The ultimate aim of any library or information service is to meet the needs of its community. The return to basics in library and information services provision in the 1970s and 1980s led to the development of community librarianship which promised to deliver a more egalitarian and appropriately targeted public library. The return to basics also brought a multiplicity of studies on information use in the context of specific communities. The information needs of sex workers as a community are generally unexplored. This article examines the needs of this largely high earning but marginalised group in the context of informationally based social exclusion. Using the qualitative critical incident approach to assessing information seeking behaviour a survey of sex workers' information needs and use of information channels was carried out in Pietermaritzburg-Msunduzi, South Africa and the results are presented here. Potential information channels are identified and the actual information channels used by the sex workers are discussed giving the sex workers' perceptions of their adequacy. Suggestions are made about appropriate library and information provision.
The purpose of this survey-based study, undertaken at the Inkandla and Mbazwana school clusters in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, was to investigate the awareness of community members with regard to the concept of clustering. The term community is used in the sense of a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality (Webster's online dictionary 2008). They share government, and have a common cultural and historical heritage. Although the intention of the initiative was to increase access to essential information resources, the preparedness of the communities to share these resources, to tolerate the hardships of travelling long distances, to accept the challenges and responsibilities and learn from the lessons, were also part of the study. Access to amenities like laboratories and libraries are often viewed by policymakers, among others, as unnecessary luxuries especially by those who were deprived of these facilities in the course of their education, but who managed nevertheless to achieve success. A resource-based curriculum, such as South Africa's Curriculum 2005, requires an abundance of resources, but a lack of funding prevents many schools from having all the necessary resources to support the curriculum. Creative ways of providing resources and expertise have been conceived by education departments and the clustering of schools to encourage sharing is one such method used by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education. The evolution of this clustering project took different forms. Subsequent events showed that the form taken either allowed for further growth and development, or subjected the project to failure and decay. Issues of acceptance by the communities, particularly their awareness of the vision and their preparedness to share resources, interacted with problems of accessibility and community dynamics to determine either the success or failure of the project. Knowledge gained from the study could be important for other initiatives in similar contexts, but must be applied with caution.
Is the full potential of public libraries and community centres, in combating poverty and social exclusion in disadvantaged communities, acknowledged in South Africa and can a heightened awareness of their role as social institutions make a difference in this regard? In addressing these questions, the researcher defines social exclusion and identifies its characteristics. Poverty is also defined and its statistics are provided for South Africa. Sachs' (The end of poverty: how we can make it happen in our lifetime, Penguin, 2005) concept of the role of ‘public understanding’ in poverty reduction strategies is considered in conjunction with the role of libraries in combating social exclusion. The research approach comprises a survey of the literature on attempts to address social exclusion. The results of a survey are presented, and identify specific, achievable, local instances of social exclusion initiatives from South Africa. The research is qualitative and uses a simple form of thematic analysis. The initiatives identified support the view that efforts at broad social inclusion are found in South African public libraries and community centres. While small scale in its reach, the work of public libraries and community centres is being directed at areas where the need is very great in terms of addressing poverty. In depth studies of the communities are needed to evaluate the projects and their level of success. Collaborative approaches, together with adequate funding from government are likely to succeed in fostering social inclusion in the longer term and libraries have the potential to be key role players. Ideas and practice about the development of such endeavours should be shared.
This article reports on an exploratory study on the provision of information about low-cost housing to the residents of the Tamboville housing project in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. These residents were selected because they were the beneficiaries of a government low-cost housing subsidy. Data was collected through interviews and questionnaires from a convenience sample of 53 respondents who were homeowners of low-cost housing. Data was also collected from the Built Environment Support Group (BESG), a non-governmental organization managing the Tamboville project. The purpose of the study was to find out what information on low-cost housing had been provided, how it had been provided and the extent to which the information assisted the homeowners in making housing decisions. It was found that interpersonal communication, backed by practical demonstrations, was the main method of information dissemination. The findings also indicated that the BESG, through its on-site housing support centre, provided essential low-cost housing information to assist the homeowners in making appropriate housing decisions. It was observed that not all the respondents understood and/or accepted the concept of incremental housing, which underpinned the subsidy scheme. The low levels of education and high unemployment rate among the respondents made it more difficult for some homeowners to consolidate their starter homes. One recommendation is that the subsidy scheme be part of an integrated community development programme with a well-articulated information component.
This qualitative study reports on teachers in the Western Cape as they attempt to embed information literacy in their classrooms. It explores how teachers come to understand information literacy and the extent to which they change their beliefs about guiding research projects in a more concerted way. The research questions were: (1) how do teachers understand information literacy education? (2) how do teachers make their information literacy explicit in the classroom? and (3) at what level are teachers’ web knowledge and skills? The teachers, who were part of an information literacy education course, formed a purposive sample. The data for this study emanated from solicited, reflective journals which participants kept over a period of eight to 10 weeks. Information seeking and use theory and an inquiry-based approach to learning frame this research. Motivation for the study is rooted in a curriculum which embodies information literacy characteristics. Traditionally, information literacy has been the domain of the school librarian. Only 16.82 % of South African schools have a stocked library. With so few school libraries and no official position in schools for a qualified school librarian, the onus for teaching information literacy thus rests on the teacher. This article provides the context for South African education and a review of the information literacy literature with an emphasis on South Africa and teachers’ information literacy. The results show that, despite many obstacles in these teachers’ paths, they express a fairly sound understanding of information literacy education by the end of the journaling exercise. However, fewer teachers can competently mediate information literacy in the classroom. One of the major barriers to information literacy is the teachers’ slow adoption of the World Wide Web. Recommendations for further study include examining teacher education programmes for their inclusion of information literacy education; for awareness of plagiarism and the ethics of information use in the school environment; and the effect of information and communication technology on learners’ information literacy.
Information needs assessment is critical in developing and running relevant information services. This article explores the information needs and information-seeking patterns of the people living in communities surrounding telecentres. The research was based in four rural districts in Tanzania which have telecentres. These were Sengerema, Magu, Karagwe and Ngara districts. The research was done utilising the Critical Incident Technique (CIT) to determine how people or communities seek information concerning problem-solving, decision-making or question-answering situations. CIT was also used to determine the extent to which ICTs were used in seeking information. It was found that business and agricultural related information were the main information needs of the people in the communities involved in this study, however this information was rarely provided by the telecentres. The study further found out that face-to-face communication and the radio were the major sources of information that the respondents used. This study recommends that management of the telecentres should regularly assess user information needs in order for telecentres to have an impact on rural communities.
This article provides a systematic analysis of the challenges of managing agricultural indigenous knowledge (IK), and accessing external knowledge in the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on Tanzania. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect primary data from 181 small-scale farmers in the six districts of Tanzania. The findings indicated that farmers faced various challenges in managing their IK, and accessing external knowledge, which ranged from personal and social barriers, to factors in the external environment such as infrastructure, policy, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and weak linkages between research, extension services and farmers. Farmers also faced challenges when using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to manage their knowledge, such as personal, socio-cultural, infrastructural, technical, and economic factors. It is thus important for the government to improve access to extension services, review the IPR system, enhance rural electrification, telecommunications and roads infrastructure. Further, the knowledge providers (i.e. agricultural extension officers, researchers, educators, libraries, non governmental organisations, civil society, and other agricultural actors) should nurture a knowledge sharing culture. Farmers need to be assisted and trained to document their knowledge, map communities' IK bearers and innovators, use multiple formats (print and ICTs) with traditional communication channels (for instance, folklore and apprenticeships) specific to a local context to disseminate knowledge. Participatory approaches should be employed in knowledge production and dissemination in order to include farmers' needs and expressing knowledge in the resulting technologies, practices and new knowledge. In this way linkages between indigenous and external knowledge would be enhanced for improved farming activities in the local communities.
This article examines the effect of the adoption of social media in legal practice in Nigeria. It discusses some of the major challenges that have recently been experienced in the use of legal information in Nigeria within the context of the social media revolution, particularly with respect to ethics. A survey method was employed and data was collected through self-administered questionnaires to the study population comprising practicing lawyers located in various law firms in Nigeria. Outcomes from the study provide preliminary evidence on the nature of the application of social media in legal practice and the prospects for its inclusion as an important aspect of legal research in the legal education system in Nigeria.
Grey literature can be perceived as the unpublished content produced by academic, research, public and private institutions. Grey literature comprises newsletters, reports, working papers, theses, government documents, bulletins, fact sheets, conference proceedings, minutes, PowerPoint presentations and other publications which are generally produced for internal, localised and short-term purposes. The available evidence indicates that grey literature is steadily becoming an important source of research information. There is consensus amongst researchers that grey literature provides glimpses of research trends even before the formal publication of results. Grey literature also provides background information such as statistics, facts, overviews and research summaries which are important for new or ongoing research projects. Most researchers also agree that grey literature complements scientific sources (e.g. journals) in the provision of research information. In spite of its growing value, most research libraries in Kenya do not have strategies to manage grey literature effectively. This article explores the current status of grey literature in research libraries in Kenya. This study used an interpretive qualitative case study approach to collect data from researchers and librarians drawn from five national and international research institutions in Kenya. Data was collected through interviews, focus group discussions, documentary analysis and social network analysis. Data analysis was done through content analysis, conversation analysis and Heideggarian hermeneutics. Reliability and validity of the results was ensured through effective sampling and pre-testing of data collection techniques and instruments. The study found that most of grey literature generated or collected by research libraries in Kenya tends to be lost as soon as its short-term purposes are served. The authors propose strategies that research libraries in Kenya can use to mainstream grey literature in their collections and enhance access to it and use of it.