Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Information Science and Technology


Barbara H. Kwasnik


Case study, Digital libraries, Organizational context, Social actor, Technology-in-practice

Subject Categories

Library and Information Science


This research investigates how organizational context contributes to the use of digital libraries, an ICT-enabled information infrastructure. Traditionally digital-library use is measured with the help of statistical analysis of download and other related data, but statistics alone have limited power to explain how such an expensive information infrastructure is used to meet organizational goals. Such limitation was overcome in this study by relating digital-library use to the context of such use.

In the last decade many Indian research organizations have witnessed the abundance of such information infrastructures accessible directly by end-users. The convergence of several phenomena such as current business models for digital resources, improved ICT infrastructure within organizations and several government interventions to help organizations have made this possible. Because of this recent change, the study was conducted in two Indian research organizations to understand how their respective contexts shape digital library use.

This qualitative study used two theoretical constructs -- social actor (Lamb & Kling, 2003) and technology-in-practice (Orlikowski, 2000). The lens of social actor helped to look beyond the boundary of an organization in order to identify entities that reside in its environment and create information demands on the members of the organization. Information demands from those entities, making up organizational context, often pressure the members to use digital libraries. Consequently digital-library uses acquire various meanings depending on the nature and power position of those entities with respect to the members. The premise of the other lens used - technology-in-practice (Orlikowski, 2000) - is often for a technology use, the centrality does not lie in its technical capabilities, rather various other factors outweigh such capabilities resulting into a specific pattern of its use. In this study, this lens helped to identify several environmental, technological, organizational and personal factors that contribute to very limited use patterns of digital libraries.

The study contributed to our understanding of digital library use beyond merely measuring downloaded data from database companies. It goes further to describe organizational context in terms of several components and how such components often create workplace demands resulting to digital library use. It also explains how some of the contextual aspects can outweigh the technical capabilities of digital libraries leading to certain use patterns.


Open Access