Investigating public relations in public libraries: a case study of the K.N.L.S Nairobi branch library
Ndirangu, Zipporah Wanjiku
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This study was carried out at the K.N.L.S Nairobi branch. The aim of the study was to investigate how public relations activities are carried out in public libraries with special reference to KNLS Nairobi branch library service. The researcher feels that PR is key to effective library service., The researcher hoped that the findings and recommendations made would be generalized to libraries countrywide. Specifically the objectives of the study were: 1. To identify the type of PR techniques in use in KNLS (Hds). 2. To determining staffs’ knowledge in the use of the PR techniques. 3. To determine the users knowledge of the library services. 4. To find out if users are consulted when books are ordered. 5. To determine the view of the image of the library. The research set to find out how communication which is vital in any P.R. program is carried out, how the staff relate with users, the kind of library services provided, the type of library promotion activities, whether the staff are trained in PR or other related areas, whether the staff are motivated to work, the nature of library stock and library accessibility among others. The findings revealed that there is a form of PR in the library. The research noted with satisfaction for Instance, that there is increased individualized services to users by staff Majority of the staff accompany users to the place where they can retrieve whatever material they need. It was also found out that more often than not, the members of staff are at their respective places and do not wonder around. Hence the users find staff at their respective place whenever they require any form of assistance. The staffs are also said to be approachable, understanding and friendly. Consequently, the users happily retorted that they feel at ease and free to ask for assistance. It was also reported that misunderstandings between the staff and users were few. Whenever one occurred, the problem was resolved quickly and amicably. The staff too, found to be decently and formally dressed. Unfortunately, the library's chain of communication was not found appropriate. Though established channels of communication to staff from the management was memos. The members of felt that mode of communication was not adequate and felt meeting are more effective. Meetings, they argued, would enhance participation by all and encourage the free flow of ideas. This argument was found befitting aspirations of PR. The users not make use of the suggestion box. This was found to be due to ignorance about the box's existence, fear of implication, the library never acting on former complaints and lack of guidance and encouragement from the staff about the importance of the box. Failure to have the users utilize the suggestion box freely means that there is no communication between the staff and the library. Without such communication, the library management cannot know the user needs. Without a clue to the user needs, the library system is inadequately prepared to render relevant services. The library stock was found irrelevant and inadequate. Most of the books are outdated and do not cater for local school curriculum of examination bodies. Consequently, the users use the library more of a study room than a research centre. The researcher can't help speculating that this factor could have made the library to have very few registered users. There are hardly any queues at service points. The library too, has not moved with modern trends in information technology. It only houses print materials and no NBM. The chief librarian is unknown to users. All the users interviewed indicated that they didn't know whom he was. The chief librarian, on his part, consented that too much administrative chores leave him with no time to leave his desk and go round the library on a meet - the - people tour. It is only through such a method that he would learn and have a real feel of how the system works. Otherwise, waiting for his assistants to keep him informed about how the service is running may not be the ideal method. PR calls for an interpersonal relationship between all involved in a system. In order to redress the shortcomings cited and enhance the effectiveness of the service, a number of recommendations were made. They included: 1. That the library should train their staff in PR. 2. That management should vary channels or communication to meet diverse needs, 3. That users should be encouraged to make use of the suggestion box 4. That the library should carry out frequent needs assessment as a method of appraising staff, 5. That if possible the KNLS- Nairobi library should be moved to a central location where all people can conveniently reach it, 6. That the opening hours of the library should be extended to meet user requirements.
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