m-Libraries Conference 2009, Second International m-libraries Conference

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Encouraging Library Usage among Students in African University Libraries: The Case of Emerald Group Publishing and the University Library of Swaziland

Paul Coyne, John Paul Anbu, Eric Broug

Last modified: 2009-07-03


This paper will report on a collaborative project between Emerald Group Publishing and the University of Swaziland Library. The joint study seeks to establish whether or not SMS alerts have the potential the increase library awareness and usage among the student communities of the University Library.


Africa is a continent which is inhabited by roughly 1 billion people with 300 million Africans currently carrying an active mobile account. This is an adoption rate of around 30% on a continent that is known for its challenges with respect to telecoms, power and internet infrastructure. Such adoption rates point to a population who has quickly taken an enabling technology and woven it into their daily lives despite these challenges. In response to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies throughout Africa Emerald developed an SMS based alerting service to integrate into its Web 2.0 Content Community platform, InTouch, as part of its presence at eLearning Africa in May 2008.  After the event, it was observed that there was a heightened awareness of Emerald content becoming available through SMS alerts. It was decided that further study was necessary before Emerald could develop this service for library customers in Africa and elsewhere.


Working with the University of Swaziland, Emerald has created a content community and enrolled a cohort of students into it. These students receive SMS alerts when content from Emerald that pertains to their course of study arrives at the library or has been published to the Emerald database. We are interested in discovering if this usage of a personal technology impacts on library visits, length of visit, awareness and usage of other library services, and on downloads of Emerald articles to this library in the time period and whether any generalizations can be extracted from this study that can be replicated elsewhere.

Full Text: PPT