The adoption of free and open source library management systems in higher education institutions in Zambia.

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Bwalya, Tuesday
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Globally, many libraries have turned to free and open source library management systems (FOSLMS) for their library automation needs. Prohibitive costs of commercial library management systems and dwindling financial support have compelled libraries to embrace FOSLMS. In Zambia, some libraries in higher education institutions (HEIs) have adopted FOSLMS for library automation. This study, therefore, thought to establish how widespread was the adoption of FOSLMS among libraries in the higher education sector in Zambia. It also aimed at determining the most used FOSLMS in higher education libraries and factors influencing the adoption of FOSLMS in HEIs in Zambia. Further, this study sought to establish the possible benefits and challenges of using FOSLMS by libraries in HEIs in Zambia. Anchored on the positivism philosophy, the study was descriptive quantitative in design and employed a survey research strategy. A complete census of all 154 HEIs in Zambia with functioning libraries was conducted. In this regard, a person in charge of the library in the higher education institution participated in the study. A questionnaire was used to collect data and 142 HEIs answered the questionnaire. The findings of the study have shown that the adoption of FOSLMS in HEIs is widespread. In this regard, 42 (78%) libraries out of the 54 libraries that have automated their operations were using FOSLMS. It has also been established that Koha is the most used FOSLMS in library automation by HEIs in Zambia, as 41 (97.6%) libraries have automated their operations using Koha. This finding supports other findings of various studies in Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia where Koha was found to be the most used FOSLMS in library automation. The principal driver for the adoption of FOSLMS in HEIs is the lower cost of adoption. Furthermore, the Chi-square test of independence using a 0.05 level of significance shows a strong relationship between adoption of FOSLMS and variables such as management support, ease of use, and social influence with the p-value of 0.000. In addition, the study established that the adoption of FOSLSMS has resulted in efficient and effective provision of library services. Other benefits accrued to libraries in HEIs that have adopted FOSLMS include the provision of online library services and control over bibliographic records. The study also established that many libraries face challenges using FOSLMS. These include having difficulties in using FOSLMS, lack of technical support, failure to update and upgrade FOSLMS and unreliable Internet connectivity. vii Given the findings above, the study recommends that ministries responsible for HEIs should lobby the Zambian government to formulate a policy to promote the use of FOSS. Government should also ensure that library automation becomes mandatory among HEIs. Further, the government should begin allowing librarians from private HEIs to apply for international training scholarships in library automation it receives from cooperating partners. To HEIs management, it has been recommended that internet service provision be improved and that serving library workers should be retrained on how to use FOSLMS installed in their libraries. For other stakeholders in librarianship in Zambia such as the Library Association of Zambia (LIAZ) and Library Science Schools, it has been recommended that more publicity on the existence of other FOSLMS be undertaken and that more training workshops on the use of Koha and other FOSLMS be continuously conducted. For Library Science Schools that do not have modules on FOSLMS, they should revise their curricula to incorporate FOSLMS. To ensure the successful adoption and implementation of FOSLMS in HEIs in Zambia, a model has been developed detailing the major drivers of FOSLMS adoption. More importantly, the model identifies adoption environmental factors that need to be in place for the successful adoption of FOSLMS. This model will serve as a guide to libraries not only in the higher sector but also in other sectors that wish to automate their libraries using FOSLMS
Adoption, Free and Open Source Library Management Systems, Library Automation, Libraries, Higher Education Institutions, Zambia