Online search behaviour of University of Zambia Library and Information Studies students

Date19 November 2018
Published date19 November 2018
AuthorFrancina N.S. Makondo,Christine Wamunyima Kanyengo,Fabian Kakana
Online search behaviour of
University of Zambia Library and
Information Studies students
Francina N.S. Makondo, Christine Wamunyima Kanyengo and
Fabian Kakana
Library, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate factors that affect web searching behaviour of the
students of the University of Zambia (UNZA).
Design/methodology/approach This study adopted a qualitative research approach in order to get an
insight into the interactions of the students at the UNZA with the real web situation. A post-search
questionnaire was used as a tool to gather information from 65 Library and Information Science students
about search techniques used, web experience, and subject knowledge of users.
Findings This study shows that the main purpose for using the internet by students at the UNZA is for
academic work. The findings also show that factors such as experience and topic familiarity had an effect on
search behaviour, whereas, age of searcher did not affect the search technique used. Google was preferred for
searching more than electronic databases.
Originality/value This is the first systemati c examination of student s online search behaviou r in
Zambia. It allows the r esearchers to compar e with search behaviour of students in a differ ent social
economic environment .
Keywords User studies, Students, Information searches, Online retrieval, Zambia, World Wide Web
Paper type Case study
1. Introduction
Many libraries are going through financial constraints resulting in budget cuts and making
it difficult for them to purchase adequate hard copy books and journals that would enable
their users, especially students, to have access to much needed information. The web offers
a good alternative for libraries in information provision to their clients as the internet is a
good source of information. The exponential growth of the internet has brought with it a
number of challenges such as information explosion; unreliability of information, that is,
available on the internet; and inadequate time to sift through the internet for the relevant
information. So much information creates a challenge to finding quality information for
academic purposes on the World Wide Web, particularly to a novice. Additionally, it is not
just the quality of information that is at stake but also the relevancy of that information, that
is, difficult to navigate, find and retrieve for many users, most often leading to them not
meeting their information needs. This information explosion, therefore, requires that users
acquire and possess good information retrieval skills in order to sift through vast sources of
information in the quickest possible time.
In as much as the growth of the internet and its services brings some challenges, it also
brings with it a lot of benefits for the information seeker. Due to vast amounts of information
available on the internet, it is up to the information seeker to be able to sift through these
huge and sometimes disorganised databases of information, requiring the relevant requisite
information search and retrieval skills in order to be able to effectively navigate the internet.
This is because the large sources of information pose a challenge to users, as they are forced
to find the right information within an acceptable amount of time. In such a situation, the
information user should possess the necessary search skills to be able to sift through these
huge amounts of information.
Library Hi Tech
Vol. 36 No. 4, 2018
pp. 720-732
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-03-2017-0058
Received 26 October 2016
Revised 18 December 2017
Accepted 16 April 2018
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