PurposeThe aim of this paper is present findings of a study conducted to find out the current state of providing and accessing library and information services in public university libraries in Malawi through mobile phones.Design/methodology/approachThe researcher carried out in-depth semi-structured interviews with university/college librarians using interview guides. University/college librarians were purposefully selected for the interviews because they are overall managers of their libraries, hence in a better position to provide information that addressed the study objectives. Proceedings of the interviews were recorded using a tape recorder, whilst backup notes were recorded in a notebook. Data were transcribed and analysed using Nvivo software.FindingsFindings revealed that only one library in this study had fully implemented the offering of library and information services through mobile phones, whilst the rest were moving towards the same. Both user and reference service offering through mobile phones included e-journals, Facebook, WhatsApp, Online Public Access Catalogue and SMS. The institutions in this study had institutional repositories, e-journals and e-books, among others, which they could offer through mobile phones. High cost of accessing services through mobile phone, vandalism of Information and Communications Technologies infrastructure, shortage of skills and network congestion are some of the factors that may affect the offering of library and information services through mobile phones.Research limitations/implicationsMalawi has four public universities. However, this article reports findings of a case study of three of the four constituent colleges of the University of Malawi (College of Medicine, Kamuzu College of Nursing and Polytechnic), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Mzuzu University. By virtue of being a case study, it means that the findings made are only applicable to the five institutions covered.Practical implicationsThe study findings have practical implications in that they can be used as a model for planning the implementation of library and information services through mobile phones not only in public university libraries in Malawi but also other related institutions locally and internationally.Originality/valueUse of mobile phones in the delivery of library and information services is receiving a lot of attention from researchers the world over. However, this is not the case in Malawi, as studies of this nature have not been conducted in the public university sector or in other related sectors. Findings of this study will, therefore, inform researchers intending to conduct similar or related studies not only in public universities in Malawi but other related institutions as well.
Library Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 5, 2018
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