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Key library service dimensions for serving the needs of higher education students in Namibia

Shameem Ali (Polytechnic of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 9 November 2015

635

Abstract

Purpose

Students at higher education institutions in under-developed countries face many study and learning-related impediments and challenges. The purpose of this paper is to ascertain the library usage behaviour and experiences of students as well as to explore reliance on campus-based private study options due largely to the disadvantaged living conditions of many students.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey of students was conducted to identify how the institutional library is used, what perception students have of the library services and what the service gaps are. Perceptions were measured across 20 indicators adapted from previous studies. The survey sought information on the rate of library usage, the main reason for the most recent library visit and reasons that had ever prevented them from visiting the library. Post survey, three focus group sessions were conducted to discuss issues relating to home study environments and preliminary findings from the survey stage.

Findings

Based on the item groupings five service dimensions were identified. These were student services/facilities, management, collection, study spaces and access. Despite indicating a high level of dissatisfaction with some aspects of the library services, students preferred the library because home environments are not conducive to study and learning. The service dimensions identified by the study relate to the areas of greatest need from the student perspective.

Practical implications

The implementation of many of the virtual characteristics of university libraries should be based on a clear understanding of the local information needs, searching behaviours as well as being cognizant of how and why libraries are accessed. In this regard consideration must be given to the lack of study facilities at home.

Originality/value

In the context of developed countries the notion of virtual libraries is a reality. However, in the African context such a notion seems “remote” from the perspectives of many students, especially those from the lower socio-economic backgrounds. Many of these students come from poor living conditions and have no study and learning opportunities outside of campus. This paper raises these issues for consideration in library planning and budget allocations for universities in poor communities.

Keywords

Citation

Ali, S. (2015), "Key library service dimensions for serving the needs of higher education students in Namibia", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 263-275. https://doi.org/10.1108/PMM-08-2014-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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