Marjorie E. Bloss

Our latest issue of World Libraries looks at libraries in three developing countries: Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa.

The first of our articles, "Book Availability in the University of Ilorin College of Heath Sciences Library" by I.A. Alao, A.L. Folorunso, and H.T. Saka details the findings of a research study that compares the book availability rate (the percentage of materials found on the shelves) with performance level for the library. The authors identified four obvious categories for measuring why users could not find materials in the library. They included acquisitions (e.g., the book was not owned by the library); circulation problems (e.g., the book was checked out or out on loan); library operations performance (e.g., the material was misshelved); and, user performance (e.g., user misinterpretation of the call number or inability to find the material on the shelf). The overall conclusion is that users left the library with only 60 percent of the titles they hoped to find - a figure that understandably concerned the authors. Based on their research, the authors point out that no currently published data in Nigeria or elsewhere were available for comparison. It would be fascinating if another library replicated this study to see how closely their findings matched those in the University of Ilorian College of Health Sciences Library.

The second and third articles provide us with considerable insight as to how libraries in two developing countries, Pakistan and South Africa, are dealing with social, economic and technological issues. In their article "Emerging Information Society in Pakistan and the Role of Libraries" Khalid Mahmood and Farzana Shafique examine the role of the government in providing support for public and school libraries in particular. They voice their concern that "most federal policies do not provide for the establishment of effective libraries" nor is there an effort by the government to implement the policies needed to support these libraries. The paper concludes with a plea to the decisionmakers to include libraries when planning for the country.

"Issues for South African Academic Libraries in the Post-Apartheid Era" by Christopher Stewart examines the major transformations that have occurred in South Africa against the backdrop brought about by the end of apartheid in 1994. As can be imagined, these are far-reaching especially with regard to social perceptions and their impact on academic libraries in particular. Stewart's conclusion is that academic libraries in South Africa have taken their role very seriously and have made impressive strides since 1994 in addressing inequality along with the rest of the nation. He points out that these libraries have worked together in order to further improve the quality of higher education throughout the country. Perhaps this is lesson for all of us — that we can make changes in many sectors of society if we work together to strengthen our libraries.

About the Author

Marjorie E. Bloss is a Lecturer in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, USA. E-mail: mbloss [at] dom [dot] edu

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