Use of social media tools by library staff at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa and the National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe.
Mabweazara, Rangarirai Moira
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Academic libraries in the economically developed countries have taken the lead in adopting and appropriating various social media platforms to enhance services offered to their patrons. However, there are many unanswered questions on how libraries in the economically developing countries of the South, Africa in particular, are using social media in their service delivery, as well as in the personal lives of their librarians. Against this backdrop, this study investigated how librarians at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Zimbabwe deploy and appropriate social media technologies. It examined the familiarity, benefits, challenges as well as the factors shaping and constraining the use of social media by academic librarians in the two institutions. In doing so, the study adopted the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) by Fred Davis (1989) as its conceptual framework. Methodologically, the study deployed a Web-based questionnaire (administered via e-mail) with 59 academic librarians at UWC and 40 academic librarians at NUST. To ensure the validity of the study the questionnaire was pretested among a few librarians at the NUST. The findings of the study show that UWC librarians are more adept at appropriating social media applications than NUST librarians. The study further revealed that UWC librarians are directly in charge of managing social media whereas at NUST the Information Technology (IT) department is responsible for managing the applications. Similarly, while UWC Library largely uses social media for marketing their services, NUST library uses the platforms for reference services. The study also notes that there is a thin line between personal and professional uses of social media. In particular, personal uses of the platforms have a direct influence on their use in work-related contexts. Some of the motivating factors for the use of social media by librarians across both universities are: patron demand, low cost, ease of use and functionality. The study also highlights the factors militating against the effective use social media and recommends that library management for both institutions should put in place supportive policies to encourage their effective use for the benefit of service users.