Topic 6: Current Awareness Services (CAS)

Current awareness services are designed to keep users abreast with any current and relevant information needed for a variety of information demanding tasks the use are involved in.
Kemp (1979) defines CAS as a system of reviewing newly available document selecting items relevant to the needs of an individual or group of individuals to whose need they are related.

It is a service aimed at keeping its users well informed and up-to-date in their field basic interests as well as the subject areas. It involves reviewing and scanning documents, selection of the relevant documents for the users and alerting or notifying the users about the availability of recent information which may be of relevance to them information manager reviews the available documents. It’s a way of informing individuals the availability of recent information which may be of relevance to them, information manager reviews the available documents, selects items relevant to the needs and notifies the individual/s. it is service which provides the recipient information on the latest developments within the subject areas in which he or she has a specific interest or need to know. One should know the topics to cover, wants what, the sources for obtaining the latest information and supplying the information regularly and reliably, year in, year out.

i. Circulation of original documents.
ii. Display of exhibitions- display of new books and periodicals
iii. Circulation of current awareness bulletins, journal contents pages.
iv. Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI)
v. Telephone calls or face to face reporting
vi. Table of contents (TOC) circulation
vii. Preparation of circulation accession lists and distribution of lists of rece publications.

1. Circulation of original documents
This method entails the provision of original documents or literature in the form of journal articles, research reports, official publications. Conference proceedings etc. the circulation of original documents allows the user to interact directly with the current document, thereby keeping them informed of the new trends and development in their specific fields of interest.
2. Display or exhibitions
Display involves mounting of newly acquired items on shelves or some strategic positions or location in the information centres to allow users to view them. The display or exhibition helps to maximize the utility of resources displayed. It also creates awareness among the users of information sources available.
Displayed items can be accompanied by some short summary highlighting the content of the documents.
3. Circulation of current awareness bulletins
A bulletin is a brief public notice issued usually an information specialists or librarian or a brief news item highlighting the documents acquired or those in custody of the library for the purpose of creating awareness among users. Bulletin serves as a useful current awareness strategy. They have a genuine name “current awareness bulletin”.
4. Selective Dissemination of information
This is procedure for supplying each user or groups of users with documents relating to their areas of interest selected from among the description of documents received during the period in question.
The procedure deals with a selected category of users with specific user needs. For it to be effective, the information professional should have a user profile or interest profile. A user/interest profile is defined as a list of index terms or words selected to indicate the areas of interest of a user of an information service.
It is a list of key terms or words or functions describing the users interest subject area.

Types of information indicated in a user profile
1. Name of the users served
2. The profession of users
3. Address of users
4. A list of index terms describing the users area of interest
5. Subject area of the user/area of specialization.
SDI is aim at a single user or group of individuals with the same interests.

6. Table of contents circulation
This involves extracting table of content of newly acquired documents and circulating them amongst users.
7. Preparation and circulation of accession lists.
The production of a list of newly acquired items and circulating to clients.

• Adequate qualified and competent personnel they should be enough and have the proper training to carry out the duties involved adequately.
• Adequate funds to buy equipment and new information materials and expenses.
• An efficient and effective notification system through telephone network, a small publishing unit, an awareness board, electronic mailing system and others.
• An up to date and maintained user profile. This will hhelp in ……….new changes tht might occur from the time to time. A computerized….. will maintain a large volume of information and help in preparing the……..profiles.
• Regular review and scanning of the available information sources to………updated about the use and availability of resources.
• Consistent acquisition programme to allow the building of new collection in the information centre.
There are various reasons for providing CAS in libraries and other information centres. Basically the services are meant to benefit both users and the library staff.
The following reasons set the basis of these services:-
(i) They are provided because of the amount of new information available and hence the need to be properly utilized. CAS therefore ensures there is maximum exploitation and utilization of resources.
(ii) CAS keeps information users abreast with the current development in their fields of interest.
(iii) It is implemented to help provide additional information that might have escaped the notice of clients.
(iv) Allows grater coverage of the range of documents than that which the individual client has the opportunity, ability or willingness to scan for himself.
(v) It performs the marketing or the promotional role.

Criteria for the evaluation
1. Cost benefits
Here cost benefit analysis is carried out i.e. cost of establishing, implementing and maintaining CAS and the benefits from the service should be equal or alternatively the benefits arising from CAS should exceed the cost of its implementing.
2. Response time/location/telecommunication cost.
Enquiries made by information professionals from external information centre should be quicker enough to allow faster compilation of required information.
3. Profile Revision
The interest profile should be frequently revised in order to be updated.
4. Contents
There are two aspects of contents; coverage, quality and quantity of the information materials.
Coverage – it should be noted that a single secondary source cannot be expected to given comprehensive coverage therefore there should be a range of the information sources.
5. Arrangement of printed publication
Since scanning of printed secondary sources is usually based on examination of the contents, proper organization of these resources is important. The documents can be arranged based on broad subject grouping preferred for the CAS scanning or based on the subject or classified order.
6. Currency and frequency
The publications meant for CAS should be current. The frequency of publications offers the currency of the document-publications at intervals of quarterly is needed for a service to have potential for CAS.
7. Means of Access
This refers to how easy the user of the service/librarian or client find items which are relevant.
8. Personnel
Here we mean how competent the staff is/are in providing the service. How adequate are they?

(i) Users – Type of users
(ii) Funds availability in relation to the requirements of the programme
(iii) Type of information centers- This will help one to choose an appropriate type of CAS/method of providing CAS e.g. Display, Notices.
(iv) The objective of the programme. What is it that programme is to achieve? The objective will make you have a clear flow on the direction of efforts.
(v) The requirements/resources necessary for its implementation (funds, staff and facilities).
(vi) The range of current awareness service programme- is it going to be in house based or both in house and external based.
1. Financial constrains
2. Insufficient know how of the evaluation exercise
3. Insufficient time to allow exhaustive evaluation
4. Lack of co-operation from respondents
5. Final analysis of data prone problems in quantifying e.g. benefits.
NB/ CAS provision would involve the definition of objectives which ensures that efforts are directed or focused on vital areas only, planning which is a course of action to be followed is set out and will involve determining the appropriate method to be used in providing CAS and determining the resources required e.g. staff, new information materials, facilities and funds required, and implementing the programme which is the actual conversation of theoretical plans into function or actions and it involves training/recruitment of new scanning and notifying users, preparing users profile and finally evaluation.
This is where the programme is assessed measure to determined whether it is need its objectives.

Revision Exercise 6
1. Discuss the importance of current awareness services in an information center
2. Explain the methods used in the provision of current awareness services.
3. State the role of computers in the CAS process.
4. Discuss the major requirements for the CAS programme to be effective and efficient.