Developing guidelines for performance appraisal of subject librarians in KwaZulu-Natal academic libraries
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A common theme emerging in the library world today is that quality service in the library and information center is dependent on the quality performance of personnel. Prior to conducting performance appraisals, managers need to ascertain the core performance criteria for quality service provision. This study is important because academic libraries are undergoing radical changes with an emphasis on accountability. In particular, South African tertiary education is faced with dwindling resources and an increased emphasis on accountability. There appears to be no formal or informal guidelines for appraising the value of subject librarians performing information services in KwaZulu-Natal academic libraries. It is this problem which this study addressed. The problem investigated in this study is located in the following KwaZulu-Natal academic libraries: Durban Institute of Technology (DIT), Mangosuthu Technikon (Mantech), University of Durban-Westville (UDW) , University of Natal, Durban (UND) and University of NataL, Pietermaritzburg (UNP) and the University of Zululand (UniZul). The purpose of the study was to emphasize the importance of performance appraisals for subject librarians employed in KwaZulu-Natal academic libraries and develop initial guidelines for performance appraisals for subject librarians. The scope of this study is placed within the library human resource management perspective and deals with developing and training librarians for enhanced service delivery within the above tertiary institutions. Thirty nine subject librarians (from a total of forty three) were surveyed by means of a self administered questionnaire which was distributed via e-mail. The study was able to establish the important aspects of performance appraisal for subject librarians from the literature review, and to make recommendations in respect of developing guidelines for appraising subject librarians in academic libraries. An initial guideline for conducting performance appraisal for subject librarians in KwaZulu-Natal will consist of appraising job tasks, key performance areas (KPAs), determining the relevant competencies, skills and behaviour traits. The major findings of the study were that there appears to be generally a lack of commitment to performance appraisal in KwaZulu-Natal academic libraries. A large majority of the respondents indicated that their libraries did not have guidelines for performance appraisals of subject librarians. The important aspects of performance appraisal for subject librarians were identified in the study. Key performance areas (KPAs) for subject librarians comprised of reference services, instruction and teaching, management and organisation. The competencies included knowledge of the total information environment as well as customer services. The majority of the respondents indicated that patron surveys were the most important indicator of performance of subject librarians in KwaZulu-Natal academic libraries.
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