Information needs of University of South Africa students using the adult reference department at Msunduzi Municipal Library, Pietermaritzburg.
Vidima, Penelope Gugulethu.
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Library services are one of the critical services that are needed by scholars, students and researchers to fulfill their information needs so as to operate effectively in today’s academic world. This study sought to determine what the University of South Africa (UNISA) students using the Adult Reference Department (ARD) at Msunduzi Municipal Library (MML) need to satisfy their information needs, whether they were getting what they required from the services offered by the library, and whether any existing services needed to be amended or any new services needed to be introduced. The theoretical framework used as the background to guide this research was Wilson’s 1996 model of information behaviour. It was used in conjunction with the extension of Wilson’s model for the information behaviour of distance learners as it was found to be more relevant to distance learners. The research approach used by the researcher was a quantitative one and the collection of data was conducted using self-administered questionnaires. Multiple copies of the instrument were made and distributed. A sample of 130 students was surveyed, of which 116 completed and returned the questionnaires giving a response rate of 89%. The validity and reliability of the data collection tool were established by pre-testing the questionnaire on 10 colleagues who were studying part-time. The quantitative data was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and findings were presented in the form of tables, bar graphs and pie charts. The findings of the study revealed that although respondents used textbooks regularly, there was a lack of relevant and up-to-date textbooks. It was also established that not all the respondents used the Internet, mainly due to lack of access, low bandwidth and lack of requisite search skills. It also emerged that, students need library training in order to use and explore all library services available and fulfil their information needs. Recommendations included that the library must look into extending library opening hours, the provision of a discussion area, overnight loans for reference items, the provision of both print and electronic format of scholarly articles and international journals and, in terms of the Internet, the provision of faster broadband Internet access.