Academic journal article African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science

Use of Internet Services in Ghanaian University Libraries

Academic journal article African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science

Use of Internet Services in Ghanaian University Libraries

Article excerpt

Introduction

University libraries in Ghana, like in most other African countries, usually face challenges in gaining adequate access to global scientific and research literature. This affects the libraries' ability to provide current and scientific information to support academic and research work. In the 1990s, CDROM, E-mail, Internet and Inter-Library Loan and Document Delivery Services were introduced at different times to the public university libraries in Ghana. The services first began in the Balme Library, University of Ghana in 1994, and later in the other four public university libraries. This paved the way for a dramatic transformation of the libraries' roles as information providers. University libraries in Ghana are now making further progress in the acquisition of information technologies that permit access to global electronic resources in order to strengthen their ability to provide current, adequate, reliable and timely scientific and research information to their users.

The advent of Internet access in the university libraries has clearly helped to transform the level of access by users of Ghana's public universities to primary, secondary and human information sources. The Internet facility has enabled links to the online public access catalogues (OPAC) of other libraries, as well as access to remote electronic databases. Email is being used to provide reference, inter-library loan and document delivery services. E-mail has also facilitated the way scholars interact with each other. It has enhanced the exchange of ideas and collaboration between researchers, faculty and students. E-mail has provided better links between libraries in Ghana, especially academic and research libraries resulting in the birth of Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CALIGH). The Internet access services has augmented the information resources of the university libraries for the improved satisfaction of user needs, and the university libraries can now be seen as providing a more cost-effective information service for teaching, learning and research.

Research Objectives

An important research issue in this connection pertains to how the Internet services being provided by the libraries are currently being used. Understanding the current patterns of use is crucial in order to determine how effective the services are, and how they can be further developed. This requirement directed this study which sought to find out how students, lecturers and research fellows are making use of the Internet services being provided by the public university libraries in Ghana. Specifically, the study set out to answer the following research questions:

(i) How often do students, lecturers and research fellows (users) use the Internet services?

(ii) For what purposes do the users exploit the Internet services?

(iii) Which Internet facilities are used most often by the users?

(iv) What challenges do the users face when using the Internet services?

Literature Review

According to Tedd (1993), Information Technology (IT) is a "combination of computing and telecommunication for the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numeric information." According to Sidiqui (1997), IT facilitates speedy and easy access to unlimited information from different sources. It also provides round the clock access to users, and makes information flexible for all users according to their needs. In this study, IT services were defined as those services that use computer and telecommunications to make available electronic information resources to meet the information needs of users.

In today's networked global village, ready connectivity or access to the Internet is clearly the most useful IT service that a library can provide for its users. The Internet is an information resource which brings a wide range of materials from around the world to the user. …

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