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Electronic Resource Management and Usage in Academic Libraries: The Ghanaian Context

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posted on 2021-12-08, 17:46 authored by Winifred Bentil

Electronic resources (ERs) in academic libraries have become a global phenomenon, and as libraries rely more on these resources managing them effectively becomes crucial. Electronic resource management (ERM) has consequently become a core function which many academic libraries around the globe appear to find challenging to implement effectively. Challenges of managing ERs are particularly pronounced in developing countries such as Ghana where the introduction of ICTs has typically been characterised by inadequate resources. Although there is an extensive literature on both the management and use of ERs, little research has studied how the two aspects could affect each other. Ineffective management of ERs could negatively affect their use; likewise, low usage of ERs could negatively impact on the management of these resources. Studying the concepts of management and usage of ERs together would result in better recommendations to inform practice and eliminate the challenges.  In addition, the literature on the management of ERs is predominantly centred around libraries in the developed country context. Moreover, academic libraries in Ghana do not appear to be effective in managing ERs. There is a lack of understanding on how academic libraries in Ghana are managing ERs, and the ways in which this is affecting their usage and vice-versa. The study therefore fills the gaps by exploring the connection between the management and usage of ERs in academic libraries in a developing country context.   Placed within a post-positivist worldview, this mixed-methods research employed a multiple case study approach, involving two public and two private universities in Ghana. Stakeholders included in the study were library staff, faculty, students, and consortium executives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with library staff and members of the governing council of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH) concurrently with surveys of faculty and postgraduate students of the institutions investigated. These were supported by document analysis. To guide data collection and analysis, the Techniques for Electronic Resource Management (TERMS) framework (Emery & Stone, 2013), and an initial conceptual model of factors developed using constructs from the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) (Venkatesh, Morris, Davis & Davis 2003) and the literature underpinned the study.   The interview findings revealed inadequate planning for ERs in the case institutions owing to operational challenges including inadequate policies for ERs, inadequate funding, and understaffing. Although efforts were being made to follow standard procedures some components of ER workflow were absent in both public and private case libraries, whereas other aspects of the workflow were responsibilities of parties external to the libraries. The document analysis showed that, the total average completeness of collection development policies of case libraries was 25% which indicated the lack of vital elements in these policies. The survey findings showed a generally low awareness and usage of ERs by faculty and students due to inadequate promotional efforts by the case libraries, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of relevant content. Consequently, respondents had a negative perception on the usefulness of the ERs which may have caused the observed low usage.    The study also found three main factors as affecting the management and usage of ERs in academic libraries in Ghana which were governmental, organisational and individual factors. Governmental factors such as regulations on staffing, inadequate funding, and nationwide rationing of electricity supply were hindrances. At the organisational level, an enabler was collaboration with stakeholders, whereas obstacles included inadequate policies, staffing challenges, resource-related factors, lack of investment for sustainability, centralised management structure, low institutional commitment, poor communication, and low usage of ERs. Enabling individual factors consisted of religious beliefs, social influence, oral information, and interest in IT. Hindering individual factors comprised negative effects of oral information, resistance to change, fear of speaking against authority, reluctance to submit contents to institutional repository, negative perception on the ERs and lack of time.    The findings also established various ways in which the management and usage of ERs affected each other. Low user input in the selection of ERs, access related challenges, inadequate publicity, training, and evaluation of ERs negatively affected the usage of ERs. However, case libraries that occasionally allowed users to schedule training sessions observed increased attendance to training with a corresponding increase in ER usage, which provided a basis for institutional budgetary support. On the other hand, failure of users to attend training programmes after signing up, low referral of students to the ERs by faculty and low usage of ERs of the library negatively affected ERM particularly in the areas of budgeting for ER subscription and sustainability. However, faculty and students facilitated the management of ERs of the library in terms of creating awareness of the ERs among their colleagues and peers, and also accessing the resources using mobile devices to supplement the library’s inadequate computers.    The TERMS framework and initial conceptual model of factors were revised based on the findings. The study adds to the Library and Information Science research relevant to the understanding of the management and usage of ERs, factors affecting both concepts and how these two concepts are related. In addition, the study contributes to practice by recommending strategies for effective ERM to encourage increased usage of ERs. It is also hoped that academic libraries in other developing countries can draw lessons from the findings. The study also provides advanced countries with a deeper insight to guide them in providing support to developing countries. The findings also have implications for policy and decision makers in terms of prioritisation and allocation of resources for effective ERM and usage in academic libraries as contemporary issues are revealed.   Keywords: Academic institutions, Academic libraries, Electronic resources, Electronic resources in Africa, Electronic resource management, Electronic resource usage


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Information Systems

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Information Management


Liew, Chern Li; Chawner, Brenda