The deployment of technological innovation in libraries has been one of the underlying impetus for the use of Digital Reference Service (DRS) in academic libraries. DRS is where patrons employ Internet technology to communicate with librarians without being physically present. The purpose of the study is to examine the extent to which Digital Reference Services supports user needs in academic libraries in Ghana.
The main objectives of the study were to investigate the level of awareness and use of DRS by librarians and library users training of librarians and users on DRS, the availability of infrastructure and technologies for DRS, and the challenges in the implementation and management of DRS.
The mixed method design was used to gather data from three hundred and thirteen (313) respondents comprising three hundred (300) DRS users and thirteen (13) library professionals from the University of Ghana (Balme Library), the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Prempeh II Library) and the University of Cape Coast (Sam Jonah Library). The theoretical framework adopted for the study was the general digital reference model by Pomerantz, Nicholson, Belanger and Lankes (2004). Even though the original model concentrated on five components, this study expanded the model by integrating users, librarians and evaluation in DRS processes.
The findings revealed that there is adequate infrastructure, technologies and training facilities and programs available to both DRS librarians and users. The findings of the study indicated that some of the librarians were aware of DRS yet they resisted being part of the service. It was recommended that users' and librarians' awareness must be increased
to boost the number of DRS users, and to get more librarians on board to provide prompt responses to users. The study again suggested that libraries must develop policy and guidelines in the use of DRS as well as evaluation.
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