Abstract This study applies theories about organizational information processing and about valuing information to better understand the influences on method of access and on effects of using online information. Interviews in four organizations indicated that users manage such systems in different ways suitable to the organization's problem-solving needs and personnel skills, in order to obtain considerable benefits and overcome some problems. Questionnaire data showed that type of database and organizational differences strongly influenced access method, but access method had no independent influence on usage or on perceived outcomes. Counter to expectations based upon the difficulties in assessing the cost/benefit ratio of information obtained from external sources, task variables had little independent influence on access method, usage, or outcomes. The moderate relationship between using online information in one's work and the two outcome factors seems generalizable across organizations. Differences in tasks, especially amount of information in one's task, appeared to influence the relationship between use and outcomes.