Accreditation issues in Faculty of Law of Nigerian Universities: imperatives for law libraries, laws and statutes--1.

Author:Onwudinjo, Oliver T.U.
Position:Report
 
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INTRODUCTION

Law library is a library designed to assist law students, attorneys, judges and their clients and any one else who finds it necessary to correctly determine the state of the law. A law library, according to Ukpanah and Afolabi (2011), is a collection of legal information organized for use of those seeking to qualify as or who have qualified as Lawyers, and those enacting or administering law. The contents of a law library are broadly divided into two, namely, primary and secondary sources. Primary sources consist of books that contain the law itself. They include Acts of Parliament, Gazettes, Reports of Cases, digests, books of law rather than books on law. Secondary sources include treatises, commentaries, journals and other type of publication which are about law and are not in themselves sources of legal authority. They include textbooks, encyclopedia, casebooks, practice books and periodicals.

Library collections are total accumulation of books and other information materials owned by a library, and are expected to be geared towards meeting the objectives of the parent institution. Oseghale, (2008) observed that developing a balanced and useable collection is an important aspect of library services. Library collections, therefore, are built to meet the information and research needs of any academic programme.

Some law libraries may have collection gaps which in some cases may or may not be totally filled during accreditation visits which come up every five years. Law library is one of the areas or facilities used in judging any faculty of law during accreditation exercise. For the faculty of law libraries to maintain a balanced collection, meet the demands of students, lecturers and law professionals, and pass accreditations conducted by the regulatory bodies, the National Universities Commission and the Council of Legal Education, there must be adequate collections and other law requirements in place.

Accreditation is the tool used around the world to monitor, assess, and evaluate the standards and quality of the education a student receives at a college, university or other institutions of higher learning (National Universities Commission, 1989)

It is only through the process of accreditation that new students, returning students and families of students can trust that the education they are paying for is valuable and worth their time, money and effort. Accreditation status indicates that a college, university or programme meets the standards of quality set by the accreditation organization in terms of faculty, curriculum, administration, libraries, financial wellbeing, and student's services.

Accreditation exercise also assure employers and other members of the community that Nigerian graduates of all academic programmes have attained an acceptable level of competency in their areas of specialization. National Universities Commission (as cited in Akomolafe, 2009) said that accreditation is to certify to the international community that the programmes offered in Nigerian universities are of high standards and their graduates are adequate for employment and for further studies.

The inability of Nigerian universities in meeting the accreditation requirements with regards to the law libraries collections contributed to the failure of accreditations in the past by some institutions. In any faculty of law accreditation exercise, if all the facilities, equipment and personnel are put in place and are adequate, but the law library collections are inadequate, that academic programme must fail accreditation (National Universities Commission, 1989). The failure of accreditation will result in loss of confidence by law students, parents and the general public in the university concerned.

While studies by researchers such as Tuhumwire and Okello-Obura (2010), Thanuskodi (2012) and Khan and Bhatti (2012) have dealt into issues of legal information needs and seeking behaviours of law library users, the aspect of accreditation issues in faculty of law of Nigerian universities appears not to have been explored. A study in this important area with reference to South East Geopolitical zone seems to be non existent. This is the motivation for this study and the gap in body of knowledge in legal literature that it intends to fill.

In order to put in place an adequate library for any academic programme, there must be adequate funding by the university. According to Nwangwu, (2000) under-funding has been a serious problem facing university education in Nigeria. The Council of Legal Education has provided university law libraries' collections standards. Both National Universities Commission and Council of Legal Education laid emphasis on accreditation requirements. While National Universities Commission's emphasis was on the requirements to enable students pass their first degree (LL.B), the Council of Legal Education's emphasis covers all law programmes up to the Doctorate degree (Ph. D). They both stressed on the provisions of certain collections which are mandatory requirement for a successful accreditation. To ensure that faculty law libraries meet the accreditation requirements, the standard list of the law library minimum requirements was released by the Council of Legal Education. The list covered the laws and statutes (local and foreign), law journals (local and foreign), law reports (local and foreign) and law text books (local and foreign).

For National Universities Commission and Council for Legal Education to give a pass mark or grant accreditation to any academic programme, the law library collections and/or resources must match effectively and efficiently with all the courses being taught by the faculty.

Research Questions:

The following research...

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