An investigation into the future of the library in the electronic age: a study based in Nairobi
Wambua, Jane Nthenya
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Information Technology (IT) is greatly transforming the means of access to information. The availability and use of electronic information resources such as CD-ROM, E-Mail, the World Wide Web, Online databases etc, both within and outside the library means that information is no longer only available in print as it was before. This also means that the library is no longer the first port of call for people in search of information. Computers have now become available in homes, offices, libraries and other information centres. This indicates that the information resources available through the computer are not only accessible in the library but also elsewhere. Electronic resources are providing certain advantages over the print media. For example, the Internet provides more current information than that to be found in books. This is because information on the Internet can be conveniently updated. Another advantage of electronic resources is that CD-ROM can contain large volumes of data, which would otherwise be contained in large volumes of books. This study examined what these changes brought by IT in information access spell for the library. Central to the study was the areas of IT application in libraries, the changes IT has brought in information storage, retrieval and dissemination and the implication of use of IT on the library and librarian. The study found out that IT is being applied in libraries in Kenya though it is not widespread because of certain limiting factors and that it has brought significant changes in the areas of information storage, retrieval and dissemination. The changes affect such areas like types of materials stored in the library and methods of information retrieval and dissemination. The study also established that the library's approach to information storage; retrieval and dissemination will have to change to accommodate the electronic resources if it is going to remain afloat in future. These changes include storage of electronic information resources and use of online service in information retrieval and dissemination. The librarian will also need to change his approach to information processing and provision so that he is not relegated in the current technological dispensation. In this respect the study recommends that the librarian keeps abreast with the information technological changes affecting his profession. The implications of this to training institutions are obvious and they have been spelt out in this study.