Ghanaian Library and Information Science Professionals’ Conceptions of Digital Libraries : A phenomenographic study


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Høgskolen i Oslo. Avdeling for journalistikk, bibliotek- og informasjonsvitenskap

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Joint Master Degree in Digital Library Learning (DILL)


Digital libraries (DLs) have received much attention from many institutions and countries in recent times. Discussions on the concept are concentrated in the advanced world. Contribution to the discussion on DLs from developing countries is very insignificant. The concept of DLs has been given different definitions. This is because professionals perceive it differently from their various professional viewpoints. Inadequate technological advancement is a problem in developing countries including Ghana. This has caused slow progress in all aspects of education including LIS education in Ghana. DLs thrive on computer technologies. With the level of computer technology in Ghana, the country‟s libraries are yet to develop DLs. The purpose of this research is to identify Ghanaian LIS professionals‟ conception of DLs and how knowledge of DL has impacted on LIS education in Ghana. This study serves as my master thesis which required to be completed within five months. Various high level librarians and lecturers from the main library school in Ghana were interviewed using the phenomenographic research approach to discover variations in perceptions leading towards identification of qualitatively different conceptions of DLs. Conceptions were then reassessed in comparison with previous research and current framework and standards generated by professionals. Results were basically reviewed in line with a study conducted by LIS experts who wrote about digital libraries in the literature. The findings identify 7 categories of Ghanaian information professionals‟ conceptions of the digital library and show them to be both similar to, and in some part different from conceptions described or exhibited in previous research by their counterpart professionals in the developed world. The research focuses on showing how 10 information professionals sampled from professionals in Ghana perceived DLs. The research implies that as a new concept that thrives on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), knowledge about DLs is very useful for its full development and operations. It is even more important to find out peoples knowledge about the concept in areas where there is inadequate and unavailable ICT as well as other socio-economic situations which pose real challenges. Lecturers at the library school and librarians need to constantly upgrade their ICT skills so as to be in a better position to teach students about DLs and help users with their information retrieval needs and the use of DLs respectively. Information Technology (IT) and DL literacy should be incorporated in the educational system right from early school ages. This will inculcate into the child knowledge about (digital) libraries and their use. It will also build an interest and love for the field right from infancy so that when they eventually take up relevant positions, they will support the field with necessary resources. Government should channel adequate resources to support the LIS field so as to alleviate some of the problems in the area. The library association in Ghana should be vibrant in its activities so as to serve as a useful mouth piece for channelling the grievances of the profession. The research project contributes knowledge to the LIS field in Ghana. It initiates discussions on the need for a unified understanding of the DL phenomenon in Ghana. It is believed that a common basic understanding can help solve some of the challenges and make the development of DLs in Ghana possible. Once academic libraries manage to establish their digital collections, it will not be difficult to have a national digital collection and then to think of digitally preserving the rich cultural heritage of Ghana for lasting preservation.


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