The use of electronic resources by postgraduate students and academics at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership, Westville Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Advancements in technology have altered the way information is accessed and have forced academic libraries to shift to digital information. With this rapid pace of change, comes the need for academic libraries to meet the demands of researchers for better access to library resources by providing an effective way to retrieve, store and consume information. This involves harnessing information technologies to the process of teaching, learning and research to enable users to access information beyond the walls of the library. The purpose of this study was to understand academics’ and postgraduate students’ awareness of e-resources, which e-resources were mainly used, how they are accessed and the barriers faced in accessing them. The study further investigated whether academics utilise e-resources in the process of teaching, learning and research. The Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) is based at the Westville Campus, UKZN and many of their users consist mainly of part-time students and contract staff. Together with part-time study emerges the concept of convenience and time constraints which are critical factors for users who have limited time to find resources. The study population consisted of 20 academics and 700 postgraduates from the GSB&L. All academics were included in the study and with the postgraduate students stratified random sampling was used to obtain a sample size of 250. A questionnaire was employed as the data collection instrument and distributed to 20 academics, 25 postgraduate diploma, 190 masters and 35 doctoral students. Sixteen academics responded giving a response rate of 80% while 140 questionnaires were returned from the students giving a response rate of 56%. The findings of the study revealed that the vast majority of academics (87.5%) and postgraduate students (84.3%) used e-resources and were aware of the existence of these resources. The study indicated the problems respondents encountered when using e-resources. These problems included “Limited off-campus access”, “Not sure which database to choose”, “Password requirements”, “Slow internet connection” and the need for training in the use of e-resources. Respondents also indicated some main advantage of accessing e-resources such as “Easy/faster access”, “Currency of information” and “Emailing, saving and printing results”. The e-resources that were considered very important by academics included EbscoHost, Science Direct and e-Journals. Postgraduate students also indicated similar results with EbscoHost, Google Scholar, Proquest and e-Journals. When establishing the purpose for academics’ use of e-resources, results shows that a large majority of academics indicated that they used e-resources for “research” (81.3%) and “teaching” (81.3%). Most academics (81.3%) found information about e-resources by accessing the library webpage while postgraduate students mainly found information from lecturers (31.4%), from the library webpage (28.6%) and via library user education programmes (20%). This study found that the most serious problem faced by 32.1% of postgraduate students was “Limited off-campus access”. This confirmed the finding of this study that most students do not come to the library physically to access e-resources but instead used the off-campus access. Results indicated that a majority (81.3%) of academics accessed-books that UKZN libraries subscribes to. However results from postgraduate students revealed that 32.9% accessed e-books while 52.1% did not access e-books. The results of the study indicated that while most of the respondents were aware of e-resources, there was a need for further training to advance their skills when using e-resources. Recommendations based on the findings of the study were presented and these included the need for UKZN Libraries to conduct intensive and more focussed training programmes for both academics and postgraduate students at GSB&L, in addition these training programmes should be made compulsory for all postgraduate students and be included as part of their lectures. Further recommendations included improving the awareness of current and new resources either by sending email alerts, user guides or advertising such on the university website. Finally, suggestions for further research were given.