The study investigated the use of electronic resources by graduate students of the University of Ghana to find students awareness of electronic resources in the university library, frequency of use of these resources and challenges associated with the use of these resources.
A survey methodology was employed for the study with a population of 302 Regular MBA students from the University of Ghana Business School. A sample size of 100 was used and the Convenient Sampling Technique was used to generate the sample for the study. A questionnaire was used to solicit data and SPSS software was used to analyze collected data.
The findings indicated that although students are aware of electronic resources, they do not fully utilize them due to challenges such as slow access speed, lack of searching skills, limited subscribed titles and difficulty in finding relevant information. The findings also revealed that students find electronic resources to be very significant in their academics as it helps to expand their knowledge-base and helps them retrieve information with ease for research/project work and for answering assignment questions.
Indeed, electronic resources have boosted teaching, learning and research work and in order to ensure its maximum utilization, more efforts must be put in place by the School authorities to create awareness and to equip students with the needed skills to enhance the effective and efficient use of these resources.
Global trends in Information and Communication technology (ICT) in recent times have brought deep-seated alterations as to how information is gathered, stored, organized, retrieved and used. The introduction and utilization of technology in information processing is persistently shaping the growth of new ways of academic communication.
According to Hawthorne (2008), “electronic resources use in libraries arose with the development of the machine-readable catalogue (MARC) layout in the mid-1960s, 30 years before the debut of the Internet”. This has contributed immensely to electronic resources use in scholarly institutions worldwide. Graduate studies are mostly dependent on the use of this vital resources.
As recorded by AACR2, “electronic resources are materials consisting of data and/or computer program(s) encoded for reading and manipulation by a computer by the use of a peripheral device directly connected to the computer or remotely via a network such as the Internet” ( cited by Reitz, 2005 , p. 244 ). The use of electronic resources for teaching, learning and the dissemination of information and knowledge in the Graduate School of the University of” Ghana have become very effective. For instance, the University of Ghana institutional repository administered by the Balme Library has digitized Graduate research work for easy retrieval by student and staff to aid research.
Dadzie (2005) reported that, “information in electronic format provides the advantage of being available regardless of location or time and, possibly from the viewpoint of end users, cost,
especially if the resource is open access and the user is proxied into the library‟s site where the users‟ may be provided extensive links to additional resources related to the topic in question”.
Electronic resources are now widely used in academic libraries because they are particularly convenient for acquiring information not readily offered in books, or obtaining timely information on contemporary events or concerns. They also offer reliable, accurate, current and objective reference material not easily accessible over a search engine like Yahoo or Google. For example, Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) is a capacity development institute based in Africa steered towards strengthening information and communications technology proficiency for African libraries, information experts, scientists, scholars in Sub-Saharan Africa. ITOCA has trained librarians and graduate students on the use and assessing academic resources in libraries or a secure environment with good internet connectivity. The organization teaches the students and librarians how to search for journals an eBook through HINARI, AGORA, OARE and ARDI portals. This is done with the objective of equipping the users with the skills needed to become information literates and digitally fluent in research work. The University of Ghana is in partnership with ITOCA to train students and library staff every academic year.
In Ghana, electronic resources use seems to have captured the interest of students and lecturers alike due to the gradual movement from the traditional print media which is said to be labour intensive and time wasting to a more efficient and effective mode of retrieving information for scholarly work. University academics are a unique community and depend on the support of current and up-to-date information which is mostly provided for by electronic resources services in libraries and research centres. The electronic resources can be accessed on various devices like a tablet, computer, mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistance (PDA‟s). Students now
prefer to use these devices which are handy and can store over two thousands of information
depending on the memory of the device, unlike the print media which is more laborious. “Electronic resources are now used more often than print resources” ( Morse and Clintworth, 2000 ).
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