Collaboration challenges facing information literacy programs in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Library
Wanjiru, Samuel Muthami
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This research project was to investigate the information literacy collaboration challenges in JKUAT library. Information literacy (IL) is a critical pillar in all libraries. It ensures optimal usage of all forms of information resources acquired. It demands collaboration between the library, teaching departments, administrators as well as users to achieve its purpose. The challenge is that this IL partnership is often missing in many information centers. This investigation was therefore geared to unearthing insights into why there is lack of IL collaboration; poor IL evaluation practices; the potential areas for IL collaboration; and strategic outcomes of partnership in information literacy training (Montiel-Overall, 2008). The study investigated the collaboration challenges hampering information literacy initiatives in JKUAT library. The target respondents were librarians, lecturers and masters’ students. Questionnaires were used to gather information from lecturers and masters students owing to their big numbers. The senior library staff and especially the ones in-charge of the department, user instruction or subject sections were purposively selected and interviewed by the researcher. This was to enable the researcher probe and unearth more pertinent research details of qualitative nature. The librarians were fewer in number, knowledgeable and experienced in the IL subject hence the interview was apt. Out of 35 lecturers 32 (91%) responded. Only 31 (53%) of the 58 masters students responded to the questionnaire. All the targeted senior library staff (100%) were interviewed. A total of 73 of the anticipated 98 responses were received from both questionnaires and interviews representing a percentage return rate of 74%. The overall purpose of this study was to unearth the factors hindering effective collaboration in IL in JKUAT library. The study’s main objectives were: to establish the current IL programs and policies prevailing at JKUAT library; to establish the extent of collaboration in JKUAT library’s IL programs; to identify the factors hindering IL collaboration in JKUAT library; and to find out whether information literacy programs are cooperatively evaluated and assessed in the said library. Data was analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitatively inferences were made from the opinion of the respondents in the open-ended responses. The responses were categorized as data was edited to sift most relevant to the objects of the study. Quantitatively descriptive statistical methods were used. Statistical data was coded and analyzed with the help of a statistician using the computer-based statistical package for social scientists – SPSS. The raw data was then saved in the spreadsheet Ms Excel. It is in Ms Excel that the researcher generated percentages, pie charts, tables and graphs used to present the data. This forms chapter four of this project. A major concurrence with previous findings elsewhere is that there is very little collaboration between librarians, lecturers, users and administrators in information literacy. The stakeholders agree that more needs to be done and propose approaches to redress this inadequacy. As Amunga (2007) had observed, this study confirmed that IL training is still an unestablished and uncoordinated effort. The study to a great extent corroborates previous findings on the challenges which hinder IL collaboration in university libraries in the west. Generally, these impediments to IL collaboration in Jomo Kenyatta university library and elsewhere are negative attitude of iv v lecturers towards IL, collaboration and library generally; negative attitude of library staff towards IL efforts hampers its development; the attitude of users towards IL and the library in general; lack of clear IL policy across the university which would nurture IL partnership; poor evaluation and assessment tradition on IL; issue of academic status for librarians and ensuing remuneration disagreements; inadequate IL training time and timing of programs reduce its impact; unmanageable or large groups viz a viz space constraints in the library. The IL collaboration challenges strongly emerging from this investigation are (a) poor public relations in the library which puts off users and other potential IL partners. The way the library projects itself when dealing with other potential collaborators determines relations in other aspects. (b) lack of leadership or initiator of IL collaboration. Other stakeholders look upon the library to propose and lobby for such partnership since the bulk of IL content is centered on the library and information services. Nothing has been initiated so far towards this end. (c) poor planning of IL initiatives. There are pockets of IL aspects that are uncoordinated. The communication skills course, electronic resources training, Orientation and research methods ought to form the basis of IL collaboration with a view to a formal partnership. (d) lack of or reluctance to acquire or share skills/knowledge on IL by both the trainers and trainees. Some members across the stakeholders are not ready to participate in IL training either for lack of confidence, skills, embarrassment or avoid workload since IL is involving. It demands continuous skills updating if one is to remain relevant in the fast evolving information field. (e) low frequency of IL training sessions inter alia, delinks the ardent information seeker from the potential collaborator offering the IL training. This cements attitudes exhibited by users. One sphere that would promote IL cooperation was found to be missing. The study found that there is seldom any evaluation and assessment of IL programs at JKUAT. This is an ideal area to promote tripartite collaboration between librarians, lecturers and users if they formulate objectives and content, mount training and evaluate together. Respondents agreed that it is imperative to work in partnership to make effective apt IL training albeit with shared roles. Such concerted efforts would yield the identified benefits of IL: research skills; critical skills; problem solving skills; IT skills; evaluation skills; synthesis skills, searching skills and information usage skills. These skills are vital to survive the information society and sustain lifelong learning. The study concludes that the identified collaboration challenges facing IL initiatives must be addressed through concerted efforts and in tandem with the CHE and ACRL standards on information literacy. Information literacy is everybody’s business and not just librarians’.