The emerging roles of academic librarians in Kenya: apomediaries or infomediaries?
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Purpose – The main purpose of this study was to investigate the emerging roles of academic librarians in Kenya, with a view to determining whether they perform better as apomediaries or infomediaries. The specific objectives were to: examine the characteristics of the changing information universe in which academic librarians in Kenya currently operate; analyse the information-seeking behaviour of academic library users in the new information universe and examine the emerging roles of academic librarians in Kenya. Design/methodology/approach – This study adopted a descriptive research design and used an online survey research technique to collect data from practising academic librarians. This study targeted senior librarians from all the 67 private and public universities in Kenya. One senior librarian per university was purposefully selected to fill the questionnaire owing to their experience and expertise. 33 out of the 67 senior librarians responded to the survey. The collected data were descriptively analysed using SPSS, and as per the study objectives. Findings –This study established that most library users are digital independent and access library resources remotely. Nonetheless, many users still borrow and utilize print books despite the ubiquity of digital platforms. The findings revealed that academic librarians to a great extent now play the role of apomediaries, going beyond information giving to empowering their users. Practical implications – There is need for academic librarians in Kenya to not only be aware of the characteristics of their current users but also to continuously develop professionally so as to be able to adequately cater for the needs of their clients. Originality/value – This paper contributes to the scholarship on librarians’ roles in Kenya by demonstrating that most of them are transitioning to the apomediary roles. Keywords Academic librarians, Apomediaries, Digital platforms, Intermediary, Infomediaries, Library 3.0, Patron 3.0 Paper type Research paper
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