Access to research information in cybercafes: the challenge to academic libraries.

AuthorOkafor, Victoria N.


Information is increasingly becoming a critical determinant of the success of human endeavour. It is crucial to the performance of academics who are both consumers and producers of information. Information and documentation including printed and online materials are the most important means to control and access scientific result. For the academics to have rightful information, the university libraries have a part to play. The vision, mission and strategies which are selected by universities as a guide for meeting the core function of teaching, learning, research and providing information form the foundation on which the role of the university library is established. Based on these functions, Oyewusi and Oyeboade (2009) emphasised that the primary purpose of university libraries is to support teaching, learning and research in ways consistent with, and supportive of the institution's mission and goals. In other words library resources and services should be sufficient in quality, depth, diversity and currency to support the institution curriculum. In line with this, Aino (2006) opted that university libraries are expected to provide information materials in all kinds of format, providing wider access of information in form of electronic journals, books, full text journals, CD-ROM, databases and internet. Failure to have access to information has numerous consequences like duplication of research work, frustration, low morale and low productivity in research and teaching. This lack of access to information has resulted to academics seeking for information in the cyber-cafe, which they feel offers similar information access services. In addition Popoola (cited in Oyewusi and Oyeboade, 2009) submits that the inability of university libraries to meet the information requirements of some library users might have force them to use personal collections including internet resources when conducting research. This implies that if the libraries neglect to match library services capabilities to users' needs, then the libraries run the risk of being marginalized and therefore users will seek alternative competitive offerings in order to satisfy their many academic needs. Broadly-Preton and Barnes (2002) was of opinion that the success of organisation depends on ability to respond to the needs of customers more effectively and organisation must avoid complacency at all cost. In order for university libraries to fulfil their objectives, there is need to improve on library services. The paper is then aimed at finding out the extent computer services that are available in the university libraries and the extent university libraries meet researchers' information needs.

Literature Review

The changes in scholarly communication associated with electronic publishing, however have led to a variety of economic policy and technological issues. The implication is that most scholarly works are created in electronic form and much of the publication process are electronic, regardless of whether the end result is a print or an online publication. Brown (1999) and Cronin (2002) believed that increased use is being made of electronic means of communication facilities such as electronic mail (e-mail), fax, electronic bulletin boards, computer conferencing, newsgroup and other telecommunication channels. Oyewusi and Oyeboade (2009) established that researchers prefer internet in Nigeria because internet provides up to date information than the library resources, also retrieval of information is faster and there are various source to consult. They are various form of electronic according to Jirjwong and Wallin (2002), which include; on-line databases, online public access catalogs (OPAC), e-conference, e-mail discussion, full- text databases, books, scholarly websites, pre-print archives and bulletin boards. Some of these sources are available in few university libraries and cyber-cafe in Nigeria. Oyewusi and Oyeboade also found out electronic data bases, OPAC, close circuit TV (CCTV), e-journal, microfilm and facsimile were not accessible for use in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Nigeria. They further said that the university has not been able to acquire the electronic resources because of financial constraints.

However the integration of new technology especially computer and internet into the library is a major force change in the nature of librarianship and careers of information professionals Dolon and Schumacher (as cited in Aharony, 2006). The question is to what extent do the university libraries in Nigeria meet research information needs, within this era. The new information environment requires that librarians now have new opportunities and new roles to play. Therefore, for the librarians to adapt to this new role, which requires skills, they require training. Cowgill, Beam and Wess (2001) emphasized that the major issue raised in the implementation of information commons of University of Colorado was staff training modules. Anao (cited in Emojorho and Nwalo, 2009) retreated that librarians must retool and restrategize, if they fail to do these things they will lose ground, decline in relevance and face the possibility of extinction. This is extremely important to enable librarians to fulfil their duty at this era of information technology. Ahorony (2006) emphasized that many studies have found that the status of the librarian is low, even in the information generation. He also went further to say that working within information is not limited to librarians and to the library, there is fear that librarians will be needed less in future. On the other hand, Fleck and Bowden's (as cited in Aharony (2006) found out that library and information science is highly regarded and perceived as service oriented and not as a dynamic or proactive profession. Librarians are regarded as unambitious people who find satisfaction in helping others to fulfil their needs. In line with the of issue of non-proactive by librarians, Omekwu (2007) emphasised that in an environment of change and reform, information professionals should be proactive rather than reactive in library and information delivery. The professional image of the librarians is one of the topics that concern them, which is management of information. Aharony (2006) enumerated the roles of librarians as follows, items that relate to information retrieved, building and managing sites, information filtering, matching processed information to the client's personal profile, instruction in and use of information resources, reference, indexing and classification. These roles are challenges to librarians in the rapidly evolving environment of networked information, information explosion, remote access and fast growing needs to help users to use information effectively. OCLC (as cited in Oyewusi and Oyeboade, 2009) emphasised that study had shown that libraries were seen as been more trustworthy/credible in providing more accurate information. World Book Encyclopaedia (2005) emphasised the concern over the internet about the accuracy and the appropriateness of the materials available in internet which may be misleading inaccurate or even fraudulent. To coped with information explosion, complexities in information packaging and access, unfiltered information, Adeogun (2006) suggested the need to develop a stronger intellectual framework for using information effectively to make the library user heavily dependent on the skilled assistance of information professionals in their search for relevant information seeking. For the academics to accomplish their duty in teaching and research, the librarians need to collaborate with teaching staff in incorporating electronic resources, internet and other resources in the library. Okafor and Ukwoma (2007) found out that academics in science and...

To continue reading

Request your trial