Open Source Software Features and Performance of Kenyan University Libraries in Nairobi Metropolitan, Kenya
Otieno, Jared Okinyi
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Open Source Software is quickly gaining popularity among academic libraries in Kenyan and its presence is being felt by librarians everywhere. The perceived cost-effectiveness of OSS have significantly attracted managers of Kenyan libraries whose budgetary allocation is always inadequate. However, there is a glaring lack of information relating to the performance of Kenyan university libraries in relations to the unique features of Open Source Software.It is upon this background that this study is formulated to establish how unique features of Open Source Software contribute to the performance of Kenyan university libraries. Gabriel Tarde’s theory of Innovation Diffusion was reviewed alongside Delone and McLean’s Information Systems Success Model to give the study a sound theoretical background. The study focused on the relationship between library performance and OSS features which included usability, cost-effectiveness, reliability, and scalability. Four research objectives and questions were used to guide this study by the use of survey research design. The study sampled six (6) university libraries within Nairobi Metropolitan in order to investigate the contributions of OSS features on the performance of Kenyan university libraries. Three groups of respondents including student-users of Kenyan university libraries, members of university teaching staff, and library staff members. Special attention was paid to System Librarians in the 6 sampled libraries since they are better placed as far as understanding of OSS usage in libraries is concerned. Performance of Kenyan university libraries was conceptualized as a function of cost, usability, reliability, and scalability of the software/library management systems in use.Both qualitative and quantitative data were gathered by the use of questionnaires and interview schedules. The collected data on the above mentioned variables were analyzed through descriptive statistics and regression analyses and the findings presented graphically through graphs, tables and pie charts. Composite indices were computed for the four features of OSS in order to facilitate better regression analysis of the dependent and independent variables. The relationship between the variables was represented in form of a linear regression model to illustrate the magnitude and direction of the relationships. The model was established to be statistically significant with an Adjusted R2 value of 0.345. The study established strong relationship between performance of Kenyan University Libraries and features of open source software products being used to deliver various services in the libraries.Usability of library systems was established to have the strongest influence (Beta of 0.657) on the performance of university libraries. OSS cost, reliability, and scalability had -0.178, 0.22, and 0.022 relationship with library performance respectively. The negative relationship between cost of OSS and performance of university libraries shows that is an increase in OSS cost elements is likely to cause to decrease library performance by 17.8%. Based on these and other insightful findings, the study recommended strategic adoption of OSS among university libraries alongside continuous improvement on library systems’ usability features. Such improvements would increase usage of the library materials thereby increasing their performance. The researcher also observed the need for regular information literacy training of library users while members of the library staff to be given regular technical training on library management systems. The training will facilitate better usage and prompt resolution of system failures within university libraries in Kenya. The study is of great benefit to the managers of any kind of libraries while deciding on the kind of open source software to adopt. The research findings will also be beneficial to the library and information systems’ scholars in furthering their understanding of open source software features and library performance.