Assessment of library resources and programmes in unity schools in Nigeria.

Author:Idoko, Nkechi Anthonia


Libraries exist to provide support to research and other educational activities in their parent institution/organization. Secondary school libraries are not left out of this function. Globally, the symbolic heart and blood or an essential resource of a school, is its library. There is a mass of evidence that library user education is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria today but how well libraries are equipped and their programmes are implemented in Unity Schools in South East Nigeria, remains a matter of conjecture which the study seeks to assess.

According to Nwalo (2003), a library is one of the most important educational establishments aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning. It must be properly stocked to complement other educational activities in schools. Varieties of library abound and among them is the school library where this work is centered. The quality of secondary school education is a mirage without a quality school library. The aim of the school library, therefore, is to provide the best services for its users/patrons by making them to be available and accessible. It is in realization of this fact that Agaja (2005) described school library as one of the most valuable infrastructures in the academic system. Bundy (2008) pointed out that the core services of the school library include: the provision of a learning environment, reference and access to information resources. He went further to state that each library must tailor its services to the needs of its users. As invaluable as the school library is, it will remain a complex place where a student if left unattended to would just look at the collection and spend precious time without achieving anything.

Ojedokun (2007) asserted that the objective of user education was to develop in readers awareness of the overall information resources available to them; information literacy skills necessary for retrieving materials and to put in place strategies for enhancing information search in order to stimulate the user to make adequate use of resources available in the library not minding the challenges that may be encountered. The whole essence of library user education therefore is to connect students to the vast array of information resources and programmes using the school library as a gateway (Zeller, 2005). Library user education enables students to acquire information skills necessary for academic pursuit, other life-long opportunities and problem-solving. It is a holistic interactive learning process that presupposes that a student recognizes the need for information and knows how to find, evaluate, use and subsequently communicate this information effectively to solve problems or to make decisions. The underlying message here is the ability to understand and critically evaluate the information before using it. Having given an insight into the library user education and its importance for life-long learning, it is necessary to understand that this work mainly deals with the information resources available and information programmes implemented, for secondary school students in Nigeria using Unity schools as platforms for the study. The choice of Unity schools is because they are a representation of all Nigerian secondary school students irrespective of affluence, religion or tribe. Unity schools were deemed most appropriate for this study as they are Federal Government sponsored secondary schools that should have library resources required in secondary schools.

Apart from the fact that these Unity schools are serving as models for other secondary schools in Nigeria, it is evident from literature that much of the studies in user education appeared to be addressing the information problems of students in University (Aina, 2008). However, not much was done in this area in Secondary Schools especially Unity schools in Nigeria. This explains why many of our students in their first year in the University cannot effectively use the library's information resources. It is for this reason therefore, that this study was focused to access library resources and programmes aimed at developing information literacy skills of students in Unity Schools in Nigeria.

Statement of Problem

Acquisition of library user skills is particularly indispensible for secondary school students in view of its special importance in this present technology era. Unfortunately many secondary school students including those of Unity schools in Nigeria are generally believed to exhibit poor proficiency in applying these skills notwithstanding the user education programmes in these schools. The situation is worrisome in view of the fact that user education programme has grown to be emphasized in the area of teaching and learning in these schools. It then leaves one to wonder about the availability of library user resources and extent of implementation of user education programmes in Unity schools. It then becomes necessary to explore the prevailing situation, or to critically examine the situation so as to proffer credible remedies.

This study therefore, intends to assess library resources available and programmes implemented for library user education for students in Unity schools in view of the accrued benefits of library user education to these students.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to assess the availability of library user resources and programme implemented in Unity schools in South-East Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to find out the following:

i) Resources available for library user education in Unity schools in South East Nigeria and

ii) Library user education programmes implemented in Nigerian Unity Schools.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

i) What are the resources available for library user education in Unity schools in Nigeria?

ii) To what extent are library user education programmes implemented in Unity schools in Nigeria?

Literature Review

Information resource is a term often times misused or used interchangeably with information source. Whereas information resources include data, the process used to convert data into useful information, the equipment and technology required to use this information and the people involved in making best use of the information; information sources simply refer to where to find information. Information resources include mainly electronic, print and non-print materials like books, periodicals, catalogue, on-line data bases; computer hardware, computer software, computer networks, electronic files and data, people, library building, audio-visuals pictures, images, CD-Rom etc (Pinto,2010).

It is the responsibility of the school to provide library resources and assist the students in the acquisition of skills for effective utilization of these resources through well designed library programmes. Library/information resources are varied and their utilization is determined by the appropriateness of the resources as well as users' needs. According to Samson (2010), information resource was dependent upon the goal of the library, availability and accessibility of information resources, format for presentation of information and students'/users' knowledge and awareness of available information resources. Information resources were expected to be made available to students through the provision of readers' services and user instruction (Bruce, 2002).

User instruction or education programmes are well planned activities implemented in libraries in order to create awareness about various facilities and services of the library that will enable students to search and refer to the needed books and information with ease. These programmes include: 1. Orientation of new students--library tour by students, familiarity with the school library, types of organization and location of books; 2. Identification of parts of a book--author, title, contents' page, publication date; 3. Writing of book reviews--summary and use of quotes; 4.Use of other sources of print information--newspapers, magazines, ready references and use of on-line sources of information; 5. Use of cross-references and hyperlinks in on-line information sources; 6.Comparison of information obtained from different information sources (on-line and print) ; 7.Usage of mind-map to clarify and expand topic; 8.Identification of key words of a topic--use of dictionary and thesaurus; 9. Assessing of the quality and value of information--currency, comprehensiveness, relevance, accuracy authority etc; 10.Presenting information obtained--poster, text, graphics, diagram, power point; brain storming in a group to generate ideas and concept; 11. Identifying facts, opinions, biases and propaganda; assignment--locating of resources, familiarity with ICT activities...

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