An assessment of distance learners’ use of information resources and services at the University of Botswana Library
Modise, Constance Dintle
PublisherUniversity of Botswana, www.ub.bw
MetadataShow full item record
Delivering education through distance education mode imposes upon universities a responsibility to provide library resources and services that are adequate to address students’ expectations of service quality. It is critical to provide library resources and services whose quality levels are acceptable to those who use them. This study sought to assess the distance learners’ use of information resources and services provided by the University of Botswana Library. It also attempts to find out the expectations distance learners and their perceptions about library services. The study aimed to measure the quality of the access to library collections, access to library facilities and staff services from the distance learners’ perspectives. The objectives of the study were 1) to ascertain the extent of use of the library resources and services by distance learners, 2) to find out the distance learners’ expectations and perceptions on the quality of University of Botswana library resources and services, 3) to determine distance learners satisfaction level regarding service quality, 4) to examine the library support services offered to distance learners, 5) to identify challenges faced by distance learners and 6) to make recommendations to the library based on the findings of the study. The study adapted LibQUAL, a library assessment instrument to measure the users’ expectations, and perceptions of the quality of information services, library facilities and staff services. Armed with pragmatist research paradigm, a mixed method approach which included both quantitative and qualitative data collection was used. The study used LibQUAL survey instrument to collect data from a sample of 124 distance students representing 20 percent of the distance learners of the University of Botswana. Interviews were also conducted with five subject librarians designated to work directly with distance students. A total of 87 (70%) distance students responded to the questionnaire and all the five librarians made themselves available for interview. The results of the quantitative survey were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) to determine the frequencies of the responses and the results were displayed using tables and figures. The qualitative data was analyzed using Microsoft excel analysis and thematic analysis. A key finding indicated that there is a gap between distance learners’ expectations and perceptions of library service at University of Botswana library. Furthermore, the study found that users were not really getting the full benefit of the library services and some of the services were underutilized. It emerged from the findings that the most problematic services for users were reference services, interlibrary loans, book reserve and electronic resources such as electronic journals and databases. Furthermore, the results of the study also indicated that library services were initially planned for all students regardless of their status. The interviews with the librarians revealed that more planning, and library awareness assessments are needed for furthering the presence of the library among distance learners. Such efforts could increase library usage and could provide useful information for library self-study and ideas for improving the quality of library services. The study recommends that University of Botswana library will have to focus on developing flexible services and promote them proactively. Librarians need to experiment with technological innovations such as virtual reference tools and social media platforms so that future service provision is increasingly effective and efficient. The study concluded by pointing out some future research areas that could be explored. The study could help inform decision making for improvement of services, future planning, training of staff and benchmarking with other libraries. This study would also provide a contribution to the depth of researches on library use by distance students in Botswana and Africa as a whole.