. The publisher will want to know the purpose of the pack and its target audience, the number of copies to be produced, and any charges to users (for example, to cover the cost of photocopying and distribution, or to make a profit to help the resource centre).

If producing a single pack to respond to an individual enquiry, it is not necessary to request permission from the publisher, provided copyright laws are followed (see Section 7.6: Photocopying).

Before any information packs are prepared, it is important to be sure that the right materials have been selected to go in them. This can be done by discussing the contents of a proposed information pack with members of the resource centre advisory committee, and or other key users. It can be useful to include a short evaluation form in the pack for users to complete and return. This can point to ways of improving future information packs.

Information packs should always include a contents list that provides details of the original source of each item (such as a book or periodical title, publisher and year published).

An information pack is not a static thing. It will need to be updated by adding new materials, as well as or instead of existing materials. It is important to keep the master photocopy of each of the materials included in an information pack, to ensure that each copy is of the same quality, and that time is not wasted looking for the original material each time a copy needs to be made. Alternatively, if the resource centre has a bibliographic database, codes could be added to the records of new materials to indicate that they are suitable for inclusion in the information pack.

Sample enquiries form