Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Librarians, Research Scientists and ICT Adoption in Research Institutes in Ghana

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Librarians, Research Scientists and ICT Adoption in Research Institutes in Ghana

Article excerpt

From the 1990s, the world was poised towards witnessing of two important revolutions: first was the fall of the Berlin wall which ended communism in Eastern Europe and Germany with a history of cold war, superpower and European integration, (Maier 1999). The second is the advent of Information and Communications Technology, which came in to impact every aspect of human endeavor. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) a general term that englobes mostly communication devices or applications including radio, television, cellular phones, computers and its networks such as the internet, satellite system and many more services associated with them. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on its part has defines ICT goods as those items:

"intended to fulfill the function of information processing and communication by electronic means, including transmission or display, or which use electronic processing to detect, measure, and/or record physical phenomena, or to control a physical process".

As a result of increased communication, this era re-awakened post-colonial Africa as dictatorial regimes were set to suffer a devastating defeat to multiparty democracy, with pressure from Western donors. Consequently, some of these developing countries took bold steps toward embracing ICT as a way of doing business.

Statement of the Problem

The role of Research and Development (R&D) in a developing country is well documented. In this paper, we focus on two groups: librarians and research scientist working in research institutes in Ghana whose work have a direct bearing on R&D in their quest to contribute to national development. Librarians are critical players in the information industry, standing between the information creator and the user. Their actions or inactions can impact information flow positively or negatively which can have a dire repercussion on industry. In this 21st century, the least they require is the right technologies for optimum delivery. Available literature suggests Africa doubled up its research output over the last decade, a move towards knowledge based economy. Working on Africa's scholarly and research contribution, Schemm (2014) writes: "From 1996 to 2012, the number of research papers published in scientific journals with at least one African author more than quadrupled (from about 12,500 to over 52,000). During the same time the share of the world's articles with African authors almost doubled from 1.2% to around 2.3%."

In a continent abundant in both natural and human resources, the role of science and technology to improve the life of the people must be a priority. Librarians and scientists play a critical role, and need to be equipped with the latest technologies for research and development. However, managing information or seeking it comes with a territory in a developing country like Ghana in terms of challenges associated with conducting library management and information-seeking functions. ICTs have the capacity to change the information landscape in Ghana's research organizations. ICTs could augment traditional library functions such as those of the online public access catalog, reference and bibliographic services, document delivery, current awareness services, and audiovisual services, which may in turn affect users' access and ability to use information. Nonetheless, there are factors that work against the increased adoption of ICTs, which hinders both information management and information-seeking process. These challenges include low funding, poor ICT infrastructure, low bandwidth, intermittent power cuts, and bureaucracy. These factors are not unique to Ghana but are also experienced in many other developing countries.

Significance of the study

Studies on ICT on various sectors have received some attention in the literature, notably Atiso (2007), Badu & Markwei (2005), and Dadzie (2005). Dadzie & Dzandu (2012) investigated the technology's impact on a single population: research scientists. …

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