The Unkown Student

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I have written about the failure rate of Grades 10 and 12 Namibian learners in my previous articles. In this article I want to highlight the importance of reading and of libraries in our schools and communities.

Dr. Ben Carson, the renowned neurosurgeon, had no competition of last place in his class, i.e. he was the number zero in his class. Number last, until something magical came his way – reading. His mother had put him on a reading program; two books every week from the library, plus a summary of what he would read. I urge every student to read this book: Think Big: unleashing your potential for excellence. In this book, Dr. Ben Carson prescribes his personal formula for success. And who could better advise than a man who has transformed himself from a ghetto kid into the most celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon in the world? With an acrostic, Dr. Carson spells out his philosophy of living: T-Talents/time: Recognize them as gifts. H -Hope for all good things and be honest. I -Insight from people and good books. N -Be nice to all people. K -Knowledge: Recognize it as the key to living. B -Books: Read them actively. I -In-depth learning skills: Develop them. G -God: Never get too big for Him. Think Big emphasizes how to evaluate and respond to problems in order to overcome them and make the most of your inner potential.

Books open worlds that are hidden. Read them, and you will find out how sweet things can be for you. But if you do not open them, the world will remain closed for you, and opportunities will be few and understanding will be limited; most learners will fail their final examinations, or there will be little progress altogether. Reading books is a tried-and-tested antidote that works for everyone. Try it and prove me wrong. Just compare yourself with someone down at your village who dropped out of school years ago, and you will see how far you have gone.

Government should prioritize libraries in schools for Namibia to have a better pass rate in both Grade 10 and Grade 12 exams. If this one aspect of education – libraries – is overlooked, the results will be the same very year. Only a handful will progress. The majority will be in the streets, and this is not wanted.

Knowledge & Youth Unemployment in Namibia

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Contributed by Foibe Shaambeni

Many organisations have realised that the most important asset to an organisation is people and their knowledge. Today it is widely acknowledged that knowledge is one of the most important resources in an organisation.  This article will therefore concentrate on how knowledge management can be applied to improve the burden of youth unemployment in Namibia. The concept of knowledge management and youth unemployment will be clearly defined in this article. I will also explain how Namibia is currently dealing with the issue of unemployment as well as how knowledge management can be applied to deal with youth unemployment in Namibia.

Knowledge management

Knowledge management is defined as the process of creating value from an organisation’s tangible assets (Liebowitz 2005). Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) described knowledge management as the process which involves the management of explicit and tacit knowledge. Knowledge management can also be defined as “the discipline of creating a thriving work and learning environment that foster the continuous creation, aggregation, use and re-use of both organisational and personal knowledge in the pursuit of new business value” (Cross,1995). Relating to the above definitions of knowledge management, one can clearly see that knowledge management is an on-going process that entail effective learning processes associated with exploring and exploiting as well as well as sharing of tacit and explicit knowledge through the use of appropriate technology to enhance the organisation’s performance.

Youth unemployment

The term unemployment is defined by the International Labour Organisation as “all those without a job, who are available for work, and are looking for work.

Initially, youth unemployment has been identified as one of the biggest challenge in many countries — both developing and developed (Namibia Labour Force Survey Report, 2008). Namibia has a very small population of 2113077, and half of the population (50.3%) are below 19 years of age, making the population of Namibia a very young one (Census Report, 2011). Unemployment is a very big challenge in Namibia. Eventually, the high rate of unemployment in Namibia has been a major challenge to the government since independence. The table below shows the rate of unemployment for the year 1997, 2000, and 2004 and 2011.

Year 1997 2000 2004 2011
Unemployment rate 52.1% 56.3% 54.4% 51.2%

Source: Namibia Labour Force Survey 1997, 2000, 2004 & 2011

Apart from the 51,2 % rate of youth unemployment that was released recently by the Namibian Labour Force Survey, the Namibian census report for 2011 has also revealed that unemployment rate in Namibia is currently standing at 36.9 % or 312503 people. Even though the figures released by the Namibian census are a bit lower than the one released by the labour force survey, unemployment is still relatively high.

How is Namibia dealing with youth unemployment?

Since youth unemployment is a major obstacle for the economic growth of Namibia, the government of Namibia has decided to implement different initiation to improve youth unemployment in the country. Such initiations are explained below:

National Youth Service (NYS)

The main focus of this initiative is to recruit young school leavers from all over the country. This initiative offers skills training for school leavers who do not qualify for further studies at institutions of higher learning . The objective of the National Youth Service is to create a platform for unity, cultural exchange, nationhood, patriotism, harmony and discipline (NEPRU, 2005).

Multipurpose Youth Centres (MYC)

Multipurpose Youth Centres has been established in different regions in Namibia. They focus on providing training aimed at developing skills in basic computer, tailoring and gymnastics, with the hope to increase marketability (NEPRU, 2005).

Target Intervention Program for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG).

Given the 51% unemployment figures by the Ministry of Labour, the Namibian government implemented TIPEEG in 2010. The main focus of TIPEEG is to create short to medium term jobs in Namibia. It was also implemented to address the high unemployment rate while supporting strategic economic sector.

Training Youth for Sustainable Livelihood in Rural Namibia

This initiative was established to help the Youth Development Directorate to deal with the problem of the urban migration. This initiative focus mainly on curriculum development, training, volunteer leadership development, village youth club organisation and small enterprise development (Nepru, 2003)

Junior Achievement Namibia (JAN)

This initiative focused mainly on a programme that teaches the youth self-employment skills by offering them business and economic related education through practical entrepreneurial projects. Since its inception, Junior Achievement has been running its programme with several high schools, university and vocational training centres in Namibia. Junior Achievement has been identified as a tool for youth empowerment as it prepares young people on how to develop and manage their businesses. Through this programme, students can form a company and agree upon a product or service to offer. Students have raised enough capital to start their own business, develop and market their products and wisely their human and capital resources (JAN, 2002).

National Youth Council (NYC)

The NYC was implemented to advise the ministry of youth on developmental and youth issues. The council was established in 1994 and it operates in six key areas: employment, promotion and environmental awareness, youth health and welfare; networking; youth exchange and international relations as well as information technology and media (NEPRU, 2005). Youth Employment Network (YEN) initiative is backed by two UN resolutions which support and promote national level strategies for youth employment. The initiative was launched in 2002 focusing on self-employment, renewable energy, micro-credit scheme, mentorship programme and capacity building training workshop (NEPRU, 2005). Although the above initiatives are all intended to reduce youth unemployment, there is enough evidence on the ground showing that they did not yield positive results as the rate of unemployment remains stubbornly high, calling the intervention of knowledge management, which might improve this situation.

What knowledge management can do to improve youth unemployment in Namibia?

The government of the Republic of Namibia should embark on knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing in the country. The above mentioned initiatives must embrace and stimulate an environment of curiosity, they have to be playgrounds of knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing has become so important that many accept that the success of knowledge management in an organisation depends on effective knowledge sharing practices (Bhirud, Rodrigues & Desai, 2005).  Knowledge sharing is defined by International Labour Organisation (2007) as “ the process that connects people with what they need”. Jashapara (2004) define knowledge sharing as the deliberate act in which knowledge is made reusable through its transfer from one party to another. The Republic of Namibia acknowledge the importance of knowledge in the society as it is stipulated in Vision 2030 that by the year 2030 Namibia must be an industrialised and a knowledge-based economy. There are many different ways where knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing can be applied to ensure that the aim of knowledge management is fulfilled.

Community of Practice (CoP)

Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problem, or a passion about a topic and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area on an on-going basis (Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder 2002). The benefit of the community of practice entail improvement in productivity, reduction in costs, improvements in both speed and quality of work, better decision making, greater collaboration and teamwork.


1. Bihrud, S., Rodrigues, L., Desai, P. (2005). Knowledge sharing practices in KM: a case study in Indian software subsidiary. Journal of knowledge management practices. 6 (6):1-3.

2. Community of Practice. (2009). Available from [retrieved on 2013 April 03]

3. Haapalainen, P & Mäkiranta, A. (2013). Acquiring and sharing knowledge in SMEs: a case in the manufacturing industry. Journal of Knowledge Management Practice. 14 (1) 3-5.

4. Idea. (2008). Knowledge management tools and techniques: improvement and development agency or local government helping you access the right knowledge     at the time. Available at

5. International Labour Organisation. (2006). Available from   

6. Jashapara, A. (2004). Knowledge management: an integrated approach. England: Pearson Education Limited.

7. Junior Achievement Namibia. (n.d). Out of school programmes. Available from:

8. Liebowitz, J. (2005). Conceptualising and implementing knowledge management. Management of knowledge in Project Environments, 1-18, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

9. National Planning Commision. (2011). Target intervention program for employment and economic growth. Available from:  

10. NEPRU. (2005). The youth employment challenge in Southern Africa- policy responses and programmes targeting young women and men at the national level. National report paper in Namibia. Windhoek: NEPRU.

11. NEPRU. (2005). Background paper for employment creation policy. Windhoek: NEPRU.

12. Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge creation company: how the Japanese companies create the dynamic of innovation. Oxford University Press.

13. Wenger, E. C., Mcdermott, R., and Snyder, W.M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Employee Mass Exodus

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I left my work because I was not recognised


Every year, the public service institutions and private sector companies lose hundreds – if not thousands – employees due to certain factors. In Namibia, a huge number of employees exit the public sector in search of greener pastures in the private sectors. A newspaper article “Over 3 800 leave govt. jobs: brain drain has hit hard since last April” by Elvis Muraranganda of the Namibian Sun stated that “government offices, ministries and agencies are experiencing a massive staff turnover due to resignation, job dissatisfaction and dismissal, among other reasons” (2013, p.1). The question is, perhaps, ‘how can an organisation return and attract employees?’

English: diagram showing the process of brain ...
English: diagram showing the process of brain drain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Story Behind the Story

In a certain organisation, years ago, was a crisis that almost ruined this organisation. It did not seem like the crisis could cause damage when it began, but as years went by the pain could be felt in the entire organisation. The manager favored others and disregarded others. The ones who were favored were people who are known as the “yes people” because anything the manager said, they would follow; but the ones not  favored were people who questioned some decisions taken and did not agree with him.

Now it happened that disregarded and less favored employees so injustices of the manager who would not complement even the good works of employees except the ones he favored. Because this was a leading organisation, employees did not want leave but the situation forced them to look for better working conditions and opportunities elsewhere. Employee after employee made their exit every year and replacements were hard and positions took long times to be filled. When positions were filled, the employee would not take time before leaving as well. Most were not sent to refresher courses or training.

As time went-by, activities of the organisation were affected and productivity was very low, competitors employed people from this organisation. They were now regarded as crucial asserts elsewhere when they were regarded as lazy people before. In the mean time, the organisation suffered as employees continued to leave. The organization suffered a great deal because it lost employees with experience and a massive knowledge to its competitors.

Essence of the story

Questions to consider: Can your organisation manage without knowledgeable manpower? Can you, as a manager, be able to live with so many bad decisions and manage to get through all your mess?

The work of librarians is stressful sometimes, and may lead employees to pursue other professions rather than librarianship. Depending on situations and perceptions, employees will seek for better opportunities with other organisations which they perceive well. Organisations should, therefore, recognize the contributions which their employees make. Non-financial rewards such as genuine social recognition have a big impact on employee productivity and quality service behaviors (Luthans: 2011, p.101). Some people cannot see themselves working anywhere else, so they remain regardless of how dissatisfied they feel. In essence, employees become dissatisfied because of several reasons such as the attitude of managers towards employees, lack of appreciation and recognition by the supervisor, and available opportunities at the current organisation such as the possibility for promotion.


Just as some organisations in Namibia may be overlooking after the well-being of their employees, the country’s public service may also be at fault with their employees. Despite the fact that education levels of citizens are low, nothing is being done to improve and equip employees with new skills through training and development programmes. In Suppression of Talent and Innovation, Henny Seibeb (2013: p. 10) underlines the fact the “Despite high unemployment, low levels of education and a suppressive financial regime, there is no strategic plan to identify and support talent in Namibia” as other countries like China have done.

Lack of training may therefore lead employees to perceive that they are being sidelined, and may in the end tend to find greener pastures where opportunities are available. Greenberg (2011, p. 68) states that “Workers consider their job performance ratings to be fair to the extent that certain procedures are followed, such as when raters are believed to be familiar with their work and when they believe that the standards used to judge them are applied to everyone equally and consistently.” Unfortunately, this is not often the case in public institutions. Sometimes superiors do not even consider the line of duty a person is into, but they only consider the positions, e.g. the superior may not look at the type of work a reference librarian and a bibliographic librarian does, but evaluate both of them as simply librarians. This is wrong, and superiors should try to separate the differences involved in work schedules of their inferiors.


1. Luthans, Fred (2011). Organizational behavior: an evidence-based approach. 12th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill/Irwin

2. Seibeb, H. (2013 Nov 8). Suppression of talent and innovation. Vol. 28, No.51. Windhoek: The Namibian

3. Muraranganda, E. (2013 Oct 31). Over 3 800 leave govt. jobs: brain drain has hit hard since last April. Windhoek: Namibian Sun

4. Greenberg, J. (2011). Behavior in organizations. 10th ed. Boston: Pearson

Exercise your Brain to Gain Advantage

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‘Gatsby came here to be near Daisy. He can see her house across the bay’. Then there was a reason for all those parties. Gatsby had hoped that one evening, Daisy would walk into his house (Fitzgerald: 2005, p.35).

The quotation above would make you hungry for more, pulsating your heart and keeping your mind in the suspense mode. Just reading one book or article, would make you want to read some more. But in today’s world of Internet and computer games, people would rather watch a movie than read a book. Is reading a book still worthwhile, or can you shelf all books after you have earned a College degree?

Consider the Scriptures: “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4: 13). “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1: 3). Why read? Reading increases your knowledge and understanding. You can become an expert in other fields that you did not study in college. In other words, reading broadens your spectrum of wisdom and how you view things and handle problems.

You might argue that old people who are (or were) illiterate had so much wisdom and knowledge, and handled situations and problems better than us today. True in some sense. But did you know that wisdom they possessed was transferred orally through stories and practice. Theoretically, this wisdom might have been passed by one individual who could read. Did you know that most of the laws and customs in our cultures are from the Bible? How did they get to know these things when they could not read? The answer is simple, somebody who could read, told them and they passed it through generations, without reading.

Just as you exercise your body by going to the gym or field, so it is as well that when you read, you are training your brain to think quicker than ever before. “There is mounting evidence that regular reading helps ward off Alzheimer’s…” (Williams: 2009, p. 62). Reading just brings joy to your heart, and a happy heart is a happy you! Williams continues saying:

If you need further evidence that reading is the best choice for filling up your leisure time, consider this: when you read a book you are using primary natural energy–the kind you’ve been given by God and that’s available to you every day.

So what is the conclusion? Be a lifelong learner. Never stop learning. By reading, you are learning and exercising your mind.


1. Fitzgerald, F.S. (2005). The great Gatsby. Retold by Margaret Tarner. Oxford: Macmillan Heinemann ELT

2. Williams, P. and Williams, K. (2009). The takeaway: 20 unforgettable life lessons every father should pass on to his child. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications

Recitations: Some Lessons

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One of the lessons that helped shape our minds and memory, while we were still in primary school is, without any doubt, recitations. Recitations helped me to stay focused in class and remember almost every word spoken during lessons. The subject, which was compulsory from Grade 1 to Grade 3, was known as Oral Language and Recitation. That time I did not even realise that it was a subject, but it sure helped and continues helping me a great deal!

The strategies employed by teachers of those days, in rural schools, was very easy considering that resources were either limited or not available at all. Memory exercises came in the form of songs. For example, when learning the rainbow colours consider this two-line simple song:

Red, orange, yellow, green

Blue, indigo, and violet.

Children who hated school were somehow touched by this song in Silozi below:

Ya sa keni sikolo

U tundamena buhobe

This meant that “the one who does not attend school, just likes eating food. The song infuriated many and brought them back to school – to learn to read and write. That was the ultimate goal! Steinberg [et al.] (2011, p.284) states that a comprehensive research evidence by the National Reading Panel concluded that comprehension is an essential component of early reading. The two specific elements required by comprehension, according to the research are:

“1. Oral reading fluency – being able to read aloud smoothly, accurately, and at a good speed

2. Vocabulary comprehension – understanding words and text meaning.”

Recitations not only make learning fun and memorable, but they also push us to discover new things, which is why teachers included recitations such as: The Wood-cutter, The Teapot, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Betty Bought a Bread, and several others. They encourage every student to do better. Suttor (2012) echoes this sentiment when she mentions that recitations enhance the educational experience of a student. “Recitation of poetry improves vocabulary of students. The auditory component of recitation of poetry allows language to engrain itself in the student’s knowledge” Suttor (2012). Even better, recitations helps in developing confidence. Presentation should begin at an early age, and what a better way to start than recitations in early grades!

Lastly, let me leave you with my favourite recitation, Betty Bought a Bread:

Betty bought a bread,

But a bread that Betty bought

Was bitter.

To make bitter-bread better,

Betty bought some butter.



Steinberg, L., Bornstein, M.H., Vandell, D.L. and Rook, K.S. 2011. Lifespan development: infancy through adulthood. International edition. [Sydney]: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning

2.      Suttor, M. (2012). The educational value of reciting poetry. Available from: [Accessed 2013 May 30].

“Violence Against Library Materials”

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OPUS Library picture with OPUS Special Collect...
OPUS Library picture with OPUS Special Collections Librarian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a quiet afternoon when all of a sudden the alarm went off. All eyes were fixed on two Grade 10 learners who looked surprised, but not worried. The girls were called to the Reference Desk for a quick search. Everything was OK — no library material was in their possession — and so they were told to proceed…. Again the alarm went off; and the librarians who were getting suspicious called them again. “What did you take from the library?” Like everybody, the answer was “nothing, we didn’t get anything.”

So the librarian decided to pass with every item the girls carried and it came to pass that the file triggered the alarm during that process. Now the atmosphere changed. Cheerful faces now looked pale, eyes were filled with tears, and fear took control of young minds. The girls were visibly shaken, not knowing the next step the librarians could take. But how did it come to this, you may ask?

It all began from the very beginning — requesting for the material. The library usually asks for the ID whenever the material requested is from the legal deposit collection. But 15-year-olds (Grade 10s) do not have IDs and so are requested to bring back the materials to the reference desk when they are done reading. As a result, there is no guarantee that the younger users will return the materials given to them. Now the girls set quietly at the back and began to remove pages from a study guide in order for them to read further at home. Not knowing that the book had a security system in place, they began to take steps towards the security gate and on their way home. But what looked like a well-calculated plan backfired.

What Causes Vandalism of Library Materials?

Vandalism of library materials includes writing on pages, folding pages, tearing pages, etc. Sometimes people are forced by circumstances to rip off pages of a library material. For example: when a learner has not studied a subject well in advance so as to write a test the next morning. The unpreparedness might trigger panic when s/he realizes that time is running faster than expected. Then questions may come: what should I do to cover all the chapters remaining?, what if I…? After, perhaps, a long pose, the victim becomes the library material.

This is the scenario, but whose fault is it really? It can be said here that sometimes parents are at a certain certain extent at fault. This is because they do not want to buy certain books for their children to boost their learning. If parents do not want to support their children’s learning pursuits, the results will be such as the story above. On the other hand, however, it is said that ‘charity begins at home’, which in this context should mean one’s behavior displayed in public is one’s behavior at home as well. To parents, the wisest man ever to live says: “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Correct your son, and he will give you rest…” (Proverbs 29:15, 17).

It is not only teenagers who are violating library materials such as books, but also unemployed youth who cut out job adverts from newspapers. This is cruelty, and should be termed ‘violence against books and newspapers’. It shows how selfish our citizens have become — ‘keep everything to myself’. I doubt very much that if the same people doing these acts would find the materials they really want to use, in a shameful condition: pages ripped. It is painful.


Will it be cool to find yourself in the hands of the police, and eventually into prison? Perhaps this happen and the hardcore criminals asks what you have done to be joining them down there. They will break down into laughter when you tell them: “I tore a job advert from a newspaper.” Dearest people, you can end up in jail for such a ‘small crime’ as violence against books and newspapers, and so you must stop this act.

Now every library have measures in place to ensure that their materials are protected from criminal acts. Every material — even the smallest — have security in it and the doors are alarmed to alert library users of attempted theft.


It is a shame that people do not appreciate what they are given. Librarians try their very level best to ensure that almost every information, knowledge and pleasurable needs of people are met. And yet, people who are so selfish would come to the library to tear off pages and even attempt to steal library materials. This de-values the efforts of librarians, and infringes on the rights of others; especially the right to information.

Our morals are below par and should be upgraded before everything gets out of control. And these moral principles must begin at home. Finally, “Every person must face the practical realities of life — its opportunities, its responsibilities, its defeats, and its successes. How he is to meet these experiences, whether he is to become master or victim of circumstances, depends largely upon his preparation to cope with them — his education” (White: 1998, p.7). So far, it seems we have become victims and our resources have been mis-used. If you do not have something, ask. Our country needs people who are not changed by circumstances but people who change circumstances. Our level of education should show our understanding of things. Common sense must be in use at all times, even when it ceases to be common!


1. White, E.G. (1998). Education. Grantham, England: The Stanborough Press

People as Sources of Information

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People are the most readily available source of information in a community. They can give us important information about many issues which cannot be found anywhere else (Goosen et al., 1997, p. 8). Community leaders, the elderly, and experts possess knowledge and wisdom gained by experience. Older members of communities can provide information ranging from historical, moral, religious, social, cultural, traditional, environmental and agricultural.

Research shows that the top strategies used in seeking information are to “ask a friend, acquaintance and or the relevant agency” such as a library or information center. Thirteen other sources of information includes other gatekeepers or opinion leaders, telephone directory, newspapers, family member, libraries, acquaintances working at agencies, and politicians (Case, 2002, p. 268). People are very important source of information because, as I discussed in previous articles, they possess tacit knowledge amounting to 80% of the total knowledge.

Information seeking involves verbal and non-verbal communication within a social group or culture. In information seeking mode, the individual usually recognises that the source he approaches has more to tell him or her than he has to tell the source. Thus the sources used to seek information purposefully include professionals, organisations, magazines, government departments, and information agencies. Experts in professions such as medicine, law, and teaching are used as information sources relating to their disciplines.

People have a body of knowledge acquired through generations, and some of it comes from experiments carried out by community members. In most cases, culture is the main concept that allows the medium of information to be shared. There is overwhelming evidence that indigenous knowledge have made crucial contributions in medicine, agriculture, environmental management, and philosophy. A lot of knowledge that people have cannot be taken away of context because it is embedded in the environment they live in. Passing it from generation to generation orally ensures the survival of culture and indigenous knowledge to evolve over time.

Oral communication systems and indigenous knowledge systems have been disrupted or destroyed as a result of deaths of elder experts who have a lot knowledge and information. For example, if this knowledge is not orally transferred, usually through stories, it can never be found anywhere again in the generation to come. According to Santili (2006, p. 1-2), “traditional knowledge is commonly generated and accumulated in a collective manner, based on the broad exchange and circulation of ideas and information…”

It is very important to document indigenous knowledge for other generations to know what the previous generation did and how they survived.

1. Santili, J. (2006). Cultural heritage and collective intellectual property rights. IK Notes, No. 95
2. Case, D. (2002). Looking for information: a survey of research on seeking needs and behavior.
3. Goosen, I., Holmes, M., John, M. and Piek, V. (1997). Adventures into information: a manual of basic information and library science.