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Article
Publication date: 11 June 2018

Christine Stilwell

The purpose of this paper is to endorse the notion that information is the currency of democracy and explore the question of the public library’s role in promoting…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to endorse the notion that information is the currency of democracy and explore the question of the public library’s role in promoting democracy through the provision of access to information.

Design/methodology/approach

A review of the literature and a case study are used.

Findings

From the early days of the public library, there has been a certain democratic paternalism in librarians’ views on public libraries, and ambivalence about the extent to which these libraries have provided information to the whole population. Despite this finding, the paper explores the public library’s role in providing information; the currency of information. Public libraries can contribute to the renewal of a democratic public sphere by providing free and ready access to knowledge and information, as well as safe and trusted social spaces for the exchange of ideas, creativity, and decision making.

Originality/value

The paper examines material from the dawn of the public library to current concerns about the role of these libraries in providing access to information, in revitalising citizenship and fostering democracy. It draws on the well-known example of the birth of democracy in South Africa and on discussions of public library neutrality and activism in contemporary France, describing limits on the achievements of libraries in these countries in the context of some current, promising examples from the USA, Britain, Denmark, and Australia.

Details

Library Management, vol. 39 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2000

Christine Stilwell

This sub‐theme paper addresses the question: for those who defend libraries as vital democratic institutions charged with providing free and equal access to information as…

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519

Abstract

This sub‐theme paper addresses the question: for those who defend libraries as vital democratic institutions charged with providing free and equal access to information as a public good, how do we act in the Internet age? As with Thapisa’s paper in this issue, to which this paper is partly a response, speculates on emerging issues and explores possibilities concerning Global Information, with particular emphasis on the educational aspects.

Details

Library Management, vol. 21 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

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Article
Publication date: 13 August 2018

Tom Kwanya and Christine Stilwell

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the leadership styles that academic and research librarians apply as well as their effectiveness in meeting their institutions…

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1061

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the leadership styles that academic and research librarians apply as well as their effectiveness in meeting their institutions’ strategic objectives. The study also compared and contrasted the leadership styles and their corresponding impact in the effective delivery of academic and research library services in Kenya and South Africa.

Design/methodology/approach

The study applied a survey research technique to garner the opinions of the librarians about the leadership styles of their leaders. Primary data were collected through key informant interviews with academic and research librarians. Additional data were collected through documentary analysis. The data were analysed and processed through content analysis.

Findings

The findings indicate that most academic and research library leaders in South Africa and Kenya embrace a democratic leadership style. The results also show that most academic and research librarians hold the view that the leadership styles of their managers have a great impact on their individual performance and overall organisational effectiveness.

Practical implications

The results of the study can be used to recommend or adopt leadership styles which have a higher potential of making a greater impact in Kenyan and South African academic and research libraries. The results can also be used as the basis for relevant curricula and policy development.

Originality/value

The role of university librarians as leaders and the determinants of the effectiveness of academic and research library leaders, including leadership styles, have received minimal attention from scholars, particularly those in Africa. This study addresses the gap as it investigated the impact of the leadership styles of academic and research librarians on the effectiveness of their institutions, compared the academic and research library leadership scenarios in South Africa with Kenya, and makes recommendations on how to enhance leadership effectiveness.

Details

Library Management, vol. 39 no. 6-7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

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Book part
Publication date: 26 February 2016

Christine Stilwell

Since the 1994 regime change many South African public libraries have been destroyed by the communities they were serving which raises questions about how communities…

Abstract

Purpose

Since the 1994 regime change many South African public libraries have been destroyed by the communities they were serving which raises questions about how communities perceive these libraries. With the loss of activist library organizations, few insights are gained from activists or critical librarianship on how to respond. In this context, the chapter examines public library social inclusion and poverty alleviation initiatives, and government conditional grants to public libraries.

Methodology/approach

Using a transformative paradigm, a qualitative approach and thematic analysis, the chapter examines recent literature on public libraries and social inclusion, and local annual and parliamentary reports. A mini-survey yields case study material.

Findings

The findings augment the scarce store of recent evidence on South African public libraries. Most provinces had built new libraries, upgraded others, and installed information and communication infrastructure to enhance access. Problems included governance, fund wastage, and staffing. The libraries have great potential to improve their relevance for local communities.

Research limitations

The poor survey response rate and lack of a comprehensive national database on public libraries limits the research. Annual reports are uneven in comprehensiveness, making comparison difficult.

Practical implications

The chapter recommends (i) creating a national information system to monitor service delivery via the grants and enable rigorous investigation of their impact and (ii) increased government support for public library social inclusion initiatives.

Originality/value

First hand evidence from local librarians and official reports demonstrates the grants’ effect on public library promotion of social inclusion and shows what is possible in a situation of historical inequities.

Details

Perspectives on Libraries as Institutions of Human Rights and Social Justice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-057-2

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Article
Publication date: 24 May 2011

Edda Tandi Lwoga, Christine Stilwell and Patrick Ngulube

The purpose of this study is to assess access to and use of agricultural knowledge and information in the rural areas of Tanzania.

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3141

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to assess access to and use of agricultural knowledge and information in the rural areas of Tanzania.

Design/methodology/approach

Mixed quantitative, qualitative and participatory methods were deployed. Semi‐structured interviews were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data from 181 farmers in six districts of Tanzania. Focus groups and participatory techniques (i.e. information mapping and linkage diagrams) were also used to collect qualitative data from 128 farmers in the same districts.

Findings

The results showed that deep, rich and complete data can be collected through the mixed quantitative, qualitative and participatory techniques. The findings demonstrated that the knowledge and information needs, and information‐seeking patterns of farmers were location specific. The major sources of information for farmers were predominantly local (neighbours, friends and family), followed by public extension services. Apart from radio and cell phones, advanced technologies (i.e. internet and e‐mail) and printed materials were used at a low rate despite their existence in the communities.

Research limitations/implications

The study necessitates a need to conduct regular studies on information needs, map communities' knowledge and information sources, create awareness of information sources and knowledge culture, use participatory methods in design and development of technologies and use multiple sources of knowledge and information (such as print and technologies) to deliver relevant information to farmers.

Originality/value

The study provides a deep understanding of access to and use of agricultural knowledge and information in the rural areas, which necessitates a need for demand‐led and client‐based knowledge and information services in order to meet the disparate farmers' needs. These findings can serve as an example for the increasing use of mixed quantitative, qualitative and participatory methods in information behavior research.

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Article
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Lara Skelly, Christine Stilwell and Peter G. Underwood

– The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between different aspects of public library use with elements of economic growth and development.

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656

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between different aspects of public library use with elements of economic growth and development.

Design/methodology/approach

Statistical correlations were performed to uncover statistically significant relationships.

Findings

Relationships are not uniform: strongly positive relationships exist between education and visits, circulation and library programmes, savings and visits and circulation and programmes, and a strongly negative relationship exists between health and circulation.

Research limitations/implications

Only one proxy variable for each of the economic development indicators was used, including the fact that others might have revealed other information.

Social implications

The revealed relationships should be kept in mind by librarians and policymakers as decisions to change library services that might trickle down to citizens through economic growth and development.

Originality/value

This paper brings together a variety of economic growth and development factors and several aspects of public library use in a single framework.

Details

The Bottom Line, vol. 28 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0888-045X

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Article
Publication date: 5 January 2010

Hilda Munyua and Christine Stilwell

The purpose of this paper is to understand the agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) of small‐scale farmers in Kirinyaga district, Kenya by identifying the…

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3095

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the agricultural knowledge and information systems (AKIS) of small‐scale farmers in Kirinyaga district, Kenya by identifying the key agricultural actors, establishing the information needs of farmers and how they access, share and exchange agricultural knowledge and information.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts a triangulation of qualitative, quantitative and participatory methodologies and methods for sampling, data collection and data analysis. The methods combine Relaxed Appraisal of Agricultural Knowledge Systems (RAAKS) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), focus group discussions with farmers groups, observation and analysis of secondary data. The sense‐making methodology is used an alternative approach to study information behaviour, while the soft systems methodology is used to link up the different activities by diverse agricultural actors.

Findings

Richer and deeper data are collected through mixed methodologies and methods. The study identifies more than 100 active information and knowledge providers in Kirinyaga district, with extension emerging as the most important source of information. However, linkages between the various actors and farmers are weak. In particular, the findings of the study demonstrate that the AKIS of small‐scale farmers is location specific and varies with the enterprise(s) produced.

Research limitations/implications

Triangulation of methods is expensive hence the study is limited to only one district in Kenya. The paper suggests further research into ways of strengthening and formalising linkages between key actors.

Practical implications

The study points to the need to strengthen and formalise linkages between farmers and extensionists, private sector, media, farmers' groups, civil society organisations, researchers, educators and microfinance institutions.

Social implications

The study findings could inform policy development and reforms in agriculture, extension services and help to improve linkages and the flow of agricultural information and knowledge. Consequently, this would translate to improved farming methods and increased agricultural productivity.

Originality/value

The study contributes empirical data that builds on to the existing body of knowledge on AKIS among small‐scale farmers. The paper presents a useful mix of methods (RAAKS, PRA, focus group discussions and observation) for studying the management of agricultural knowledge and information.

Details

Library Management, vol. 31 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-5124

Keywords

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Book part
Publication date: 18 July 2013

Abstract

Details

Developing People’s Information Capabilities: Fostering Information Literacy in Educational, Workplace and Community Contexts
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-766-5

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Book part
Publication date: 18 July 2013

Vicki Lawal, Christine Stilwell, Rosemary Kuhn and Peter G. Underwood

This chapter examines the efforts undertaken to restructure the legal education system in South Africa and Nigeria. It investigates the connection between contextual…

Abstract

This chapter examines the efforts undertaken to restructure the legal education system in South Africa and Nigeria. It investigates the connection between contextual influences and professional development, particularly with respect to the concept of legal information literacy and the value of acquired educational skills in the context of legal practice. The chapter provides insights to the needs and challenges for graduate requirement for legal information literacy skills in the effort to ensure productivity in the legal education system in Africa. Data were obtained using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Outcomes from the study were supportive of the importance of information literacy as central to the development of professional competence. Findings also point to a need for greater collaboration between the legal education system and the legal profession in narrowing the gap between the teaching and practice of law specifically in the design and implementation of an information literacy framework for the legal education system.

Details

Developing People’s Information Capabilities: Fostering Information Literacy in Educational, Workplace and Community Contexts
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-766-5

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 20 February 2007

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267

Abstract

Details

Education + Training, vol. 49 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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