This article uses data from research conducted in the course of writing a book on the needs, wants and characteristics of researchers to examine how researchers view themselves and the research process. As a result of this, the Seven Ages of Research model was developed which categorises a researcher's learning life into a series of discrete stages. The article explores learning needs relevant to each age in the learning life and links them to the development of information literacy. The authors explore the polarisation that exists between what researchers think research is about and what they believe the library can offer them, and suggest that information literacy needs to be seen as involving a change in understanding of, and attitude to, the world of information, as well as the nature of those information needs. Finally, they explore the librarian's role in an e-environment which has changed the way researchers work and identify some of the challenges facing library and information services professionals in the future in supporting researchers throughout their learning lives.