Understanding Library users needs in making appropriate collection development decisions for effective services: A case study of the university of Nairobi undergradute library users.
Ndungu, Catherine Wangeci
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Understanding library user needs pauses enormous challenges to librarians because of the competitive pressures, information availability through the ever-growing electronic resources. University students have become more aware of such availability and have also become more focused on what they need to satisfy their information needs. This call for a better understanding of the specific needs of library users in order to provide the appropriate type and level of service that meets those needs. This study assesses undergraduates resource and service needs, their awareness and use of different sources of information for their course-work and research projects, their use of electronic resources, if and why they visit other libraries, the assistance they received from library staff as well as the type of instructions the received when they started using the library. Many studies have been done on library user needs as can be attested in this study's literature review. Most of these studies have revealed that students use other sources of information apart from what is stocked in their libraries to satisfy their information needs. It is through such studies that gaps are identified and filled in the libraries. That was the main objective of this study for the University of Nairobi (UoN) Library system. The study was carried out in five out of the twelve libraries of the UoN library network. They were JKML - the main library, Kikuyu, Chiromo, Medical and Parklands all branch libraries. Descriptive survey research was used. Data was collected using two questionnaires (for students and library staff) and analysed using Microsoft Excel and MS Word. The questionnaires gave both the undergraduates and librarians an opportunity to engage in proactive dialogue because as students were expressing their needs, librarians were trying to justify how and why they serve them the way they do. The researcher conducted a survey to establish information needs of undergraduate library users in making appropriate collection development decision. Student opinion and levels of satisfaction with regard to library collection and services were sought. The survey provided valuable data on the nature of students' use of the library and its collections. The study established that undergraduate library users were generally satisfied with the collection both in print and electronic format but there were a number of shortfalls that cause dissatisfaction. They include insufficient electronic databases, inadequate outdated books, difficult information retrieval tools, insufficient computer terminal, slow connectivity etc. The study recommended various practical steps to satisfy their clients' needs. These were rms of stock and services. The librarians must above all establish very good relationship with the students so that they should encourage them to express their true satisfaction towards the library.
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