An investigation into factors hindering effective use of medical libraries in Kenya with particular reference to Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) library
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The central problem addressed in this study is that the factors hindering effective use of medical libraries are not clearly understood. The main purpose of the study was to investigate into the factors hindering effective use of medical libraries in Kenya. The study is a case study of Kenya Medical Institute (KEMRI) Library. From the library forty scientific researchers were randomly selected by picking on every second user that entered into the library. Two library staff were purposively chosen for the study. Three types of research instruments were used to elicit data. These were questionnaire, interview and observation. Qualitative method was used to analyze the data. The study found that the physical resources were inadequate. Most reading materials were not catalogued, outdated and not relevant to the needs of scientific researchers. Most of the services were substandard and most scientific researchers were not satisfied with them. The library staff was inadequate and had no relevant training in medical librarianship. The library staff was unable to organise the library, did not understand the sources of information in the library. Financial limitation had prevented KEMRI library from providing adequate current reading materials, expansion of library, and connecting computers to health net and internet. Financial limitation had also inhibited KMERI library from providing essential services such as photocopying, indexing, telephone, binding, translation ad other related essential services. On the strength of the main findings and conclusions discussed, a number of policy recommendations were drawn. They are: (a) The Ministry of Health provide adequate financial resource to KEMRI to enable the library purchase current reading materials, expand the library, provide photocopying, binding and translation services and to employ adequate staff; (b) KEMRI library to strengthen interlibrary lending practice by proving requested materials in time to scientific researchers; (c) User education services be provided; (d) KEMRI library to employ staff trained in medical librarianship; (e) CD-ROM data bases be update and (f) The Kardex and the catalogue be frequently update to enable scientific researchers locate reading materials easily. The recommendations that require further research include: - (1) A similar study should be replicated using a larger study sample to cater for all categories of medical libraries in Kenya to establish whether the factors hindering effective use of medical libraries are peculiar to KEMRI library; (2) An identifiable study should be conducted within libraries in small urban areas; (3) Research should be undertaken to find out the influence of age, sex, information explosion and type of work performed on use of the library and (4) Research should be undertaken to find out the influence of modern technology on library use.