The use of libraries and information centres by agricultural researchers and extension workers in Zimbabwe
AbstractAccess to information through libraries and information centres among others, enhances the timeliness and quality of such information. This study sought to establish how information generated by both researchers and extension workers was being managed by the respective divisions for access and posterity. Data was collected through a questionnaire which was distributed to agricultural researchers and extension workers. Data was analysed using SPSS and content analysis. The results showed that the majority of researchers had access to libraries, while the majority of extension workers did not have access to library services. The absence of access to libraries confirms: why the majority of extension workers consulted print sources and departmental collections first, and their preference for using publications in disseminating information to farmers. The respondents also utilised alternative sources of information, including circulars from the ministry’s head office, personal and departmental collections, media sources (newspapers, radio, audio materials), and other libraries. University libraries were the most utilised alternative by 11% of the respondents. Libraries in NGOs, ICRISAT, FAO and SeedCo were also mentioned. The libraries of the ministry were generally not adequately equipped to support the information needs of researchers and extension workers, and although the Central Library’s strength was reflected in the availability of and access to databases, the inability of users to access these resources from other centres or institutes cancelled this advantage. The resources were only concentrated in one locality. The Ministry of Agriculture did not have a “visible policy” regarding the management of information generated by its departments. The study recommended the allocation of resources, both human and material and to maximise use of available electronic resources, which are otherwise underutilised.
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