Digital resources in developing world libraries: supporting research needs and increasing usage

Dinah Baidoo is an assistant librarian at Ashesi University College in Berekuso, Ghana, and won access to a year’s subscription of SAGE Knowledge as part of the 2016 Research4Life/INASP Advocacy Competition. We’ve caught up with her to find out more about the biggest challenges facing the Ashesi University College library and how students and researchers use electronic resources to advance their learning and teaching.

The biggest challenge facing my institution’s library is the prohibitive cost of subscribing to electronic resources. Most faculty and students, especially those in the Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering need to have access to specific electronic resources to support their research engagement, development and practice. Due to the prohibitive cost, the institution is unable to subscribe to the many digital resources and thus we are dependent on the access we receive through the Research4Life and INASP partnerships. These partnerships have helped with the access to most of the electronic resources we have.

The Ashesi University College library

Students use the digital resources for course work, assignments, projects, theses and as additional reading materials for their end of semester examinations. Having access to digital resources means that students have access to a large amount of information across a breed of topics; a click of a button produces a wide range of information contained in a specific subject area of need.

Access to digital resources is of invaluable importance to students and researchers because searching and finding the information one needs is much easier than with print resources. Also, references to digital resources are easily obtained because some digital resources provide references. It is also easier to reference digital resources with software such as Zotero, Mendeley, RefWorks, Endnote, etc.

SAGE Knowledge being used in the library

Therefore, we were pleased to have acquired access to SAGE Knowledge, SAGE’s online platform for social science books, reference, and video content, through the Research4Life/INASP Advocacy competition. So far, we have seen significant use of the digital resource and in a recent survey conducted by the library, 65 out of 197 respondents have accessed SAGE Knowledge, which we have been operating for the past three months.

A large part of my role at the Ashesi library is to market and train faculty and students on the use of electronic resources, including referencing with the Zotero Reference Management Software. We are currently looking to create some additional promotional materials to support the marketing, promotion, and training of the library eResources, including revising the existing library brochures to include how to use the digital resources rather than just to give information about the library. A student I interviewed on “what having access to the digital resources means to him”, mentioned that he initially did not realize the usefulness of the digital resources until he got to his senior year when he started work on his thesis. This highlights how crucial it is that the library takes urgent steps to make students understand from the onset, the need and potential rewards of having access to digital resources. My hope is to have a medium of advertisement in the library that will remind and encourage faculty and students to use the electronic resources more and to increase use in the library.

Dinah Baidoo is an assistant librarian at Ashesi University College in Berekuso, Ghana. Dinah has represented her library in many meetings, seminars, congresses, and conferences locally and internationally and organizes and trains users for effective use of the library eResources. Dinah is also a sub-committee member for INASP/CARLIGH advocacy/marketing of eResources.

 Find out about SAGE Publishing’s Developing World Initiatives.

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