Information seeking characteristics of a university community: the case of postgraduate students at Kenyatta University.
Khayesi, Marie Khanyanji
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This study on perceptions of resources and services and information seeking characteristics of postgraduate students has a two fold purpose: (i) To analyse their perceptions of resources and services at Kenyatta University. (ii) To examine their information seeking characteristics. The underlying theoretical framework of this study is that information-seeking characteristics of a community are due to a number of interrelated factors within and without the information environment in which the community works. This study had two hypotheses to test, namely; (a) There is no relationship between the postgraduate student academic characteristics (i.e. masters, Ph.D, first-year, second year etc) and their knowledge, perception and rating of the resources and services available in Moi Library. (b) There is no relationship between the post graduate students academic characteristics and their information seeking characteristics. The objectives of this study were: 1. To determine the academic characteristics of post graduate students at Kenyatta University. 2 To identify the post graduate students frequency of use of available information resources and services at Kenyatta University Library. 3 to describe the post-graduates' knowledge, perceptions and rating of the resources and services at Kenyatta University Library (Moi Library). 4 to find out if there is any relationship between post- graduate students' academic characteristics and information seeking characteristics. 5 to find out how the rating of resources and services in Moi Library influences the post graduate students' information characteristics. Data were collected from both primary and secondary sources in order to address the issues above. Using random sampling, masters and Ph.D students were selected and a questionnaire was used to elicit data on academic characteristics, perception and rating of resources and services, and the information seeking characteristics of the students. A balanced view was sought by randomly sampling and administering a questionnaire to library staff who deal directly with the students. Interviews with the university librarian, the deputy university librarian and other library staff were arranged and carried out to elicit data to fill in the gaps. Secondary sources used were arranged and carried out to elicit data to fill in the gaps. Secondary sources used were mainly university calendars and library files. Data processing and analysis used technique such as frequencies, percentages, tables, graphs and diagrams. The major findings of this study can be summarised as follows: (a) Post-graduate students posses a number of academic characteristics that should be used in designing an information system that can help them to collect information. (b) There is a consensus perception by post-graduate students that resources and services in Moi Library are insufficient and out-dated. (c) In their efforts to produce work measuring up to the required academic standards students opt to look for up-to-date information from elsewhere. (d) The identified information seeking characteristics of the students are: (i) A high level use of inter-personal (informal) sources such as discussion with colleagues and lecturers/supervisors; (ii) Making efforts to attend seminars and conferences whenever it is possible; (iii) Less subscription to relevant journals due to lack of funds. Students make up for this by using libraries stocked with current journals; (iv) Photocopying of relevant topics or chapters from texts in order to have the required information; (v) More use of the institutional library as a study room; (vi) Spending reasonable amount of time in collecting information; (vii) Seeking membership in other libraries from where they can access current literature; (viii) Using other libraries without necessarily being members: and (xi) Buying the relevant information whenever necessary and if funds are available. From the results of the study, it is concluded that postgraduate students are aware of the academic demands in their programmes. The evident information seeking characteristics are as a result of the expectations in the programmes where the students are registered, and the information environment which they encounter at Kenyatta University. It is recommended here that a relevant user-education programme, should be included in the university curriculum to equip students with the skills they need in seeking information. Secondly, it is recommended that post-graduate students should be more focused in their information seeking. First they need to identify early enough the relevant libraries and information centres that would be useful to them and seek assistance from library staff whenever they need it.