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28 August 2019
Class Of 2019: Patience Dzandza On Improving Information Systems And Human Knowledge

(Published - 28 August 2019)

As a young lady raising two children, Patience Emefa Dzandza had to combine her thesis research with family duties and work as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Ghana. But it was all worth it. She graduated with her PhD in Library and Information Sciences from the University of the Western Cape.

“It has been a tough journey,” she recalls. “I had to schedule times to be at UWC to have dedicated time for my studies, leaving my young children behind while I worked. But by the grace of God and with the help of my supervisor Dr. Lizette King, I have been able to complete my PhD in exactly three years.”

Her PhD research examined the use and management of Information Systems (ISs) in nine academic libraries which form part of a consortium in Ghana - the first ever such situational study done in that country.

“I looked at how academic libraries in Ghana are using and managing Information Systems and how management of such systems affect the quality of the system, the use of the system and the benefits gained from the system.”

Findings indicated that these academic libraries are making use of integrated library and digital asset management systems and some social media platforms.

“All the libraries studied had adopted at least one type of information system and were gaining a number of benefits such as time saving, speed of work, easy work processes, digital storage of data, global visibility of the library and collaboration from the use of an information system.” 

But that doesn’t mean the libraries are operating optimally. Only 11.1% of the libraries are making maximum use of the systems adopted. There were inadequate management practices that led to high Information System turnover rates (88.8 %) among the libraries -  only 22.2 % of the libraries have ever evaluated the information system they use.

“These libraries are using ISs, but not utilising and managing the adopted ISs correctly, affecting the quality and use of the ISs, the quality of information produced and the benefits gained,” Dr Dzandza noted. “Findings also revealed that the libraries are confronted with a number of challenges including inadequate finance, lack of management support, insufficient power and Internet supply, lack of advance ICT skills by staff and inadequate staff training to use the information systems.”

The study proposed an IS management standard guideline, to ensure that, although Ghanaian libraries are encountering a number of challenges, adopted ISs can be utilised maximally.

Patience: From Peki To PhD 

Dr Dzandza is from Peki in the Volta Region of Ghana. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Information Studies, a Master of Arts, and a Master of Philosophy degree in Library Studies - all from the University of Ghana.

“My choice of information science was from my undergraduate studies as I see information as an ever present need of man that is being met in diverse ways through available technology.”

She came to UWC to gain international exposure, and had some catching up to do - thanks to delays in some documents needed to process her application, she started the academic year late, and had to complete her proposal in about five months - a task meant for one academic year.

“For me it feels both exciting and humbling to be graduating with a PhD. I feel humbled because I have come a long way to achieve this, as I had to start taking care of myself in my second year and into my first degree as a young girl. I know I have come against all odds by God’s grace to be here.”

With PhD in hand, Dr Dzandza plans to focus on her career as a lecturer, and to conduct extensive research in information use through available technology - like her role model, Prof Anaba Alemna, the first Ghanaian professor in Library and Information Science.

“My dream for the next 10 years is to be an ardent researcher into how humans are using available technology to meet their information needs and how this is affecting the daily activities of humans,” she says. “This will be my contribution to human knowledge, in the context of Africa and beyond.”