Access to and use of electronic information resources in the academic libraries of the Lesotho Library Consortium.
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The study presents the findings of a survey regarding access to and use of electronic information resources in academic libraries of the Lesotho Library Consortium (LELICO). Nine institutions were studied, namely; the National University of Lesotho; Lesotho College of Education; Lesotho Agricultural College; Lerotholi Polytechnic; Centre of Accounting Studies; National Health Training College; Lesotho Distance Teaching Centre; Lesotho Institute of Public Administration and Management, and Institute of Development Management. The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model by Venkatesh et al., (2009) underpinned the study, using the main variables or constructs of direct determinants of intention, being; Facilitating Condition (FC), Effort Expectancy (EE), Performance Expectancy (PE) and Social Influence (SI), also the direct determinants for use behaviour, User Behaviour (UB) and Behaviour Intention (BI). The study adopted the post-positivists paradigm and mixed methods were used; that is, qualitative and quantitative approaches. The self-administered questionnaires were distributed to the librarians (systems librarians, subject librarians and acquisition librarians), while the two semi-structured interviews were conducted with the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Directors and Rectors, University Librarian, and Library Directors. Response rate of 69.6% for librarians, 44.4% for PVC, Directors or Rectors and 56% for University Librarian and Library Directors were achieved. To analyse quantitative data, the SPSS Version 20.0 was used, while qualitative data was analysed by sorting, classifying and arranging data which were examined in relation to combined thematic content analysis. To ascertain reliability and validity of the instruments, pre-testing was done of both the instruments for librarians and the Library Director of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Library, in Pietermaritzburg. The research study was guided by the ethical protocol of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which was adhered to. It was established that the type of e-resources accessed and used by academic libraries of LELICO included: e-mail, search engines, websites, Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), e-journals, full-text databases, reference databases, institutional repositories (IRs) and Compact Disc-Read Only Memories (CD-ROMs). The study established that e-resources which were accessed and used mostly were e-mail, search engines and websites, followed by the OPAC, e-journals, full-text databases, IRs, reference databases. The study further found that main uses of e-resources were for communication, to support teaching and learning activities, such as professional research, assignments and lecture requirements. The findings showed that awareness of e-resources was mainly through formal engagement, such as library orientation and through informal engagement such as colleagues. The following strategies were in place: IRs, Open Access (OA), Information Literacy (IL) programme as well as library orientation sessions to improve on the access to and use of e-resources. It has been further revealed that challenges such as budget cuts, low internet bandwidth, lack of up-to-date Information Technology (IT) infrastructure, inadequate searching skills, shortage of staff and high cost of subscription fees posed many of the threats to access to and use of e-resources in the institutions libraries. The findings revealed lack of guidelines and e-resources collection development policies. The study concluded that access to and use of electronic information resources in the academic libraries were influenced by how e-resources were accessed, systems in place, effectiveness of the consortium, challenges facing libraries and strategies in place. The study recommended the establishment of e-collection development policies, guidelines and procedures for budget allocation, conducting of needs assessment to selection, collections maintenance, evaluation and resource sharing formulated to be implemented to enhance the efficient management of e-resource collection by providing selection procedures, requirements, standards and specifications in terms of Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs) infrastructure, equipment and human resource recruitment. The findings of the study influenced the formulation of e-resources collection development policies in academic libraries of the LELICO. The research is a strong platform for critical knowledge exchange and engagement and the presentation of results enhanced the understanding of the current realities and status in relation to access to and use of e-resources in the higher education setting particularly in the academic libraries. Furthermore, the study makes significant contribution in the areas of policy, theory and practice regarding access to and use of e-resources. The present study contributes to the body of knowledge, information and literature, especially in the context of Lesotho.