Effective library service provision during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: A Case of selected libraries in tertiary institutions of Zambia
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Effective library service provision during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: A study of selected libraries in tertiary institutions of Zambia Enos Phiri(1); Wezi Nyirenda(2); Fidelity Phiri(3) and Moses Tololo(4) 1. Lecturer-National Institute of Public Administration; 2. Part-time Lecturer-National Institute of Public Administration; 3. Assistant Librarian-Hamad Bin Khalifa University; 4. Teacher Librarian-Ministry of Education The deadly COVID-19 has affected the entire human race and has destabilized all human activities globally. As such, even academic libraries in higher learning institutions have not been spared by this pandemic. Therefore, this current study investigated effective library service provision during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in selected academic libraries in Zambia. Valuable information came out on the response by academic libraries to the outbreak of COVID-19. This information can be used to mitigate any similar outbreaks in the future. The study made use of both exploratory and explanatory designs to conduct the investigation. A study population of higher learning institutions was chosen from different parts of Zambia because very little is known regarding the effectiveness of quality provision of library and information resources during the era of Covid-19 pandemic. A sample of fifteen (15) librarians were drawn from the selected tertiary learning institutions. However, only seven (7) managed to respond to the questionnaire. Further, this study collected primary data using a structured questionnaire with both open and closed ended questions. Secondary data consisting of books, journal articles, and research reports were also utilized in the study. Content analysis was employed as a technique in the methodology. The study concluded that academic libraries followed the public health guidelines. This encouraged patrons and staff to wear face masks, to use alcohol based hand sanitizers or hand washing using soap and clean water. The study also established that some academic libraries had to shut down while others had to reduce the sitting capacity in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Further, academic libraries had to reduce the number of operating hours as per instructions from parent institutions. Consequently, there were generally low numbers of patrons that were using the library facilities during the lockdown period. Challenges faced by academic libraries include social isolation, lagging work schedules, and poor communication and coordination, among others. Key recommendations include: creation of adequate physical and virtual space by academic libraries for patrons; upgrade of technological equipment for employees working from home; and investment in more electronic databases and digital repositories that can provide a choice of remote access to patrons.