Evaluation of use of e-resources by academic staff of Navrongo Campus of University for Development Studies through workplace information literacy programmes.

Author:Pwadura, Joana
 
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  1. Introduction

    People may be well read in their relevant literature but they still need to keep up-to-date with latest development in their specific field. Workplace Information Literacy (IL) provides the skills and training for staff to enhance their work performance for organizational growth and individual development. According to the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science, information literacy is the ....

    "skill in finding the information one needs, including an understanding of how libraries are organized, familiarity with the resources they provide including information formats. The concept also includes the skills required to critically evaluate information content and employ it effectively, as well as an understanding of the technological infrastructure on which information transmission is based, including its social, political, and cultural context and impact" and automated search tools, and knowledge of commonly used research techniques (Reitz , 2010).

    According to ACRL (2000), information literacy is essential due to the amount of information that is available in this 21st Century. Simply being exposed to a great deal of information will not make people informed citizens; they need to learn how to use this information effectively. IL skills allow us to filter out the information we do not need. However, familiarity and use of electronic information resources (EIR) is often a challenge. That is why at the University for Development Studies (UDS) use workshops and seminars programmes to sharpen or enhance the skills of staff.

    In Ghana, even though there is no direct policy on IL, strong efforts are being made by some universities to incorporate IL in their curricula by Faculty. For example, UDS started incorporating IL in their curricular in the 2016/2017 academic year. The Ghana Library Association (GLA), the professionally- recognized body of librarians has also for the past years providing training for its members to upgrade and enhance their skills as information providers at their work places. Thus, "becoming information literate is part of lifelong learning and being a lifelong learner is part of being information literate" (Botha et al, 2006).

    1.1 Brief Profile of University for Development Studies, Navrongo Campus and Library

    The University for Development Studies (UDS) is the fourth public university established in 1992 to serve the needs of Northern Ghana in particular and the country in general. It operates a multi-campus system across the Northern (Tamale, Nyankpala), Upper East (Navrongo) and the Upper West (Wa) Regions. All four campuses have libraries manned by professional librarians with the Central Library at Nyankpala, Campus.

    The Navrongo Campus (NC) which is the focus of this study is located in the Kasena-Nankana Municipality about thirty kilometers away from the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatnaga and situated along the Kolgo-Naga road between the St John Bosco's University College of Education, and the Navrongo Senior High School (Navasco). It has two Faculties, namely; Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS) and Faculty of Mathematical Sciences (FMS). Courses such as Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry and Biology are run by FAS whiles Statistics, Computer Science, Actuarial Science, Mathematics and others are also run by FMS.

    High quality research work is paramount for running undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that effectively combine academic work with community participation and extension in order to grapple with environmental problems and the socio-economic deprivations of rural Ghana. It therefore requires that staff will need information to compile their lesson notes as well as for research purposes while students will also need information to do assignments and projects. The University therefore provides the necessary facilities and resources such as the Library to make these possible.

    Since 2004 the UDS Library is a member of the Consortium of Academic Libraries in Ghana (CALIGH). The UDS, through the Library, subscribes to a collection of academic databases and e-resources which are used to facilitate and support scholarly work, research teaching and learning. Some of these database are: AGORA, HINARI, OARE, and EMERALD & Science Direct. The provision of relevant information sources is not only expensive for individuals but also cumbersome to use without some level of skills. Therefore, besides acquiring these resources, the Library takes measures to ensure that they are used through its information literacy (IL) activities in collaboration with Faculty and other units/departments of the University.

    Literature Review

    1.1. The Concept of Information Literacy

    The term Information Literacy (IL) is the application of skills/competencies and technology to gain knowledge that is used to achieve expected results thereby creating more knowledge. According to Bannerman (2012), information literacy is the skill for the knowledge age. Saunders (2013) explains that "the American Library Association (ALA) developed one of the fully realized definitions of the concept and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) provides one of the most widely accepted sets of standards." The ALA in (1989) defined Information literacy Competency (ILC) as a set of abilities requiring individuals to "recognise when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information". ALA (2003) latter goes further to describe an information literate individual as one able to determine the extent of needed information, access the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate information and its sources critically, and incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose and to understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the literacy competency.

    As observed by SCECSAL (2010), Information Literacy (IL) is a complicated concept charged with values, judgments and power dynamics, and thus subject to considerable controversy and debate. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that happenings in the information landscape in the past two decades have caused researchers to begin to think outside the box. While several attempts are being made to give it some perspective, what is clear is that Information literacy is no longer the preserve of higher education learning as it was generally linked with bibliographic and library instruction (SCECSAL, 2010). Thus, Information literacy is common to all disciplines, all learning environments, and all levels of education. It forms the basis for lifelong learning by enabling learners to master content, extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning (ACRL, 2000). In simple terms, Information literacy can be said to be about people everywhere using information to take control of their lives.

    However, Bannerman (2012) laments: that:

    the ability of users to search effectively is underdeveloped and that explains the tendency of using basic search technique of Google to access specific information needed. High quality research material are not found as they reside in the hidden web, where all library materials and paid for resources can be found. Botha et al (2006) have warned that becoming an information literate person is not a quick--and --easy process neither is it a once-off occurrence.

    Information Literacy is increasingly important in this 21st Century due to the abundance of information resources, methods required for accessing them, unfiltered information content as well as ethical and legal challenges. It is now recognized as not simply as a discrete skills set, but as a culture (SCECSAL, 2010). Bundy (2004) explains that, exhaustive information and technology cannot itself make people more informed without a required skill and capacity to use it progressively. In the view of Radar (2002), information literacy has become a global issue in the last decade where many information literacy initiatives have been documented throughout the world with particularly strong efforts and examples in North America, Australia, South Africa and Northern Europe. In recent years, the continuous growth of high-quality research materials available online has seen information literacy gaining in interest in certain circles in African countries as well, particularly in higher education institutions. These, according to SCECSAL, (2010) include; embedding IL programmes into institutions because it is key to raising institutional standards overall by improving the quality of research, teaching and learning; pedagogical innovation and assessment of IL training; use of new technologies in IL and other initiatives such as distance education, research and publication activities related to information literacy.

    Therefore, the familiarity and use of electronic information resources (EIR) are necessary and important. That is why in the University for Development Studies...

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