Internet-based technologies and their effects on public libraries

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The previous chapter dealt with the theoretical framework of the study by entrenching theories applicable to this research study. Since the study is interdisciplinary and aims at contributing to the intellectual discourse, it is essential that the research done in the area of internet access and public libraries be scrutinised in order to identify what has been written in this area. By so doing, the researcher will be placing the study within the context of the general body of scientific knowledge (Babbie & Mouton, 2001:565).
In quoting Neuman, Ngoepe (2012:41) purports that “the first step in narrowing a topic into a researchable question is to examine what the literature says about it”. The statement endorses the crucial role played by literature review in the scientific study. In other words, a literature review is a report of existing literature that evaluates studies peculiar to the researcher’s selected area of study. It reviews, analyses and integrates research studies conducted in a particular field of study. Boote and Beile (2005:3) affirm that a literature review gives a theoretical basis for the research and helps shape the research study.
Although the form of literature review may vary with different types of studies, the basic purposes remain constant. These basic purposes as proposed by Taylor are further expanded by Kumar (2005:32) and Boote and Beile (2005:6) when they assert that a literature review:
provides a context for the research justifies the research ensures the research has not been done before shows where the current research fits into the existing body of knowledge outlines gaps in previous research illustrates how the subject has been studied previously enables the researcher to learn from previous theory on the subject Babbie and Mouton (2001:103) concur with assertions made by Taylor (2000) andv Boote and Beile (2005) that literature review addresses the following questions:
What have other scholars written about the topic under study? What theories address it and what do they say?
What methodologies/approaches have been used previously? Are there consistent findings or do past studies disagree?
It can be deduced from these assertions that literature review forms a framework on which research study is based.
This chapter provides a literature review pertaining to public libraries and internet access broadly and to the South African environment in particular. It is organised according to the following themes:
The role of public libraries in society Legislative framework governing public libraries ICT integration in public libraries Level of internet connectivity in public libraries Internet-based technologies and their effects on public library services


Singh (2015:2) posits that “public libraries are primarily institutions of basic learning with a mission of providing collection and services to meet information needs of the local community” His statement is encapsulated in the joint manifesto of IFLA and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which considers the public library as the local gateway to knowledge, one that provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision-making and cultural development of the individual and social group (IFLA/UNESCO 1994). The statement by IFLA/UNESCO underpins the founding principles of public libraries across the globe. That is, public libraries were established with the primary purpose of providing resources and services in different formats to meet the needs of individuals and groups for information, education and recreation (Gill 2001:1). Furthermore, the manifesto recommends that the public library should be a living force to improve the active role of citizens in society, allowing access to more education, culture and information (IFLA/UNESCO 1994).
The IFLA/UNESCO guidelines for development (Gill 2001:2) and IFLA/UNESCO manifesto (1994) identify the following aspects as key functions of a public library:

Educational role

According to Shukla, Singh and Mishra (2013:1), education and library are two inseparable indivisible concepts, both being fundamentally and synchronically related to and co-existent with each other. That is, one cannot be separated from the other. They further argue that education cannot exist alone in the absence of a library and the library has no meaning if it cannot impart education. Helling (2012:1) corroborate this assertion by saying that public libraries throughout history have been used to educate, indoctrinate, homogenise or empower their patrons. This is mainly because they serve as centres of education in society. In pre-revolution Russia, for example, public libraries were seen as cultural conduits through which the lower classes could be indoctrinated with the values of the upper classes (Helling 2012:2). He further posits that early public libraries in the United Kingdom (UK) were used to moralise military forces to correct the so-called ‘wrong’ idea of socialism. The socialism idea was regarded as ‘wrong’ or poisonous by the United Kingdom because it was against the capitalism mode of economy, which was the way of life in the UK.
Libraries were first introduced in the North-American colonies with the aim of educating the settlers in the new world (Krolak 2005:15). In Hawaii, public libraries were seen as alternatives to the prevailing drinking culture (Helling 2012:3). On the other hand, the United States public libraries were offering literacy services dating back to 1963 in an effort to educate the nation and to prepare the people for statehood by ‘Americanising’ them (Krolak 2005; Helling 2012).
Chatterjee (2013:47) purports that:
“With the low rate of literacy and the rising level of inequality in annual income among the various social classes in India, public libraries act as the source of public education where readers can utilise the books and literature for self-improvement”.
In Slovenia, public libraries were among the first providers of intergenerational lifelong learningprocesses that included children, youth and adults who came together and learned from each other by exchanging knowledge, experiences and viewpoints (Adams, Krolak, Kupidura, & Pangerc Pahernik 2002:30). In Nigeria, public libraries provide necessary materials such as textbooks, journals, magazines and exercise books related to the curriculum of the existing literacy institutions in the community, be it conventional schools or adult classes (Akparobore 2011:3).
Baratedi in International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) (2000:125) argues that, in Botswana, the increase in literacy levels and the need to retain the literacy skills acquired through literacy classes have created an awareness within communities of the need to sustain a general reading culture. Kenyans saw the benefit of public libraries through the introduction of the camel mobile library and the book-box scheme, which indicated that the use of these services contributed to increasing the success of students in their examinations (Issak 2000:6). In South Africa, a study conducted by Fourie and Kruger (1994) on secondary school pupils revealed that these learners use the library with a dual objective, namely for curricular as well as extra-curricular activities.

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 Cultural aspect

Dim and Osadebe (2009:46) define cultural heritage as the legacies of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations and are maintained in the present for the benefit of future generations. They further allude that preserving the cultural, historical and scientific heritage of various world nations and their thorough presentation has been a long-term commitment of library and information centres (Dim & Osadebe 2009:47). Gill (2001:7) corroborates that the role of the public library is to provide a focus for cultural and artistic development in the community and to help shape and support the cultural identity of the community.
The cultural role requires that the library’s contribution should be reflective of the variety of cultures available in the community. The public library should provide materials in the languages spoken and read in the local community, and should support cultural traditions (Gill 2001:7). IFLA/UNESCO (1994) and Venkatappaiah (2007:72-73) indicate that public libraries in a developing society should adhere to the following prescripts:
Preserve cultural heritage Provide access to all forms of cultural expression Make efforts to foster inter-cultural dialogu Favour cultural diversity Support oral tradition Setshwane and Oats (2015:2) concur that public libraries in Botswana are custodians of the local and national culture and are storing popular and academic knowledge and material for current and future generations. Cultural information and knowledge exist across the globe. In Nigeria, for example, this knowledge is helpful in such areas as agriculture, nutrition, health and recreation (Ugwoke & Omekwu 2013:17). Scholars, adventurers and fortune seekers in India regarded the country as an epicentre of culture and scholarships, birthplace of great art and architecture, languages, literature and philosophies hitherto unknown to the Western world and were keen on utilising public libraries to preserve this heritage (Chatterjee 2013:54). According to Braeckmanraeckman (2010:4), European public libraries bring digital content to local communities, covering current topics in the community, delivered in a local style of language, culture and images. They can engage in an emotional interaction in topics and content through face-to-face contact with people. On the other hand, Illsley (2010:9) argues that South African public libraries can play a key role in the cultural preservation of the entire nation by adding more indigenous language materials to their collections.

Social role

Gill (2001:21) maintains that the use of the library for research and for finding information relating to the user’s education and leisure interests, brings people into informal contact with other members of the community. Gill and a working group consisting of members of the committee of the Public Libraries Section of IFLA, further emphasise the social role of the public library as a meeting place of communities and as a place of informal contact between community members. Mugwisi, Jiyane and Fombad (2016:3) affirm that public libraries are better equipped than fee-paying institutions such as schools and universities to provide a convenient space free of charge, conducive to studying; a learning environment for students and learners and other needy people, for information access and use, for group discussions, school assignments and projects. Hart (in Mugwisi et al.
2016:3) maintains that many schools in South Africa do not have functional libraries and as a result, space in public libraries is of great value.

Key terms
List of figures
List of tables
List of appendices
List of abbreviations
1.1 Introduction and background
1.2 Conceptualising public libraries and internet access
1.3 Contextual setting
1.4 Statement of the problem
1.5 Aim, objectives of the study and research objectives
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Literature review and theoretical framework
1.8 Research methodology
1.9 Scope and limitation of the study
1.11 Thesis structure
1.12 Summary
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Use of theoretical framework in research
2.3 Theoretical framework that guided the study
2.4 Choice of theoretical framework
2.5 Application of multilevel service quality model in the study
2.6 Summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The role of public libraries in society
3.3 Legislative framework impacting on public libraries in South Africa
3.4 ICT integration in public libraries
3.5 Extent of internet access in public libraries
3.6 Internet-based technologies and their effects on public libraries
3.7 Challenges faced by public libraries
3.8 Summary
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Theoretical perspectives
4.3 Research paradigm
4.4 Research approach
4.5 Research design
4.6 Data collection procedure
4.7 Research trustworthiness
4.8 Ethical consideration
4.9 Evaluation of research methods
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Response rate and participants profile
5.3 Background information
5.4 Data presentation and discussion
5.4.1 Extent of public libraries development 121
5.5 Summary
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Background information
6.3 Extent of public library development in South Africa
6.4 Legislative framework 151
6.6 Internet service provision
6.7 Challenges faced in providing internet access to public libraries
6.8 Summary
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Summary of research findings
7.3 Conclusions of the study
7.4 Recommendations
7.5 Proposed implementation strategies to commission a sustainable internet access to public libraries
List of References

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