Meeting the information needs of scholars and students in the digital environment: case study of Zambian private universities.

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Mulauzi, Felesia
Mwale-Munsanje, Velenasi
Hamooya, Chrispin
Chalungumana, Elijah
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Zambia Library Association
The future of Africa and indeed Zambia depends on the development of its human capacity - the ability for citizens to develop and apply new ideas. Through education, individuals acquire the skills they need to provide for themselves, contribute to the health and welfare of their families and communities, solve local problems, and grow the local and national economy. The role of universities in national development is the subject of interest. Universities have a major role to play in equipping students with knowledge and skills that would position them to be productive in society. With a growing demand in higher education in Zambia, public universities find it difficult to admit a large number of prospective students due to limited resources and spaces. In this regard, private participation in the provision of tertiary education has become paramount. A large number of private universities have been opened in the country. These universities are helping to meet the unfulfilled demand for higher education in the country. However, there are serious doubts about the quality of education and research provided in private universities in Zambia. One of the reasons for this is limited access to information. The role and importance of information in education cannot be over-emphasised. The service of information provision in the era of a digital environment has been changing with focus being tilted towards the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as an enabler for accessing information in the information society. Today, information providers are required to provide information for scholars and students as well as enable access to information and knowledge recourses without boundaries. Few studies if any have investigated how Zambian private universities are meeting the information needs of scholars and students in the digital environment. Thus, the aim of this study was to ascertain how Zambian private universities meet the information needs of scholars and students in the digital environment. The study was largely quantitative in nature. A self-administered questionnaire was used to gather primary data. Twelve (12) out of sixteen (16) Private Universities in Zambia were purposively selected to participate in the study. The findings are presented and include enrolment levels; availability of library facilities; sources of funding for libraries and services offered; roles of librarians; availability of ICTs, use of ICT facilities and challenges private universities face to provide ICTs. The paper concludes by recommending that private universities in Zambia must fully embrace ICTs so as to wholly exploit the potential they have in meeting the information needs of scholars and students.
Higher education. , Digital environment. , University education. , Information access. , Zambia private universities. , Academic libraries. , Information and communication technologies.