Predictors of users' preferences for digital information at the oceanographic research institute (ORI), Durban.
This research was a case study that investigated predictors of users’ preferences for digital information at the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) Library in Durban, South Africa. The objectives of the study were to determine the predictors of users’ preferences for digital information, examine user attitude towards use of digital information, evaluate user competencies in the use of digital information, examine available ICT infrastructure to facilitate access to digital information and assess usage patterns of electronic resources. Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) was used to underpin the study, using the mixed method paradigm consisting of qualitative and quantitative methods. A census of the study population, consisting of 26 respondents, was taken. Data was collected using focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, participant observations, document reviews and survey questionnaires. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics, while qualitative data was analysed thematically. The findings of the study indicated that there was increasing preference of digital information to print by scholars. Moreover, usage of digital information was high by virtue of being easy to use and useful for scholarly work. The findings revealed that scholars had developed a positive attitude towards digital information. In addition, user experience with computers and the availability of infrastructure within the organisation were found to be facilitating conditions for digital information usage behaviour. The findings showed that respondents lacked relevant skills for the effective use of digital information and the ORI Library lacked adequate computers and electronic resources to satisfy user needs. The study recommended the development of a digital repository, user training to improve use of digital information resources. Suggested areas for research included examining the use of electronic resources in marine and aquatic institutions in Africa to establish grounds for collaborations and resource sharing. A study to assess the quality of research output by scholars was also recommended, as a way of exposing the critical or non-critical use of digital sources.