Role of information ethics in the provision of library and information services in university libraries in Tanzania.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of information ethics in the provision of library and information services in university libraries in Tanzania. The study sought to address the following research questions: what is the level of awareness of library professionals in university libraries in Tanzania about the role of information ethics in promoting LIS professional practice? What is the attitude and perception of library professionals in University libraries in Tanzania towards information ethics? What are the factors that influence information ethics practice by library professionals in University libraries in Tanzania? How is information ethics integrated in the library professional practice in university libraries in Tanzania? What is the perception of faculty and postgraduate students about ethical conduct of library staff in providing library and information services? PAPA model and WSIS Action Line 10 were applied as the theoretical framework. The study was underpinned by the Pragmatic paradigm that combines the use of both qualitative and quantitative approaches. A survey research design was used to elicit responses from respondents. Four university libraries were surveyed from among the public and private universities in Tanzania. In addition, Tanzania Library Association officials formed part of the respondents. From the universities surveyed, two largest colleges/faculties from each university were selected for study. They included College of Social Sciences, Humanities and Natural and Applied Sciences; College of Agriculture and faculty of Social Sciences; Faculty of Education, Law and social sciences; and Faculty of Business Administration were sampled respectively. Within the four universities surveyed, the following categories of respondents were covered; library professionals (diploma holders, bachelor and masters with qualifications in library and information science), postgraduate students (masters and PhD students) and faculty (assistant lecturers, lecturers, senior lecturers, associate and full professors). In addition, heads/directors of the university libraries and Tanzania Library Association officials (assistant chairperson, Deputy Secretary, secretary of ethics, education and professionals and two retired Tanzania Library Association officials) formed part of the population of study. A census was used for library professionals in the university libraries. Purposive sampling was used to select five Tanzania Library Association officials. For postgraduate students and faculty they were selected using purposive and convenience sampling techniques. The relative sample sizes for postgraduate students and faculty were distributed proportionately across the four universities. Survey questionnaires were used to collect data from faculty, postgraduate students and library professionals. The interviews were used to gather data from university/directors of library and Tanzania Library Association officials. Qualitative data collected from heads/directors of university libraries and Tanzania Library Association officials were analysed using thematic analysis. Data gathered through questionnaires from faculty, postgraduate students and library professionals were analysed using SPSS to generate descriptive statistics. To achieve reliability and validity, this study adapted questions from tools that have been pretested and validated based on Cronbach Alpha values greater than 0.7. The study complied with the provisions of research ethics policy of University of KwaZulu-Natal and ethics policies of respective universities surveyed. In addition, consent was sought from the respondents. The findings revealed that males were slightly more (54.4%) than females (45.6%) among the respondents. Moreover, majority of the library professionals 77.3%) were aged between 31 and 60 years. The findings on qualification of faculty revealed that, all the respondents had at least a master’s degree. There were more PhD holders (57.5%) among faculty than there were master’s holders (38.2%). The findings revealed that library professionals were aware about ethical values and possessed knowledge about information ethics. The findings furthermore revealed that perception and attitude of library professionals towards information ethics especially on the values of access, intellectual property, information privacy, and information accuracy was positive. As for factors that influence information ethics library professional practice, the findings found them to include resources, technological changes, ICT knowledge and skills, individual characteristics, size and space of the library, education level, staffing, experience, work environment, and more. The findings also showed that information ethics was integrated in library professional practice, but the scope differed from one university to another. It was concluded overall that while library professionals in university libraries in Tanzania seem to understand the ethical values in the provision of information services, the field of information ethics was not widely understood and practiced. Among the recommendations proffered include, creating awareness, promulgating relevant information ethics policies, capacity building, strengthening professional code of ethics, and continuous professional development. In addition, integration of information ethics in LIS education and training is highly recommended.