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Article
Publication date: 12 August 2020

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula, Hamis Abdullah and Brave Mwale

This study investigated the use of WhatsApp as the platform for providing services at Mzuzu University Library in Malawi.

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigated the use of WhatsApp as the platform for providing services at Mzuzu University Library in Malawi.

Design/methodology/approach

The researchers conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with five librarians that were either working or had worked at the reference desk for a period of not less than six months. Furthermore, the researchers did a content analysis of WhatsApp posts from the two tablet computers deployed at the reference desk. Qualitative data were analysed thematically, while the quantitative data were analysed using scientific calculators.

Findings

Findings revealed that WhatsApp has successfully been used to provide a number of user and reference services to students and staff. Notwithstanding this, a number of technical, human resource and service-related factors were discovered to be affecting the delivery of services and hence need to be addressed. It is therefore recommended that library management should take steps to address these challenges to ensure efficient and effective service delivery.

Practical implications

WhatsApp is one of the most popular social media applications that is deployed by many people including organisations at minimal cost in many countries. This makes it an ideal platform for offering information services to library clients on campus and remote places around the clock. Consequently, this could lead to increased usage of resources and services resulting in greater satisfaction among users.

Originality/value

Studies focussing on the use of WhatsApp for academic purposes in Malawi abound in the literature. However, this is the first study focussing on the use of WhatsApp for providing library reference services to be undertaken not only at Mzuzu University Library but the entire academic library sector in Malawi.

Details

Library Management, vol. 41 no. 8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

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Article
Publication date: 4 March 2014

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula

The aim of this research was to study collection development practices in some selected private university libraries in Malawi with special focus on University of…

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this research was to study collection development practices in some selected private university libraries in Malawi with special focus on University of Livingstonia and Adventist University Libraries.

Design/methodology/approach

This research employed a case study approach that made use of both quantitative and qualitative methods. Data were collected using interview guides and coding schedules. Interviews were conducted with university librarians of the two institutions. Self-administered questionnaires were administered to the Finance Officers and University Librarians of the institutions covered by the study to collect financial statistics and data relating to collection development. Qualitative data were analysed thematically while quantitative data were analysed using Ms Excel.

Findings

Findings of the study indicated that private university libraries in this study are funded mainly by parent institutions. Funding is not adequate as is the case with public university libraries in the country. This had adversely affected collection development practices that include purchase of materials and staff training. The two institutions, however, differed in terms of the other collection development activities they undertook, and magnitude of the challenges they faced, something that was attributed to slight difference in terms of funding they got from parent institutions.

Practical implications

The study sheds light on the collection development practices of University of Livingstonia Library and Adventist University Library, and challenges facing them. Some of these findings mirror those of other libraries not only in this sector, but also public university libraries in the country. Suggestions on how the collection development challenges facing the two libraries could be tackled have been made. It is hoped that the suggestions made could benefit other libraries who find themselves in a similar situation, if implemented. The study findings could also inform future researchers venturing in the same field.

Originality/value

Very little is known about the collection development practices of private university libraries not only in Malawi but the world at large owing to lack of significant research undertaken on the topic. This study is, therefore, significant because its findings fill up the existing knowledge gap. If acted on, recommendations made could also help solve some of the challenges that are being faced.

Details

Library Management, vol. 35 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

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Article
Publication date: 25 October 2011

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula

The aim of this paper is to determine the impact of the global economic crisis on University of Malawi Libraries and Mzuzu University Library.

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to determine the impact of the global economic crisis on University of Malawi Libraries and Mzuzu University Library.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study methodology was adopted, and data were collected using both interview guides and questionnaires.

Findings

Findings show that libraries in this study were not affected much by the global economic crisis. Budgets of the libraries had registered steady increments, and this had positively impacted on collection development activities, staff recruitment and training, infrastructure development, and internal and external travels etc. Effects of the economic crisis, though minor, were evident by the stagnation of some college budgets and absence of scholarships for training abroad.

Research limitations/implications

The study covered four of the five libraries in the University of Malawi namely the Polytechnic, College of Medicine, Bunda College, Kamuzu College of Nursing and Mzuzu University. Chancellor College Library did not participate because the researcher faced challenges in getting permission from authorities. So much as the results do give a general picture of libraries under the University of Malawi, the findings may not necessarily apply to Chancellor College Library.

Originality/value

In light of the findings, libraries were encouraged to strengthen existing income generating activities, and also explore other ways of generating revenue to cover for shortfalls in the budget that may be prompted by withdrawal of donor funds and cuts in government subvention should the global economic crisis persist.

Details

Library Management, vol. 32 no. 8/9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

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Article
Publication date: 5 February 2018

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula and Stephen Mutula

The purpose of this paper is to present findings of a study conducted to determine eReadiness status of public university libraries in Malawi to use mobile phones in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present findings of a study conducted to determine eReadiness status of public university libraries in Malawi to use mobile phones in the provision of library and information services.

Design/methodology/approach

The researcher carried out in-depth semi-structured interviews with university/college librarians and information and communications technology (ICT) directors using interview guides. Students were also administered with a survey questionnaire that contained closed- and some open-ended questions. Proceedings of the interviews were recorded using a tape recorder whilst backup notes were recorded in a notebook. Qualitative data were transcribed and analysed using NVivo software whilst quantitative data were analysed using SPPS.

Findings

The study findings revealed that institutions studied had the ICT infrastructure necessary for offering library and information services on the mobile phone platform. Moreover, students had mobile phones which were connected to internet to facilitate their access to services offered. However, the institutions covered by this study did not have operational ICT policies to govern the operations of library and information services offered through mobile phones although draft ICT policies were available. The study further concluded that though the human resources required to manage the provision of library and information services through mobile phones in the institutions studied were available, they did not have the necessary skills and numbers to provide quality services. Other findings revealed that attitudes of library staff and students to the offering and access to services through mobile phones were positive. The study also revealed that there are some factors that could impact the offering of library services through mobile phones.

Research limitations/implications

Although Malawi has four public universities, this study only focused on three of them. Moreover, academic staff is another important user group of academic libraries. In this case, findings reported in this paper only focus on students. This implies that library’s readiness to offer services through mobile phones to this group remains unknown hence may have to be covered by future studies. Much as the study incorporated a quantitative strand in addition to the qualitative one, it neither involved theory testing nor confirmation as is the case with other related studies. This implies that the two theories used in this study (the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology and the technology-organisation-environment) were not used in the strict sense, which is empirical at the core, but rather to put the problem studied in the context of other related studies.

Practical implications

The findings have practical implications in that they can be used for planning the implementation of library and information services through mobile phones in public university libraries in Malawi. Other related institutions can also use the findings as a reference point in planning the implementation of similar services.

Originality/value

Studies relating to the use of mobile phones in the delivery of library and information services have not been conducted in public universities in Malawi. Findings of this study will, therefore, inform researchers intending to conduct similar or related studies not only in public universities in Malawi but other related institutions as well.

Details

Library Hi Tech, vol. 36 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0737-8831

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Article
Publication date: 7 February 2018

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula and Stephen Mutula

The aim of this paper is present findings of a study conducted to find out the current state of providing and accessing library and information services in public…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is present findings of a study conducted to find out the current state of providing and accessing library and information services in public university libraries in Malawi through mobile phones.

Design/methodology/approach

The researcher carried out in-depth semi-structured interviews with university/college librarians using interview guides. University/college librarians were purposefully selected for the interviews because they are overall managers of their libraries, hence in a better position to provide information that addressed the study objectives. Proceedings of the interviews were recorded using a tape recorder, whilst backup notes were recorded in a notebook. Data were transcribed and analysed using Nvivo software.

Findings

Findings revealed that only one library in this study had fully implemented the offering of library and information services through mobile phones, whilst the rest were moving towards the same. Both user and reference service offering through mobile phones included e-journals, Facebook, WhatsApp, Online Public Access Catalogue and SMS. The institutions in this study had institutional repositories, e-journals and e-books, among others, which they could offer through mobile phones. High cost of accessing services through mobile phone, vandalism of Information and Communications Technologies infrastructure, shortage of skills and network congestion are some of the factors that may affect the offering of library and information services through mobile phones.

Research limitations/implications

Malawi has four public universities. However, this article reports findings of a case study of three of the four constituent colleges of the University of Malawi (College of Medicine, Kamuzu College of Nursing and Polytechnic), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Mzuzu University. By virtue of being a case study, it means that the findings made are only applicable to the five institutions covered.

Practical implications

The study findings have practical implications in that they can be used as a model for planning the implementation of library and information services through mobile phones not only in public university libraries in Malawi but also other related institutions locally and internationally.

Originality/value

Use of mobile phones in the delivery of library and information services is receiving a lot of attention from researchers the world over. However, this is not the case in Malawi, as studies of this nature have not been conducted in the public university sector or in other related sectors. Findings of this study will, therefore, inform researchers intending to conduct similar or related studies not only in public universities in Malawi but other related institutions as well.

Details

Global Knowledge, Memory and Communication, vol. 67 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0024-2535

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Article
Publication date: 21 September 2012

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula

The purpose of this research is to look at the state, adoption and use of ICTs by students and academic staff at Mzuzu University.

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1376

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to look at the state, adoption and use of ICTs by students and academic staff at Mzuzu University.

Design/methodology/approach

The research used a survey method whose study population included students, academic and library staff. Data for the study were collected using an interview guide and questionnaires.

Findings

The research found out the state of ICTs at Mzuzu University was poor. In spite of this, adoption and use of ICTs was high. ICTs were mainly used for academic‐related word processing tasks, including internet access. However, most of the respondents used personal laptop computers connected to an MTL/TNM/AIRTEL dongle, a personal GSM phone, or commercial internet cybercafés off campus to access the internet. The university network was not used much. Obstacles to the adoption and use of ICTs included poor network infrastructure, the limited number of computers, the high cost of internet access, persistent power outages, and the lack of relevant ICT skills, among others.

Research limitations/implications

The study did not involve postgraduate students because many of them pursue their studies by research, and hence they could have been difficult to contact. Adjunct academic members of staff were also excluded because of anticipated accessibility challenges. The findings of this study, therefore, may not necessarily apply to these groups.

Practical implications

The paper makes some recommendations, which, if acted upon by Mzuzu University management, would help improve the state of ICTs at the institution.

Originality/value

Malawi is a country that has generally lagged behind other countries in terms of ICT adoption and use. However, the magnitude of the problem, especially in institutions of higher learning, is relatively unknown owing to the lack of research undertakings in the field. This paper is therefore valuable because it gives a clear picture of the situation on the ground, and also suggests ways of how the problems faced could be solved.

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Article
Publication date: 16 September 2013

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula and Felix Patrick Majawa

– The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of social networking sites (SNSs) by mass media organisations in Malawi.

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2117

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of social networking sites (SNSs) by mass media organisations in Malawi.

Design/methodology/approach

The research was a survey that was carried out amongst mass media organisations in Malawi. It mainly employed quantitative methods. Data were collected through a combination of mailed and self-administered questionnaires.

Findings

The research established that SNSs were popularly used by mass media organisations in Malawi such that 20 (87 per cent) of the mass media organisations had SNS pages. Facebook was the most commonly used SNS although Twitter was also used. Mass media organisations benefited from using SNSs through increased listenership/readership, and soliciting of feedback which helped improve service offering. However, few mass media organisations registered increased business activity through the use of SNSs. Challenges associated with using SNSs were limited ICT penetration in Malawi, distraction of employees' attention at work, and there was also a concern that not many people interact on SNSs.

Research limitations/implications

Despite registering an overall high response rate of 74 per cent, the response rate amongst other media categories especially the community radio broadcasters was generally poor. In fact only one out of the four organisations responded to the questionnaires. This entails that the study may have not adequately presented a true picture of organisations within this category. So although the study findings reflect the prevailing situation amongst mass media organisations in Malawi in relation to their use of SNSs, they may not holistically apply to organisations within the community radio category.

Practical implications

A number of studies have shown that radio listenership and television viewership are dwindling. At the same time, audiences and attention are shifting to online channels. This research, therefore, recommends that mass media organisations should continue using SNSs so as to capture this audience, and also to remain relevant in the modern society.

Originality/value

Being a relatively new area of research, the study has provided unique knowledge about the use, benefits and challenges of the application of SNSs among mass media organisations in Malawi. Consequently, this has brought to light the use of SNSs as an opportunity which other private and public institutions could take advantage of, as a means of enhancing their operations.

Details

Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives, vol. 65 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0001-253X

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Article
Publication date: 5 November 2014

Aubrey Harvey Chaputula

The purpose of this paper is to report on the findings of a study that was conducted to find out the employment prospects of Mzuzu University (Mzuni) library and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report on the findings of a study that was conducted to find out the employment prospects of Mzuzu University (Mzuni) library and information science (LIS) graduates.

Design/methodology/approach

The study made use of a survey designehil it was mainly quantitative in nature. A census of all LIS graduates from 2006 to 2013 was taken. The study also purposely sampled some major employers of LIS graduates. Self completion questionnaires were administered to both study groups by the researcher personally, and also through emails. Data were collected between September and October 2013, and SPSS was used to analyse the data. Findings from the two questionnaires were discussed in relation to prevailing literature in the field.

Findings

The study established that there are few job opportunities for LIS graduates in the library sector. This came about because libraries have not taken deliberate steps to recruit LIS graduates while opportunities in the private sector were limited. Consequently, some LIS graduates were unemployed, while the majority had taken up alternative jobs. Nevertheless, LIS graduates had the requisite skills and attributes required for the job. Absence of a career structure for LIS professionals in the public sector, failure to recognise role of librarians and LIS qualifications and lack of training opportunities were some of the challenges which LIS graduates faced.

Research limitations/implications

The study covers all LIS graduates who graduated from Mzuni between 2006 and 2013. However, lack of updated contact information means that the researcher had challenges to reach out to most of the graduates save for those working in the major libraries. Furthermore, a good number of the graduates did not respond to the questionnaire sent, particularly those who graduated from the generic programme. This led to a lower than anticipated response rate. This implies that some of the study findings may have some bias towards the LIS graduates in the mature group.

Practical implications

The research findings have a big bearing on policy formulation and decision making in government, the public and private sector players, professional associations and LIS training institutions.

Originality/value

No formal studies have been done to determine the employment prospects for Mzuni LIS graduates ever since the diploma and degree programmes were launched. This research is, therefore, the first of its kind, and could help shape the future of the programmes in terms of curriculum content and methods of delivery. Recommendations made could also help the Malawi Library Association, the Mzuni’s Department of Library and Information Science, and relevant government ministries and departments to come up with appropriate interventions to the challenges being faced.

Details

New Library World, vol. 115 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4803

Keywords

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