The use of the E.G. Malherbe Library, University of Natal (Durban), by non-University of Natal users.
Magwaza, Fikile Petronella.
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This study investigated the use of the E. G. Malherbe Library of the University of Natal, Durban (UNO), by non-registered users, with the aim of finding out who these users were, why they used the library, what resources and services they used and what questions they most often asked the subject librarians. The study focused on the E. G. Malherbe Library as it is the main library of the Durban campus and because of its frequent use by non-registered users. The tertiary system in South Africa was discussed to provide background information about the operation of the University of Natal and its libraries. The University is a member of the Eastern Seaboard Association of Tertiary Institutions (ESATI), an organisation that promotes co-operation among tertiary institutions in KwaZulu-Natal. The academic libraries of the six institutions making up ESATI have formed the Eastern Seaboard Association of Academic Libraries (ESAL). The E.G. Malherbe Library is a member of ESAL. The University's membership of these organisations has implications for co-operation and the reciprocal use of libraries in the region. Literature dealing with the use of academic libraries by external users worldwide was examined to provide a wider context within which to view the present study. The survey method was used and questionnaires were distributed to non- registered users as they entered the Library. A self-selected sample of 149 users completed the questionnaire. A separate questionnaire was distributed to the total of three subject librarians of the E.G. Malherbe Library. The results revealed that most of the non-registered users were full-time students registered at tertiary institutions in and around Durban, many of whom were members of ESAL. The majority of students involved in the study came from the University of Durban Westville, the University of Zululand, Technikon Natal, M.L. Sultan Technikon and Mangosuthu Technikon. Among the reasons students gave for using the library were that it had relevant materials for their needs, it provided them with a place to study, it was close to where they lived and the staff at the library were helpful. The materials used most frequently were books, followed by periodicals. Indications were given that the Library was better stocked than many other libraries in the area. From the types of questions asked and the assistance which was required from subject librarians, it was clear that these users had deficient library use skills. The non-registered users benefited from the library's long opening hours but were unhappy about being excluded from borrowing privileges. Recommendations were made for improving the teaching of library use skills at tertiary institutions in the region and agreements regarding access for students to libraries which are members of ESAL need to be concluded speedily to normalise use.
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