Assessment of Library Services to Children in Rural Areas: A Case of Kenya National Library Service Kangema, Murang’a County, Kenya
Nyambura, Wangui Monicah
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Public Libraries located in rural areas are established and designed for the purpose of providing information services to all groups in the community including children and stimulate reading for fun that promote reading culture among children and in the process ensure user satisfaction. This study was an assessment of children library services provided in rural areas a case of Kenya National Library Service, Kangema, with an aim of establishing whether they satisfy children information needs that will lead to lifelong reading. Objectives that guided the study included to establish the perception of library services in rural areas, identify strategies used in providing information in a rural public library, determine the information needs of children living in rural areas, to assess whether the children library services provided satisfy their information needs, and to determine the suitability of children library services provided in supporting reading for life. Different literatures was reviewed. Descriptive research design a case study approach was used. Target population included all the children registered as library members (642), teacher librarian of all the schools that had registered as institutional members (9), and library staff (4). Purposive sampling was used to sample a sample size of 64 children, 9 teacher librarians and the entire population of library staff. Questionnaires, interview, focus group discussions were used to collect data. Collected data was presented and analyzed data in form of tables and pie charts. Computer based statistical package for social science was used to analyze quantitative data. Qualitative data collected from interviews and FGD was presented in a narrative form, and where necessary the voices of the participants was cited and where possible organized thematically. The study established that libraries were perceived as a place for books and study and library services were essential and important. The library used a variety of strategies such as policy, dedicated children spaces, host reading related activities, the library had a variety of books and other information materials , integrated ICT in children library activities, they engage users in children library activities.. Children were aware of their various information needs majority of them identified education need as the major information need. Other include current awareness, entertainment, personal problem and personal development information need. Further the study found out that children used the information obtained for academic purposes. Library services were accessible to all children however majority of children visited the library weekly. The finding revealed that the library had inadequate information resources. There were various kinds of services that may be utilized by children, the junior section was well ventilated with proper lighting. Users were satisfied with the furniture available, all children activities were conducted by competent librarians, services to children provided were suitable to support a reading culture. However, a percentage of users were dissatisfied with the service due to inadequate Information materials, few computers, book borrowing fee, and unattractive library wall. The researcher recommends that the library should involve more stakeholders whenever they have reading related activities for children. Do a benchmarking with other libraries. More programs should be added to stimulate reading for life through attractive, fun library activities and encourage children to frequently visit the library. To capture children’s imagination, library wall should be made more attractive by adding educational pictures and murals. To promote reading culture, financial support from the government is key. Therefore, the library should lobby for enhancement of budget allocation from the County governments for an effective library service to children living in rural areas.