Factors that influence attitudes to and perceptions of public libraries in Namibia: user experiences and non-user attitudes

  • Belinda Lizazi-Mbanga Senior Librarian, Library, Archives and Information Services, Directorate of Education Arts and Culture, Otjozondjupa Regional Council, Namibia.
  • Patrick Mapulanga Senior Assistant Librarian at the Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi.


This study assessed user experiences of a public library in Namibia and non-user attitudes to it. A convenience sample of 586 was employed. Participants in the study were 207 (35.3%) registered librarymembers and 379 (64.7%) non-users. Needs assessment questionnaires, suggestion box forms, interviews and observations were the tools used for the collection of data. The results indicated that thepublic library is well known to the local community and is mostly accessed by learners from local schools, teachers, and distance-learners from various tertiary educational institutions. Users from different occupations also accessed the library. The library was used for study purposes, research, access to computers and reprographic services. The results also revealed that, although services, resources and usage were found to be satisfactory, some users were not satisfied with the services because of inadequate space, irrelevant resources, attitudes of staff members, untidiness, location, poor internet connectivity, poor ventilation, and noise. The findings of this study can inform policymakers on how information access and services need to be improved.

Author Biographies

Belinda Lizazi-Mbanga, Senior Librarian, Library, Archives and Information Services, Directorate of Education Arts and Culture, Otjozondjupa Regional Council, Namibia.
Belinda Lizazi Mbanga is a former student at the Department of Knowledge and Information Stewardship, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town and a Senior Librarian, Library, Archives and Information Services, Directorate of Education Arts and Culture, Otjozondjupa Regional Council, Namibia.
Patrick Mapulanga, Senior Assistant Librarian at the Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Patrick Mapulanga is Former Part Time Lecturer at the Department of Knowledge and Information Stewardship, Faculty of Humanities, University of Cape Town and a Senior Assistant Librarian at the Kamuzu College of Nursing, University of Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi.


Aabo, S. 2005. The role and value of public libraries in the age of digital technologies. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 37(4): 205-211.

Ardèvol, M.F., Ferrer, N.F., Arroyo, J.N. and Fenoll, C. 2018. The public library as seen by the non-users. El Profesional de la Información, 27(3): 659–670.

Bagozzi, R.P, and Kyu-Hyun, L. 2002. Multiple routes for social influence: the role of compliance, internalisation, and social identity. Social Psychology Quarterly, 65(3): 226-247.

Connaway, L.S., Radford, M.L, and Dickey, T.J. 2008. On the trail of the elusive non-user: what research in virtual reference environments reveals. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 34(2): 25-28.

De Jager, K. 2002. Public libraries in Africa: a report and annotated bibliography. Journal of Documentation, 58(3): 330-332.

Estrada, M., Woodcock, A., Hernandez, P.R, and Schultz, P.W. 2011. Toward a model of social influence that explains minority student integration into the scientific. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(1): 206-222.

Evjen., S and Audunson, R. 2009. The complex library: do the public's attitudes are a barrier to institutional change in public libraries. New Library World, 110(3/4): 161-174.

Glorieux, I., Kuppens, T., and Vandebroeck, D. 2007. Mind the gap: societal limits to public library effectiveness. Library and Information Science Research, 29(2): 188-208.

Gross, R. 2004. Psychology: the science of mind and behaviour. 4th ed. Greengate Publishing, Tonbridge, Kent.

Hemmeter, J.A. 2006. Household use of public libraries and large bookstores. Library and Information Science Research, 28(4): 595-616.

Iwhiwhu, B.E. and Okorodudu, P.O. 2012. Public library information resources, facilities, and services: user satisfaction with the Edo State Central Library, Benin City, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice, 5(1): 1-16.

Jaeger, P., and Fleischmann, K. 2007. Public libraries, values, trust, and e-government. Information Technology and Libraries, 26(4): 34-43.

Kauaria, V.V. 2013. Libraries supporting national development in Namibia. Proceedings of the Namibia Library Symposium, 7-9 October 2013, Windhoek, Namibia, 31-33.

Kelman, H.C. 1958. Compliance, identification, and internalisation of three processes of attitude change. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2(1): 51-60.

Khan, S.A. 2015. User’s perception of services quality of the central public library Bahawalpur. Library Philosophy and Practice. 1276. Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/1276. (accessed May 10, 2020).

Koontz, C.M., Dean, K.K., and Lance, K.C. 2005. Neighbourhood-based in libraries: a nationwide study of majority-minority and majority-white low-income markets using personal digital data collection. Library Information Science Research, 27(1): 28-50.

Levine, J. 2006. Public libraries. Library Technology Reports, 42(5): 45–55.

Li, D.C. 2011. Online social network acceptance: a social perspective. Internet Research, 21(5): 562-580.

Lilley, E., and Usherwood, B. 2000. Wanting it all: the relationship between expectations and the public's perceptions of public library services. Library Management, 21(1): 13-24.

Mairaj, M.I. and Naseer, M.M. 2013. Library services and user satisfaction in developing countries: a case study. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 30(4): 318-326.

Mandl, H., Lukileni, N.H., and Niskala, R. 2013. Strong libraries, strong societies: the role of libraries in socio-economic development. Proceedings of the Namibia Library Symposium, 7-9 October, Windhoek, Namibia, 31-33.

Mcharazo, A., and Mshana, J. 2013. Creating awareness on the importance of libraries: a case study of Tanzania library service board. Proceedings of the Namibia Library Symposium 7-9 October, Windhoek, Namibia, 123-132.

Michnik, K. 2014. What threatens public libraries: the viewpoints of library directors in Sweden. New Library World, 115(9): 426-437.

Muqwisi, T., Jiyane, G.V., and Fombad, M. 2016. Public libraries as facilitators of information services: a case study of selected libraries in KwaZulu-Natal. Information Development, 34(1): 31-43.

Mutshewa, A., Grand, B., Totolo., A., Zulu, S., Sebina, P., and Jorosi, B. 2010. Information behaviours of non-users of libraries in Botswana. African Journal of Library, Archives, and Information Science, 20(1): 1-10.

Namagand, A., and Sekikome, P. 2013. User’s perceptions of Makerere University Library services. Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries, 2(4): 403-410.

Namhila, E.N., and Niskala, R. 2013. Libraries supporting national development goals in Namibia. IFLA Journal, 39(1): 58–69.

Namibia Library and Archives Services. 2015. Community Library Services: Annual Statistics Reports. Windhoek: Community Library Services.

Namibia National Planning Commission. 2012. Otjozondjupa 2011 Census Regional Profile. Windhoek: National Planning Commission,

Niskala, R. 2008. The need for and use of community library services in Namibia. Available at: http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi:uta-1-18406 (accessed 20 September 2019).

Nzivo, C.N. 2012. User perception of library services and information resources in Kenyan Public Libraries. Library Review, 61(2): 110-127.

Ocholla, D.N. 2009. Are African libraries active participants in today's knowledge and information society. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 75(1): 20-27.

Odu, J.O. 2017. User apathy towards library resources and service: a case study of the University of Calabar library, Calabar, Nigeria. Global Journal of Educational Research, 16(1): 37-45.

Pearce, J.M. 2018. How to perform a literature review with free and open-source software. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation, 23(8): 1-13.

Petr, K., and Aparac‐Jelusic, T. 2002. Public perception of the role and tasks of library and information science professionals in Croatia: an overview of recent activities. New Library World, 103(10): 364-375.

Phillips, A. 2012. Framing the public library: the public perception of the public library in the media. Available at: https://search.proquest.com/openview/c6cdce48cab5b5c65c86fef0e0c2040f/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y (accessed 17 May 2020).

Sadeh, T. 2007. Time for a change: new approaches for a new generation of library users. New Library World, 108 (7/8): 307-316.

Sbaffi, L., and Rowley, J. 2015. Public libraries and non-users: a comparison between Manchester and Rome. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 47(2): 104-116.

Sin, S., and Kim, K. 2008. Use and non-use of public libraries in the information age: a logistic regression analysis of household characteristics and library services variables. Library and Information Science Research, 30(3): 207-215.

The International Federation of Library Associations. 2010. Public Library Services Guidelines. Berlin: De Gruyter/Saur.

Toner, L. 2008. Non-use of library services by students in a UK academic library. Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice, 3(2): 18-29.

Velasquez, D.L., and Evans, N. 2018. Public library websites as electronic branches: a multi-country quantitative evaluation. Information Research: An International Electronic Journal 23(1). Available from: http://InformationR.net/ir/23-1/paper786.html (accessed 16 July 2020).

Vrana, R. and Barbaric, A. 2007. Improving the visibility of public libraries in the local community: a study of five public libraries in Zagreb, Croatia. New Library World, 108(9/10): 435-444.

Webb, S.M. 2010. Library use in community libraries services serving the urban poor: A case study of two libraries. Proceedings of the 19th Standing Conference of Eastern, Central, Southern Africa, 6-9 December 2010, Gaborone, University of Botswana, Botswana Library Association, 75-83.

Research Articles