Re-engineering research and innovation information in university libraries in Uganda for small and medium enterprises.
Buwule, Robert Stalone.
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Globally, enormous amounts of research are generated in universities; however, in Uganda, not much of this research cascades to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which contribute 75% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since university libraries are expected to support teaching, learning, research and community engagement in the surrounding communities, these libraries ought to reposition themselves to become conduits of disseminating Research and Innovation (R&I) to SMEs and other partners in development. The purpose of this study was to investigate how university libraries in Uganda can repackage R&I information and disseminate it to SMEs. The study addresses two broad objectives namely: 1) To investigate how University libraries in Uganda are facilitating access to R&I information for use by SMEs in the agricultural sector in Uganda; and 2) To find out the extent to which University libraries in Uganda repackage R&I information for use by SMEs in the agricultural sector. This study was underpinned by three theories namely: LibQUAL+TM, Modern theories of management and Wilson’s 1999 model of Information seeking behaviour. The study adopted a post-positivist research paradigm and an exploratory research design. Mixed methods epistemology was employed. Quantitative and qualitative data were therefore collected from a large sample of respondents from 6 universities that offer graduate agricultural programmes and from 231 SMEs in the agricultural sector. The respondents consisted of university librarians, heads of library research and innovation units, university heads of IT, Agricultural academic staff, graduate agricultural students and proprietors of SMEs in the agricultural sector in the central region of Uganda. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS to generate descriptive and inferential statistics where frequencies, percentages and chi square were used, while the qualitative data was analysed through content analysis. The findings revealed that the research carried out in universities was beneficial to SMEs, mainly in areas of increasing the SMEs productivity, identifying training opportunities, and starting up new business ventures. A third of the respondents disclosed that currently Ugandan university libraries do not have an enabling environment for SMEs to access R&I information mainly because of inaccessible format in which R&I information is packaged. However, university libraries could re-engineer their R&I information services to serve SMEs mainly through digitisation, carrying out community engagement programmes targeting SMEs, and repackaging R&I information. The study among others recommended that R&I information should be repackaged from print to short documentaries, newsletters, using social media, translating it from English to local languages and broadcasting it on radios and televisions to make it suitable for SMEs.