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An ethnographic study of the utilisation of electronic library databases by academic staff in North-Central Nigeria.

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This ethnographic case study is an exploration of the utilisation of electronic library databases by academic staff in North-Central Nigeria. The motivation for this study stemmed from the researcher's experiences as a Subject Librarian as well as context-specific issues that arose from the existing literature. For instance, there was under-utilisation of e-library databases by academic staff at the University of Jos, Plateau State, alongside similar institutions in North-Central Nigeria. Many previous studies on the use of e-library databases by academic staff in Nigerian universities were centred on the quantitative survey methodology. Hence, this study aimed to improve an understanding of the personal/individual experiences, environmental contexts and socio-cultural factors affecting academic staff e-library database utilisation, through ethnographic research. Accordingly, the Symbolic Interactionist Ethnography-SIE underpinned the study. The application of the theory was anchored by the Interpretivist approach, which was supported by the execution of a case study method of research in which academics from the University of Jos, Plateau state and the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue state were targeted. The probabilistic and non-probabilistic sampling procedures were used in selecting participants. Specifically, the purposive and stratified sampling methods were used. The qualitative research approach adopted for the study gave the researcher the opportunity to elicit detailed views of academics' perspectives on the phenomenon through observation, photovoice, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions. Also, documents were evaluated for triangulation of results. Data were thematically analysed according to the criteria for trustworthiness, such as credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. A constant comparison approach was used in the analysis of data. The study also compared findings from all sources of data collection and cases focused on in this study. Consequently, the study's findings indicated academics engage with the e-library databases for research from their offices, as the office is their workspace that provides a suitable environment for the academics to engage in research and prepare for lectures. The study's core results revealed academics' leaning toward printed sources of information for teaching and research. The decision could be linked to their human nature, individual differences, and personalities, such as a resistance to change. The results revealed negative/unsatisfying experiences due to several limitations, such as inadequate skills, and library staff assistance in academics' use of online databases as the main reason for low use. Also, the results showed shared experiences with colleagues in the faculty influenced academics' use of e-library databases. The study further discovered a lack of interest in academics' use of online library databases as the main reason for low usage. The study concluded that socio-cultural factors and environmental contexts affect academics' utilisation of e-library databases. Therefore, the study recommends that the university authorities scrupulously comprehend modern technology connected with the organisational culture and encourage academic staff of its value and benefits. There is as well the need for university libraries to develop e-database policies and frequently review and update the policies and practices associated with utilising e-library databases. The university management can do that by establishing interventions to tackle inappropriate e-library database use. Finally, actors in universities must be committed to integrating the socio-cultural work environment as an intended benefit (essential factor) in enhancing e-library database use.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.