Before the advent of information and communication technology (ICT), academic libraries were the sole custodians of information, which was predominantly in print. ICT brought changes necessitated by new information packaging. Academic libraries are faced with managing hybrid resources (print and electronic) and are challenged to acquire the necessary skills. Furthermore, electronic information is eroding the monopoly of academic libraries as the sole access point to information. Nevertheless, academic libraries can maintain their place by serving as an access point to both print and electronic resources. This paper discusses the nature of academic libraries in the digital age including resources, the concept of universal access, and the role of the in universal access to print and electronic resources. It also presents and describes a conceptual model of resource access for academic libraries in developing countries.
Academic Libraries in the Digital Age
A well established library is essential for any academic institution. As a focal point for teaching, learning, and research, it is expected to provide standard information resources. Today, academic libraries are struggling to keep their place as the major source of inquiry in the face of emerging digital technology. Digital technology has revolutionized not only the way information is packaged, processed, stored, and disseminated, but also how users seek and access information. Academic libraries no longer restrict themselves to print services such as collection development, cataloguing and classification, circulation and reference services, current awareness, selective dissemination, and other bibliographic services, but have extended their efforts to interdisciplinary concepts and computer software and hardware and telecommunication engineering and technology. As observed by Campbell (2006:17), "numerous creative and useful services have evolved within academic libraries in the digital age: providing quality learning spaces, creating metadata, offering virtual reference services, teaching information literacy, choosing resources and managing resource licenses, collecting and digitizing archival materials, and maintaining digital repositories". Academic libraries presently are faced with not only the decision on what books and journals to acquire to satisfy faculty and students but also on how to remain relevant in the digital era, mindful of low budgets and resentment on the part of institutional administrators. There is also the issue of...