An Assessment of the Extent to Which Public Libraries Use Statistical Data for Decision-Making
A Case Study of the Rössing Foundation
Keywords:Arandis, collection management, public libraries, Rössing Foundation, statistical data, Swakopmund
Statistical data contributes to strategic planning, creation and maintenance of a library. Such data is critical to the library’s collection development decisions. This study investigated the extent to which Rössing Foundation libraries use statistical data for decision-making. The objectives of the study were to establish how Rössing Foundation libraries analyse statistical data, to find out if the statistical data is used for the libraries’ management, to determine the extent to which the statistics relate to collection development, to find out if there are any challenges in the use of statistics at Rössing Foundation libraries, and to come up with solutions to the challenges. The study used a case study design and employed a qualitative research approach to collect data from library staff of two libraries within the Rössing Foundation. The target population consisted of 10 library staff and six librarians were selected through purposive sampling. The researchers collected data in two phases through face-to-face interviews. The first phase covered three librarians who were interviewed before the COVID-19 pandemic and the second phase covered the same number who were interviewed after the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of six librarians were interviewed. The findings revealed that the librarians at the two Rössing Foundation libraries in Swakopmund and Arandis were not qualified, and they lacked information and communication technology (ICT) skills. This posed a challenge in compiling reports. Moreover, some library patrons did not follow library procedures. The study was limited to two Rössing Foundation libraries in Arandis and Swakopmund, which are the only public libraries in Erongo region. Although the results from the study may not be generalised to other public libraries in the country, they draw attention to the need for public libraries to document accurate and reliable statistics for decision-making. The results will inform policy at national level. The major recommendation from this study was that Rössing Foundation should hire more librarians with skills and knowledge required to collect and analyse library statistics.
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