It is very important that the teacher librarian is able to identify the range of different information needs which students in the school have. These differences may occur because of age or level or socio-economic background. The teacher librarian, of course, cannot work in isolation on this and will need to discuss the variety of information needs which exist both within and between different classes. Identifying information needs is a complex process and one which the teacher librarian may wish to do in detail but s/he may be put off by the amount of time a student information need survey might take. Students are part of the school community and one way to start identifying information needs is to begin a ‘Community Profile’,


Community Profile

Community profiles are broad, covering needs and resources and the whole range of issues affecting communities.  The community is involved (Harding, 2007, p. 4). 

A comprehensive description of the needs of a population that is defined, or defines itself, as a community, and the resources that exist within that community, carried out with the active involvement of the community itself, for the purpose of developing an action plan or other means of improving the quality of life of the community (Harding, 2007, p. 5). 

Identifying needs and resources (Harding, 2007, p. 6):

·        assets

·        underutilised resources – why? How can they be used more effectively?

·        Potential resources

·        Formal and informal skills

·        Formal and informal networks of support

·        Emphasise assets, not deficits

Active community involvement: A profile that is undertaken with the full cooperation and involvement of the community is likely to result in a fuller, more comprehensive and accurate description of that community and, as such, form a better basis on which to build an action plan. Involvement in producing a community profile can also be one way in which a community can become empowered through the development of skills, confidence and awareness of issues (Skinner, as cited in Harding, 2007, p. 8).

The aim of the community profile must be to act as a catalyst for the improvement of the quality of life of members of that community. Moving from the identification of needs and resources through the community profiling process to the production of a local action plan which identifies issues, priorities and actions to be taken, sets goals and targets and proposes a means of monitoring their achievement is an important next step (Harding, 2007, p. 8).

The audience will influence how the finished product is produced and is key to effective communication (Harding, 2007, p. 8).

Values (Harding, 2007, p. 9):

·        Underpin approach

·        Respect for the community

·        They must gain something positive from the experience beyond the information being collected and that they do not feel that the profile is something that is being ‘done to them’.

·        Build confidence, skills, capacities, a better sense of own potential

·        Views must be listened to and incorporated

·        The design of the project should reflect their concerns

·        Information is collected with sensitivity and confidentiality is maintained

·        Adhere to principles of equality by not giving undue weight to some groups or not representing others

How do you think a community profile might be useful when providing resources and services to students?  

A community profile would be useful when providing resources and services to students by (Harding, 2007, pp. 6-9):

·        Identifying needs and resources within the student community

·        Identifying underutilised resources – reflect why?  And how can they be better utilised?

·        Identifying potential resources

·        Using the information to write an action plan which addresses student needs, the allocation of resources, use of resources, and resource needs.  The plan should identify issues, priorities and actions to be taken, set goals and targets and proses a means of monitoring their achievement.



Australian Library and Information Association/Australian School Library Association [ALIA/ASLA]. (2001). Learning for the future: Developing information services in schools (2nd ed.). Carlton: Curriculum Corporation.

Harding, J. (2007). What is a community profile? Retrieved October 2, 2013 from


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