Evaluation of Current Awareness Service is a necessary part of the librarian’s job and a knowledge of how to do it is an important item in his skill. He needs to be able to compare the existing and new external and internal services with each other in relation to the needs both of his clients in general and of particular groups of clients.A range of criteria for the evaluation of Current Awareness Service are briefly described below:
- Timeliness: In some organization there is a need for immediate notification of relevant items in the literature, in other organizations, timeliness is not so important. Different methods of Current Awareness Service have matched differences in timeliness.
- Source coverage: It is generally desirable to be as comprehensive as possible in coverage of the subjects, literature and databases for Current Awareness item selection.
- Selectivity: In some situations it may be desirable for the Current Awareness Service to select only substantial item and to ignore micro or trivial items.
- Relevance: In any set of current awareness notifications, a high degree of relevance is desirable. How total relevance suggest to less tham total recall and a compromise must be reached between relevance and recall.
- Readability: Some computer output is unsympathetically arranged for readers, some is excellent. Different approaches to current awareness notification produce different qualities of print and case of reading.
- Abstracts: The presents of abstracts in a Current Awareness Service can be of considerable value and convenience to the user.
- Availability of full information: The provision of the full paper as the Current Awareness Service notification provides the user with the information in that paper.
- Cost: The cost of the provision of Current Awareness Service, should include labour, materials, equipments, computing and subscription costs, plus any ancillary cost. The librarian should compare the cost with the output of the service and with other similar organizations.
- Feedback: In some types of current awareness provision it is possible to design user feedback into the service.
- Group coverage: In organization with many potential users of Current Awareness Service, it is important that the method of current awareness provision chosen should be suitable for a large number of readers and to user requirements.
Current Awareness Service is the best way to bring the resources of a library to the notice of its users. Before starting Current Awareness Service, it is a must to ensure the availability of required resources (personnel, equipment, material and finance) and their continuance in future. The success of current awareness services would largely depend upon enthusiasm, Knowledge and resourcefulness of the librarian, response from the users and organization of the library. An effective Current Awareness Service services as the best media for the publicity of a library/information centre.
Some of the characteristics of Current Awareness Service (CAS) are:
- CAS provide to meet the current information requirement of the user.
- CAS is an announcement mechanism.
- CAS is usually provided to a group of users (researchers, scientists, etc. having homogeneous information requirements), and not to the individuals.
- It is not a pinpointed information; nor a tailor-made or customized information service.
- It is meant for a panoramic view of current developments.
- It may be presented in a printed, electronic or any appropriate form acceptable to the user. For example, it may be in the form of current awareness bulletin.
- It is to be provided within a time-frame (deadline) much before the information is published in secondary sources such as indexing and abstracting sources. It should be brought to the notice before the notification in secondary sources of information.
- It is a continuous service. It is to be provided on a continuous basis.
- Getting feedback is not a prerequisite in CAS.
- Speed, currency and ease to use are three factors to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of CAS in any organization.
- CAS overcomes the time lag between the publication of items and their inclusion in indexing and abstracting sources.
Dr. Md. Shariful Islam
Dept. of Information Science
& Library Management, University of Rajshahi