Planning for Digitization of University Libraries in Ghana: Challenges and Prospects

By Dadzie, Perpetua S.; van der Walt, Thomas | Library Philosophy and Practice, January 2015 | Go to article overview

Planning for Digitization of University Libraries in Ghana: Challenges and Prospects


Dadzie, Perpetua S., van der Walt, Thomas, Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

Digital libraries are increasingly being recognized as efficient channels for the collection, storage, organization of information in digital formats and for their ease of searching, retrieval and processing of information via improved communication networks. Digital libraries have the potential to provide timely access to information, improve facilities for information sharing and collaboration and also reduce the digital divide among (Chowdhury and Chowdhury, 2003:11).

In universities, digital libraries serve as gateways to information and knowledge offering essential support for teaching, learning and research. They provide access to the intellectual and scholarly output of the university community and play an important role in promoting the university to the rest of the world by exposing works to the wider community. Access to information and knowledge is made available through the ever-widening range of digital library resources and services, including full-text online databases, faculty research, classroom materials, multimedia digital resources, electronic journals, electronic books and digital libraries from all over the world.

Some libraries in the developed countries (for example: University of California system--California Digital Library; University of Tilburg Library, Netherlands) have put measures in place to ensure the development and management of digital libraries. Lampert and Vaughan (2009) for instance, observe in their study of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) libraries' digitization programmes, that the majority of libraries had made provision for digitization activities in their library's strategic plans. Within that plan, the need for financial sustainability was emphasized in order to enhance, migrate and sustain resources over time. In the opinion of Azzolini (2011:14) a digital library should be regarded as an enterprise that is meant to fulfill specific goals and from the outset designed to be sustainable in order to provide value to those who invest in it and those who use it. In other words, the need for financial planning including short-term and long-term forecasting as well as benchmarks cannot be neglected.

This paper explores the views of university librarians from the three oldest public universities on strategic planning for the development of digital libraries and how the plan is being implemented. Specifically, the paper:

i. examines the availability of strategic plans or policies towards the development of digital libraries in Ghanaian universities;

ii. investigates sources of funding as well as disbursement of funds in respect of digital libraries in Ghanaian universities.

Theoretical insights into digital libraries

A plethora of frameworks and models proposed for the design, development and management of digital libraries has been widely discussed in the academic literature (Zachman, 1987; Yates, 1989; Levy and Marshall, 1995; Moen and McClure, 1997; Yang, Zheng & Wang, 1997; Marchionini and Fox, 1999; Rowlands and Bawden, 1999; Saracevic and Covi, 2000; Fuhr et al. 2001; Magnussen, 2003; Gongalves et al. 2004). In the view of the different authors, these frameworks serve as the basic architecture for the development of digital libraries.

Yates (1989) for instance, explains that documents, technologies and work factors are crucial for the development of both traditional and digital libraries. Yates contends that libraries have one thing in common, that is, they house and provide access to stores of documents. These documents are created and maintained using technologies and are deployed through the institution of the library to support work of researchers and staff. The consequences of Yates' framework for the development of digital libraries are examined by Levy and Marshall (1995) and Rowlands and Bawden (1999). Levy and Marshall (1995) stress that technical infrastructure does not, in and of itself, constitute a digital library. …

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