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A Study on the Challenges in Using Electronic Library at Sultan Qaboos University

By:   •  November 26, 2015  •  Research Paper  •  2,678 Words (11 Pages)  •  850 Views

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A Study on the Challenges in Using Electronic Library at Sultan Qaboos University


The idea of having an easy access to information is not recent. It started in 1937, when H.G. Wells wrote about a world brain with multi-functions of collection, indexing, summarizing and release of knowledge and even replaces the traditional systems (libraries). In 1945, Vannervar Bush published an article in Atlantic Monthly about the idea of a brain that can store, file, retrieve, and trace data. This article was a ground stone of the memex machine. “Memex machine is a device that operates mechanically based on the technology of microfilms”. (Bush, 1945)

During last decade, we started to hear or read many phrases like “Digital Library”, “Virtual library” or “Electronic Library” in almost every place you go like schools, colleges, online and even books. That could make some individual wonders. What do these phrases exactly mean? Do all these phrases have the same meanings or each one has its own meaning? To answer these questions we need to take a closer look and try to point out the reasons behind this confusion.


This research is about the challenges that might face Sultan Qaboos University’s students while using Electronic Libraries; and possibly might as well discourage them from continuing to access it regularly. The reason the author has chosen to conduct this study is to help in understanding the different types of challenges that might face the SQU’s students while using the Electronic Library.

Some of these challenges, struggling, and wasting lots of time in using and searching through SQU electronic library looking for books, articles, and journals that is needed for a research. As a result, the study is going to take a deeper look and try to identify some of the challenges that might face digital library users.

This study is worth to investigate and important because it will highlight the effective and efficient role of librarians. It will also aid in revealing computer and language skills of SQU students and recommend some measures to improve these skills and eliminate their time wastage while studying and searching through the internet. It will also enhance and encourage students for self-learning. Finally, it will help students to overcome their fears of using the web and search engines and will let students get familiar with e-books and electronic library.

Research Questions:

Q1: Could the students’ educational background affect the usage of digital libraries?

Q2: Does types of education (in Private and Public Schools) affect digital libraries usage skills?

Q3: What types of challenges and problems face SQU students when using digital libraries?

Objectives of the study

To study the effect of educational background as a possible challenge of using electronic library.

To find out if course variation could affect the use of e-library.

To measure the effect of resistance to change could minimize e-library access.

To estimate if financial costs may decrease e-library usage.

To establish the relationship between medical or health problems with that of access to e-library.

To evaluate to what extent E-library’s interface could de-motivate students from using it.

Literature Review


There is no doubt that technology in general made big leaps of advancement in the last few decades especially communication technologies. These leaps minimized the usage of traditional libraries, at the same time it maximizes usage of digital libraries. This could be proved by taking a deeper look in the history of digital libraries.

History of Digital Library:

The quest for fast and easy access to different type of information started in 1937, when H.G. Wells wrote an article titled “World Brain: The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia”. It is considered to be the origin of today’s digital libraries. In this article, Wells wrote about a world brain with multi-functions of collection, indexing, summarizing and release of knowledge and even replaces the traditional systems (libraries). Then in 1945, Vannervar Bush published an article in Atlantic Monthly titled “As We May Think” about the idea of a brain that can store, file, retrieve, and trace data. This article was a ground stone of the memex machine. In 1965, J.C.R. Licklider wrote a book titled “Libraries of the Future” in which he gave a description of the needed development to build a digital library.

In 1994, “Digital Library” term used for the first time in United States when three American organizations; National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense Advance Research Project Agency and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) formed a joint initiative funding of six American Universities for digital library researches. This funding was based on two revolutionary technologies development. These two technologies were the increasing growth of World Wide Web “Internet” and high speed networks, along with significant improvement of graphical Web browsers (Ojha & Aryal, 2010).

Definition of Digital Library:

Digital library has many different meanings which may differ from group to another for example Digital library for computer scientists and software developers means a collection of computer algorithm. For Databases vendors it means a database. However for publishers it means an on-line version of a catalogue. Other users with different occupations and interests call it the Web.

Digital library has many different definitions. One of this definitions is: “Digital libraries are organizations that provide the resources, including the specialized staff, to select, structure, offer intellectual access to, interpret, distribute, preserve the integrity of, and ensure the persistence over time of collections of digital works so that they are readily and economically available for use by a defined community or set of communities” (Digital Library Federation [DFL], 1998).

Another definition is: “A digital library is nothing but a large database for the people who are working on hypertext environment, which supports the full life cycle of creation, storage, preservation, dissemination and use of data, information and knowledge: (LISWiki, 2009)

From these definitions, Digital Library could be defined as: “any place where resources is created, organized, stored and maintained in a digital form where users can obtain them from anywhere at given time”.

Review of Related Literature:

The literature of many studies showed that all libraries are providing electronic resources and online database to their users. However, majority of users have faced difficulties in using them. As the literature showed that multiple authors have discussed in early studies the most popular and preferable types of electronic resources used by users.

Many studies showed that majority of users are aware of e-resources available in the libraries they are using such as: e-books, e-journals, internet, CD-ROMs database,… etc.

Most of the studies have reported high levels of usage of libraries as internet café, in addition to using most popular search engines among users which was Google, Yahoo, Infoseek.

Several studies aimed to investigate the main problems and obstacles that face users while using digital libraries or accessing electronic resources. Some of these findings showed that:

Ukonu, Wogu, & Obayi (2012); Rosenberg (2006); and Haridasan & Khan (2009) concluded that slow networks in internet access while searching or accessing online database was one of the major problems that faced e-resources’ users.

However, Ukonu, Wogu, & Obayi (2012); and Dadzie (2005) found out that users experience inability to access online e-resources due to no subscription to online database.

On the other hand, Ali (2005) has contributed problems that face users to the lack of printing facilities as well as the lack of trained staff.

Ukonu, Wogu, & Obayi (2012); Rosenberg (2006); Ali (2005); Dadzie (2005); and Ray & Day (1998) found out that many computers were not functional or limited number of ready to use computers.

Egberongbe (2011) has deduced that lack of sufficient financial support for hardware and software are one of the reasons leading to users’ reluctance of using electronic resources.

Egberongbe (2011); Kumar (2010); Ali (2005); Dadzie (2005); and Ray & Day (1998) concluded that lack of information and unfamiliarity about effective use of e-resources were


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