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

Information Behaviours of Non-Users of Libraries in Botswana

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

Information Behaviours of Non-Users of Libraries in Botswana

Article excerpt


The Government of Botswana has envisioned an educated and informed nation by 2016 (Government of Botswana, 1997). To meet the needs of this vision, the public library system provides a nation-wide library and information services' network designed to meet the information needs of all sectors of the community. To date, the system boasts of about 66 Village Reading Rooms (VRRs), 24 public libraries and four community libraries. VRRs are community initiatives designed to extend the public library services to smaller settlements in Botswana. Community libraries on the other hand are an outcome of partnership of the communities, Botswana Government and the Robert and Sara Rothschild Family Foundation. However, in spite of these efforts, statistics show that not all the targeted sectors of the communities are properly reached as the main beneficiaries of these initiatives. Improved understanding of the reasons why certain groups in the communities do not use the libraries is needed in order to develop effective strategies to promote the use of the libraries to meet the information needs of the target communities.

Communities in developing countries are fairly illiterate with a low reading culture (Aboyade, 1994). This is also true for Botswana today. Therefore, libraries and information providers need to be very creative in putting in place attractive information programmes and services which take into consideration the information behaviours of the communities they serve. Examples of such community social programmes are storytelling, arts and crafts and writing, knitting and weaving, gardening and poetry. Libraries also need to market themselves vigorously to the communities they serve. For example, librarians should be involved in community activities by establishing library committees whose membership is drawn from communities they serve, in line with IFLA's guidelines for information dissemination to communities by libraries (IFLA, 2005).

Several studies are pertinent to the current study and they have been used to provide a theoretical framework for the study. Most of these studies have identified information needs of predominantly non-literate communities (Aboyade, 1987; Mchombu, 1993; Kaniki, 1995; Baratedi, 2000) and the roles information providers could play in meeting these needs (Mchombu and Morais, 1998; Phoi and Rammidi, 2000). Another body of work, comprising particularly studies by Mchombu (1993), Matenge (2003), Anwar and Supaat (1998) and Mooko (2002), identified the information-seeking preferences of communities that do not frequently use libraries. Other studies have specifically examined factors affecting non-use of public libraries (Palmer, 1981; Lange, 1988; Hawkins, et al., 2001; Uhegbu, 2001; Sin and Kim, 2008).

Alemna (1995), Raseroka (1997), and Alegbeleye (1998), among others, have suggested a need to re-examine the public library system in Africa. A conclusion reached in most of the aforementioned studies is that more work is needed in order to understand the complexities surrounding the non-use of library and information services by targeted beneficiaries.

This study therefore answered the following questions: Why are certain sectors of the community not using libraries to meet their information needs? What alternative sources of information do they use? What are the information needs of non-users of the libraries? How can the libraries attract the non-users to the facilities and services they offer?


The study adopted a survey design approach and used the snowball sampling technique to identify the respondents who participated in the study. Three hundred and two (302) respondents selected from 34 research sites participated in the study. The study sites were carefully selected to be representative of four settings in the country, namely: remote, rural, peri-urban, and urban. A questionnaire with both open and closed-ended questions was used to collect data. …

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