7.9 Current awareness services

A current awareness service is a way of letting users know about materials that have been newly received in the resource centre. Current awareness services include:

  • current awareness bulletins
  • selective dissemination of information
  • circulating documents
  • displaying newly acquired materials and using noticeboards.

Current awareness bulletins contain details of new materials, book reviews, announcements about meetings and conferences, and news of resource centre activities. Current awareness bulletins are particularly useful for larger resource centres, or for resource centres whose users are widely dispersed. They help users to keep up with a range of new developments. They also help to generate specific enquiries, which resource centre staff can deal with more efficiently than general enquiries. The practicalities of producing a current awareness bulletin are similar to those of producing a newsletter (see Section 7.13: Newsletters).

Selective dissemination of information (SDI) means notifying individual users, or groups of users, about materials that will interest them. It is possible to keep up-to-date with what different individuals or groups are interested in through ongoing needs assessment work, advisory services and reference interviews.

Circulating materials means passing materials to individuals to pass in turn to others on a circulation list. There is a disadvantage to this service, in that materials can take a long time to reach the last person on the list. It is often more useful to circulate a contents page than the actual item.

Displaying newly arrived materials helps users to notice new materials, and makes the resource centre look lively and attractive. Noticeboards can be very useful for displaying the contents pages of newly received periodical issues, or copies of the covers of new books, reports and audiovisual materials. Displays are useful for attracting the attention of non-regular resource centre users, and visitors to the organisation.