Attitudes of Librarians towards the use of Information and communication Technologies in Zambia

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Banda, Boniface
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Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are becoming widespread and libraries in developing countries are quickly adopting them. However, this is not matched with the requisite training and attitudes towards their use. Like in other developing countries, Libraries in Zambia are also rapidly adopting ICTs. Their application however, largely depends on the attitudes of librarians towards them. The purpose of this study was therefore to survey the attitudes of librarians towards the use of Information and Communication Technologies in Zambia. The study was intended to find out whether librarians were trained in the use of ICTs, their perceptions towards the use of ICTs, and factors contributing to their perceptions. This study also focused on how training of librarians in ICTs could influence their use. A survey method was used to collect data in tertiary and research institutions in Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt provinces of Zambia through a self-administered questionnaire. Data collected from 90 librarians were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Microsoft Excel; and presented in the form of descriptive statistics. The findings revealed that librarians had training in ICTs received at University or College during their formal training. The perception of librarians towards use of ICTs was also generally positive as they consented to most of the attitude items. The study revealed that older librarians were uncomfortable to learn new skills compared to younger librarians and also feared that years of routine work could be replaced instantly with the introduction of ICTs. ICTs were also so recent that most librarians over the age of 28 have not had the benefit of computer training in the course of their studies. Younger librarians also rated their computer proficiency highly than older librarians. Non-professional librarians were also not given equal opportunity to use ICTs. Also, the tasks of librarians were very different and consequently the use of ICTs was more important to one group of librarians than the other. Furthermore, ICTs were recent and recently qualified librarians are trained in ICTs. The study also revealed that librarians employed on contract were given less opportunity to use ICTs and they also worked fewer hours than those on permanent. They also had belated or insufficient training hence found ICTs harder to use. Some librarians were afraid of being replaced by librarians with relevant skills, they also feared the effect brought about by ICTs on their health. Other librarians also believed that ICTs brought uncertainty and discomfort in them with regard to their job security. Information and Communication Technologies also brought more demand on librarians. However, the study revealed that ICTs never create additional tasks to be performed by librarians in a day. If further revealed that training was vital in influencing use of ICTs. Management should therefore, not overlook the perceptions of librarians and their training when new technologies are being introduced as users are key in the success of the adoption and use of technologies. I t is therefore recommended that more emphasis should be placed on changing the attitudes of librarians towards the use of ICTs. Equal opportunity of access to ICTs should also be given to all irrespective of gender, age and employment status, and attitude of librarians. To ensure successful adoption and implementation of ICTs, users of the new system are involved in the automation of the libraries. A funding policy should be put in place for training and procurement of ICT equipment and ICT should be a core component of formal library education in Zambia.
Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs) , Information and Communication Technologies ---Zambia