Idea generation and inspiration are important in creative tasks. This article reports on descriptive quantitative results from an exploratory study conducted in 2016 on the creative tasks and the personal information preferences of 23 third-year architecture students at a South African university. Maniotes’ third space in guided inquiry model served as the theoretical framework. A profile questionnaire and individual interviews were used to collect data. Findings cover information use and preferences for information sources (e.g. books, search engines, conference papers and strangers) that can inspire idea generation during creative tasks, such as architectural design. Librarians were of less value than peers, lecturers and family members in inspiring creative ideas. Recommendations focus on the role of academic libraries.