The utilisation of library spaces by postgraduate students at a university in an African country
Mashiyane, Dina Mokgadi
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine the use of library spaces by postgraduate students at the North-West University in South Africa. Design/methodology/approach – A survey research methodology was used in which both online and print questionnaires were used to gather data. Findings – The major findings of the study were that postgraduate students frequently visited the libraries to make use of the quite study spaces, which include the research commons and the study carrels. The study further found out that postgraduate students rarely visited the libraries for the purpose of consulting librarians regarding their studies. Challenges expressed by the students include insufficient workstations, poor internet and Wi-Fi connectivity and limited seating capacity. The benefit of the study is that it will help librarians and the university administrators to better understand the postgraduate students space needs, as well as the challenges being encountered. Research limitations/implications – This biggest limitation of this study was a lack or low response rate by certain faculties, which mitigated against comparing the use of spaces by faculty. Practical implications – The results of this study re-affirm the need for postgraduate spaces. University libraries that seek to build postgraduate spaces in the future need to ensure that an adequate number of computer workstations are supplied and Wi-Fi and bandwidth are improved. University libraries that already have postgraduate spaces should consider adding more workstations and improving bandwidth and Wi-Fi connectivity in those spaces. These results further point to a need for libraries in Africa and elsewhere to consider having more quiet study spaces for postgraduate students while reducing the number of group study spaces. Social implications – The results of this study point to a need for libraries and university authorities to periodically review library spaces as a way to ensure their continued optimal usage. They also point to a need for more funds to further enhance the library spaces for postgraduate students’ use.
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