Library and Information Science Research in Botswana: An Analysis of Trends and Patterns

By Moahi, Kgomotso H. | African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Library and Information Science Research in Botswana: An Analysis of Trends and Patterns


Moahi, Kgomotso H., African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science


Abstract

This paper analysed library and information science research in Botswana that has been published since 1979, when the library school at the University of Botswana was established. The period considered is from 1980 to 2006, a period of 27 years. The paper linked research and publication trends with the historical, social and cultural factors in Botswana. The conclusion is that Botswana has a relatively young history of library and information services, as well as library education; that the research activities have not been informed by a research agenda; and that there has not been significant collaboration between practitioners and academics primarily because for practitioners, research and publication is not viewed as essential to their job progression. Research skills are very crucial for empirical research, and the fact that most research activities have been descriptive may point to some deficiencies in that regard. Other factors that impinge on research have been identified as lack of funding, lack of time, and research that does not necessarily address the issues and challenges of the profession in Botswana. The paper concludes by providing recommendations on what needs to be done to address the current situation.

Introduction

Library and information Science (LIS) research in Botswana can reasonably be linked with the establishment of a library school in Botswana in 1979. Prior to that, most research was conducted by students studying abroad in partial fulfilment of their study requirements. Some research activities, however, were conducted by professionals who were working in various libraries and research institutions, but they were sporadic and were mostly documented work related projects and activities. With the establishment of the library school at the University of Botswana in 1979, academics and scholars teaching at the school added significantly to the amount of research that was being produced; students of the school also carried out research for purposes of their studies; and practising librarians also engaged in research for various reasons. Thus, it is safe to say that a lot of research and publications in LIS have been undertaken since 1979. Much as this research activities were being conducted, they were not informed by any particular research agenda, whether in the department or in the local profession itself. In addition, there has been no analysis undertaken to characterise the research activities and determine whether they were informed by developments in the profession in general, as well as the social, cultural and historical conditions in Botswana.

Botswana: A Historical Overview

When Botswana attained independence from the British in 1966, the country was one of the poorest countries in the world, with limited assets and infrastructure. The reason for the limited infrastructural development was due to the fact that the British were not really interested in developing Botswana as a colony because it had nothing to offer, but agreed to protect it to preempt the further advancement of Germany who had annexed South West Africa (Namibia) and the Dutch in South Africa. It was only when diamonds were discovered that the country was able to provide basic infrastructure for its citizens such as roads, hospitals, schools, etc. In a sense therefore, Botswana's history is characterised by starting from scratch to build infrastructure and train its citizens to be in a position to man the various government departments and agencies. This has impacted on many activities and endeavours, including the development of library and information services, education of library and information sciences, and research in the area.

Libraries and Information Services

Libraries in Botswana were introduced by colonialists, who were mainly importing services that they had enjoyed in their mother countries. Thus, early libraries were not really targeted at the Botswana population, as much as the expatriate population. …

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