Users' attitudes towards the library of the University of the Western Cape
Davids, Arnoldus Rudolph
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For any academic work at a university, students and staff are entirely dependent on the adequacy of the library. That is why the reason for the existence of university libraries is to provide essential study and reference material to supplement the instruction given to students in the lecture-rooms, as well as to support academic progress and research. the problem addressed in this study is to look into lecturing staff and full-time students' attitudes towards the University of the Western Cape Library. An attempt is made to identify their attitudes toward the services and the materials they are offered. In order to assess, the success of one particular library, the University of the Western Cape Library; in appeasing the needs of its users, a survey of its full-time students and lecturing staff population of six faculties was undertaken during 1999 to solicit their views on the library and its ability to fulfill their needs. The study is approached within the context of user studies as a scientific discipline around which a growing body of theoretical concepts have been formulated. It is also an area of research in which many surveys around the user and her / his needs have been conducted over the preceding decades. In particular the user of the academic library and his needs, especially at undergraduate as well as postgraduate level have been the objects of investigation. There seems to be a need to involve library staff in continuing education programmes. This will assist library users, who can expect to be informatively supported by the library .staffwho are both knowledgeable and up to date in their fields. It all helps to add to the professional competence of the staff and the skills that they produce to satisfy user needs. There are also issues for debate with regard to books and periodicals collections. It is hoped that with a better library orientation, better search strategies will be encouraged and then, probably, even more users will be satisfied with the stock. However, bearing in mind that the majority use of the library stock, on most occasions, is limited to the items available in the reserve section. Care should be taken that selection criteria are strictly adhered to, and that all the subjects taught at the university are covered, so that there are no gaps in the collections. A very real problem to the university is one of finance. The cost to duplicate, for example, prescribed texts sufficiently, will absorb a large proportion of book funds, which will mean less money left for building a balanced research, book and periodical collection. It is therefore suggested that the Senate Library Committee should try and put a well-balanced library budget in place. This will insure that the library that is regarded as the heart of the university will remain a relevant and integral part of every student's life on campus.