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4.  DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

4.1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Kenya lies across the equator in the East African region. The Republic of Somalia and the Indian Ocean in the East and South-East, Ethiopia in the North, Sudan in the Northwest, Uganda and Lake Victoria in the West and Tanzania in the South border the country. The landscape rises from the sea level in the East to the peak of Mount Kenya, which is about 5,200 meters above sea level. It slopes westwards gently through the Great Rift Valley to the Lake Victoria Basin. The country covers an area of approximately 582,366 square kilometres, ranging from high potential land on the slopes of Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and the Aberdares to the Savannah grasslands. Three quarters of the country lies in the arid and semi arid lands and wastelands in the North and North Eastern regions. The arid and semi arid regions experience dry spells, often leading to prolonged drought.

Kenya's population is currently estimated to be about 28 million (1998 census). The female population is over 51%, and over 50% of the country's population is composed of dependent youth less than 15 years of age, thus high dependency ratio which puts considerable pressure on social and welfare services. There is, for instance, high demand for education and training to which the available resources cannot adequately respond. However, since 1990, there has been evidence of declining annual population growth from 3. 8 % to 3 .4 %.

The majority of Kenya's population live in the rural areas but there is an upsurgein the urban population, the result of rural-urban migration, especially by school leavers who come to the cities to look for employment opportunities. Currently the population of the capital city of Nairobi is estimated to be over 2 million while Mombasa, the main seaport has over 1 million inhabitants. Again the negative implication of this development to the adequate provision of social services, including education, cannot be overstated.


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The geographical and climatic variations cited above have significant influence on the socio-economic activities of the people in different parts of the country. In the high potential regions people are able to engage in productive agricultural and commercial activities. In the arid and semi-arid lands, however, the major economic preoccupation is nomadic pastoralism, which has very little returns.  The backbone of Kenya's economy is agriculture, which produces both for domestic consumption and export. The major export crops are tea and coffee, while horticultural products are gaining ground. Tourism has taken the second position to agriculture in foreign exchange earning. The industrial sector has been picking up slowly and is expected to benefit from recent policy changes aimed at promoting the entire national economy.

There have been recent policy changes in the context of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAPs) aimed at revitalizing the economy in the long-term. However, in the short-term the effect of these changes has been the reduction of public expenditure on basic needs services through the institution of cost sharing in such services as health and education. Thus the new changes have accentuated the plight of the poor who form 46 % of the rural population of Kenya. This has had adverse effect on the educational participation by children from poor families, especially in the arid and semi-arid areas, and in the urban slums.

Kenya’s education system is based on an 8:4:4 structure which provides 8 years in primary education, 4 years of secondary and a minimum of 4 years of university education. Such professional university courses like medicine and architecture take longer than four years.  The formal education system is the most widespread in the country, both in terms of resources devoted to it and the proportion of Kenyans involved. The current enrolment in the entire formal education programmes is over 6 million, which is about a quarter of the total population.

The primary school is the first level of formal education in Kenya. However, for some children, mainly those in the large urban centres, the primary schooling is preceded by pre-primary education, which though not compulsory, serves as a useful preparatory stage to children from 3 to 5 years. Primary education starts at six years of age and at the end of the eight years of schooling the children sit for the highly competitive national Kenya [page 106↓]Certificate of Primary Education examination (KCPE).  Secondary education constitutes a consolidation and transition between primary education and higher education and training, and world of work. The four years of secondary education are an important stage of physical, intellectual and psychological development when the youth mature into readiness for adult roles. At the end of the four years the students sit for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education and proceed to the university.

University education is the apex of Kenya's formal education and training. Apart from preparing high-level manpower for national development, the universities are also charged with undertaking research, development, storage and dissemination of knowledge. Other than the universities, post-secondary education and training is also provided by middle colleges such as the national polytechnics, teacher training colleges, institutes of technology and the more specialized institutions run by some technical ministries. There are four national polytechnics, which offer certificate, diploma and higher diploma courses in various fields of technical training. Among the middle level colleges there are 17 institutes of technology, which offer mainly diploma and certificate programmes. There are also 20 technical training institutes (TTIs), which also offer training in both craft and diploma level. These were formerly secondary technical schools before being upgraded to institute level in 1986 with the advent of the 8:4:4 system of education.

Several government departments through extension services and the literacy programme provide non-formal education for adults. Notable among the government agencies are the Board of Adult Education and the Department of Adult Education in the Ministry of Culture and Social Services which co-ordinate non-formal education activities. There are also non-governmental agencies, which collaborate with the government agencies in the provision of non-formal education. Their educational programmes are aimed at enhancing the participation of target communities in projects for the income generating activities, among others.

Education is seen as a fundamental right to every Kenyan and therefore there is a major concern to provide education on the basis of political equality, national unity, social justice and human dignity, equal opportunity for all citizens, irrespective of race, sex [page 107↓]religion, or colour, equitable distribution of national income and promotion and preservation of the cultural heritage. On the basis of this the general goal is seen as to prepare and equip citizens to function effectively in their environment and be useful members of the society. Education is therefore expected to foster national unity based on adaptation of the diverse cultural heritage of the people of the country, serve the needs of national development through production of skilled manpower, dissemination of knowledge and inculcation of the right attitudes and relating what is learned to the real problems of the society, preparing and equipping the youth with the knowledge, skills and expertise necessary to enable them play a useful role in national life by engaging in activities that enhance the quality of life, promote social justice and morality by instilling the right attitudes necessary for training in social obligations and responsibilities and finally to foster, develop and communicate the rich and varied cultures of the country and foster positive attitude and consciousness towards other nations.1

4.2. KEY ISSUES IN UNIVERSITY EDUCATION IN KENYA

4.2.1. A Historical Perspective of University Education in Kenya

4.2.1.1. Public Universities

Over the past 40 years of Kenya’s independence, there has been big expansion of university education and training in terms of both physical facilities and enrolment. As of now, there are six public universities, some of them with constituent colleges. Enrolment stood at 37,973 in 1996/97 academic years. There was a rise in enrolment to 43,591 in 1997/98 academic year followed by a drop to 40,613 in 1998/99 academic year.2 However enrolment rose by 1.6% from 41,825 students during the 1999/2000 to 42,508 during the 2000/2001 academic years.3


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The development of university education in Kenya started in 1922 when Makerere College was established as a small technical college which grew into an inter-territorial institution admitting students from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zanzibar. In 1949 Makerere College entered into special relationship with the University of London in order to enable its students to study for the degrees of the University of London. In 1947, the then colonial Kenyan government drew up a plan for the establishment of a technical and commercial institute in Kenya. By 1949, this plan grew into an East African concept, aimed at providing higher technical education for all the territories of East Africa. In 1951, this idea received a Royal Charter, under the Royal Technical College of East Africa. In 1952 the construction of the college was started. At this time, the Asian community in East Africa was also planning to build a college for arts, science and commerce as a living memory to Mahatma Gandhi. To avoid duplication of efforts, the Gandhi Memorial Academy Society agreed to merge interests with those of the East African governments and hence the incorporation of Mahatma Gandhi Academy into the Royal Technical College of East Africa in 1954. The college admitted its first students in 1956.

In 1958, a working party was established to review and advise the colonial government on the pattern of education in East Africa. Among the key recommendations of the working party was that through reconstruction and addition of facilities, the Royal Technical College should be transformed into the second Inter-Territorial College in East Africa. The recommendation was accepted by the East African governments and in 1961 and by an act of the East African High Commission, the Royal Technical College was transformed into the second university college of East Africa and renamed Royal College, Nairobi. The college entered into a special relationship with the University of London such that students taking courses in arts, science and engineering could prepare for bachelor degree of the University of London. In 1963 the Royal College became University College Nairobi following the establishment of the University of East Africa with Makerere, Dar-es-Salaam as the constituent colleges. In 1970 the University of East Africa was dissolved with each of the three East African countries establishing its own [page 109↓]national university. University College Nairobi was therefore renamed University of Nairobi.4

The University of Nairobi Act also established Kenyatta University College as a constituent college of the University of Nairobi and in 1972 the college enrolled the first students for the degree of the Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) of the University of Nairobi. In 1981 the Presidential Working Party on the second university noted that the expansion of the University of Nairobi had not kept pace with the increasing demand made on it in terms of diversified curricula and absorption of the ever growing number of secondary school leavers. Therefore it recommended a second university with a bias to technology, which was established in 1985 under the name Moi University.

The next five years from 1985-1990 witnessed a dramatic growth in the number of universities. The two former constituent colleges of the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University and Egerton became fully-fledged universities in 1985 and 1987 respectively.

The growth in demand for university education necessitated the conversion of a number of tertiary institutions into university facilities. This led to the establishment of Jomo Kenyatta University College of Agriculture and Technology, initially as a constituent college of Kenyatta University in 1988 and later became a fully-fledged university as Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Maseno University was established in 1990 as a constituent college of Moi University and upgraded to a full university known as Maseno University in 2000.5

In 2000/2001 the University of Nairobi had the largest enrolment at 11,817. These were distributed in the following six campus colleges; College of Biological Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Architecture and Engineering, College of Health Sciences, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, College of Education and External Studies. The university has faculties for medicine, science, veterinary [page 110↓]medicine, agriculture, arts, commerce, law, education, external studies, engineering, architecture, and design and development. It has a number of institutes, and schools that supplement its academic faculties and disciplines. These are; Institute of Population Studies, Institute of African Studies, Institute of Computer Science, Institute of Development Studies, Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies and School of Journalism.6

Moi University is a science and technology institution situated in Eldoret in western region of the country is a technology-oriented institution with a student population of 6,713 in the 2000/2001 academic year. It has faculties for: education, forest resources and wildlife management, health sciences and, technology. The schools include the following: School of Environment Studies, School of Social, Cultural and Development Studies, and the School of Graduate Studies. It has two campuses; the main campus and Chepkoilel campus. In 2000/2001 academic year, Maseno University College which was formerly a constituent college of Moi University specializes in training graduate teachers and has an enrolment of 4,134, while Kenyatta University has a current enrolment is 7,474 with the following faculties; science, arts, education, commerce, environmental education and home science. The following centres supplement its academic programmes; Bureau of Educational Research, Basic Education Resource Centre.7

Egerton University is mainly an agricultural university with student population of 7,702 in 2000/2001 academic year. It has two campus colleges namely, Laikipia Campus and Kisii Campus. Presently the University operates programmes under the following faculties; arts and social sciences, agriculture, education and human resources, science. The new constituent college at Kisii undertakes to train untrained graduate teachers in its one-year post graduate Diploma in Education besides other university programmes. Finally, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) which had been operating as a constituent college of Kenyatta University, but was elevated to full University status on the 1993 had a student population of 4,284 as in 2000/2001 academic [page 111↓]year. It has three faculties, namely; agriculture, engineering and science. The Institute of Human Resources Development offers service courses to students in all faculties. JKUAT, like Egerton University, offers a wide range of programmes in agriculture, animal Science and agricultural Engineering.8

4.2.1.2. Private Universities

There has been tremendous growth in private university education institutions. There are more than 14 private degree-offering institutions in Kenya. However so far only five of them have been granted accreditation by the Commission of Higher Education, which is the public body mandated to regulate the establishment and running of university institutions in Kenya. These are Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Daystar University, United States International University, University of East Africa, Baraton and Scott Theological College. The other private degree offering institutions are affiliated to universities overseas and do not, therefore, award their own degrees. The Commission for Higher Education (CHE) inspects and visits the institutions to ensure that they offer acceptable degree programmes. It also advises them on curriculum and procedures to follow in order to qualify for a charter

The three private universities that were already accredited by the government enrolled a total of 3,379 students in 1996/97 academic year compared to 2,763 in the previous year. This represented a significant 22.7% rise. Enrolment went up by 7.9% to reach 3,646 in 1997/98 academic year. While in the 1998/99 academic year it went up by 6.6% to stand at 3,888. The number of fully chartered private universities grew from four to five and consequently student enrolment grew by 78.8% from 3,888 in 1998 to 6,920 in 1999/00 academic year only increasing slightly to 6,999 in 2000/2001 academic year9

The public universities are parastatal organisations each established by an act of parliament and administered by its own internal structures under the umbrella of a university council. The head of state appoints a chancellor for each of the public [page 112↓]universities. Below the chancellor is a university council, for each university, with a chairman and members appointed by the chancellor. The council handles all matters of the university with regard to finance, investment and appointment. Below the council is the senate whose chairman is the vice-chancellor and includes principals of colleges, deans of faculties, chairmen of departments and directors of institutes and the registrars. Students are also represented. The senate of each university is the final authority on academic matters. The day to day running of the university is in the hands of the vice-chancellor, assisted by one, two or three deputies, depending on the size of the university. Registrars look after academic matters while the dean of students is responsible for the students’ welfare. The universities enjoy the freedom to decide what may be taught and who may teach and they are expected to exercise responsibility commensurate with that freedom.

The private universities have their own administrative structures. Generally each has a university council whose chairman is also the chancellor. The Commission of Higher Education (CHE) carries out the coordination of the universities for higher education. For purposes of general policy direction the Ministry of Education is represented on the councils of the universities.

4.2.2. University Education in Kenya and National Goals

The development of university education in the world has been motivated by the search for solutions relating to the myriad problems facing the human society. The university has also been viewed as a place where the training of rational men and women of good character, with creative minds and strong convictions as well as critical reasoning abilities is pursued. It thus provides professional training of the highest quality in those areas in which it is involved. Like in many other countries, university education in Kenya is the apex of the formal system of education and training of high-level manpower for national development. Universities in Kenya are therefore charged with the role of teaching and undertaking research, developing and advancing knowledge, as well as storing and disseminating such knowledge. University education and training programmes are specifically expected to respond to the challenge of national [page 113↓]development and emerging socio-economic needs with the view to finding solutions to the problems facing the society. Overtime specific objectives of university education have been identified as:

  1. To develop in students and scholars the ability to think independently, critically and creatively,
  2. To adapt, develop, advance, preserve and disseminate knowledge and desirable values, and to stimulate intellectual life,
  3. To educate and train the high level human capital needed to accelerate development through industrialization of the economy,
  4. To nurture the internalisation of universal knowledge, including key technological advances, with a view to harnessing these for national development,
  5. To provide, through basic and applied research, knowledge, skills, and services that help solve the problems facing the society,
  6. To create a society in which both merit, based on diverse talents, and equity in development are recognised and nurtured and finally,
  7. To inculcate entrepreneurial skills among the graduates, thereby enabling them to create employment for themselves and for others.10

Kenya is faced by a myriad of problems that require urgent attention. These include population issues, diseases such as HIV/Aids, energy problems, environmental degradation, food insecurity, unemployment and the poor state of science and technology in solving national development problems. It is anticipated that the Kenyan universities should address these problems through initiation and sustenance of appropriate research in all areas relevant to national development, production of appropriately trained [page 114↓]workforce by developing and mounting relevant academic programmes as well as production, conservation and dissemination of knowledge.11

In the fulfilment of its goals, higher education in Kenya is faced with a number of challenges that include access, funding, brain drain, quality and relevance. Generally, enrolment in higher education is low in relation to the national population. While access and equity to higher education is an urgent concern for government, economic constraints, coupled with effects of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPS) and greater demand for admission into the few institutions of higher learning, the government’s ability to provide funding has been stretched to the limit. Consequently students are now expected to meet a sizable part of their tuition and accommodation costs which means university education is not accessible to the majority.12

Decline in financial resources coupled with large quantitative growth has at times compromised the relevance and quality of university education. The majority of institutions lack physical facilities and equipment. Lack of adequate funding has also made it impossible for universities to pay competitive salaries hence the movement of qualified personnel to other field or to other countries such as Southern Africa, Britain or United States of America.

4.2.3. Distance Education in Kenya

The development of distance learning in Kenya is an attempt to resolve the conflict between the aspirations for more education by an ever-increasing number of Kenyans and the resource constraints (both financial and human) on quantitative growth in enrolments in conventional higher education institutions.13 Consequently, distance learning in Kenya has the objectives to provide learning opportunities for qualified Kenyans who cannot secure places in the existing internal faculties of national universities, provide an [page 115↓]alternative and innovative method of learning which is not limited to a particular time and space and an opportunity for people to learn at their own pace. It also aims at maximising the use of limited educational resources, both human and material by making university education available beyond the lecture halls.

Distance learning in Kenya started with the admission of 594 students to University of Nairobi in 1986. This programme was and continues to be based on correspondence system and few contact hours when the lecturers make visits to the regional centres. Media in the form of booklets and audiocassettes have been used to provide reading materials. Today this method is also employed in a number of other universities such as Kenyatta University (KU) and Strathmore University (SU). In an ambitious plan, Kenyatta University has launched a school of distance learning to offer courses such as management, education, nutrition and health, computing and information technology, banking and finance and library and information science. In the case of some universities distance education has mainly taken the form collaboration between individual universities and selected tertiary colleges. The tertiary colleges (centres) provide the physical facilities while the universities provide teachers and syllabi. At specified periods, students come to the centres for formal lectures and examinations.

Lately there have been trends toward electronic learning. In 1995, the World Bank initiated the preparation of the African Virtual University, a satellite based distance education whose objective is to deliver to countries of the Sub-Sahara Africa, university education in the disciplines of science and engineering, non-credit/ continuing education programmes and remedial instruction. The need for this initiative was the awareness that higher education in the Sub-Saharan Africa suffers a severe crisis that manifests itself through lack of inputs, declining staff to student ratios, low level of research and low internal and external efficiency. Currently, the lessons are mainly taught by European and American faculty, and they are beamed to 22 universities in Africa. In the future the World Bank hopes to broaden the curricula to include African based programmes. Two [page 116↓]Kenya institutions, namely, Kenyatta University (KU) and Egerton University (EU) are participants of African Virtual University (AVU). United States International University (USIU) has also introduced e learning in areas such as accounting, marketing, and information technology. Delivery methods in the present virtual learning situation include videotaped lectures augmented with live lectures, web-based course notes, textbooks, and CD-ROMs.

There is striking scarcity of literature on the subject of library services for distance learning in Kenya. Both among scholars and librarians, the subject of library services has not been given a lot of attention. However there is recognition that adequate supply of library and information services to distance learners is critical for success of distance learning programme. In the case of University of Nairobi (UON), Makau has observed that with perhaps exception of mathematics, the material contained in the unit booklets rather like lectures in the traditional on-the-campus degree constitutes only a basic structure of knowledge which needs to be build upon through the study of other sources.14 However this position has not been translated into an effective system of providing library services which are so much critical for distance education programmes

4.2.4. Parallel/ Evening Study Programmes

Besides the forms of distance education discussed above, there has been a proliferation of what has been invariably referred to as parallel programmes, alternative courses, module two courses or simply evening courses. This has been due to demand for university education especially among the working people. Those participating in this programme attend classes in the universities in the evening (5.30pm- 8.00pm) and on Saturdays. This has implication for the provision of university library services as seen later in this work.


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4.3.  UNIVERSITY LIBRARY SERVICES IN KENYA

4.3.1. General Overview of Libraries in Kenya

Kenya’s national library system consists of academic, special, school and public libraries, which have distinct orientation of services to their areas of focus. Academic libraries comprise those of five public university libraries, the five chartered private universities, four national polytechnic libraries, and libraries of teacher training colleges and other publicly or privately sponsored tertiary colleges. The aim of academic libraries is basically to support the research, teaching and learning activities in their respective institutions.15 Special libraries comprise those in business, research, or government ministries as well as those sponsored or operated by non-governmental organisations, diplomatic missions and international bodies. Examples of business organisations with libraries are the Nation Media Group, East Africa industries, and Kenya Commercial Bank. Research institutions include the International Livestock Research Institute, International Centre for Insect and Pest Ecology, Kenya Medical Research Institute and the African Medical Research Foundation. Most of the diplomatic missions in Kenya have libraries notably the British Library, and the Goethe Library. International organisations with remarkable libraries include United Nations Environmental Programme, UNESCO, and the World Bank

School libraries comprise those in primary, secondary and special schools both privately and publicly funded. These are made to provide reading for primary school and secondary pupils especially for leisure purposes. Therefore they are mostly composed of fictional literature.


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Perhaps the public library system needs more discussion. The bulk of public libraries is organised and run by the Kenya National Library Services, which was established by an Act of Parliament. The goal of the service is

  1. Promote, establish, equip, manage, maintain and develop libraries,
  2. Plan and co-ordinate library documentation and related services, advice the government, local authorities and other public bodies on all matters relating to library documentation and related services,
  3. Provide the facilities for the study and training in principles, procedures and techniques of librarianship and other related subjects,
  4. Advise the government on library education and training needs for library, documentation and related services, sponsor, arrange or provide facilities for conferences and services for discussion of matters in connection with library related services
  5. Carry out and encourage research in the development of library and related services,
  6. Participate and assist in the campaign for eradication of illiteracy,
  7. Stimulate public interest in books and to promote reading for knowledge, information and enjoyment,
  8. Acquire books produced in and outside Kenya and such other materials and services of knowledge necessary for a comprehensive library, and
  9. Publish the National Bibliography of Kenya and to provide bibliographic and reference services.16


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The national library services has currently a network of 8 provincial libraries, 6 district libraries and 12 community-based libraries spread out in different parts of the country with a total collection of 700,000 volumes of books and 59,000 volumes of journals17

As a public library service the KNLS provides services that include lending services, postal lending, reference services, services to schools and other institutions, informal training, institutional advisory services and mobile library service.

Adult readers are allowed to borrow two books for two weeks and provided no other reader wants those particular titles, the client is allowed to renew the loan for another two weeks at will. For a client to renew any loaned materials he/ she must either come in person or telephone the circulation librarian on or before the due date of return. All branches of the KNLS have a children’ collections major service. Children sections are stocked with well-selected reading materials to support children's academic and supplementary reading needs. Children are allowed to borrow two books for two weeks and are free to read in the library. Other services provided in these sections especially on weekends and school holidays include video shows, story telling sessions, drawing and painting competitions, drama and poems, and user education.

The postal lending service is offered to those who reside far from any of the existing libraries and outside the areas covered by the mobiles. The service is available from any branch. All the branch libraries provide standard reference books such as dictionaries, encyclopaedia and almanacs for reference purposes and also local periodicals and newspapers. These are readily available to answer quick reference factual queries.

The service to schools and other institutions enables schools to borrow up to 200 books periodically at an annual subscription of about $12. Schools are encouraged to apply for bulk borrowing from the KNLS branch in their locality.

User Education targets newly enrolled library clients. As soon as they get their enrolment, new clients are shown how to locate and retrieve materials from the library. They are [page 120↓]introduced to retrieval tools such as the card catalogue, and the use of reference tools such as encyclopaedias. Professional librarians offer this service while institutional advisory services assists institutions such as schools, colleges and other interested institutions in setting up and organizing their libraries. A recent development in this service is the provision of seminars by the staff of KNLS to primary and secondary school teachers. The teachers are exposed to basic skills of running school libraries. Such seminars are organized by KNLS in collaboration with other interested parties and willing donor agencies. Organizations such as Plan international, Action Aid have been very active in co-sponsoring such seminars.

KNLS is the main distributor for Book Aid International, which is a UK based book donor organization. The organization solicits for books from U.K libraries and publishers and channels them through KNLS to needy institutions in Kenya. Some of the major beneficiaries of this programme are schools. Schools that have a need for library books are advised to apply through the director of the Kenya National Library Service. Upon application, the librarian in charge of the KNLS local branch visits the school to assess the need for the books. The KNLS local branch staff could assist in organizing the school libraries of such schools on request. As soon as the materials are available, they are distributed on first come first served basis.

The service operates a fleet of eight (8) mobile library trucks, which serve the areas around Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Kakamega, Kabarnet, Eldoret, and Embu. In addition, it operates two (2) Camel mobile libraries in Wajir and Garissa in North Eastern Kenya and are based at based in Garissa and Wajir libraries in North Eastern Province. The camel is used as a mode of transport to take books to the nomadic communities in and around settlement areas in the interior of the province due to the cultural attachment the people of this region has to the animal and its adaptation to the terrain in this part of Kenya which is not conducive for the use of motor vehicles. The camel library currently operates within a radius of 10 kilometres.


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The National Library Services also carries out the duties of a national library. It has a Kenya National Reference and Bibliographic Department which serves as the national library and provides several services including legal deposit, compiles Kenya National bibliography which is a listing of Kenyan materials published in a each year as well the Kenya Periodicals Index. Under the legal deposit act, every publisher in Kenya should deposit two copies of every title published with the director of the KNLS, within 14 days of publishing the title at their own cost18 The national bibliography therefore is an authoritative, regular, comprehensive, and standardized record of Kenya's publishing output and foreign publications of interest to Kenya and provides information of practical nature. It is therefore a useful tool for selection and acquisition of materials by information and library centres in Kenya and elsewhere in the world. It is also the source statistical information regarding Kenyan publication output supplied to international agencies and programmes such as the International Federation of Library Association and Institutions (IFLA), Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) and the Universal Availability of Publications (UAP), programmes. It is also a cataloguing tool in that it provides a model catalogue entry that may be directly copied by libraries and other information systems in the country.

Other functions performed by Kenya National Library Services include:

  1. It is the national agent for the International Standard Book Number, ISBN and thus assigns the ISBN numbers to Kenyan publishers.
  2. It is a depository library for World Bank publications and hosts a special collection of UN publications. All World Bank reports and bulletins totalling to about four thousand (4,000) documents form the core of the collection.
  3. Maintains rare books collection composed of old and rare publications that are no longer in print. The collection has about six hundred (600) documents. These materials are available on request and are strictly for reference within the library [page 122↓]
  4. Subscribes to a variety of journals both locally and internationally. Subscriptions for the entire network are done centrally. So far, the library has a collection of 58,882 copies including current and back issues of various periodicals.
  5. Hosts a collection of microfilms and microfiches of important national records preserved for posterity. They are available on request for strict use within the library.
  6. Collects and facilitates the use of government publications of different types such as DistrictDevelopment Plans, Sessional Papers, the Kenya Gazette, Laws of Kenya, the Constitution of Kenya.

Apart from some special libraries in research organisations, most Kenyan libraries have been are based on “print” resources as opposed to other media. In spite of the fact that there has been movement towards multimedia including electronic and Internet sources, this development is slow.19 Besides problems of funds for purchasing, inadequate professional human resources, poor physical infrastructure, inadequate use of information technology and lack of co-ordination and interlibrary co-operation and above all the absence of a national policy on the collection and distribution of information hinder the optimal functioning of libraries in Kenya irrespective of size and type20

4.3.2. Standards and Legislation for University Libraries

4.3.2.1. Legislation and Standards Relating to University Library Services.

In order for Kenyan universities to perform their role more effectively, there is need for growth in student enrolment to be matched with commensurate provision of appropriate resources. This will ensure that they maintain high standards, quality and relevant [page 123↓]education, training research and scholarship. Generally speaking there is poor legislation relating to university libraries in Kenya and although all universities are established through government decree, often there is only brief mention of the role, organisation and functioning of the library. In many of the university charter documents examined, it is merely mentioned that there will be a librarian whose work will be to oversee the organisation and the operations of the library without specifying the nature and character of such a library.

At the same time quality in teaching and research in university education in Kenya has been a major concern since independence as indicated by the numerous commissions, committees and working parties that have been established over time to study different aspects of university education in Kenya. Reports issued by these institutions have repeatedly stressed the need for university student enrolment to be matched with commensurate provision of appropriate resources in order to maintain high standards, quality and relevance of university education, training, research and scholarship.

The crucial role played by the university library has been stressed in some reports while in others it has not received much attention. For example the Mackay Report seems to have relegated the library to a secondary role in university education. While stressing that the most critical role of the university is teaching and research, it argued that library development like other expenditures like administration and student accommodation should be considered as a function of the primary task which is teaching and research.21In contrast, the Kamunge Report stressed that university libraries are central to any meaningful teaching, research and learning process and therefore their development is directly related to the objectives and programmes of the university as a whole and therefore must take into account the increase in students numbers, the introduction of new teaching and research programmes and the changing emphasis in the existing courses of study. It therefore recommended that university libraries be provided with adequate funds [page 124↓]and be equipped with up-to date books, journals, periodicals and technical services to effectively support teaching, learning and research.22

In the Koech Report, submissions were made to the effect that one of the greatest challenges facing the academic faculties in each of the universities is the need to review the curricula and content for each teaching subject in order to keep abreast with the rapidly growing body of knowledge, hence the need for faculties, teaching departments and individual teaching staff to familiarise themselves with the latest information in their specific areas of specialization. One main challenge which has had a negative impact on the quality of university education, is the inability of the institutions to maintain up-to-date libraries and journal subscriptions due to insufficient funding.23 In spite of this, the report failed to make any specific recommendations as to how the problem of library and information services for university education could be solved. These contradictions indicate the ambivalent situation in which the university library finds itself in relation to the research, teaching and learning in the university. There is no doubt that it has had a negative impact in realisation of proper legislation and functioning of university libraries at both the national and institutional level.24

The most progressive effort towards creating university standards has been achieved by the Commission of Higher Education.25This is a statutory body that regulates the licensing and functioning of private universities in Kenya. It has created library standards whose goal is to assist members of the library and university administration to determine priorities and evaluate performance so as to optimise the performance of the university [page 125↓]library. These standards cover a wide range of issues including mission, goals and objectives’ statement, collection development, organisation of materials, buildings, staffing, governance, services access, instruction, use of information and communication technology (ICT), and library budget. Let examine some of the quantitative issues.26

4.3.2.1.1. Collections

The library is expected to provide varied, authoritative, and up to date information resources both in print, electronic format or non-book media: It further stipulates:

  1. Minimum collection for university offering a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes shall be 80 titles per student for the first 1000 students, 60 titles per student for a population of between 1000 and 2500. For a population of between 2500 and 4000, the library shall provide 50 titles per student and if the population in excess of 4000, there will be 40 titles per student.
  2. A collection of a minimum of 200 core journals plus appropriate indexing journals.

4.3.2.1.2. Buildings (Facilities)

The standards stipulate that:

  1. The planning of building shall be based on the projected growth of collection, users and staff in the next ten (10) years.
  2. One seat for every 4 users at the rate of 2.5m2
  3. Stack area for be at least 10.75m2 per 1000 volumes including bound periodicals.[page 126↓]
  4. Library staff and service area shall constitute 18 and 25% of the combined space for readers and book stacks.

4.3.2.1.3. Staffing

Since adequate staff size is determined by factors such as inter alia, the programmes offered, the institutional enrolment, the number of service points and the hours, during which service is offered, it is suggested that staff size be established at the ratio of 1 professional to 250 full time students.

4.3.2.1.4. Administrative Structure and Governance.

The standards make various recommendations relating to the administrative structure aimed at ensuring and encouraging the effective optimisation of available library resource. Among them include the following:

  1. The library should be autonomous unit within the university structure represented in the senate or an equivalent academic body and its committees.
  2. The chief librarian should report to the chief executive of the institution.
  3. Establishment of a standing advisory committee responsible to the senate for considering all aspects of library policy, its development and integration in the university’s teaching programmes.

4.3.2.1.5. Budgetary Support

Since the library represents a major capital investment, the commission recommended that:

  1. The library’s annual authorised budget shall be at least 10% of the total university income with a provision for higher percentage if the library is trying to overcome past deficiencies or to meet the new academic programmes or engaging in audio-visual and electronic resources.
  2. The chief librarian shall have the responsibility of preparing, defending and administering the budget in accordance with the agreed upon objectives.


[page 127↓]

4.3.2.2.  Institutional Legislation on University Libraries

Within the universities themselves, there are only scattered statements about the library services. Seldom will one find comprehensive statements of policies relating to mission of the university library, collection development, personnel, standards and even policies on electronic sources. However this does not mean the university librarians in Kenya operate in a total absence of guiding principles. Although these policy statements do not exist in written form, libraries are guided by the general mission statement of the universities as articulated in the university charter, the main goal being the provision of information resources to support the teaching and research activities of the university. The libraries understand their role as not just that of meeting present information needs of the university but also projecting and anticipating future requirements and changes occasioned by new courses and new areas in literature. Whenever the university plans to introduce new collections, the library is expected to expand its collection to cover the new areas of teaching. However notwithstanding the absence of proper legislation and relevant policies is a serious handicap to the functioning of the library.

4.4. TRENDS IN LIBRARY USER POPULATIONS

Over the last five years student numbers have indicated growth in spite of limited fluctuations in the five years 1996-2001. Public universities have indicated 14.1%, increase for University of Nairobi (UON) while that of Kenyatta University (KU) decreased by 12.8%. The user population of UON increased from 13,538 in 1996/7 academic year to 15,529 in the 2000/01 academic year while that of KU decreased from 8,574 to 7,474 during the same period. Perhaps private universities have registered the highest growth rate in student populations. User population increased from 1200 to 2464 for USIU and from 1387 to 1872 for CUEA between 1996/7 and 2000/01 academic years. This implies a 51.3% and 26% for both USIU and CUEA respectively. Much Growth in public universities is occasioned by the introduction of what is variously referred to as [page 128↓]module parallel or evening courses.27This is admission by individual university that is not a part the regular intake done through the university’s Joint Admission Board. Parallel courses have been introduced for many of the existing courses for both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

There is also evidence that new areas of competence have been introduced such as environmental studies, tourism, computer science and disaster management. All these have found clients in the fast widening educational market. The overall effect has been a surge in student population. Needless to say these translates into bigger and more diverse for scholarly information from the university libraries. The need has arisen for librarians to address this increasing population and widening information demand.

Table 1: Library User Populations in Relation to Various Resources and Facilities

Ratio of professional staff to students

Ratio of students to seats

Ratio of students to books

UON

1:575

1:3

1:32

KU

1:467

1:16

1:35

USIU

1:824

1:9

1:30

CUEA

1:936

1:9

1:30

National standard

1:250

1:4

1:60 (1:40)

Table 1 provides a general overview of university user populations in relation to various library resources and facilities. A number of indicators, namely: ratio of students to [page 129↓]professional staff, ratio of seats to students, and ratio of students to monographs in each institution are considered against the national standard. The main observation from Table 1 is that the library resources and facilities in most of the institutions studied do not measure up to standards laid down by the Commission of Higher Education. The standards for reading materials require that there be 60 volumes per student for a population between 1000 and 2500 (applicable to CUEA and USIU) and 40 volumes per student if the population is in the excess of 4000 (as is the case with UON and KU).

The national standard recommend one seat for every 4 users, and only UON has a relatively impressive ratio of 1:3 while the worst is KU with a ratio of 1:16. The only reservation about seating capacity in UON is that library facilities have been negatively affected by lack of maintenance and disrepair. Many reading tables and chairs have broken down over the past five years and no replacement has been done. Therefore the reality is that there is acute shortage of sitting places in the UON main library.

4.5. COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

4.5.1. Collection Development Policies

All four universities examined in this study reported to have collection development policies in one form or another. The situation ranges from outdated and inactive policies as the case is with UON and KU to recently drafted comprehensive collection development policies as the case is with USIU. Where policies are not active, the libraries rely on the university statutes/act for guidance. The principal collection development goal as understood in the university statute is to meet the information needs of the user/academic needs of the university/programs of study. From this, the library understands its role not just that of meeting present information needs of the university, but also anticipating future needs occasioned by the new courses, and new areas in knowledge. Therefore ideally when the university needs to introduce new courses the administration would call upon library to expand its collection to cover new areas of teaching but in practice this consultation rarely happens.


[page 130↓]

One observable shortcoming of the existing collection development policies is that they are not in line with changes in information formats and increases in population numbers. It is worth mentioning that for example there are no laid down policies to guide the acquisition of electronic and Internet based information such as electronic databases and journals. A notable exception is USIU where it is reported that although there has not been fundamental changes in the collection policy, it has been revised considerably to accommodate changes towards electronic formats. At KU changes in policy are being enacted in response to anticipated bigger user populations as a result of the establishment of the School of Continuing Education, which is expected to attract more students. Besides, in the absence of viable funding for acquisitions, collection development policies in the public universities are rendered irrelevant. Again in the case of institutions involved in distance education, library policies to cater for distance learners are virtually non-existent.

4.5.2. Selection Process

Both private and public university libraries display similar procedures in materials selection procedures. The faculty members do the actual book selection while the process is managed and facilitated by librarians who look for appropriate tools for selection, advise on areas that need development and make the follow up to ensure that selection takes place. Librarians also select materials for areas of their competence as well as reference material. In public universities, due to their large size, selection is subject based. At KU subject librarians liase with different faculties and distribute acquisition tools, especially publishers catalogues to those in charge of selection in respective faculties. Lists of selected material are forwarded to the acquisitions’ section of the library, which prepares order lists to different suppliers.

At UON with its scattered colleges and faculties, selection process is initiated at the college and faculty level. Eventually lists of all selected materials are sent to the acquisitions librarian based at the main library who does the actual ordering. In the largely small private universities the acquisitions’ librarian liases with the different departments who make returns of the selection done. This co-ordination requires a good [page 131↓]working relationship between the librarians and teaching faculty and difficulties have been experienced for example in the case of CUEA difficulties in making proper acquisitions in cases when teaching departments do not fully co-operate. Following the introduction of parallel degree courses for self sponsored students, public universities are able to charge some library fee. Initially in the public universities, the faculties preferred to buy reading materials directly without involving the library but this role has reverted to the library. Over the years given the dwindling funding, introduction of self sponsored students, changes in information technology, development of distance education, increase in student population for each course, there have been changes in the acquisition procedure. However these have differed between the universities. The introduction of new course was a shift from traditional course to new areas as dictated by the market and the libraries have had to make acquisitions to cater for this new arrangement.

4.5.3. Selection Tools and Sources of Material

The most commonly used ordering tools are publishers’ catalogues, journal reviews and lists from local bookshops. All universities examined reported to use CD-ROM databases such as “Books in Print” as well as Internet sites such as Amazon for selection purposes.

University libraries in Kenya purchase materials from both local and international publishers, local and international book agents as well as local bookshops. They purchase locally published material from local bookshops while materials not locally available are purchased through both local and international book agents. In overall there is high dependence on publications from both Britain and U.S.A in all subjects but especially science publications. In cases where assistance is involved the donors tend to dictate the source of new materials. Public university libraries involved in donor supported programmes such as UON and KU have had to do their selections and forward these lists to the donors who choose the source of materials.

Ordinarily university libraries in Kenya have established a good working relationship with local booksellers. However for public universities this relationship of late has not been cordial since bureaucratic procedures and lack of funds have often delayed payment for book orders and at the same time public university administrations have established [page 132↓]strict expenditure control with a policy of no-prepayment and have been reluctant to release money for purchases and settlement of outstanding orders.28 Over time public university libraries have accumulated high bills with both local and foreign book supplies who in turn have been unwilling to advance any credit to public university libraries.

4.5.4. Impact of IT in Collection Development

There is evidence that electronic and Internet media is having impact on collection development in Kenyan universities. The four libraries examined in this study indicated that they are in the process of integrating electronic and Internet based information sources in their collection development activities. KU reported to have established a vote for buying CD-ROMs and audio-visual materials. CUEA has switched from print to buying most of its indexes and abstracting journals in CD-ROM format. Examples of these are Humanities Index, Social Sciences Index, Philosophers Index, Education Index, and Religious and Theological Abstracts. Major advances have been reported in USIU where among the library resources are included online journals. By subscribing to the Ebscohost electronic database, USIU library can access a total of 3600 journals with full text articles and/or indexes and abstracts as well as CD-ROM version of the Ebscohost database.

4.5.5. Ordering of Materials

All four universities examined in this study reported continuous selection and ordering throughout the year but for different reasons. USIU has a strategic plan to acquire approximately 4000 monographs a year in an effort to maintain Commission of Higher Education (Kenya) standards as well as that Western Association of Colleges (USA) to which it is affiliated. Public university libraries are driven by concern over accumulating bulk orders for which the university may be unwilling to pay. They prefer to order on regular basis so as to spread out the available funds. While the World Bank supported [page 133↓]book acquisition project lasted, public university libraries ordered materials regularly. However, today with total dependence on university administration, the allocation of funds is low and irregular. Even when allocation is done, some libraries do not have total control over the funds and remission of funds for orders is dependent on the university’s financial climate, which often leads to piecemeal purchases. It is expected that public university libraries will benefit from funds from parallel programs to boost its acquisition activities but so far the impact of funds from this source is still minimal.

4.5.6. Weeding of Library Collections

The saying that collection weeding is not activity that university libraries automatically engage in is very true for Kenyan university libraries. A brief check of public university libraries such as the ones included in this study reveals that shelves are full of old and outdated reading materials most of which are not consulted by readers. A number of factors that make it difficult for university libraries in Kenya to undertake comprehensive weeding programmes to rid themselves of outdated materials. In the first place the purchase of new materials has gone down and in some cases all what they have are the old collections and therefore any effort to remove materials from shelves is complicated as it is be difficult to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. The second problem is what to do with weeded material since decision to change ownership of any university property normally involves decisions at high levels of university administration and this takes a very long time and in many cases not forthcoming. The university libraries are already facing problem of storage space and would be a big burden to find extra space to keep relegated material. Above all as is the case with the four institutions included in this study, many university libraries lack weeding policies to guide progressive weeding programmes.

However collection weeding in Kenyan university libraries is rather an urgent matter. It is fair to argue that maintaining obsolete library stock does not contribute to fulfilling information needs and does more harm to the already tainted image of the university libraries. A number of reasons can be cited to illustrate why it is important for Kenyan university libraries to weed their collections. The first reason has to do with the cost of [page 134↓]maintenance and storage. There is need for staff to be employed to constantly wipe materials to get rid of dust, which is a major problem in the tropics, and arrange them systematically on the shelves. These are labour intensive activities, which consume a sizable part of the budget. Three of university libraries reported shortage of space for their newly acquired materials and therefore it is unwise for the already scarce apace to be used on outdated, unused materials and therefore systematic weeding of present collections will facilitate more effective space utilisation.

Secondly, weeding the present library materials will facilitate easier access, retrieval and use of library materials and therefore contribute to user satisfaction. A review of some library catalogues revealed a lot of outdated and unused materials, which make it hard and, time consuming to identify and locate the more useful items. They also give an impression of redundancy of the library collection and the more users encounter difficulties in retrieving useful and current information, the more irrelevant the library seem to them. Therefore collection-weeding programme should be seen as part of the effort to sustaining the library’s image and relevance to the teaching learning and research in the university.

The third reason to weed collection is that the weeding process can be a useful management tool for the library administration. The weeding process can expose the areas of strength and weakness in the collection, areas that are over provided or underprovided and measures can be undertaken to rectify the situation. For the library manager, this is a good basis for budgeting activities and a fact to be used in defence of the budget proposal.

In spite of the problems already cited, the four university libraries examined in this study reported to be carrying out library collection weeding in one way or another. To avoid bureaucratic red tape involved in approval of disposal of weeded materials some librarians have from time to time quietly removed some materials from the shelves after assessing their usefulness to the collection. Another method has been to exercise strict control at the acquisition stage to make sure that only quality materials are put into the collection. This is especially in relation to gifts, which sometimes tend to compose of types of materials some of which are out of date, irrelevant or already in deteriorated [page 135↓]state. These methods are some ways of copying with the bigger problem of lack of written down weeding policies to guide the formulation and execution of sound weeding programmes.

4.5.7. Preservation of Library Materials

From data gathered during the course of this research it is evident that university libraries in Kenya are facing serious preservation problems. The main ones include those caused by theft and vandalism of library materials, environmental factors such as high temperatures and humidity, exposure to light, and mishandling by users. Both UON and CUEA have reported to suffer badly from the loss of material through thefts by users. This problem has been so severe in the case of CUEA such that establishing a closed access system has been suggested. With the absence of electronic security gates, CUEA has had to deploy people to physically check those who enter and inspect those who leave the library. Vandalism of public property is common in the social life of Kenyans and therefore theft of library materials and damage to collection items is more of an extension of what is the case in other spheres of public life. Examples of these are tearing off pages from books, underlining with ink of words sentences and paragraphs while reading, and writing on library materials. This problem is compounded by the issue of too many people chasing few copies of critical reading materials which means that highly used materials are constantly changing hands leading to high rate of wear and tear.

Temperatures and humidity in the tropics tend to be very high and hence chemical reaction involving printed material tends to be very high and this encourages the growth of biological agents such as moulds and fungi which severely damage materials. High temperatures also lead to brittleness in paper. Therefore the problems of fungi, mould and brittleness of paper are common preservation problems in all the university libraries examined. During dry weather which is common in Kenya, library materials are also victims of dust and dirt particles that accumulate in the library buildings and which when unchecked obliterates pages and leave dirty marks on books.

There has been reported cases of exerting undue mechanical pressure books during photocopying and reading, carrying of books by students home in bare hands thus making [page 136↓]them susceptible to damage in case they fall, being rained on and exposure to light. Even when browsing on the shelves several books are said to fall down daily, which adds to the problem of mishandling.

University libraries in Kenya have been involved in various preservation activities. However the commonest measures include rebinding, regular repairs, educating the users on preservation of library materials and microfilming. Rebinding is done on new materials that may be in spiral binding forms, files, or extremely soft paper cover before releasing them for use to make them resilient to the rough and tumble of library use. One chief librarian observed that the savings made instead of buying new material justifies costs involved in binding. Librarians also undertake periodic identification in the course of circulation or shelving of materials that require minor repair and binding, which have become too worn out to offer protection to the text block of the book. Binding is also done on serial items such as journals and newspaper, which not only makes it more convenient to shelf but is also a safeguard against theft and wear and tear. Three universities examined, UON, KU, and USIU have established binderies as part of their normal activities while CUEA continues to use the services of commercial binders. However the public university libraries are presently suffering from acute financial problems such that they are not able to purchase binding materials and service the machines. Apart from this, notably at UON there is acute shortage of bindery staff following the downsizing exercise carried out by the government. The net effect of these problems is stagnation of the binding process, materials taking too long in the bindery and accumulation of materials that would otherwise need binding.

Another library preservation activity is user education during library user activities. This is meant to encourage good handling of material, create awareness of the problem and instil in users simple but useful techniques of handling library materials. Fines for lost and torn books or buying of new ones are applied as deterrent to misuse of library materials. However orientation of users is beset with problems of poor attendance, student apathy and lack of adequate time to impart useful knowledge on how books library materials should be handled.


[page 137↓]

One of the major challenges to preservation of library materials in Kenya is dust accumulation in library buildings and specifically on books and shelves. All the institutions examined in this research have staff members employed whose primary task is to move through the stacks cleaning books and shelves. This has proved to be quite useful in minimizing dust problem in some cases but with staffing problems in UON library, stacks and materials are not cleaned for months making the problem of dust more and more severe.

University libraries in Kenya in conjunction with other institutions such as the National Archives have been involved in a microfilming project past national newspapers. While this is a good move and will definitely contribute towards preservation, it is still in its initial stages and is facing the problem of finance. Other preservation activities reported in all libraries include staff monitoring of the way books are handled and removal of vulnerable material from the general circulation and placing them in special collections.

Apart from the problems already mentioned, university libraries in Kenya are facing a common problem of lack of preservation policies which would otherwise guide in the establishment of effective preservation programmes. In the absence of policies it is impossible to allocate funds and recruit the necessary human resources, as well provide building space for preservation activities.

4.5.8. Multiple Copies and Core Texts

None of the libraries studied relied on core lists. However librarians indicated that whenever any faculty indicated a core journal or key reference texts then these are given priority. The issue of whether libraries should acquire multiple copies remains largely unsettled. While lecturers and students think that there ought to be several copies of each text, librarians are hesitant to adopt a textbook approach to collection development due to inadequate funding and storage space. They are also wary of turning the library into a textbook centre. While students in public universities are encouraged to buy their own texts through a government book allowance, whenever, absolutely necessary and subject to availability of funds, public universities purchase up to four copies. Therefore the acquisition of monographs in multiple copies is not a priority in Kenyan universities.


[page 138↓]

4.6.  TRENDS IN THE GROWTH OF LIBRARY COLLECTIONS

The most common way of thinking about libraries has been in terms of the size of their collections. In recent years library thinking has been focussed on access rather than acquisition. This approach however presumes a number of things. First, the existence of access to current and comprehensive bibliographical information and an efficient infrastructure for document delivery. Secondly it presumes a cost-benefit analysis that favours access rather than ownership. However a number of factors still favour the acquisition model for Kenya. In the first place, there is no adequate bibliographical information in Kenya especially for Africana materials. Secondly, document delivery in Kenya is both slow and expensive. Easy delivery is still a dream far a field due poor postal services, poor Internet connectivity and poor telecommunications. Therefore the physical size of collections is still very relevant and developments in library service in Kenya can only best be understood in the context of appreciation for trends in the number of volumes.

4.6.1. Rate of Acquisition of Monographs

Table 2a: Rate of Acquisition of Monographs (University of Nairobi)

 

Purchase

Book donation

Donated funds

Exchange

Total

 

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

 

1996/97

3,499

23.6

-

-

11,000

76

60

0.4

14,559

1997/98

5,400

44.1

-

-

6,788

55.5

46

0.4

12,234

1998/99

9,537

57

2,093

19

5,166

30.9

20

0.1

16816

1999/00

11,000

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

11,000

2000/01

12000

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

12,000

Source: University of Nairobi Library


[page 139↓]

According to Table 2a, between 1996 and 2001, UON library annual monograph acquisition fell from 14,559 to 12,000 representing an 18% drop. The main methods of acquisition were purchase with own funds and purchase with donated funds. Book donation and exchange played a relatively insignificant role apart from in the academic year 1998/99 when book donation accounted for 19% of the total annual acquisition. Percentage acquisition through donated funds fell gradually from 76% (1996/7); 55.5% (1997/8); 30.9% (1998/99) and fizzled out completely in 1999/00 and 2000/01 academic years. Accordingly, acquisition through purchase using institutional funds played an increasing role over the years accounting for 23.6% (1996/7); 44.1% (1997/8) and 57% (1998/99). Acquisitions in the years 1999/00 and 2000/01 was entirely through purchase using institutional funds.

Table 2b: Rate of Acquisition of Monographs (Kenyatta University)

 

Purchase

Book donation

Donated funds

Exchange

Total

 

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

 

1996/97

0

0

0

0

1,389

100

0

0

1,389

1997/98

829

29.6

1,973

70.4

0

0

0

0

2,802

1998/99

385

2

6,207

31.5

13000

66

116

0.5

19,708

1999/00

212

8.7

0

0

0

0

581

91.3

793

2000/01

724

36.3

1,033

51.8

0

0

236

11.9

1,993

Source: Kenyatta University Library

It is not possible to establish a definite trend in the forms of library acquisition activities for KU library. For example in 1996/7 all materials where acquired through donated funds while in 2000/01 exchange accounted for 91.3% of the total acquisitions, in 1997/8 book donations accounted for 70.4% of total acquisitions. In 1998/9 donated funds accounted for 66% of the total volumes acquired. Purchase using institutional funds played a relatively insignificant and irregular role in acquisition. In 1996/9 no [page 140↓]institutional funds were used for library acquisitions purposes while in 1997/8, 29.6% of total acquisitions were through institutional funds. This figure fell to 2% and 8.7% respectively in 1998/9 and 1999/00 respectively only to rise to 36.3% in 2001/01 academic year.


[page 141↓]

Table 2c: Rate of Acquisition of Monographs (United States International University)

 

Purchase

Book donation

Donated funds

Exchange

Total

 

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

 

1996/97

3880

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

3880

1997/98

3900

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

3900

1998/99

3905

100

-

-

--

-

-

-

3905

1999/00

3910

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

3910

2000/01

3895

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

3895

Source: USIU Library

USIU has indicated fairly constant acquisition levels. For example it acquired between 3800 and 3900 volumes of monographs for the period between 1996/7 and 2000/01. USIU relies exclusively on institutional funds for acquisition activities.

Table 2d: Rate of Acquisition of monographs (Catholic University of E.A )

 

Purchase

Book donation

Donated funds

Exchange

Total

 

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

 

1996/97

1129

35.7

2035

64.3

-

-

-

-

3164

1997/98

1643

41.5

2313

58.5

-

-

-

-

3956

1998/99

2144

44.6

2656

55.4

-

-

-

-

4802

1999/00

2656

48.7

2800

51.3

-

-

-

-

5456

2000/01

7678

55.3

6217

44.7

-

-

-

-

13896

Source: CUEA Library


[page 142↓]

CUEA acquisition levels have increased from 3164 volumes in 1996/97 academic year to 13896 volumes in 2000/01 academic year representing a 77% increase. Purchase using institutional funds has played an increasing role in the years covered by this study: 1996/97 (35.7%); 1997/8 (41.5 %); 1998/9 (44.6 %); 1999/00 (48.7%) and 2000/01 (55.3%). However book donations has also played a significant role accounting for 44.7% in 2000/01 academic year. Notably there is no acquisition through donated funds or exchange.

4.6.2. Rate of Acquisition of Journals

Table 3a: Rate of Acquisition of Journals (United States International University)

 

Purchase

Journal donation

Donated funds

Exchange

Total

 

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

 

1996/97

198

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

198

1997/98

200

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

200

1998/99

3600

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

3600

1999/00

3600

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

3600

2000/01

3600

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

3600

Source: USIU Library

Table 3b: Rate of Acquisition of Journals (Catholic University of Eastern Africa)

 

Purchase

Journal donation

Donated funds

Exchange

Total

 

No

%

No

%

No

%

No

%

 

1996/97

534

85

47

8

-

-

42

7

534

1997/98

638

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

638

1998/99

813

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

813

1999/00

836

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

836

2000/01

848

100

-

-

-

-

-

-

848

Source: CUEA Library


[page 143↓]

Public institutions have been unable to respond proportionately to the high rates increase in the price of journals and in the face of price increase and dwindling budgetary allocations, libraries have responded by discontinuing journal subscriptions. There is no tangible data available from UON but interview sessions with the managers revealed that almost all journal subscriptions have been discontinued due to lack of funds. KU has a total of 116 journal titles, which is way below the national standard. Private institutions studied have performed relatively better in the acquisition of journals against the national standard of 200 core journals. CUEA subscribes to 848 journal titles while USIU through electronic database subscription has at its disposal about 3600 journal titles in full text.

4.7. FUNDING OF LIBRARY SERVICES

4.7.1. Sources of Funds for Library Activities

University libraries in Kenya have four main sources of income; the parent organisation, user fees, donor funding and income generation. Of these four funding sources, university libraries depend mainly on funds allocation from parent organisation. There is evidence that while funding support for libraries in private universities has been consistently commendable, the situation of these public universities has deteriorated as to hamper the fulfilment of their intended goals and objectives. The public university libraries have experienced a general reduction of funding from the parent organisation as well as donor support. In fact as far as public universities are concerned, libraries exists in paradoxical situation whereby although university authorities recognise their centrality in the academic programmes, in the midst of the scramble for funding, the library is given a low priority.

4.7.1.1. Government Funding

All public universities have experienced dramatic reduction in budgetary allocation and it is true that support from parent organisation is becoming less and less. Until early 1980’s meaningful allocation of funds to the library used to take place and specific amounts were set aside for purchase of monographs, journals, and undertaking of capital development. [page 144↓]This situation has changed for the worse through the 90’s and culminated in the dismal funding in the beginning of the 21st Century. In one specific case of public university, the researcher was informed that there is no meaningful budgeting taking place since the government allocation is too little to go round the difference needs. All that the government does is to release money on monthly basis to cover personal emoluments for the entire university system. Any remainder on the library vote is used to purchase stationery and a few reading materials.

At the same time the funding of libraries in public universities must be examined in the light of the prevailing economic performance of Kenya.29 The Kenyan economy has witnessed mixed performance since independence in 1963. In the period 1964 to 1971, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average rate of 6.5% per annum. This was as a result of higher agricultural output due to the expansion in agriculture and redistribution of agricultural land, industrialisation strategy based on import substitution, and public sector participation in manufacturing. This slowed down remarkably during the oil crisis of 1972 and 1979, which pushed up the costs of imported inputs and raw materials on which the economy relies.

In the early 1980’s GDP growth remained below 5%. As a result of the severe drought experienced during the period, GDP grew by less than 1% in 1984. Other structural constraints also explain the poor performance. During the second half 1980s, the economy improved slightly due to macro-economic management by the Government, coupled with relatively good weather (1985-86), and introduction of some elements of Structural Adjustment Programmes as contained in Sessional Paper No 1 of 1986 on Economic Management and Renewed Growth. During the latter part of the 1980s, and early 1990s, the government intensified implementation of the structural adjustment programmes aimed at reviving economic growth. The emphasis during the period had been on stabilisation and enhancing of the structural adjustment programmes. These involved strict monetary policy, budget rationalisation, and reduction of deficits, [page 145↓]privatisation of parastatals, promotion of private sector investment, recovery of agricultural production, liberalisation of foreign exchange, abolition of foreign exchange controls and promotion of investment and exports. Some of the reform measures have had negative short-term impact, such as reduction of domestic production caused by removal of high rates of production. While some of the policies have produced desired results, others have impacted negatively on some sectors of the economy and other economic indicators.

In 1991 and 1992, the country witnessed very high inflation rates caused mainly by large increases in money supply and bank credit. As a result of the tight monetary policy introduced by the Central Bank, the rates fell drastically. Subsequently, and as a result of the stabilisation measures and a liberalised environment, the rate of growth improved to 4.8% in 1995 and 4.6% in 1996. Firstly, in 1997 and 1998 the economy witnessed a significant slow-down in the growth rate to just 2.3 % and 1.8% respectively. Although the rate of inflation declined from 11.2 % in 1997 to 6.6% in 1998 due to factors such as sustained slowdown in the expansion of money supply, the general stability of the shilling exchange rate, and the improved supplies of basic foods, the trend was reversed upwards in the years between 1998 and 2001.

This was due to:

  1. Rise in the import prices of petroleum products as a result of weakening of the shilling against major international currencies;
  2. Budget deficit financing by the Government;
  3. The growing incidence of poverty and unemployment which implied reduced tax revenue and increased government appropriations to address the problem of poverty and unemployment;
  4. Slow process of economic recovery due to slow down in budgetary cuts, poor infrastructure, high interest rates, reduced donor funding, and fall in the balance of payments surplus due to a reduction in tourism earnings and slower growth of exports.


[page 146↓]

All these have continued to weaken the government’s ability to finance all sectors of national life such as education and health. The financial allocation to universities has continued to deteriorate. This has meant that less and less funds are available to university libraries to finance their activities.

4.7.1.2. User Fees

In the public universities, regular students, those admitted to the university through Joint Admission Board (JAB) do not pay directly library fee. However those of the parallel programs are required to pay amount ranging between Kshss.1500-2500 as library fees. In some cases it has had impact on library funding in that each program has to buy books and journals using these money through the library. In the past, departments and faculties have attempted to buy materials directly without involving the library and later the wisdom of going through the library has been realised. In places where this is happening for example in UON library, library funds collected through parallel program are giving libraries a new lease of life. Acquisition and processing departments are becoming active once more. However these funds are of limited significance to the library’s overall financial needs. In the first place there is the element of tokenism, secondly these funds are not directly allocated to the library and as such the library has completely no control of it. Since once it is paid to the university fund nobody seems to remember the library when it comes to budget allocation sessions.

4.7.1.3. Donor Support

Although librarians have been active in seeking donor support this has become less and less and has changed from funds and books to that of subscription to electronic sources such as CD-ROMs, e-databases and e-journals. These range from large organisations such as the World Bank to individual persons. Donor support has in the past taken the form of funds for equipment and books, capital development, and donation of actual books. In the 1990’s a World Ban loan was extended to Kenyan government, which went to development of university systems through training, upgrading of laboratories and library and information services. While in existence, this World Bank program was a [page 147↓]major boost to public university libraries since during this period the public universities did not allocate much institutional funds for library collections or training of library personnel both on the professional and the para-professional level.

While donor assistance has been very useful, it has various shortcomings. One main shortcoming is that of sustainability. Since donor programs run for specified period of time, their presence tends to create false impression of adequacy. When the World Bank came to an end, public university libraries found themselves unable to sustain rates of collection development, continuation of journal subscriptions or even carrying out training programs and equipment formerly supported by donors such as computers, photocopiers ground to a halt as they could not be serviced or maintained. Another problem is that of relevance of donated material with some libraries experiencing dumping of less than useful materials. This is especially so in situation where donations are handled by the university administration without giving librarians opportunity to assess the usefulness of the material. In some cases the donating agencies send lists of books and librarians are able to select items they would wish to receive as donations but where this does not happen loads of reading materials are delivered to the libraries, which creates a big problem of sorting and processing, space and as well as disposal problems of donated material. This has been experienced in virtually all universities studied. This is in no way to down play the usefulness of donor agencies in the development of university libraries in Kenya, however thought needs to be given beforehand to the shortcomings associated with donations.

4.7.1.4. Income Generation

With the dramatic reduction in government and donor funding, public universities have had to seek ways of strengthening their shaky financial base. While this is not of much emphasis in private universities there is evidence that they too are involved in one method or another of income generation. Like their parent organisations libraries have embraced this practice and have used their facilities and skills to generate some income through photocopying, bindery, word processing services, internet services and in the case of UON the library has mounted a library diploma course. According to the [page 148↓]librarians, there is business in all these activities and can be useful in enhancing financial situation of the university libraries. However in most cases libraries have no control over funds generated since all the money goes to the central finance office and much to the disappointment of librarians, they are not able to use this money to address immediate needs.

4.7.2. Trends in Institutional Funding of Library Activities

Public universities continue to rely heavily on the exchequer for funding, currently based on Kshs. 120,000 per student per academic year for their operations. The government contribution has however been diminishing and this has led to serious financial problems in public universities. In relative terms, the proportionate share of Ministry of Education budget devoted to the public universities declined steadily over the years from 20% in 1991 to 12% in 2000/01 and the painful consequences of this decline continue to be felt by public university libraries. With the decline in the budgetary provision from the exchequer, the poor performance of the Kenya shilling against international currencies and the corresponding increase in debt, public universities have reached a crisis level that has threatened the ability of public university libraries to accomplish their role in the university. Indicators of this includes the inability of public university libraries to attract and retain IT staff due to low remuneration, dismal services poor resulting from lack of funds for capital development and maintenance, and insignificant acquisition levels of information materials. This is part of the widespread trend in the public university setting whereby:

Large number of physical facilities that were started way back in 1987/88 remained incomplete today while those in use have worsened due to lack of preventive maintenance. Similarly, equipment in critical areas have become unserviceable with great loss to the quality of teaching. Vital aspects of academic support system are wanting with such areas as transport, document processing, library acquisition, research, information technology, etc have suffered considerably over the last 10 years”.30


[page 149↓]

Table 4a: Expenditure From Institutional Funds for Library Purposes in Million Kenya Shillings (University of Nairobi)

 

1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Monographs

64

69.5

57

64.5

50

57.8

0.8

3

0.6

2.1

Journals

-

-

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

Equipment and furniture

-

-

-

 

-

 

-

 

2.4

7.7

Staff (salary and wages)

28

30.5

33

35.5

40

42.5

27

97

28

90.2

Maintenance

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

-

Computerisation

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

 

-

-

Total in Kshs

92

 

90

 

90

 

27.8

 

31

 

Total in €

(million)

1.2

 

1.1

 

1.1

 

0.37

 

0.41

 

Source: University of Nairobi Library

The data on the expenditure from institutional funds on library is presented in Tables 4a-d. According to Table 4a the allocation of institutional funds in UON declined from Kshs 92 million in 1996/7 academic year to only Kshs. 31 million in 2000/01 academic year. This represents a 66% drop and corresponding to this, library expenditure on monographs has declined steadily from Kshs. 64 million in 1996/7 to only Kshs. 0.6 million in 2000/01. Accordingly, in 1996/7 academic year 69.5% of expenditure went to the purchase of monographs while only 3% and 2.1% was spend for the same purpose in 1999/2000 and 2000/01 academic years respectively. Expenditure on salaries and wages grew from Kshs. 28 million in 1996/7 to Kshs. 40 million in 1998/9, then dropped to 27 million in 1999/2000 before slightly increasing to Kshs. 28 million in 2000/01 academic year. This decrease can be attributed to the massive retrenchment undertaken in all public institutions including public universities. It can also be observed that with low allocation for library purposes, salaries and wages accounted for 97% and 90.2% of library expenditure in 1999/00 and 2000/01 academic years. Notably no expenditure has been made between 1996/7 and 2000/01 academic year for purposes such as journal purchase, maintenance and computerisation.


[page 150↓]

Table 4b: Expenditure from Institutional Funds for Library Purposes in Million Kenya Shillings (Kenyatta University)

 

1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Monographs

1.3

4.6

3.7

8.8

0.6

1.4

0.1

0.4

0.6

2.1

Journals

1.4

5.1

11.3

26.9

16.7

38.6

0.2

0.8

0.3

1.1

Equipment and furniture

-

-

-

 

-

 

-

-

-

0.3

Staff (salary and wages)

25

90.3

27

64.3

26

60

25

98.8

28

96.5

Maintenance

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Computerisation

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total in Kshs

26.7

 

42

 

43.3

 

25.3

 

29

 

Total in €

(million)

0.35

 

0.55

 

0.57

 

0.33

 

0.38

 

Source: Kenyatta University Library

Like UON, highest expenditure of institutional funds at KU is on salaries and wages accounting for 90.3% (1996/7), 64.3% (1997/8), 60% (1998/9), 98.8% (1999/00), and 96.5% (2000/01). Expenditure on monographs has accounted for only between 0.4% (1999/00) and 8.8% (1997/8). Expenditure on journals has also been erratic, being highest in 1997/8 (Kshs. 11.3 million) and 1998/9 (Kshs. 16.7 million) before sinking to less than Kshs.1 million in 1999/00 and 2000/01. Like UON, during this period there was no expenditure on equipment, furniture, maintenance and computerisation apart from 2000/01 academic year when a meagre Kshs. 0.1 million was spent on furniture and maintenance. Total expenditure on library purposes increased from Kshs. 26.7 million (1996/7) by 38.3% in 1998/9 before declining by 33% in 2000/01.


[page 151↓]

Table 4c: Expenditure from Institutional Funds for Library Purposes in Million Kenya Shillings (USIU)

 

1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Monographs

15

46.7

21

45.8

16

45.5

18

48

16

40.7

Journals

1.9

5.9

3

6.5

4.5

12.8

6.1

16.2

6.9

17.6

Equipment and furniture

-

-

7

15.3

4

11.4

1.8

4.8

2

5.1

Staff (salary and wages)

0.7

21.8

7

15.3

8

22.8

8

21.4

9

22.9

Maintenance

0.2

0.6

0.5

1.1

1.2

3.3

2.4

6.4

2.4

6.1

Computerisation

8

25

7.4

16

1.5

4.2

1.4

3.6

3

7.6

Total in Kshs

32.1

-

45.9

-

35.2

-

37.7

-

39.3

 

Total in €

(million)

0.42

-

0.59

-

0.46

-

0.48

-

0.52

 

Source: USIU Library

Expenditure of institutional funds on library purposes at USIU rose by 18.4% from Kshs 32.1m in 1996/7 to Kshs. 39.3m in 2000/01. The purchase of monographs accounted for between 40% and 48% of the annual expenditure throughout the five-year period under study. Journals accounted for between 5.9% (1996/7) and 17.6% (2000/1) while funds spend on equipment and furniture accounted for between 4.8% (1999/00) and 15.3% (1996/7) academic year. Maintenance accounted for 6.4% (1999/00) and 6.1% (2000/01).


[page 152↓]

Table 4d: Expenditure from Institutional Funds for Library Purposes in Million Kenya Shillings (CUEA)

 

1996/97

1997/98

1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Amount

%

Monographs

3.4

63

4.1

63

4.4

60.2

8.4

63.2

12.1

66.9

Journals

0.3

6

0.4

6.2

0.5

6.8

1.1

8.3

1.4

7.7

Equipment and furniture

-

 

-

 

-

-

0.4

3

0.4

2.2

Staff (salary and wages)

1.4

25

1.7

26.2

2

27.5

2.7

20.3

3.4

18.8

Maintenance

0.3

6

0.3

4.6

0.4

5.5

0.7

5.2

0.8

4.4

Computerisation

not known

-

not known

-

not known

-

not known

-

not known

not known

Total in Kshs

5.4

-

6.5

-

7.3

-

13.3

-

18.1

 

Total in million Euros

0.07

-

0.09

-

0.1

-

0.18

-

0.23

 

Source: CUEA Library

Allocation of institutional funds in the case of CUEA for library purposes has risen consistently from Kshs. 5.4 million to Kshs. 18.1 million representing a 69.5% increase.

The statistical information collected and presented in Tables 4a-d support the observation by library managers that allocation of institutional funds in public universities for library purposes is declining. For example in UON it was reported that government allocation is so little that no meaningful budgeting can be done. Before 1980’s substantive expenditure on library was done and specific amounts were set up aside for the purchase of monographs and journals as well as capital development. In the 1990’s a World Bank loan was used to purchase books for all public university libraries, however this programme ended in 1999. Today the government releases funds on monthly basis to cover personnel emolument for the entire university system. The reminder is used for the purchase of information materials. This accounts for the low percentage of institutional funds being used for the purchase of reading materials in UON, which has declined to only 2.1% in the 2000/01 academic year. Both KU and UON libraries are unable to renew subscriptions hence no supply of new journals while many existing titles have been [page 153↓]discontinued. Substantial debts with suppliers have led to suspension of further supplies until outstanding debts have been settled. Failure by administration to release funds as per the university budget has made it impossible for libraries to plan library activities. Over the five-year period under review, UON library has depended entirely on donor support for its computerisation efforts with IT equipment being donated by University of Antwerp (Belgium), Netherlands and British embassies. Lack of expenditure on furniture and infrastructure maintenance has resulted in broken down furniture leading to shortage of seats and lack of binding services hence the accumulation of books in need of repair.

Private university libraries enjoy a relatively better institutional support. As indicated in Tables 4c-d, in these institutions there is fairer distribution of institutional funds for library purposes with the purchase of reading materials accounting for more than 40% annually and funds being allocated for more library purposes including equipment and furniture, maintenance as well as computerisation. For example between 1996/7 and 1997/8 academic years, USIU implemented a computerisation programme costing Kshs. 17 million. (US$ 300,000). Therefore it could be concluded that the relatively small but rapidly expanding private universities are consistent in institutional expenditure on libraries so as to meet the requirements of the Commission of Higher Education and attract more students.

4.7.3. Human Resource Planning

4.7.3.1. Staffing Levels

Assessment of staffing levels requires a focus on both the professional and paraprofessional personnel and one of the critical issues is the ratio of professional staff to user population in relation to the existing models or standards. Data on this is presented in Table1. According to Kenya’ Commission of Higher Education, the professional staff size of university libraries should be established at a ratio of 1:250. The staffing ratios for the institutions examined are: UON (1:575), KU (1:467), USIU (1:824), and CUEA, (1: 936). Going by national standard therefore, it is clear that all institutions examined in this study are extremely understaffed.


[page 154↓]

Table 5a:Library Staffing Levels in Four Selected University Libraries

 

1996/7

2000/01

Total increase or decrease

Percentage increase or decline

UON

127

100

-27

-21.3%

KU

36

34

-2

-5.4%

USIU

12

11

-1

-8.3%

CUEA

4

6

2

50%

Source: Data collected from the libraries

Table 5a presents data on staffing trends in four selected universities for the past five years. Of the four institutions examined only CUEA has experienced growth in staff levels. The hardest hit is UON, which has experienced 21.3% decline in staff levels. Therefore understaffing is one of the notable problems facing university libraries examined. At the moment, CUEA library has only two staff with masters’ degree in library science while the establishment provides for eight. Public universities, following retrenchment lost many of the library assistants and attendants. Consequently professional are involved in shelving of materials for about two hours a day, spend time filing cards and therefore are not constantly available for consultation by users.

4.7.3.2. Staff Training

Table 5b: Staff Training in Four Selected University Libraries

 

1996/7

1997/8

1998/9

1999/00

2000/01

Total

UON

6

6

8

7

4

31

KU

-

-

-

-

-

-

USIU

1

1

2

2

2

8

CUEA

-

-

-

-

-

-

Source: Data collected from libraries

[page 155↓]Data on staff training is presented in Table 5b. Two of the university libraries examined have been involved staff training. UON has sent a total of 31 members of staff for training between 1996 and 2001 with 30% of these being sent to courses leading to first degree while 20% attended postgraduate courses especially information technology training at the Institute of Computer Science in the same university. The rest were sent for diploma courses at either Kenya School of Professional Studies or Kenya Polytechnic. USIU has been sponsoring staff for certificate courses in library science with a total of 8 staff being trained between 1996/7 and 2000/1 academic years. There are plans to phase out certificate positions in favour of diploma to enable diploma holders assist professionals in providing services. Other members of USIU library staff take advantage of free tuition arrangement in the university to pursue other degree courses. Both KU and CUEA have not been involved in staff training activities. KU no longer provides funds for training. However in both KU and CUEA, members of staff who would like to advance academically through self-sponsorship are given time off to attend evening classes.

In 1999 public universities alongside government ministries carried out a rationalisation program of functions and staff downsizing exercise with the objective of determining the structure and optimal staff size appropriate for the performance of core functions of the university within affordable limits. There was felt urgent need to focus on the limited resources to core functions and priorities, divestment off non-core and peripheral activities and need for removal of functional overlaps, redundancies and duplications. This program was part of the wider integrated public sector reform strategy meant to improve terms and conditions of service. As part of this, demand-driven training force were to be developed to improve competencies, capacity and commitment of the remaining staff to effectively perform the core functions.

However the programme of staff down sizing has had negative impact on the functioning of university libraries. For example at UON, services such as reference, photocopying, bindery and archive services have been discontinued. At CUEA and KU shortage of support and paraprofessional staff has forced professional staff to perform routine activities such as circulation work, shelving of reading materials and catalogue cards [page 156↓]which takes up to 2 hours per day. It means that librarians are not always available for activities such as reference services, information literacy skills programmes and planning. At USIU due to staff shortage it has not been possible to operate the library from Monday to Sunday as planned forcing the institution to arrange for shift programme.

4.7.3.3. Emoluments for Librarians and Faculty Status

Among the institutions examined only in public university are professional librarians regarded as academic with faculty status. In the two universities, CUEA and USIU librarians are grouped together with administrative staff. Even in public universities, although librarians have similar salaries as those of academic staff, they have no access to benefits such as duty free car importation facility. It was reported to the researcher that efforts are underway to remove the academic status of librarians. All these have a demoralising impact on librarians. Consequently, retention of staff, caused by poor working terms is one problem facing public university libraries. This is especially for those with IT skills, and who move to the private institutions and international bodies.

4.8. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES

4.8.1. Automation and Electronic Information

Table 6: Level of Automation and Electronic Information in Selected University Libraries in Kenya (2001)

 

E-journals

E-databases

CD-ROMs

Comps. for admin.

Comps. for Internet

Comps for OPAC

UON

-

-

not known

4

7

-

KU

-

-

not known

4

2

-

USIU

6000

2

60

12

25

6

CUEA

-

-

15

3

2

4

Data compiled from the various university libraries

The impact of information technology on collection development in Kenyan university libraries has been varied. By far private universities have been faster in adapting the new [page 157↓]technology although largely university libraries in Kenya are print based. Library automation has been mainly addressed to existing internal functions; circulation and acquisition and has been conceptualised to provide secondary bibliographical resources such as OPACs to facilitate access to libraries own holdings. Presently the two public university libraries examined, UON and KU still operate on manual card catalogues.

UON is in the process of creating a computerised database for an online public access catalogue. Although it has seven (7) Internet connection points, these are largely used by librarians. It also has an Internet cafe, which is mainly used by students for e-mail purposes, and for which they pay while its CD-ROM collection is small and largely based on donated material.

KU does not yet have a public online catalogue but like UON it is in the process of creating a computer database. It has created a vote for purchase of audio-visual materials and CD-ROMs and therefore a viable collection is expected to come up. At CUEA, there is no policy relating to non-book media, although it has already created an OPAC accessible to users through four computers. It provides Internet searches for free to students as one of information service. It also has a CD-ROM collection composed mainly of indexes, abstracts and bibliographies that are useful for searching journal articles. The best strides so far in electronic information are probably that made by USIU, where the library subscribes to electronic databases with a large variety of journals. It has about 6000 electronic journals, a large CD-ROM collection, and a comprehensive electronic network for administrative purposes and electronic publics online access.

A number of factors have been identified as hindering computerisation of library services. The overriding hindrance to automation of library services in Kenya is that the public universities in Kenya are poorly funded. Public university libraries depend solely on inadequate funds from government to their respective universities. Where funds are available to buy equipment, there is no guarantee that there will be funds to maintain such equipment. Secondly there is a problem of inadequate telecommunication infrastructure in the country. Thirdly, there is widespread absence of information technology skills since computer experts have no experience with automated libraries and few librarians have extensive computer knowledge. Due to great demand for people with IT skills in the [page 158↓]country, library staff with such knowledge often leave for better paying jobs in other fields or relocate to other countries. Generally, computer illiteracy is still high among librarians who have not yet fully explored the capabilities of computers in library work.

4.8.2. Internet Infrastructure and Digital Libraries

The virtual library is largely a vision deemed to have unlimited potency in information provision. One of the programmes of the African Information Society Initiative is the creation of electronic libraries to provide information resources by making textbooks and periodicals electronically available especially for schools, universities and research centres.31 For this to be possible however it is necessary for create the necessary communication infrastructure through encouraging the liberalization of national telecommunication and public broadcasting services, encouraging private sector participation and also setting up independent regulatory body to regulate public/private sector partnerships.32 The Kenya Communications Act, 1998, which replaced the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Act came into full operation with effect from July 1st 1999. The act provided the establishment of National Communications Secretariat (NCS) to serve as the policy advisory arm of the government on matters pertaining to the info-communications sector. The Communications Commission of Kenya serves as the regulatory body and was established by Kenya Communications Act 1998 to discharge duties such as licensing, price regulation, approval of equipment, manage radio frequencies, interconnection and universal service obligations.

There is a felt challenge to establish a sustainable communication and networking among educational institutions in Kenya to facilitate widespread use of internet technology in teaching, research and sharing of other information resources to the general populace at an affordable cost. This has led to the establishment of the Kenya Education Network (KENET) partly funded by the Leland Initiative of USAID. The objectives of the [page 159↓]initiative are to set up a cost effective and sustainable private network with access to the global internet, facilitate electronic communication among students and faculty in these institutions, sharing of teaching and learning resources, provide a platform and infrastructure for electronic teaching and encourage collaboration in research.33 The KENET infrastructure project will connect 22 institutions including all the universities to the Internet via the national Internet Protocol (IP) backbone called Jambonet operated by Telkom Kenya and those far from Jambonet access will use radio access.

The basic infrastructure established will be used to build a sustainable private network with a dedicated gateway to the Internet. All the institutions will become hubs to other institutions in the neighbourhoods. The project will provide each participating institution with access equipment consisting of data terminating or network equipment, a Linux based server machine and UPSes. Besides the project will also train network administrators as well as individuals in charge of content development. The main challenge to IP network infrastructure is the high cost of access to the Internet. Therefore the project hopes to work with Telkom Kenya to reduce tariffs for the education sector by a factor of five over a period of two years, establish special regulations with Communications Commission of Kenya for educational institutions and propose to the government tax exemption for education sector. It is hoped that university libraries will benefit from this initiative in improving their services.

At the same time university libraries in Kenya report collaborative efforts with each other nationally and regionally to create national electronic networks to facilitate the better access to academic information. The two most critical are Supply of Academic Publications (SAP) and Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI). The Supply of Academic Publication is an initiative of the International Federation of the University Presidents (IAUP) in co-operation with International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) and the Flemish International Council (VLIR). The goal of the project is to provide a sustainable solution for key problems that [page 160↓]universities in the developing regions are facing today. This includes lack of access to current scientific literature published in international academic journals and their impossibility to publish and present their own academic publications beyond the local scale of their university or region. It aims at setting up sustainable electronic document delivery between universities in the North and the South, as well as between universities in the South themselves, by use of international electronic network. Three of Kenyan universities are participating in this project namely: CUEA, UON, and KU. The main challenge is the slow pace of implementation whereby for example in the Kenyan situation, the project is still on the implementation stage. Given the project was set to run up to 2003, it is not yet certain how much will have been achieved by that time

Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) is supported by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) of United Kingdom whose aim is to support information production, access and dissemination for research partners in developing countries utilising new information and communication technologies (ICT). In the first place it aims at facilitating the delivery of scientific and scholarly information through electronic means, in partnership with researchers and university librarians. It includes full text online journals, current awareness databases and document delivery of major scientific, technical, medical, social science and humanities materials from a wide range of sources. Secondly, through electronic publishing especially through the Internet the programme aims at providing access to research reports by promoting national and regional journals. Thirdly, it aims at enhancing the information and communication technology (ICT) skills in the dissemination and utilisation of information through training workshops. Finally, it is working to enhance skills in journal management and production by providing training in publishing processes such as editing, financial management and online techniques.34


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4.9.  SERVICE DELIVERY AND ACCESS

4.9.1. Introduction

While libraries in Kenya are similar in the services they offer, they differ in the quality and organisation of these services. The most critical factors are the number of personnel, the level of IT application, the level of bibliographical control and availability of up-to-date information documents. These determine the level and quality of hybrid services such as reference service, literature searching and information skills training. For example, UON library has been affected by retrenchment and staff turnover aggravated by official freeze of staff recruitment, which has been in force now for five years, such that some services have either slowed down or ground to a halt. A case in point is the book binding services, which had 12 members of staff now, has only three who cannot cope with the work.

Staff turnover especially through poaching by private organisations such as banks and other academic institutions is severe in UON contrasted by KU where each of the broad subject areas; education, science and technology, humanities and social sciences is staffed with at least three professionals who provide reference services to users. Private university libraries are faring better in IT integration. This has greatly improved their ability to provide services more efficiently. Catalogues can swiftly be updated, use of CD-ROM for full text and bibliographical information are faster and the availability of E-journals and Internet based electronic databases as is the case with USIU means better variety and current information access for users. KU has a well-established manual indexing service for local newspapers, which focuses on pertinent issues such as education, gender and environment. This has proved to be very popular among users. Unlike KU, the manual public catalogues of UON have not been updated for a long time and have proved a major problem to access. The biggest hindrance in public university libraries is inadequacy of collections. With unsystematic acquisition, the shelves are full of out-of-date materials with few copies of any current materials. This creates a high competition among users.


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4.9.2.  Types of Services Provided

4.9.2.1. Book Lending and Access to Special Collections

The most common service in all libraries studied is book lending. All the universities examined, like all universities in Kenya operate on open access systems with most of their collections available for out-of-the-library use. They also operate special collections such as of books, periodicals, photocopies pamphlets, files and other articles on heavy demand as well as theses, students’ project reports and staff papers. Materials on recommended reading lists are placed at the request of lecturers in the reserve collection. Materials may not leave the library except as overnight loans where they may borrow in the evening to be returned the next day. During the weekdays materials on reserve are available for consultation for up to 2 hours.

The Africana collections contains materials specifically on Africa in general put together to facilitate easier access for those who wish to do research on this particular area. In the case of UON, the Africana collection contains materials on Kenya in particular and East Africa. As well as books, the collection contains periodicals on East African studies, government publications, manuscripts. All theses from former University of East Africa and UON and theses on East African topics presented to other universities are also acquired mainly in microfilm. UON is also a legal deposit centre for Kenyan publications received through the registrar general under the Books and Newspaper Act, which are also available for consultation.

The USIU has an American studies collection which covers the areas of architecture, art, business, cultural studies, drama, economics, education, geography, gender studies, history, international relations, politics, journalism, labour studies, law, linguistics, literature, music, philosophy, poetry, psychology, religion, science and sociology. The collection is open to the academic and research community in the east and central Africa region. The library also has a course text collection, which consists of core readings in different areas of study, which are loaned to students and faculty for the entire semester.


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4.9.2.2.  Reference Services

All universities examined have reference services of one kind or another. Here the term reference services is used to refer to all activities that facilitate the efficient access of information by users in specific subject areas to accomplish teaching, learning or research activities and which target the library’s own collection or information stored in other libraries or information systems. It includes first, providing information to where specific information can be found and how it is accessed, ad secondly, locating that information of information bearing article. Thirdly, reference services includes instruction on the techniques of information retrieval such as how to create search strategies or skills of using information guides such as catalogues, bibliographies and indexes as well as methods of extracting this information and synthesizing it with due respect to acknowledging the original sources of such information.

Although this is done in all institutions, by far KU has the most elaborate reference service network whereby the service is divided into broad subject areas such as education, social sciences, humanities and science and technology. Each of these sections has at least two professional librarians who assist users to access information in the library. CUEA reference staff notably contacts literature searches for users in the CD-ROM indexes and abstracts as well as the Internet. Because of the limited number of computers for these purposes, librarians themselves contact the searches, which saves time as opposed to letting users contact their own searches. USIU has professional reader service librarians who also guide users and provide them with training on how to use the different tools including the OPAC, and media centre. Reference services at the main library of UON are limited because of absence of a full time reference librarian. Therefore as much assistance as possible is provided at the circulation department.

4.9.2.3. Information Literacy and Interlibrary Loan Services.

These services are discussed as separate headings under 5.4.5 and 4.9.9 respectively in this work.


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4.9.3.  Intensity of Library Use

This research did not set out to quantitatively analyse the intensity of use of university library services, however a general idea of the situation was gathered from both users as well as library administrators. There is evidence of awareness of the importance of the library in the teaching and learning process especially among faculty members both in public and private universities.

However the general observation among library managers interviewed is that library collections are not as intensively used as expected. One of the suggested reasons for poor use of the library is that students generally lack information literacy skills. Students do not possess adequate skills to allow them independently and extensively use the library. There is also general lack of awareness of the usefulness of the wealth of information available in the library. For example, it was observed that in CUEA the journal collection is not used as much as expected because in the first place there is general unawareness of the usefulness journals as sources of information and secondly the absence of indexes and abstracts to these journals.

Another reason for low library use is the teaching methods, which do not use case studies, assignments and projects but are rather restricted to lecture method leading to high dependence on lecture notes and handouts. Teaching in the university has been criticised for being exam oriented with majority of students preferring prescribed texts and do not want to turn to alternative sources. There is concern over the increasing dependence on Internet to satisfy information needs, which is preferred because it is faster and more precise while print sources are regarded as cumbersome to use. The problem is not so much the use of the Internet but that in the absence of subscription to databases, students lacking skills of evaluation are likely to depend on material whose quality is uncertain. Librarians especially in public universities are aware of the deteriorating quality of library services such as absence of adequate and current information sources, inability to offer hybrid services such as literature searches, reference services and other library resources.


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4.9.4.  Information Technology and Library Use

There is limited use of modern information technology in the provision of library services in Kenya. As already indicated, among the libraries examined only CUEA and USIU have operational OPAC systems. There is general feeling that the introduction of IT has made the library more visible and has increased demand. Among the benefits already felt as arising from this electronic environment are:

  1. Prompt access to information sought from the library
  2. Access to external databases to retrieve information via the internet
  3. Ability to search catalogues using many access points such as keywords, phrase searching editors, years of publication etc
  4. Ability of readers to reserve materials on loan at terminals
  5. Users can know at computer terminals the materials on loan and when they will be returned

4.9.5. User Education and Information Literacy

There are different forms of information literacy programmes practised in Kenyan universities. These include library orientation, library instruction courses, individual instruction or reference service, and use of library manuals and guides. In all the four universities examined library orientation is mandatory and takes place in the first and second weeks when new students report to the university. Library orientation is aimed at making students aware of the available library facilities, information resources and services. It includes activities such as the distribution of informational material that describe the library system and the resources and services, introductory lectures, staff contacted tours and demonstrations on how to find and retrieve information using different tools such as catalogues, and journal indexes. The length of the orientation session differs from one university to another however on average for each group of 30 students an orientation session of 30 minutes is assigned.


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While library orientation is useful as an initial introduction to the library and its functions, in the Kenyan context, its effectiveness is hampered by factors such as failure to come up with realistic and achievable objectives. For example the limited time allocated to the lecture, demonstration and tour is inadequate to impart useful skills to new university students. The timing of library orientation programmes in the first and second week of students’ life in the university is poor since at this time students are poorly motivated to participate and may not be in a position to appreciate the centrality of the library in the academic life. There is also an insufficient staff resource to cope with large numbers of first year students in a relatively short time. It is indicated that according to the university timetable the orientation should be done in the first two weeks so as not to infringe on lecture time of other subjects i.e. before serious class attendance begins. Having to attend to large groups within a short time also makes the orientation fraught with superficiality and incompleteness.

The greatest advantage of personal instruction as part of reference service is that skills are imparted when the learner is most motivated to use them. All four universities reported to have some reference service of one kind or another. As a reference service it not only leads to answering of specific questions but also facilitates personalised instruction in the methods of identifying and retrieving library materials. In some cases such as KU and USIU students are given detailed instruction on how to prepare search strategies, preparing bibliographies, term paper write ups and how to make citations. It is seen as a useful remedial measure when individual students are not conversant with the information services available and how to use specific information aids such as indexes, catalogues, bibliographies and how to plan and accomplish their written assignments. However such personal attention is hampered by shortage of staff. A good example is UON main library and the CUEA library, which do not have reference librarians. In both cases after the previous ones left employment three years ago no replacements have been made and consequently reference information is provided at the circulation desk. Naturally this is scanty, unplanned and inadequate. KU has an elaborate system of reference service whereby each main subject area such as science, education, social sciences, and arts and humanities has at least three professional librarians to provide [page 167↓]reference and referral services. USIU has two reference librarians who instruct and direct individual users in information access and use.

Library guides and manuals can also be effective in enhancing the effectiveness of student’s information retrieval activities. Their advantage is that students can consult them when they need to retrieve information or remind themselves how to do it long after they have forgotten what they learnt during the orientation sessions. Both KU and UON reported to have had in the past an elaborate library manual but due to lack of funds they are no longer able to print and circulate it among new users as it is the case with the CUEA and USIU.

There is widespread adoption of electronic information systems in Kenyan universities libraries. All four universities are either using or are developing electronic databases. They are also using electronic information storage and retrieval devices such as CD-ROMs and students can access Internet based resources. As electronic services are introduced, new skills need to be developed for both the academics and students. Only CUEA and USIU reported to be instructing their users in the use of OPAC systems. However this training is based on the assumption that students have a basic knowledge of computer operations and therefore with a brief introduction they should be able to use the electronic information databases. However as librarians reported to this researcher, this is not the case. Fresh university students are reluctant to use electronic sources main reason being lack of database search skills, unawareness of what to expect and what assistance these services are capable of providing.

The most recent development in information literacy efforts in Kenyan universities is the communication skill course for all undergraduate students. In this course, students are taught a variety of skills including library use, reading, as well as writing skills. All universities examined in this research apart from USIU are engaged in communication skills courses. The communication skills course is designed to assist fresh university students acquaint themselves with particular skills associated with university academic work and therefore its main goal is to facilitate a fruitful interaction between students and information resources by enhancing user independence, confidence and accuracy in exploiting the information resource for learning purposes. The library skills component of [page 168↓]the communication skills course is to ensure that the user can exploit library resources adequately, by establishing a link between the subject taught and the literature available. In these institutions the communication skills course is compulsory and examinable. It was reported that libraries are not involved in either the design or the delivery of communication skills course. In spite of its positive contribution towards information literacy, communication skills courses has been beset with problems ranging from lack of personnel especially with background in librarianship, large groups hence the prevalence of the lecture method, and lack of evaluation of its effectiveness. Other complaints against the course include: it is of limited value in the face of lack of useful information resources especially in the public university libraries, the element of examination which makes students approach it from purely theoretical point of view therefore failure to relate it to the daily information, it is offered only once in the university life of the students and that the library skills aspect is taught by non librarians who have limited knowledge of how libraries work. Above all there is evidence of lack of collaboration between the communication skills department and other departments in creating a course that fits well with all the subjects offered by the university.

4.9.6. Opening Hours

Length of service (opening hours) is a critical factor in the library service provision. Since most students are in class during the day, it is necessary that libraries remain open during lunch hours, evenings and weekends. However this is not the case in libraries such as CUEA where efforts to establish a flexible opening schedule has been hampered by lack of personnel. Due to demand from library users, students on a work-study program have been used to operate the library during lunch hours, evening and on Saturdays. Alternative courses such as evening classes, changes in course structure, teaching methods are likely to have impact on patterns of library services. In the case of USIU the library is also open on Sunday (9.00 a.m-4.00p.) There is increased demand hence the apparent lengthening of library opening hours to between 82-89 hours per week.


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4.9.7.  User Satisfaction

There is evidence of appreciation of the role of the library in facilitating academic activities among the staff. One lecturer is quoted as saying; “The library is the nerve centre of any learning and research institution, in the provision of new information useful for the advancement of knowledge.” However, there is also awareness among all groups of users of the inadequacy of the services provided by Kenyan university libraries. Major complaints include:

  1. Unavailability of required texts
  2. Inadequate copies of core course texts
  3. Restriction in access to reserve and special collection e.g. Africana materials
  4. Incomplete public catalogue and absence of indexes and indexing journals
  5. to facilitate access to journal articles
  6. Unfriendly and incompetent staff
  7. Slow service
  8. Lack of hybrid services such as literature searches, SDI, information
  9. literacy skills programmes
  10. Out of date materials
  11. Lack of access to internet based materials
  12. Inability to access information in other libraries due to lack of library
  13. co-operation
  14. Limited hours of access.


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The quality of services differs from one university to the next. For example at the University of Nairobi, reference services have virtually ceased due to lack of staff. At KU reference and inquiry services have been steadily good. Here there are reference librarians for different subjects who provide guidance and instruction in the use of the information materials. In USIU reference services are also well developed and users enjoy the advantage of electronic network, extensive collection of bibliographical sources, both CD-ROM and Internet based.

4.9.8. Resource Sharing

Resource sharing among Kenyan universities is limited. The overriding trend in Kenyan universities is acquisition rather than access of monographs and journals and there is great striving by each of the universities towards self-sufficiency regardless of whether this is possible or not. This stems first from the fact that each university is an independent entity, which sees itself as competing with others. Among the private universities for example the quality of the library is a selling point to potential students. Among the public university libraries there is no common legislation over how to facilitate and govern resource sharing among them. Consequently there is little room for formal co-operation and any initiative by librarians to this end is based on ‘ gentlemen’s agreement’ between university librarians subject to being changed by university administrators.

Secondly, it is felt in some sections that at their present level of development, higher education libraries especially those youthful ones must concentrate on building collections through the purchase of materials. Finally, there is a general feeling that resource sharing can only be a supplement to ownership and not the basis of achieving reader satisfaction. None of the universities examined has arrangement for document delivery from outside the country. Before, public universities made use of British Library Document Centre but the practice ceased in 1980s.

4.9.9. Interlibrary Loan System and Referral Activities

The present interlibrary loan system (ILLS) goes on a very low scale especially because of limited resources in different libraries, which make it sensible that libraries are not [page 171↓]willing to lend out limited materials that are in great demand from their primary users. Therefore interlibrary loan services are inefficient as each library, understandably, attends to its own readers’ needs before attending those readers elsewhere. In the past UON has had loan system with research organisation such as Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). However this exchange has come down as the UON collection continued to deteriorate in terms of being up to date. CUEA has a strong interlibrary loan system with its affiliated colleges namely, Tangaza College, Hekima College and Marist International and other theological colleges such as The Nairobi Evangelical School of Theology (NEGST). Referral activities is another form of resource sharing whereby librarians refer their users to institutional libraries which are likely to have the required information. KU has been referring psychology students to USIU, which has an extensive collection on the subject.

A number of problems have been identified as hindering both referral activities and interlibrary loan system. The first as discussed above are limited resources, which means that there is little to be shared. Secondly is the lack of union catalogues or other means of identifying and locating stocks in other libraries. Thirdly there is the problem of document delivery. The postal services are poor and other means of delivery documents such as courier service is expensive. Receipt and dispatch of documents is an involving task that demands staff and time and with limited staff ratios it is hard to have those available dedicate their time to interlibrary activities. Divergent internal policies of different institutions make it difficult for libraries to initiate and sustain available interlibrary activities. For example KU introduced user fees to outside customers in the year 2000, which is likely to trigger off similar action from other institutions.

4.9.10. Marketing of Library Services

Marketing activities in the institutions surveyed have tended to focus more on promotional and advertising activities. There is evidence of efforts to make users aware of the services by informing them about the collection and services of the library through the use brochures, newsletters, and notice boards. Library manuals and guides, Internet home pages as well as printed notices have been used to inform users about the library, [page 172↓]how to use the library, provide rules and regulations, inform users of the existence of special collections and special services. New accessions’ list have been particularly useful in informing users especially teaching faculty of new acquisitions. Libraries have also used annual reports to inform the administrators of the current state of libraries, the challenges they face as well as their prospects.

This survey also established that a variety of user education and information literacy techniques are applied in Kenyan libraries such as library orientation, library skills courses, and individual instruction. All these are geared towards making users aware of the resources available and give them skills of how to use them and therefore create an enduring use. They are also meant to improve the image of libraries and make users feel welcome to use the varied services on offer.

None of the universities examined in this study reported to have been involved in any formal marketing strategy such as customer satisfaction studies, SWOT analysis, market research or image analysis, segmentation, market mix or other formal techniques in collection of data about the users perception of the available services or their specific requirements. It is true to say that librarians are aware of some of the strengths and weaknesses in their services although they have not conducted market surveys, however lack of formal approach implies that decisions on service organisation and provision are not based on firm data of customer needs, or resources available, but rather on a generalised idea of what these needs are based on experience. However in understanding the needs of the library users there is no better way than asking them to their needs are and listening to their requests.

All the libraries examined reported to have written down mission and vision statements, which explain their existence, define the audience and kind of services they provide to the university community. They also have stated goals and objectives, which include sets of activities that they hope to undertake to fulfil their mission. Only USIU library has been involved in strategic planning activity of the university. These are five-year plans that the university commits itself to realising within this period of time and in every sector of the university. It plays a useful role for the university library in that the library is able to [page 173↓]grow at the same pace as the entire university in terms of buildings and equipment, as well as collections and services.

In the course of promulgating and executing the above-mentioned marketing activities, university libraries encounter various problems. As already mentioned, public university libraries and to a large extent those of private universities are facing the problem of inadequate funding and its accompanying effects of poor facilities, equipment and information resources which is a major hindrance towards the provision of access to and timely library services to their target populations. There is therefore concern that marketing initiatives are likely to lead to higher user expectations and bigger demands on libraries which in the face of present financial constraints may not be able to meet. Indeed the absence of adequate funding which applies to the entire public university system and to some extent the private sector make the already stated mission and objectives a dream that is hard to realise. In spite of awareness of particular demands, public university libraries have been unable to meet the need for up-to date print materials, maintain journal subscripts, or even invest in digital media collections such as CD-ROM and Internet based resources.

The concept of marketing of library services for though not new, in Kenya it is relatively poorly developed as a professional specialisation. Most of the schools of library and information science do not have curriculum courses and units of study in this area of specialisation within librarianship and where they exist they are not part of the core courses. There is therefore shortage of professional human resources to manage and co-ordinate strategic market planning. This also limits librarians’ ability to come up with forward-looking programmes aimed at providing adequate services to their target populations based on sound marketing approach.

4.10. LIBRARY SERVICES FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

There is striking scarcity of literature on the subject of library services for distance learning in Kenya. Both among scholars and librarians, the subject of library services has not been given a lot of attention. However there is recognition that adequate supply of library and information services to distance learners is critical for success of distance [page 174↓]learning programmes. In the case of UON, Makau has observed that perhaps exception of mathematics, the material contained in the unit booklets used for distance learning, rather like lectures in the traditional on the campus degree constitutes only a basic structure of knowledge which needs to be build upon through the study of other sources.35In the first year of the programme in 1985, the faculty operating distance education at UON used part of the fees paid for the course to buy essential books and distributed them to students. This approach proved to be expensive. Currently those students participating in traditional distance learning are expected to borrow books from libraries (including public university libraries, the Kenya National Library Services and non-governmental institutions) or individually purchase their own books from booksellers

The African Virtual University (AVU) has created a digital library to facilitate access to worldwide resources by students. This includes journals, textbooks, and online archives. The AVU catalogue is a searchable database that covers a wide variety of topics. This database contains about 3855 entries, which provides links to information all over Internet, which are meant to supplement library resources currently available at partner institutions. All searchable items have been indexed into browsable Web pages by author, subject, titles and series. The online journal service, named ProQuest thus provides access to over 1,100 journal and magazine abstracts and full text articles going back 10 years or more. The ProQuest is made available through Howell Information and Learning and all students obtain User Identification. The World Bank search page also provides links to those of other international organisations.

At KU apart from instructional print materials, students have to make journeys to the university library to access and borrow reading materials or make use of other relevant libraries in their locality. At USIU, besides the print resources the library has subscribed to electronic databases with a total of 6000 electronic journal with full text articles which means that students not only access the library resources but also the Internet resources.


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Apparently provision of library and information services for distance education has experienced problems right from the inauguration of the programme in UON in 1985. These problems include lack of institutional policies regarding provision of library and information services, inadequate physical facilities and human resources, lack of adequate funding, and poorly developed information technology.

The most critical problem facing library services for distance education is lack of institutional policies to guide the provision of information for this category of learners. While there is agreement that access to adequate library resources is essential for attainment of superior academic skills, there exists ambivalent attitude among the planners of distance education programmes towards the role of these services to the distance learning community. In the absence of policy and clear commitment by institutions concerned, it is not possible to arrange for optimal funding, planning and implementation programmes for the provision of library services to distance learning.

Inadequate funding and its accompanying effects of poor facilities, equipment and resources is a major hindrance towards the provision of access to and timely library services to distance learners. At present some libraries in host institutions especially public universities are facing unprecedented decline in funding from their parent organisations. This means they do not have sufficient funds to purchase reading materials such as journals and monographs, equipment such as computers, and enlist the services of qualified staff. Therefore the libraries from which students are encouraged to borrow books from lack financial resources necessary for acquiring a sufficiently large stock of books relevant to the courses. For students who live away regular use of the library is inhibited by costs (money and time) involved in visiting the library, short loan period for books and restricted use of rare books, thesis and journals. The circumstances where distance learners have to spend a lot of money on reading materials leads to high drop out from the course which has been observed to stand between 15% and 25%.36 The public library system in Kenya, the Kenya National Library Services is itself experiencing [page 176↓]shortage of facilities with poor coverage of the country whereby as at the end of the year 2000 it had a total of 26 operational libraries. Besides these libraries do not have academic materials that can support university learning.

The concept of library services for distance education though not new is relatively poorly developed as a professional specialisation. Most of the schools of library and information science do not have curriculum courses and units of study in this area of specialisation within librarianship. There is therefore shortage of human resources to manage and co-ordinate distance learning library services. This has also limited librarians’ ability to come up with forward-looking programmes aimed at providing adequate services to the distance learning community.

The use of virtual services such as Web pages or Internet searching is a viable alternative to the provision of print based services which makes it imperative to physically visit the library to satisfy specific information needs. However library automation in Kenyan university libraries has largely addressed itself to existing internal functions: acquisition, cataloguing, circulation and administration. Internet technology is still at its infancy in the country and it is hindered by high costs of installation, access and poor telecommunication infrastructure in the country and so far Internet services are largely restricted to the main towns where the right infrastructure exists.

4.11. LIBRARY BUILDINGS AND STUDY FACILITIES

In Kenya, it is observed that public universities have been in the past hurriedly established and decisions to do so have been based on political rather than academic considerations. These decisions in many cases have adversely affected the development strategies and future plans of the institutions, as they are not given time to upgrade their facilities adequately such as laboratories, libraries, teaching halls and halls of residence. It has also been observed that the elevation of a college to university status leads to rapid expansion of library collection students as well as staff leading to congestion and inadequacy of reading, working and storage space for reading materials.


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There is a strong suggestion that libraries are low in terms of priorities and that the construction of other buildings be they classes, faculty blocks, hostels and laboratories take precedence. In the case of CUEA the decision to put up a new library has been delayed for as long as ten years as the university committed resources to other types of buildings. At KU the extension of the library, which started in 1991, has not yet being completed. Three of the universities examined, KU, CUEA and USIU reported to be experiencing shortage of space for reading, shelving and working.

Generally speaking, in all cases examined reading and storage is inadequate with the result that in all cases workstations are crowded. CUEA has recently extended the library to create space for more 80 seats and space to shelve journals and reference materials. But the room for reserved materials is congested and the action of extension is regarded as a stopgap measure as plans for a 5000-user library are still on. USIU has plans for a bigger building to accommodate the expanding user population and collection size. In the case of UON, which initially enjoyed a commendable ratio of one seat to three students, users have to reckon with inadequate furniture and have to scramble for the few seats available which has resulted from disrepair or non-replacement.

Libraries in developing countries such as Kenya are more than information centres since they provide the only study space available to many students. This is because of inadequate home or residential study facilities. This explains the overcrowding of libraries in Kenya especially during examination time. Unfortunately library-building planning has failed to take this into consideration. In some cases some library buildings such as UON are constructed through donor money, and therefore have not been catered for in maintenance planning. In such cases lack of financial resources as it is experienced now in public universities has led to neglect of the physical plant.


Footnotes and Endnotes

1 National Report Presented to the 45th. Session of the International Conference of Education, Geneva, September 5- October 1996 / Republic of Kenya. - Available: http://www. Ibe.unesco/International/Dossiers/mainfram.htm. (08/07/02)

2 Statistical Abstract, 1999 / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 2000. - p. 223

3 Economic Survey, 2001 / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 2002. - p.39

4 University Education in Kenya with Special Reference to Planning and Development of Nairobi and Kenyatta University College: First Report of the University Grants Committee, 1980-1983 / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 1984. - p. 4-5

5 Economic Survey, 2000 / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 2001. – p. 41

6 Economic Survey, 2001 / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 2002. - p.39

7 Ibid

8 Ibid. p.40

9 Ibid. p.41

10 Totally Integrated Quality Education (TIQET): Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Education System in Kenya / Republic of Kenya.Nairobi: Government Printer, 1999. - p. 174.

11 Second University in Kenya: Report of the Presidential Working Party / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 1981. - p. 32-35

12 Musyoka, Kalonzo: Speech: Higher Education in the 21st Century, Vision and Action, Paris 5-9 October 1998. - Available: http://www.unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001173/117364e.pdf (07/09/02)

13 Makau, B: The External Degree Programme at the University of Nairobi. – In: H Perraton (ed.): Distance Education for Teacher Training. – London: Routledge, 1993. - p. 318

14 Ibid.

15 Apart from the officially chartered private universities there are about 15 other private degree offering degrees, which are affiliated to foreign universities. These too have libraries which can be categorised as academic libraries. (see Agalo, J. : Emerging Developments of Audiovisual and Multimedia Use in National and Academic Libraries in Kenya. - A Paper presented at 64th. IFLA General Conference 16th-21st August 16th- 1998.

16 Laws of Kenya: The Kenya National Library Board Act (Cap225) / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 1986.

17 Kenya National Library Service: Historical Background. – Available: http://www.knls.org.ke/history.htm (18/10/02)

18 Books and Newspapers Act Chapter 111 of the Laws of Kenya (Miscellaneous Amendments no.22) of 1987 / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 1987

19 Agalo, J. : Emerging Developments of Audiovisual and Multimedia Use in National and Academic Libraries in Kenya. - A Paper Presented at 64th. IFLA General Conference 16th-21st August 16th- 1998.- Available: http://www/Ifla.org/IV/ifla64/105-117 e.htm. (18/10/02)

20 Odini, C: The Book Chain in Kenya. – Available: http://www.inasp.org.uk/pubs/bookchain/profiles/Kenya.html (18/10/02)

21 Second University in Kenya: Report of the Presidential Working Party. p. 69

22 Report of the Presidential Working Party on Education and Manpower Training for the Next Decade and Beyond / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 1988. - p. 74

23 Totally Integrated Quality Education (TIQUET): Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Education System in Kenya / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 1999, p. 18 & 308.

24 Review of the education commission reports on Kenyan university education reveals that in some cases there is recognition of the centrality of library and information services in ensuring quality of teaching and research. However this does not match the reality on the ground given the poor funding of university libraries. It can also be observed that a lot of emphasis is on the conservation and storage role of libraries with little regard to dissemination and need for human resource to facilitate the efficient use and proper development of these services.

25 The Commission of Higher Education (CHE) is a statutory body established under an act of parliament to monitor and evaluate all aspects of university education. Its responsibilities include harmonisation of curriculum, certification, inspection and accreditation of institutions of higher education.

26 Commission of Higher Education: Standards for University Libraries in Kenya. - (Unpublished). This is a comprehensive document which if enforced would greatly assist in improving university library services. Unfortunately it is still on the draft stage and for years it has not been adopted by the stakeholders.

27 There are indications that user populations are set to increase in the near future. For example statistics indicate that KU registered an increase in student enrolment of 43.9% from 7,474 during 2000/01 academic year to 10,757 in 2001/02. (see: Economic Survey, 2001 / Republic of Kenya. – Nairobi: Government Printer, 2002. - p.43)

28 A case in point is KU where in 1997 while Kshs. 4.7 million was allocated by the end of that year only 31% was availed and used by the library to purchase materials.

29 The following information is obtained from Kenya’s annual economic surveys for 1980-2002 known as Economic Survey published annually by Government Printer, Nairobi

30 Public Universities Reform Programme: Guidelines for Staff Retrenchment in Public Universities / Commission of Higher Education. – Nairobi: CHE, 1988. - p.20

31 African Information Initiative (AISI) / Economic Commission for Africa. - Addis Ababa: ECA. - 1996. - p. 24

32 Talero, E ; Gaudette, P.: Harnessing Information for Development: A Proposal for a World Bank Group Strategy. - Washington DC: World Bank, 1996 p. 12

33 Kenya Educational Network: Introduction / Kenya Educational Network. - Available: http://.www.kenet.org (12/09/2002)

34 Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) / INASP – Available: http://.www.inasp.org.uk/peri/peri/ (23/10/02)

35 Makau, p. 325

36 Otiende, J.E. : Distance Education and National Development: The Case of External Degree Programme of the University of Nairobi. - Paper Submitted for Presentation at the 14th. World Conference in International Council of Education, Oslo, Norway, 9-16 August 1988. – p. 6



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