The different roles of ‘design process champions’ for digital libraries in African higher education

Adams, Anne and Ngimwa, Pauline (2013). The different roles of ‘design process champions’ for digital libraries in African higher education. International Journal of Digital Libraries, 13(3-4) pp. 119–133.



The concept of design stakeholders is central to effective design of digital libraries. We report on research findings that identified the presence of a key subset of stakeholders which we term ‘design process champions’. Our findings have identified that these champions can change interaction patterns and the eventual output of the other stakeholders (project participants) in the design process of digital library projects. This empirical research is based upon 38 interviews with key stakeholders and a review of documentary evidence in ten innovative digital library design projects (e.g. mobile clinical libraries) located in three African universities in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. Through a grounded theory approach two different types of the ‘design process champions’ emerged from the data with varying levels of effectiveness in the design process: (i) domain champions and (ii) multidisciplinary champions. The domain champions assume a ‘siloed’ approach of engagement while the multidisciplinary champions take on a participatory engagement throughout the design process. A discussion of the implications of information specialists functioning as domain champions is highlighted. We conclude by suggesting that the multidisciplinary champions’ approach is particularly useful in supporting sustainability of digital library design projects.

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