Original Research

Barriers preventing the optimal use of e-books: A South African undergraduate perspective

Janina C. van der Westhuizen, Andrea Potgieter-Richardson, Chris Rensleigh
South African Journal of Information Management | Vol 26, No 1 | a1750 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v26i1.1750 | © 2024 Janina C. van der Westhuizen, Andrea Potgieter-Richardson, Chris Rensleigh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 August 2023 | Published: 15 April 2024

About the author(s)

Janina C. van der Westhuizen, Library Department, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Andrea Potgieter-Richardson, Department of Information and Knowledge Management, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Chris Rensleigh, Department of Information and Knowledge Management, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: South African academic libraries are spending large amounts of money annually to provide users access to e-books. In many of the South African Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) undergraduate students form the largest part of the institutional cohort. It is therefore crucial to understand what factors influence the optimal use of e-books by undergraduate students and what possible interventions can be applied to ensure optimum use.

Objectives: This article aims to identify the main factors that prevent the optimal use of e-books by undergraduate students at a South African university.

Method: For this study, pragmatism was used as the philosophical paradigm, with sequential mixed methods using questionnaires and focus groups.

Results: The findings of this study revealed that while e-books can be regarded as an accepted source of information among undergraduate students, there are still several barriers impacting the optimal use of e-books by undergraduate students.

Conclusion: This study identified five significant barriers that negatively influence the optimal use of e-books and provides possible solutions to improve the usage of e-books.

Contribution: The results of this study will contribute towards the lack of information available on the usage of e-books in the South African context.


Keywords

e-books; undergraduate students; e-book usage; digital natives; academic libraries; electronic resources; digital divide; developing countries

JEL Codes

D83: Search • Learning • Information and Knowledge • Communication • Belief • Unawareness

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education

Metrics

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