ASSESSMENT OF ICT COMPETENCIES OF LIBRARY STAFF IN SELECTED UNIVERSITIES IN KWARA STATE, NIGERIA.

Author:Oyedokun, Tunde Toyese
Position:Information and communication technology - Report
 
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INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is one of the greatest inventions of mankind which played unprecedented roles in changing the landscape of human and organization activities around the globe from which libraries are not exempted. In corroboration to that Dhanavandan, Esmail, Mohammed and Nagarajan (2012) stressed that ICT has drastically changed every facet of human endeavors of which library is not an exception, such that libraries are now deeply engaged in digitization of almost all library resources in order to provide a fast, interactive and dynamic information services to users. In reflection to that, information has therefore been disseminated speedily around the globe due to advancement in the channel of communication. Library resources are being transformed from print to digital and web resources, which is being used extensively and subsequently resulted in tremendous growth of information dissemination and service delivery in the library. The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities in performing library functions are becoming very useful in the libraries because it makes service delivery to the user faster and more efficient.

Nwachukwu (2005) defined ICT as a device or tool that allows for the collection, storage, processing or the communication of information. Ekoja, (2007) was of the opinion that ICT is a kit or equipment used for capturing, processing, storing and accessing information. Chrisita and Shoko (2010) defined ICT in a library context to mean the application of various technologies such as computer, retro-graphics, audio-visuals and other electronic devices for storage, reproduction, and dissemination of information in a library environment. In a similar vein, Vijayakumar and Vijayan (2011) defined ICT as the application of computers and technologies for acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of information. Malanga (2015) explained the definition further to mean a revolution that provides the platform and technical means of handling information and communication. With the definitions above, ICT can rightly be said to be a catalyst for generating, processing, storing and disseminating information.

Seena and Sudhier-Pillai (2014) emphasized that early 70s usher in the evolution of library automation process and late 90s, the invention of internet bring about web based services and digitization of library resources while the latest invention of last decade gives birth to Web 2.0 that revolutionize information service delivery. ICT revolutionized many traditional library practices which in-turn posed a new challenge, opportunities, and competition for LIS professionals (Narasapa & Kumar, 2016). Complementing the above assertions, was Itsekor and James (2012) who underscored that evolving technologies, globalization and digitization, as well as information explosion of today information society, led to library automation, Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 applications, which can be simply stated to means that the traditional ways of doing things in the library are giving ways for digital operations. This occurrence tasked LIS professionals to keep abreast of the latest technology advancement as well as their applications to library operation. ICT skills are imperative such that, they now have an enduring impact on career development of LIS professionals. It is very crucial for library and information science professionals to acquire ICT skills in order to be more competitive in the face of competition with other professionals. Without adequate ICT skills, librarians would not be able to cope with information explosion of today information society.

The beginning of 21st Century ushered in evolutionary change to the ways users' access information, such that they now demand for anytime anywhere communication and access to electronic resources (Okiy, 2010). This development brought revolutionary changes to modes and methods of information storage, retrieval, and transmission. During the ancient and medieval era, the functions of the libraries were majorly collection and preservation of information carriers, but advent of twenty-first century, extends the roles of libraries from mere preservation to provision of access and dissemination of information (Kehinde and Tella 2013). In reflection to that, Itsekor and Ugwunna (2014) emphasized that ICT has transformed the face of librarianship as the role of library and information science professionals shift from custodian of books to information professionals, with the responsibility of creating, processing, storing, manipulation and disseminating information electronically.

ICT provides efficient and effective ways in executing information related activities. It provides convenience in terms of usage for the users; speedy, accuracy and preciseness of information. Ezeani and Ekere (2009) are of the opinion that the use of ICT encourages diversity and built a foundation for continuous innovative learning in the academic environments, it also reinterprets traditional library skills, and explore new ways of putting these skills to work through the effective use of ICT. The effectiveness of library services in this century largely depends upon Information and Communication Technology (ICT), such that libraries with necessary infrastructural capabilities can tap the ICT skills of their staff for development. This evolving development in library world now tasked libraries to develop their information infrastructure and as well develop the skill of their workforce to one that meet the information need of today users who are millennial and technologically savvy. ICT plays a significant role in shaping and revamping information service delivery of libraries and this calls for the need for LIS professionals to acquire core ICT competency and skills that will enable them to overcome the threat of becoming obsolete in the face of competition in today digital environment where libraries operate (Narasappa & Kumar, 2016). The above is in consonance with Ferdinand (2011) assertion, who earlier stressed that the situation on the ground requires that library and information science professionals to be up and doing because potentials of information age can't be realized without proper acquisition of ICT skills.

The advent of Internet and advancement in ICT makes access to various information sources and databases that are available in various parts and locations of the world to be possible. In consonance to the above, Kehinde and Tella (2012) stressed that some of the valuable resources freely available on the Internet have become indispensable tools for the dissemination of information. In reflection to that, Adebisi (2009) earlier opined that ICT foster users with the opportunity to have unlimited access to information and as such enhance anytime and anywhere access to information in time and space with little or no regard to the location of such information. Information and communication technology is the modern science of gathering, storing, manipulating processing and communicating information. ICT tools such as the internet and World Wide Web (WWW) makes it possible to access information from unlimited sources without much consideration for geographical features. It also encourages independent usage as it allows users to work at their own pace and according to their self-defined needs. This development has a consequence of repositioning library staff for the new digital environment libraries find themselves. LIS professionals are urged to do the needful by acquiring adequate ICT skills expected of them in today digital world. The role of LIS professionals keeps changing not only in the face of changes in users' preference for web based services but also change in job specification that requires ICT skills for the position of a librarian (Itseko & James, 2012).

Singh and Pinki (2009) stressed that information management constitutes the core mandate of any academic libraries alongside other support services tailored towards attaining the mission and vision of their parent institutions. Learning, teaching, research and community service constitute the focal point from which every university mission and vision are fashion out. Academic libraries are in the forefront of providing information service to their community of users which include: students, lectures, researcher, other staff of the faculty and community members of where the university is situated (Abubakar, 2011). Academic libraries are the heartbeat of the academic environment for learning, teaching and research activities due to their function of acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information. Achieving the mission and vision of academic institution is the precursor behind the establishment of academic libraries (Ferdinand, 2011). LIS professionals are at the threshold of information handling of their parent institutions but today digital age has brought about new tools and technologies for information handling and management and for academic libraries to be able to serve the academic community effectively in current digital environment and globalization. Therefore, library staff need to be trained and equipped with adequate ICT skills. Staff training and development will play a significant role in equipping library staff for quality library services (Ajeemsha & Madhusudhan, 2014). The assertion above is true to a great extent in that the quality of any academic library depends on the quality of its workforce, who can transform even the poorest library into an excellent performing library.

Deregulation of telecommunication industry as well as implementation of information technology policies by the federal government of Nigeria cause a proliferation and affordability of internet access which subsequently makes library users to be internet savvy and considered internet...

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