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University of South Africa (2016)

The role of public libraries in the development of small-scale business enterprises in Meru County, Kenya

Gichohi, Paul Maku

Titre : The role of public libraries in the development of small-scale business enterprises in Meru County, Kenya

Auteur : Gichohi, Paul Maku

Université de soutenance : University of South Africa

Grade : Doctor of Literature and Philosophy in Information Science 2016

Small-scale Business Enterprises (SBEs) lack proper mechanisms for supporting the provision and access to business information that can nurture their development in Kenya. This study investigated the role that public libraries could play in supporting the development of SBEs in Meru County with a view to developing a model that would enable public libraries to effectively support the development of SBEs. The study used the pragmatic paradigm to explore the identified phenomena. It applied the mixed methods approach and survey research design ; collected data from 355 SBEs, 21 staff from three public libraries and two staff from the enterprise development unit of Meru County. Data was collected using questionnaires, interviews and document analysis. The response rate was 83.4% and 95% for SBEs and public library staff respectively. The descriptive and inferential statistics were used with the help of SPSS and Excel. Thematic analysis was applied on qualitative data. The study found that the factors that influence the development of SBEs are anchored in the environmental, cultural and personality factors of SBEs. SBEs have a myriad of business information needs which are sector-specific and cut across all the stages of business development. To fulfil these needs, most SBEs consult informal information sources and places. Technology-related tools were a popular means of accessing business information. Public libraries were poorly stocked with business information sources while business information services were in a desolate state. The study concludes that public libraries have facilitative and functional roles of providing business information solutions to SBEs by collaborating with like- minded stakeholders. The availability and accessibility of business information sources and services at public libraries is critical in addressing the information needs of SBEs. The study recommends repositioning of public libraries as business community development centres by providing value-based information sources and services. Public libraries need to revise their collection development policy, increase budget allocation, establish business information centres, seek partnerships, improve ICT facilities, ensure adequate staffing, engage business services librarians, open more libraries and widen their business outreach activities for effective support of SBEs. Policy framework and support systems for symmetrical access to business information, and entrepreneurial training for SBEs and for public library staff are needed. The proposed model of public library’s support for the development of SBEs is valuable and contribute to knowledge in business development.


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