Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Awareness and Usage of Electronic Databases by Geography and Resource Development Information Studies Graduate Students in the University of Ghana

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Awareness and Usage of Electronic Databases by Geography and Resource Development Information Studies Graduate Students in the University of Ghana

Article excerpt

Introduction

Electronic-Databases (e-databases) have become an established component of many academic libraries' collection. These databases often contain journal articles, or references to such articles, e-books, reference sources, conference papers and reports among others. There are various types of these databases such as bibliographic, full-text, directory, numeric and multimedia.

E-databases are widely available and can be accessed from anywhere and by many users at the same time. It is therefore convenient to use. University libraries, therefore, spend large amounts of money on these resources to satisfy the teaching, learning and research needs of its faculty and students. As universities spend substantial amount of money on subscription of these databases, it is only appropriate and economical that these databases are optimally utilized to contribute to the academic achievement of students and faculty and also to get value for money.

In spite of the value of e-databases and ensuring that it is available for use by library clients, studies have shown that usage is not up to level expected or is simply underutilized. Reasons most often advanced for not using the databases include lack of awareness, preference for other sources like general search engines such as Google, lack of search skill, lack of adequate ICT infrastructure, bad downloading time, and at times sheer attitude of users. The manifestation of these reasons may differ from place to place or from situation to situation. Dukic (2013) and Ahmed, 2013b), for example, indicated that usage of e-databases in developed countries is more than in developing countries basically because of poor ICT infrastructure and huge cost of such resources Anaraki and Babalhavaeji (2013) also pointed out that where students are not aware of existence of e-databases they tend to use general search engines to meet their information needs.

Researchers and scholars in the academic sector in Ghana had had their turn of difficult times in accessing published research information in the form of journals, mainly because of budgetary constraints. But through the benevolent initiatives from institutions such as International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) and Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) in the 1990s and early 2000s, Ghanaian researchers and scholars in academia have had access to or benefited from CD-ROM facilities and e-databases. In addition to the INASP and PERI initiatives, Ghanaian universities, both public and private, and research institutions have implemented a consortia purchasing of electronic databases in order to reduce the unit cost for these resources. This has offered access to a wide range of resources for a number of university libraries in Ghana. Users need not visit the library to benefit from the usage of these resources since they can access the resources from anywhere--home, office etc. This situation is also very beneficial to the large number of Distance Learners and Sandwich Students in Ghanaian universities.

The e-databases available in the University Ghana Library System (UGLS), consist of INASP initiative ones, consortia subscribed ones, University of Ghana's own subscribed ones, and open access ones. The number of subscribed databases at the moment amounts to about 54. They cover most subject areas in the humanities, social sciences, applied sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. These contain full text electronic journal articles, bibliographic information, abstracts, e-books, among others. The databases are renewed annually by subscription.

Infrastructure wise, the university has provided modest ICT facilities for its constituents to enable them access e-resources for teaching, learning and research. The University has established ICT Directorate to harness and manage ICT facilities on the campus. The Directorate has computer centres where students are given time slots in the semester to access information and also to have training. …

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