Role of policies in collaborative design process for digital libraries within African higher education

Ngimwa, Pauline and Adams, Anne (2011). Role of policies in collaborative design process for digital libraries within African higher education. Library Hi Tech, 29(4) 678 -696.



Purpose – This paper aims to explore the role of institutional and national policies in the design process of educational digital libraries developed collaboratively with key stakeholders within the African higher education context.

Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative research project based on three case studies of universities in Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Uganda) was carried out; comprising a retrospective review of the design process of ten innovative digital libraries through 38 in-depth interviews with key design stakeholders. The interviews were conducted between September and December, 2009, while the data were triangulated with observations and documentary evidence from key policies.

Findings – Institutional and national policies were found to have tremendous impact on the design process of digital libraries as well as on their sustainability. Their absence in the design process was found to stifle innovation.

Research limitations/implications – This research was limited to the design process of digital libraries in African higher education. The research findings suggest that policy makers are important design gatekeepers and as such digital library designers should actively review relevant national and institutional policies, incorporate the implications of policies into design processes, and help to develop relevant policies.

Originality/value – The paper provides an understanding of the critical impact policies have with respect to supporting the design of educational digital libraries that are developed collaboratively with stakeholders. The retrospective review of completed digital library design processes carried out offers a different methodological approach for obtaining a high level understanding of the phenomenon under investigation.

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