The role of an academic library in research: researchersí perspectives at a South African University of Technology

  • Genevieve Hart Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Western Cape
  • Lynn Kleinveldt Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Western Cape
Keywords: South Africa, universities of technology, research, academic libraries


Academic libraries typically identify research support as a central pillar in their mission. But they need to examine how their mission statements relate to the perspectives of researchers themselves, especially in view of reported changes in researchers information seeking and sharing in the online environment. By means of a questionnaire survey of 102 full time academic staff at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the project examined how researchers use their institutions library in their research and what their expectations are. For various historical reasons universities of technology lag behind in terms of their research output and in recent years CPUT has prioritised research. This is reflected in the virtual unanimity among the 102 respondents that research is essential to their job despite their heavy teaching loads. Overall, the study finds that most (over 65%) continue to rely on the library for access to print and electronic resources. It finds a heavy emphasis on the traditional functions of an academic library, such as resource and information management. A few gaps emerge between the delivery of library services and researchers desires. For example, very few attend the librarys scheduled database training workshops; yet most see database training as one of the librarys key contributions to research. The most pressing desire is to be kept informed of new research in their fields; yet only a minority experience this level of service and less than half express confidence in the discipline knowledge of librarians.
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