Use of Electronic Resources among Academics at the University of Karachi
Bushra Adeeb Zuberi
Technology has penetrated all areas of life and the use of information technology (IT) has work procedures and approaches. Libraries use IT for better services and satisfying diverse user needs. Libraries have transformed into digital and virtual libraries where books, journals and magazines have changed into e-books, e-journals, and e-zines. This has increased the global dissemination of information. Electronic resources are easily accessible in the remote areas. Electronic resources solve storage problems and control the flood of information. Print sources are being digitized. There is a great need to study the use of electronic resources and investigate the factors that are a hindrance to their use.
University of Karachi and Electronic Resources
The Dr Mahmud Hussain Library is the central library of the University of Karachi, which serves students, faculty, and researchers. All departments and research institutes have departmental libraries. Dr Mahmud Hussain Library is responsible for acquisition and technical processing of all departmental libraries. The library has access to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) digital library. All necessary facilities and equipment for accessing electronic resources are available through the HEC digital library. The HEC digital library program was introduced in 2004 to provide access to international scholarly literature in electronic form, including high- quality, peer-reviewed journals, article databases, and e-books. Access is provided to public and private universities and non-profit research and development organizations in Pakistan. It provides 24,000 electronic journals and 45,000 electronic books (Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, n.d.)
Scope of the study
This study is limited to the Faculty of Arts, University of Karachi. The university has five faculties. The Faculty of Arts is the largest, consisting of twenty departments in the social sciences and humanities.
A large number of research studies have been conducted on the use of electronic resources. Shuling (2007) analyzed the use of electronic resources in Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. The sample consists of 909 respondents of all types of library users. The study found that nearly 80 percent of respondents knew little about electronic resources. Nearly half the respondents use both printed and electronic resources, followed by print periodicals.
Ali (2005) highlights the use of electronic information services (EIS) among the users of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) library in Delhi, India. Data was collected from three hundred IIT library users. Results reveal that 95 percent of users have awareness about EIS provided by the library.
Dadzie (2005) investigated the use of electronic resources by students and faculty of Asheshi University, Ghana, to determine the level of use, the type of information accessed and the effectiveness of the library's communication tools for information research and problems faced in using electronic resources. Results indicate that 85 percent of respondents used the Internet to access information, and that respondents mainly accessed information in the library by browsing the shelves.
Rehman and Ramzy (2004) investigated the awareness and use of electronic information resources among health academics. Results show that libraries are extensively used for research needs, preparation of lectures, and for obtaining current knowledge. Lack of time is the main reason given for not using electronic resources (37 percent). Unfamiliarity with computerized searching comes next (22.6 percent).
Majid and Abazova (1999) explored the use of electronic information sources revelant to computer literacy among academic staff of the International Islamic University, Malaysia. Nearly all respondents considered themselves to have good or very good computer skills.Electronic resources are widely used in universities. There is a direct relationship between computer literacy and use of electronic resources. Mostly academics are computer literate; however, they need to develop their searching skills.
Questionnaire-based survey method was used for the study. A structured questionnaire was developed for data collection. It consists of thirteen questions. The first part of the questionnaire included demographic information. The second part included questions about the availability of electronic resources and the ability to use them, while the third part asked questions about the use of electronic resources. The questions were pre-tested. Follow-up questions were used for clarification and changes were made thereafter. The research setting was offices of the academics in the University of Karachi. Questionnaires were filled in by the researchers and the questions were explained if required.
S tratified random sampling was used to select participants. The sampling frame is the list of academics issued by the registrar's office, University of Karachi. Participants were selected randomly from each stratum. The constituted strata are Professors, Associate Professors, Assistant Professors, and Lecturers who belong to the various departments of the Faculty of Arts. Total participants were seventy: seventeen professors (24.3 percent), five associate professors (7.1 percent), twenty six assistant professors (37.1 percent) and twenty two lecturers (31.4 percent) out of a total of 179 teachers are teaching in the Faculty of Arts, of whom 28 are professors, 17 associate professors, 77 assistant professors, and 57 lecturers.
Available computers in the department
Table I. Available computers in the department
Participants were asked to indicate the availability of computer in their departments. Table I denotes that 27 (38.6 percent) have computers in their offices, while 43 have computers in their departments.
Available Internet facility
Table II. Available Internet facility
Table II shows that virtually all have Internet connectivity in their departments through the campus wide area network.
Operate computer independently
Table III. Operate computer independently
Virtuall all can use computers independently.
Knowledge of electronic resources
Table IV. Knowledge of electronic resources
A large majority (78.5 percent) know little about electronic resources. Training is not provided and they learn mainly by trial and error.
Resources used most often
Table V. Resources used most often
Both print and electronic resources are popular, followed by printed sources only (42.9 percent). Use of only electronic resources is rare (5.7 percent). Shuling (2007) supports this result.
Purpose of using electronic resources
Table VI. Purpose of using electronic resources
About one-third of respondents use electronic resources for research. About one-quarter to one-third use it to prepare lectures and gain subject knowledge.
Reasons for not using electronic resources
Table VII. Reasons for not using electronic resources
Lack of knowledge and networking problems are the main reasons for not using electronic resources.
Satisfaction with electronic resources
Table VIII. Satisfaction with electronic resources
More than three-fifths are are quite satisfied with electronic resources, and nearly all are quite satisfied or satisfied.
Reliability of electronic and printed sources
Table IX. Reliability of electronic and printed sources
Significant amount of academics i.e. 90 percent believe electronic resources are reliable, however majority of the respondents consider only those electronic resources are reliable which are produced by authentic organization or publisher. According to them everything is not reliable on Internet.
The study explores the University of Karachi's facilities for using electronic resources. Some departments have fully-equipped computer labs, while some have a few computers. A few departments also provide computers to individual academics in their offices. An Internet connection is available to 92.9 percent of the departments. A majority of the academics have computer skills that facilitate the use of electronic resources, although a majority have little knowledge of electronic resources, which is not a positive aspect of the findings. Most use both electronic and printed resources, or only printed sources. Electronic resources are used for research and for preparation of lectures. Lack of knowledge and lack of facilities are the main reasons for not using electronic resources. Nearly all respondents are satisfied or quite satisfied with available resources.
Electronic resources are the best means of getting current and up-to-date information. Academics use these electronic resources, but due to networking problems and lack of training they are not properly used. While a majority of academics are quite satisfied with electronic resources, they regard them as less reliable. They consider electronic resources produced by an authentic organization or website to be authentic and reliable. Electronic resources are mostly used for research and lecture preparation.
Appendix I: Departments in the Faculty of Arts
Ali, N. (2005). The use of electronic resources at IIT Delhi Library: a study of search behavior. The Electronic Library 23 (6): 691-700.
Dadzie, P.S. (2005). Electronic resources: Access and usage at Asheshi University College. Computer Wide Information System 22 (5): 290-297.
Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (n.d.). Available: http://www.digitallibrary.edu.com
Majid, S., & Abazova, A.F. (1999). Computer literacy and use of electronic information sources by academics: A case study of International Islamic University of Malaysia. Asian Libraries 8 (4): 100-111.
Rehman, S., & Ramzy, V. (2004). Awareness and use of electronic information resources at the Health Science Centre of Kuwait University. Library Review 53 (3): 150-156.
Shuling, W. (2006). Investigation and analysis of current use of electronic resources in university libraries. Library Management 28 (1/2): 72-88.