Monday, July 28, 2014

Social media and librarians in the SCECSAL region

Today’s sessions at SCECSAL 2014 included a session on social media. Charles Banda, from the Copperbelt University Library and a PhD candidate at the University of Botswana, presented a paper focusing on the adoption of Web 2.0 in public university libraries in Zambia. The paper was based on a survey of professional librarians at the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University and Mulungushi University. It generated a lot of interest and discussion and the participants.
The main finding by Charles was that, while most librarians have the facilities, i.e. the Internet both at work and at home, to access and use social media platforms, the use is largely for personal social networking than for professional networking or library related work.

Charles’ findings are similar to the ones in a study that I conducted in 2012 with a colleague, Dr Rehama Chande-Mallya from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences Library in Tanzania. The purpose of our study was to establish the extent to which library and information professionals in the Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Library and Information Associations (SCECSAL) region were using social media applications for professional networking. Our findings showed that although the professionals were adopting social media, its use was more for social networking than professional networking purposes.
Why are most library and information professionals in the SCECSAL region not using social media for professional networking and/or library related work?

After all most of them have access to the Internet and social media platforms. They also have access to ICT tools such as computers and mobile technologies i.e. smart phones and tablet computers such, i.e. iPads, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, etc, that facilitate mobile access and use of social media. They also have been to universities and attained the level of education that could make them appreciate the importance of social media in their work and professional networking. They are also already using social media for personal social networking and therefore already know how to use and manipulate the tools. For university or academic librarians, they also have a huge army of library users who can be targeted with social media based information services - the students. Millions of young people, especially students in secondary schools, colleges and universities in Africa, use social media.
Why then are most librarians in the region not using social media for professional networking or providing social media based library and information services?

I would be glad to hear your views through the comments facility on this blog post.

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