Establishment of Hybrid Library Services in Federal Universities of the North-Central Zone of Nigeria
This study investigated the establishment of hybrid library services in federal university libraries of the North Central zone of Nigeria. It examined the need, availability, extent, problems and strategies for effective operation of hybrid library services. A descriptive survey was used for the study; the population comprises librarians and users made up of students and lecturers alike. All 102 librarians and 1,330 users comprising students and lecturers totalling 1,432 constituted the sample used for the study. The instrument for data collection was a structured questionnaire titled, ‘Establishment of hybrid library services questionnaire’, that was answered by librarians, students and lecturers, users of the university libraries. In analysing the data, descriptive statistics such as mean and percentage were used. The findings revealed that there is need for hybrid library services because respondents are not satisfied with the traditional services in existence. It also shows hybrid library services available as: Internet Services, On-line Websites, CD-ROMs, e-journals, WebOPAC. It further shows that hybrid library services are not efficiently operated owing to a plethora of problems ranging from lack of skills, lack of training and development of service staff, inadequate funding. Based on the findings, the following recommendations were made: necessary user education and orientation programmes, proper training and education of library staff, necessary funding from appropriate quarters as panacea to addressing the problems of establishment of hybrid library services in federal university libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria.
Background to the Study
A university is an institution which is engaged in both transmitting and expanding knowledge. According to Lungu (1995) the mission of the University is to satisfy special or general needs of a nation through teaching, research and community service. In pursuant of this mission, the University as well as the librarians are indispensable partners in actualization of the educational objective of the university. Lawal (2000) listed these objectives as: advancement of knowledge through research, dissemination of knowledge through teaching and service to the community.
University libraries according to Elemide and Harvard – Williams (1996) form a distinct category in the general pattern of library services. The prime function of the university library is to provide facilities for research to its clientele as the library is a crucial centre for any community, particularly in any academic pursuit. The character and efficiency of a university may be gauged by the treatment of its central organ, the library. A library is not only the basis of all teaching and study, but also an essential condition for research without which additions cannot be made to the sum of human knowledge. (Tinker, 1995).
The University library is a repository of information resources. Morgan and Smith (1997) stated that, library resources are very valuable either for the information they contain or for their physical beauty. The materials stocked in University libraries are meant to be source of knowledge, pleasure and assistance for generations to come. It is therefore safe to say that much of the success of the university library in achieving the set objectives depend largely on the nature of the resources it possesses. These resources are the traditional information resources which include, books, journals, maps, encyclopedia, dictionaries, newspapers and periodicals; while the modern information resources includes the following; CD ROMs, audio-visual materials, e-books, e-journals, e-thesis and dissertations, DVDs, computer systems/ Files, internet and communication gadgets.
It is imperative that the university libraries and its resources be within the reach of the users in order for them to broaden their knowledge and make meaningful and effective contribution to the development of the nation. (Bazzillian and Braun 1995). It is equally important to understand that, the university library perform the following traditional operations and services namely: cataloguing, circulation, acquisitions, reference, serials, bibliographical compilation. However, rapid advances in information processing, storage and communication technology have revolutionized the roles of university libraries worldwide in disseminating information service to their users as a result, university libraries are facing new challenges, new expectations, and variety of information services from users tailored to their wants and needs.
Tiwari, (2002), stated that University libraries, are now reconsolidating their position, redesigning their services and information products, incorporating new technologies, upgrading information resources, training people, changing information models of communication and information delivery in order to add value to their services and to satisfy the changing information needs of users community. Without doubt, the traditional library information resources require transformation owing largely to its inherent shortcomings which according to Lancaster (1978), are: slow speed of retrieval, inability to cope with large volume of information resources, cumbersome nature of information resources, poor services, unskilled staff, lack of proper organization of information resources.
In higher education and human capacity building, there are significant patterns of change because modern information resources are impetus for change in traditional concepts of teaching and learning. Arora (2001), stated that modern information resources has impacted strongly on the traditional library service through: On-line Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), user service, reference service, bibliographic service, current awareness service, audio-visual service. It has also affected the traditional library resources with the availability of e-journals, e-books, access to web based resources, abstracting and indexing on CD ROMs.
It is therefore safe to mention that modern information resources are effective and efficient in the discharge of university library service. According to Sandaro (2001) modern information resources offer convenience of time and space, cost effectiveness, faster and most up-to-date dissemination of information for end users involved in the library service process. Equally, OPAC use power of computers to search out library materials and also provide many additional benefits such as on-line reservation of books, remote access, requesting books for loan, loan renewals and book suggestion.
It is interesting to note that over the years more librarians have continually advocated for the use of modern information resources to displace traditional information resources especially in the university libraries. One of such is Lancaster (1978) a strong proponent of a ‘paperless society’, who warned the society to expect and be fully prepared to embrace the adoption and use of strictly electronic information resource in transactions. He was especially concerned about the library and warned that it should be ready for this transition process and that failure to adapt, may lead to disruption and chaos in library services. But then, the question that arises is; should there be over-dependence on modern information resources to provide services for university libraries in view of its shortcomings which according to, Minishi (2004), Manda (2006), Ikoja (2006) are: Poor funding and sustainability of the technology in developing nations, poor competency and expertise, low levels of access by students, lack of support staff, need for more computer training for students, inadequate infrastructure for supporting the integration of ICT’s.
However, Walton and Edward (1997) proffers a solution to this contentious issue when they agreed that, the management of traditional information resources will for the foreseeable future run parallel to that of modern information resources, and both playing complementary role. Equally, Rusbridge (1998) believes that paper based and other non-digital resources of information will always be of major importance. It seems very unlikely that sophisticated technology for representing them will ever replace the original and their value to research and learning. This then, is the basis for a hybrid library service.
The term ‘hybrid’ is often used in descriptions of activities or services that combine two established features. For example, the term hybrid manager was in vogue in the 1970’s and 1980’s for managers of information technology in the United Kingdom. Rushbridge (1998) defined hybrid library as, a mix of traditional print library resources such as books and magazines, as well as the electronic based materials, such as; down loadable, audio books, e-journals, e-books. Similarly, Pinfield (1994) stated that, hybrid library is the permanent and equal inclusion of the traditional information resources alongside the modern information sources. Simply, a hybrid library is a library which works both in the electronic or digital and print environment, a transitional state between print and digital environment.
The earliest use of the term, ‘hybrid library’ was by Sutton (1996) in his consideration of information service models. Sutton identified four types of libraries in a continuum running from the traditional to the digital, – traditional, automated – hybrid and digital. He further stated that, there will be an inevitable shift along the continuum from library as a place to library as a logical entity where there is coexistence of traditional and digital collections and the possibility of totally unrestrained access to digital resources located elsewhere to which the library subscribes to.
The hybrid library is designed to bring a range of technologies from different sources together in the context of a working library and to begin to explore integrated systems and services in both the electronic and print environments. (Lorcan, 1998). Therefore the hybrid library should not only be seen as an uneasy transitional phase between the conventional library and the digital library but rather as a worthwhile model in its own right which can be usefully developed and improved upon.
Pinfield (1998) has highlighted a number of issues to be addressed to ensure the effective transition to hybrid library service. According to him, Information professionals need to acquire new skills, decision-makers in the institutions need to recognize the potentials of this new development in supporting teaching, learning and research, commercial providers must continue moves to provide more tolerable products, information users must be assisted to develop new approaches to seeking and using information sources, proper funding from appropriate quarters, sound policy and implementation.
It is pertinent to have an understanding of the background of these five Federal Universities of the North-central Zone of Nigeria. According to the university website, uniabuja.edu.(2009), University of Abuja was established on January 1st 1988 (under Decree no. 110 of 1992 as amended) as a dual mode university with the mandate to run conventional and distance learning programme, it is the first university in Nigeria to assume such a dual mandate, it is thus committed to and seeks academic excellence while ensuring equal education; access to a diverse constituency thus preparing students for productive roles in the society. University of Abuja library was established in 1988 the same year the university was founded. The main library is located at Gwagwalada campus. It has a seating capacity of 2,000 seats. The attempts to integrate its information resources into hybrid services began in 2005 and still in progress. Hybrid service facilities such as the internet services, on-line database, CD ROMs, e-journals are provided to assist teaching, learning and research purposes.
The Federal University of Technology, Minna is equally a Federal Government owned University in Nigeria. It was established on 1st February, 1983. The objective for the establishment of this university is to give effect to the nations drive for the much needed self-reliance in Sciences, Engineering, and especially Technology. It is a specialized University of Technology. (FUT.edu., 2009). The university library of Federal University of Technology, Minna otherwise known as Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) library was established in 1983 at the creation of the university. The main library has an annex at Bosso campus, in all the libraries have a 2,200 seating capacity. The university library has attempted to integrate its services, particularly the serials section in the last six years. This has resulted in the conversion of some of their journals into digital form and subscription for e-journals, on-line database and WebOPAC.
In the same vein, University of Ilorin was established by a decree of the Federal Military Government in 1975 and it is a Federal Government owned tertiary institution of education located in Ilorin, Kwara- State, north central, Nigeria. It was established in order to implement one of the educational directives of the country’s Third National Development Plan aimed at providing more opportunities for Nigerians aspiring to acquire university education and to generate high level man-power so vital for the rapidly expanding economy. The library of University of Ilorin was established in 1976 and has a seating capacity of 2,400. The library is making serious efforts at integrating its information services particularly the serials section through provision of e-journals, which is complementing the physical resources. Also provided are CDroms, databases and OPAC Website which the library subscribes to (unilorin.edu.,2011).
In addition, unijos.edu.(2010) stated that the University of Jos, started as a campus of the University of Ibadan in November, 1971. In October 1975, the then Military Government announced the establishment of seven new universities, including university of Jos which was established with the vision of being an innovative institution with great interaction between; town and gown. The university today, carries a high responsibility of fashioning tastes and attitudes of the future. It is committed to providing education that is globally competitive and relevant to the needs of today’s employer and the developing challenges of Nigeria and beyond. The university library of University of Jos was established in 1975 and it is as old as the university itself. It has a 2,350 seating capacity for readers. The library is also in the process of integrating its information resources in the last six years, though with little progress. What has been provided so far are: internet services, e-journal and digital format of physical resources, subscription to OPAC Website.
The Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi is located in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State of Nigeria. It occupies an arable land area of 8,048 hectares, thus making of the largest holder of agricultural land mass amongst institutions of its kind. By Federal Operation Policy, the University of Agriculture, Makurdi mandate covers 60% of Nigeria, with nineteen (19) Northern states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory as its catchments area. The integration of teaching adaptive research and extension learning approach of the university has created a demanding and intellectually stimulating environment for students. Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi otherwise known as Francis Idachaba library was established in 1988 when the university was established. It has a modest seating capacity of 1,550. It is just starting a process of integrating its information resources. What is presently available in the library is internet services, e-journals with its physical copies (uniagric.portal,2011).
The five Federal Universities of the North-central states operate library services which are to provide resources for research, teaching and learning. However, the information resources presently available in these libraries are not adequate to meet the yearning needs and requirements of its teeming population of users, as such there is a strong need for improvement of resources. This can only be achieved by integrating the available traditional information resources with the incipient modern information resources to create a comprehensive information resource base that is capable of providing satisfactory service to users of university libraries, which is the, ‘hybrid library service’. (Joint Information System Committee, 1995).
However, it is noteworthy to state that, the status quo of the establishment of hybrid library services in the university libraries of the five Federal Universities under study is still relatively new. It is a new phenomenon that will take some time to develop fully and impact positively on users.
The researcher believes that the adoption of the use of hybrid library service by these university libraries will afford users the following benefits: Seamless access to the most appropriate information resources in whatever medium be it sound, print and digital; affording convenience and flexibility to learners by reducing environmental impacts, bridging the gap between the traditional library and electronic library; creating new ways of communicating and disseminating research findings and facilitating discussions among researchers; facilitating resources discovery beyond the physical limitations of the physical library; permanent and equal inclusion of print information sources alongside the electronic sources and encouraging the concept of a life-long learning through use of modern information resources.
Statement of the Problem
Information is vital for the healthy growth and development of any community. Information is available today in many formats and librarians in the university libraries should be concerned with providing information in the best formats most suitable for users of their libraries since they are by virtue of their profession, information gate-keepers. It should be noted that, university libraries are repository of information resources in both the traditional and modern format.
However, the continued frustrations suffered by university librarians and users (students and lecturers) in the university libraries of the Federal Universities of North-central zone of Nigeria as a result of dearth of current, up-to-date information resources, including accessibility to such and the attendant high cost of purchasing books and other information materials; are posing serious threats to learning, teaching and research activities.
There is a strong contention that, modern information resources should constitute significant and inherent portion of the information carrying medium in university libraries in Nigeria because of its tested abilities over the traditional information resources which are: cost effectiveness, faster and most up-to-date dissemination and end-users involvement in the library service process; convenience of time and place of service.
In spite of these obvious advantages of the modern information resources over the traditional resources, there is a strong view that, both should play complementary roles in providing comprehensive information resource base and services capable of satisfying the growing and yearning information requirements of users of libraries of these federal universities of the North Central States of Nigeria. This complementary role is the hybrid library service.
The researcher believes that, if the processes of establishing hybrid library service in the libraries of these Federal Universities of the North-central states are taken for granted, the attendant benefits of hybrid library service may not be realized and this, is what the researcher seeks to investigate, so that the rich information resources available in hybrid library service are properly harnessed by users of the libraries of these Federal Universities of Nigeria.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to investigate issues involved in establishing hybrid services in five federal universities of North Central zone of Nigeria.
Specifically, the study is conducted to:
Examine the need for hybrid library service in libraries of the Federal Universities of north-central zone of Nigeria.
Determine the hybrid library services available in these libraries.
Identify the extent of effectiveness of hybrid library service in the libraries of these Federal Universities.
Determine the problems involved in establishing effective hybrid library service in these Federal University libraries.
Highlight strategies for effective operation of hybrid library services in the libraries of these Federal Universities.
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:
1. What are the reasons for hybrid library services in libraries of the Federal Universities of north-central geo-political zone of Nigeria?
2. What are the hybrid library services available in these libraries?
3. What is the extent of effectiveness of hybrid library service in these libraries?
4. What are the problems involved in establishing effective hybrid library services in these libraries?
5. What strategies can be employed in achieving effective hybrid library services in the libraries of these Federal Universities?
Significance of the Study
This study is important, significant and timely at a time when there is an urgent need to blend the traditional library information resources with the modern information resources in dispensing timely information to aid teaching, learning and research purposes. This study will hopefully be of immense benefit to university libraries in the Federal Universities of North Central states of Nigeria and users comprising students and lecturers in the following ways:
The university libraries would observe and correct relevant aspects of their library service that are defective and in which improvement is required to make library service better to the overall advantage of stakeholders. The information yearning needs of users of university libraries can only be satisfied by providing information in the best formats possible for their use. The integration of the traditional resource and modern information resource formats will produce comprehensive information service that will best satisfy the information needs of the users as they are now exposed to seamless access and to the most appropriate resource in whatever the medium, whether print, sound and digital.
In addition, the university librarian will learn to adopt better strategies to deliver quality service to the stakeholders involved in the use of the library. The adoption and use of the integrated service, which is; the hybrid library service will offer the university librarian effective facilities that will assist in boosting his level of efficiency in providing quality service to stake-holders of the university library.
The users of these Federal University libraries will develop more confidence in the librarian and become attracted to make better use of library service. The adoption of the hybrid library service will make the librarian versatile in providing information in different formats for users. The components and technologies available in hybrid library service will further complement the efforts of the university librarian in providing quality information service to users which in turn translates to more confidence in the library by user’s community.
The researchers will benefit tremendously as quality information resource will now be made available to enhance their research efforts. Researchers will be exposed to information resources medium which enables them to search, locate and request all resources available in whatever format easily and quickly from desktop and have printed items from outside their own institutions delivered to them efficiently and effectively.
Government attempt at revolutionizing information resources and services presently, will benefit from the study. Information technology which is the bedrock of national survival and development in a rapidly changing global environment has found its roots in all human endeavours. Its impacts is now felt in all facet of our life such as e-mail communication, e-payment (finance), e-marriage (family) and most importantly the e-library as it affects the university libraries in providing quality service to the user community.
Scope of the Study
This study covers the Establishment of Hybrid Library Services in the Federal Universities of north central geo-political zone of Nigeria. The researchers’ choice of north-central geo-political zone of Nigeria is because of proximity and accessibility to the researcher, and because no study has yet been conducted on this topic in this zone.
The researcher covered the important areas of this work which comprises the following: the reasons for hybrid library services in federal universities of North-Central zone of Nigeria, the various hybrid services available in these federal university libraries, the extent of effectiveness of hybrid library services in these university libraries, the problems involved in establishing effective hybrid library services in these libraries and the strategies to be employed in achieving effective hybrid library service in these federal university libraries of the North Central zone of Nigeria.
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