The use of web 2.0 technologies in academic libraries in South Africa.
Ngcobo, Eunice Nonhlanhla.
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The potential of Web 2.0 to profoundly change higher education has been acknowledged. As libraries aspire to remain relevant as premier suppliers of information and endeavour to attract and engage their users, embracing and implementing Web 2.0 technologies has become synonymous with their overall success. This study investigated the use of Web 2.0 technologies in academic libraries in South Africa. The study noted that many academic libraries in South Africa are not lagging behind their global counterparts in adopting these technologies to enhance their services. Many academic libraries in South Africa are leveraging the power of Web 2.0 technologies to provide services that meet the needs of today’s users. The population for this study was made up of 17 academic libraries in South Africa. Out of the population of 347 librarians in research libraries, a total of 51 librarians were selected to participate in the study using the random selection method, which translated into three librarians per academic library. The selected number included library directors with whom semi-structured telephonic interviews were held. The study achieved a response rate of 80.3%, which is very good for making generalizations to a larger population. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative research paradigms to investigate the extent of use of Web 2.0 technologies in South African academic libraries. Neither research approach is better than the other. The two research paradigms are different and both have their strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, in order to maximize the strengths of the two research approaches, the study made use of both the quantitative and the qualitative paradigms. The qualitative research approach was found to be appropriate for this study since it is the predominant paradigm of research in the social sciences. The quantitative research paradigm was chosen because it has two primary strengths, namely, the findings are generalizable and the data are objective. The researcher opted for a two-pronged method of data collection, which are the self-administered questionnaire and structured interview, as both methods were deemed appropriate for collecting data on academic librarians’ use or non-use of Web 2.0 technologies to deliver high-quality services to their users. Primary data was collected using the questionnaire (for librarians) and a semi-structured interview (for library directors), as data collection methods. The findings of the study show that Web 2.0 technologies are used in the majority of academic institutions surveyed in South Africa, as indicated by 78% of the respondents. This is an indication of the commitment to provide up-to-date services in the platforms that library patrons use, since the literature clearly states that the use of Web 2.0 technologies ensures that libraries keep abreast of technological developments locally and globally by occupying the same space their predominantly techno-savvy users occupy. Providing innovative services and resources that are responsive to users’ needs plays a crucial role in ensuring that academic libraries remain relevant, especially if one considers the threats to their existence, which libraries face currently. The findings also show that although academic libraries in South Africa have adopted the use of Web 2.0 technologies to deliver quality services, the uptake has been slow. The study recommends a comprehensive training programme, which includes a review of the Library and Information Science (LIS) curriculum, to ensure Web 2.0 compliance among LIS practitioners. Furthermore, the study proposes a model for the successful implementation of Web 2.0 technologies in academic libraries in South Africa. The model can be adapted to fit any type of library with few or no amendments.