Customer Services at the Library Archives of the National University of Lesotho

Customer Services at the Library Archives of the National University of Lesotho

Makatleho Amelia Mafube (National University of Lesotho, Lesotho) and Segomotso Masegonyana Keakopa (University of Botswana, Botswana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7429-3.ch004
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This chapter provides an assessment of customer services at the Library Archives of the National University of Lesotho (NUL). It set to find out whether the services delivered to customers in the archives meet customers' information needs. The population of this study were students, archivists, administrators, lecturer/researchers, the public and NUL Library management. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches in the case study design and collected data using questionnaires, interviews, observations and document analysis. From the data analysis, the study has revealed that customers using the Archives at NUL are not fully satisfied with the services offered. It has also emerged that there were no archive policies in place relating to creation, distribution, maintenance and access. It has been observed that there were inadequate and inappropriate facilities necessary to provide quality services at NUL Archives Unit. At the end it is recommended that archives policies that will guide in effective and efficient service delivery in the organisation be developed.
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Archival institutions, the world over, play a central role in preserving records of permanent value and making them available for use. They permit continuity and consistency in the administration of the historical materials which need to be preserved for future use or for future generations (Bradsher, 1988; The Society of American Archivists, 2005). The authors agree that in a democratic country, archival institutions engage in documenting the responsibility and accountability of the government to the general public and further indicated that the archives have a scholarly commitment to preserving knowledge.

In this way, archival institutions provide citizens with a sense of national identity. They establish and protect individuals’ property rights and privileges, educating, entertaining and enriching people’s lives by providing them with appealing and tangible history. According to Penn, Pennix, and Coulson, (1994), in order to effectively carry out their mandate, achieve high productivity and create an efficient relationship between service providers and their clientele; archival institutions should define the purpose and scope of their organisational mission, thereby being user-friendly to the customers and employees (Penn et al., 1994). Narrating stories and providing evidence for the past activities, archives also document people’s identity and constitute a valuable source of information for research. They are a recorded memory which forms part of communities’ cultural, official and unofficial historical documents (National Preservations Office, 2002). Therefore, archives are valuable to nations, organisations, communities and individuals.

To fulfil their responsibilities, the archives identify, acquire, maintain, and preserve records of enduring value as well as chronicle the continued existence of the institution. Where an Archives service has been set up in a University, it serves as the institutional memory of that university, thus playing an important role in the management of the institution’s information resources (SAA, 2005). The Society of American Archivists (2005) observed academic archives as performing several basic services to faculty administrators, student-governing bodies, campus units, alumni, development, physical plant and public relations for administrative purposes. Academic archives provide administrative, research and educational services. By performing these functions, archives clearly establish their role in contributing to the information needs of their institutions and those of the larger research community. As a source of information about a particular institution, archives serve almost all the interested groups regarding educational and research services. Through an appropriate curriculum, the archives also support teaching and learning, thereby facilitating the research of the faculties, students and other scholars through access to information (SAA, 2005).

Taking their mission from the institution, the archives serve the educational, research, fiscal, legal and service missions of the parent institution. They also identify and preserve essential evidence, thus promoting the mission of the institution internally and externally in particular community

In archives, an efficient customer service aims for customers’ satisfaction with services and their return for such services in future. In the archival institutions as organisations providing services, their customers can be defined as patrons or users provided with satisfactory services for the purposes of research and other information activities (Senturk, 2011). So, customers expect to be satisfied with the provision of services. On the other hand, satisfaction as viewed by Kotler (2004) is a person’s feelings of pleasure or disappointment from comparing services’ perceived performance in relation to one’s expectations. In addition, satisfaction as defined by Hensemark and Albinsson (2004) is seen as an overall customer’s attitude towards a service provider, or an emotional reaction to the difference between what customers anticipate and what they receive in with regard to the fulfilment of some need, goal or desire. However, several studies have reported on various challenges facing customer services in archives generally and the academic archives, in particular.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Academic Archives: A archival collection within a university or college.

Archives: A building or part of building where archival materials are kept. It can be collection of records of enduring value of an organisation. An institution that keeps records of historical value can also be called an archive.

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