Promoting Library Services in a Digital Environment in Zimbabwe

Promoting Library Services in a Digital Environment in Zimbabwe

Blessing Chiparausha (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe) and Josiline Phiri Chigwada (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7429-3.ch015

Abstract

This chapter documents the strategies that are employed by librarians in promoting library and information services in Zimbabwe. The study also sought to ascertain the perceptions of librarians towards promoting library service in Zimbabwe in a digital environment and assess the challenges faced by librarians when promoting library and information services in Zimbabwe in a digital environment. A study was done, and the participants were drawn from academics, the public, schools, and special libraries. An online questionnaire was posted on Survey Monkey and librarians were invited to participate from the Zimbabwe Library Association social media platforms. Data was analysed thematically using the objectives of the study. It was discovered that despite facing a number of challenges when promoting library and information services, participants were using various strategies to promote their services. The authors recommend continuing professional development of librarians to effectively deliver their services in a digital environment.
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Background

Reading comes in two ways: it can be for a purpose or for leisure. Reading for a purpose relates well to the utilitarian model. Utilitarianism is premised on the notion that an individual takes an action with the hope of ultimately benefiting thereafter; actions that result in pain or loss are avoided (Cavalier, 2014; Mill, 1863). Based on this theory, it implies that individuals are motivated to read because they wanted to achieve something. Typical examples of reading that falls within utilitarianism include reading for examinations and reading to carry out a task. Leisure reading is self-directed reading for personal and social purposes; it is also known as recreational reading, pleasure reading or independent reading (International Reading Association, 2014). Leisure reading can take place anywhere such as at school, at home or in the library. Fiction, nonfiction, picture books, e-books, magazines, social media, websites, newspapers, comic books, graphic novels, etc. can be read for leisure (International Reading Association 2014). Leisure reading which is intrinsically and socially motivated and a pleasure to the reader is highly dependent on the environment; families and teachers should support leisure reading by providing students with reading materials and freeing up time for reading. According to the International Reading Association (2014) designating school leisure reading times through initiatives such as sustained silent reading (SSR), drop everything and read (DEAR), love to read (LTR) and providing opportunities with everyday reading (POWER) are very important as they promote leisure reading. Zimbabwean citizens’ reading culture, just like that of any country, is on the spotlight on whether it is driven by utilitarianism or socially motivated as propounded in the two theories just described here.

IFLA (2017) notes that: “promoting reading and literacy as an essential requirement for active participation in society, through access to information in any format”. Farmer and Stricevic (2011) and IFLA (2015) acknowledge that several stakeholders who include library staff, potential readers, teachers, publishers, media, cultural and educational groups, government representatives and other community members are involved in promoting reading and literacy. Promoting library and information services is therefore important considering the waning reading culture in the country (Mushava, 2015). There is competition for the attention of the citizen who has social media, television, social life, work, family life, education, etc. before them. Finding time to attend to all these may be difficult or impossible. As a result of this, library and information services are often experiencing low usage. Parents, teachers and library users themselves have an important role to play to ensure that the catch them young concept is implemented.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Zimbabwe Library Association (ZIMLA): The professional association that represent the interests of library and information professionals and library education in Zimbabwe. All those who work in library and information centres are free to join the association.

Library Services: Resources and activities provided by libraries to address information needs of users. These include from circulation services, reference services, online information services, inter library loans, and information literacy skills training.

Digital Age: This current era whereby social, economic and political activities are dependent on information and communication technologies. It is also known as the information age or the digital era.

Marketing: The action of promoting and selling products or services. The library services should be marketed to ensure that value of money is achieved.

Promotion: An activity that supports or encourages use of a product or service. In the library, the activity would be done as a way of creating awareness of certain products and services and ensuring the use of those services by library users to meet their information needs.

Library Professionals: These are the people who have studied how to offer services to library users in meeting their information needs. They can be librarians, archivists or records managers.

Social media: Various Internet-based and mobile services that enable the users to interact online. These include but are not limited to Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Myspace, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and YouTube.

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