Assessment of Electronic Collection Development in Nigerian University Libraries.

Author:Obidike, N.A.
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

Library collection development is one of the basic library services aimed at meeting the information needs of the people (a service population) in a timely and economical manner using information resources locally held, as well as from other organizations (Evans, 2000). Librarians develop collections by buying or otherwise acquiring materials over a period, based on assessment of the information needs of the library's users.

Professionals (librarians) who work in the modern day libraries need continuous grooming or training in other to acquire core competencies and new skills that will make them not to be obsolete in this fast changing environment (Singh and Pinki, 2004). As a result of this, they (librarians) need to shift their attention from traditional library activities of collecting, processing, storing and accessing information, to offer or deliver customer-centred automated information services; generated by using online/offline databases, e-resources, e-journals, networks, consortia, etc.

Electronic Collection Development (ECD) vis-a-vis electronic library refers to collection of electronically formatted information resources from a variety of sources such as the Internet and the Web (Kovacs and Elkordy, 2006). In electronic or digital library collection development, librarians tend to make digitization recommendations rather than purchasing recommendations. They (librarians) do not evaluate what has been published, but rather evaluate what is within their collection that is most valuable and unique to users. To achieve this goal, librarians must be aware of the digital resources provided by other libraries or organizations. The emerging technological development of the past years, such as the electronic databases, online services, CD-ROMs and the introduction of Internet has radically transformed collection development and access to information in university libraries.

In any university library, a written collection development policy is an important tool for guiding all activities related to planning, building, selecting and acquiring library materials (Magrill and Hickey, 1984). It is one of the first pieces of evidence in determining whether a library is engaged in true collection development. University libraries are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of having a strong and constantly updated written collection development policy (Bostic, 1988). Collection development policies provide guidelines in the selection of materials and the allocation of funds. A written policy provides the rationale for the selection of individual items and ensures consistency and balance in the growth of collections.

At present, no known studies have been done on the state of Electronic Collection Development in Nigerian university libraries. This paper aims to fill this gap through a thorough assessment of the state of electronic collection development in three Nigerian university libraries in order to promote an effective electronic collection development in university libraries.

Research Questions

Four research questions were formulated to guide this study.

  1. What is the state of electronic collection development in university libraries in Nigeria?

  2. What are the appropriate methods for facilitating electronic collection development in university libraries in Nigeria?

  3. What are the major impediments that are associated with electronic collection development in the university libraries in Nigeria?

  4. What are the strategies for enhancing ECD in Nigeria University Libraries?

    Methodology

    The study employed a descriptive survey design. This type of research design seemed to be appropriate for this study because of the large body of data, with many variables which the target population of library respondents (Professionals and Paraprofessionals) were expected to tick as they applied to them.

    The study was carried out in three university libraries, made up of two federal and one state -owned universities in Nigeria. The concerned university libraries were as follows:

    1. Nnamdi Azikiwe Library (NAL), University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

    2. Professor Festus Aghagbo Nwako Library (FANL), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Library, Awka, Anambra State

    3. Enugu State University Library (ESUL), Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu.

    The total population of library respondents (Professionals and Paraprofessionals) used for this study from the three university libraries was 208; with the population of professional librarians and paraprofessionals standing at 90 and 118 respectively. No sampling was done in this study as the population size of 208 (Professionals and Paraprofessionals) was considered manageable enough.

    Questionnaire and interview schedule were the instruments used to collect the data for this study. The questionnaire was structured using a-four-point rating scale of VAD (Very Adequate), AD (Adequate), FAD (Fairly Adequate), NAD (Not Adequate); VHE (Very Highly Employed), HE (Highly Employed), ME (Moderately Employed), NE (Not Employed); SA (Strongly Agreed), A (Agreed), D (Disagreed), SD (Strongly Disagreed), and VA (Very Appropriate), A (Appropriate), FA (Fairly Appropriate) and NA (Not Appropriate). The university librarians, Heads of Collection Division and one digital librarian from the three studied university libraries were interviewed.

    With the help of two librarians in each of the three studied university libraries, copies of the questionnaire (n = 208) were distributed among the professional and paraprofessional respondents to elicit their responses on the specific questions raised. An audio play back cassette recorder was used to conduct the interview.

    Analysis of data collected for this study was based on each research question using frequency count and mean. SPSS version 16.0 software was used to calculate the mean of each item in each research question. Frequencies of each item and means of the items in each question were calculated and presented in tables.

    RESULTS

    Research question 1: What is the state of electronic collection development (ECD) in university libraries in Nigeria?

    Table 1 showed that the overall mean responses of respondents from the three studied university libraries on the state of ECD fell below 2.50. The item "equipped with computers and their accessories for collection development staff' scored an overall mean of 2.41 while the items "always subscribe to e-resources (online journals/books) from major publishers worldwide" and "Has wireless Internet connection" had overall mean ratings of 2.39 and 2.36 respectively. On the other hand, "Adequately funded by the state/federal government", "The library has access to online selection tools; such as British and American BIP" and "Has a WAN' recorded overall mean ratings of 2.32, 2.30 and 2.18 respectively. The items "Has a LAN" and "The acquisition unit has strong Internet connectivity to link up with publishers in Nigeria and outside Nigeria" scored overall mean ratings of 2.12 and 1.99 respectively. This result is an indication that library staff respondents did not agree on all the eight listed items in Table 1 on the state of ECD in Nigeria university libraries.

    Research question 2: What are the appropriate methods for facilitating electronic collection development (ECD) in university libraries?

    The respondents from the three studied university libraries identified all the fourteen items in Table 2 as the appropriate methods that will facilitate ECD in Nigeria University Libraries. "Use of Internet" (3.56), "Provision of good Internet facilities" (3.52) and "Subscribing to electronic journals" (3.46) stand out as the top three identified appropriate methods that will facilitate ECD in Nigeria University Libraries. The library staff respondents also identified other appropriate methods that will facilitate ECD such as "World Wide Web (WWW)" (3.37), "formulation of adequate digital collection development policy" (3.35), "online book in prints" (3.25), "use of Online Public Access Catalogue" (3.22), "use of online publisher's catalogue" (3.16), "subscribing to electronic reference resources" (3.12), "subscribing to full-text databases" (3.05), "subscribing to Indexing database" (3.03), "subscribing to E-book and video streaming collections" (3.00), "subscribing to individual e-book and video streams" (2.92) and "teleconferencing" (2.79).

    Research question 3: What are the major impediments that are associated with electronic collection development (ECD) in the university libraries in Nigeria?

    The respondents from the three university libraries clearly identified "inadequate funding" (3.70) as the major factor that militates against ECD in Nigeria university libraries. 'Epileptic power supply" (3.56), "automation at infancy level" (3.42), and "lack of higher bandwidth in Internet connectivity" (3.29) ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively as the positively identified factors that militate against ECD in Nigeria university libraries. "Poor access to materials for acquisition" (3.07), "lack of proper commitment by the university management" (3.02), "lack of technical know how" (3.01), "lack of sound administrative policies and guidelines" (2.95) "lack of skill/in competencies"...

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