Libraries over the past few decades have evolved in their quest to continue to play a vital role in ensuring quality education and research. With the advent of information and communication technologies such as the internet and the web, electronic resources have become a widely accepted scholarly resource for both students and faculty. Technological advances have brought about radical changes in the way modern organizations operate, and the library is no exception. It has influenced the way libraries gather, store, organize, retrieve and disseminate information (Sharma, 2009).
Due to new storage media and new channels for transmitting information, electronic libraries have become crucial to the complete formation of any university (Tomescu, 2009). Technological advances have greatly affected scholarly communication (Egberongbe, 2011; Sharma, 2009) because of their potential to deliver goods and services to a large target market irrespective of their geographical location. As stated by Sharma (2009) they are also essential in ensuring efficient retrieval and dissemination of information which is of prime importance to any academic/university library. Emerging technologies have changed the traditional library into automated, electronic, virtual and digital library (Saeed and Sheikh, 2011). It has also transformed most traditional libraries into hybrid libraries storing most of their resources in both print and electronic formats. These libraries seek to complement the shortcomings of both traditional and electronic libraries in order to meet the demands of their customers. As rightly stated by Wu (2005) libraries as information brokers cannot reject information because of its format of transmission but rather they must seek to harness its strengths and educate users on its weaknesses.
According to Dadzie (2005), electronic resources are invaluable resources that complement print based resources. They have also been shown to be very helpful, especially, to post graduate students and distance learners who may have limited access to library resources in traditional formats (Egberongbe, 2011; Sharma, 2009). The University of Cape Coast has been part of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries (CARLIGH) in Ghana which has been responsible for subscribing to electronic resources on behalf of both the public and private universities in the country since 1998. On the average the University of Cape Coast contributes ten thousand dollars US$10,000.00 annually to the subscription of these databases. However, patronage of these electronic databases are generally considered to be low, this is because most students and members of faculty are either unaware of the existence of the electronic databases in the Library or are just not interested in them. This paper therefore examines usage of these online databases among faculty members.
The importance and significance of electronic resources to teaching and research is widely recognized by many researchers. According to Schaffner (1994), journals plays a vital role in scholarly community, as it serves the overall purpose of building a collective knowledge base, communicating information, validating the quality of research, distributing rewards and building scientific communities. Numerous academic institutions in Ghana are currently building substantial collections of full-text journals and continue to increase access to various online databases. Through CARLIGH many of these institutions are able to subscribe to online journals and databases at much more economical rates as compared to individual subscription.
Many of these studies have focused on students, lecturers and scholars' usage of electronic resources and their feelings about its usage (Tenpori, 2003). Studies by Ray and Day (1998), revealed that 83% of students surveyed felt that using electronic resources saved them time and found it relatively easy to use. Another study by Egberongbe (2011) showed that 77% of lecturers preferred to use electronic resources compared to print resources because they found it less time consuming, even though 66% of them believed that electronic resources can never diminish the significance and importance of the print resources.
The availability of electronic resources does not necessarily illicit utilization. Studies by Dadzie (2005) to examine access and usage of electronic resources at the Ashesi University College indicated that even though general computer usage for information access was high because of the University's state of the art IT infrastructure, the usage of scholarly databases was quite low. This was attributed to the lack of awareness about the existence of these library resources. Also, studies by Ajuwon (2003) assessing the uptake of ICTs by health science students at the Ibadan University College Hospital, revealed that the use of the database was poor. This was due to the lack of awareness, lack of access to computers, insufficient training and the high cost of internet provision. Finance has been a major constraint to internet expansion and provision for most universities in Ghana. According to Ikem and Ajala (2004) the...