Assessment of Study Space Usage in the Kenneth Dike Library.

Author:Adeyemi, Bolarinwa M.


The academic library typically occupies a central location on campus signifying its centrality to the university's mission of teaching, learning and research. Historically, patrons have come to academic libraries not only for the intellectual resources they offer, but for the spaces in which to seriously engage those resources. Many studies on space utilization in the library have been carried out, examining areas such as planning of a new library, renovation or rebuilding process, remodeling of old library building or major renovation to create additional spaces or improved environment for effective quality services in support of learning and research. As Crawford (1999) asserts "Space use within libraries has always been fairly complex and will become more so in the future." He identified the following space needs and uses by libraries: Meeting spaces, Study spaces, Reading spaces, Research spaces, Coherent spaces and Flexible spaces. While not discussing Stack or Shelving space, he acknowledged "it isn't going away" and constitute one of the reasons why Libraries will continue to need more physical space in future.

Outside the classroom, undergraduate students have a decided preference to use the library for their academic work (Applegate, 2009), while ethnographic and observational studies by Bryant, Matthews & Walton, 2009; Demas, 2005; Foster, 2010; Foster & Gibbons, 2007; Suarez, 2007, cited by Cunningham and Tabur, 2012), confirm that even though students are not using the print collection, they are, however, engaged in academic work when in the library. Though, at some point, emergence of technology seems to be threatening the physical use of the library, visits are still being paid to the libraries. Shill & Tonner, (2003) corroborate this statement in their study "At one time students had to go to the library to use the collection but since the late 1990s a critical mass of the library's collection has been made available online, nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi and mobile devices have made it easy to work on assignments, term papers, and theses anywhere but students are not abandoning the library for other locales. Students are choosing the physical library as much as ever and even in increasing numbers in renovated libraries."

Library as a place

Shill and Tonner (2003) wrote that Academic librarians have debated the future of the library as a place for more than twenty years, many asserted that the virtual library would replace the physical library, that the library as a place would no longer be a critical component of an academic institution due to technological advances. There are divergent views on the role of the library with the emergence of technology. In F. W. Lancaster's Toward Paperless InformationSystems and similar writings in the 1960s and 1970s forecasted the marginalization of print collections. "Several non-library writers have applauded the decline of the physical library as resources become digitized and available on the Internet" (Day 1998). Some virtual library advocates have projected a diminishing need for collection and user space as electronic resources become increasingly central in student research and scholarly communication (Saunders 1992).

"While information technology has not replaced print media, and is not expected to do so in the foreseeable future, it has nonetheless had an astonishing and quite unanticipated impact on the role of the library. Contrary to the predictions of diminishing use and eventual obsolescence of libraries, usage has expanded dramatically--sometimes doubling or even tripling." However, with the advancement of technology, much of that information is increasingly available to people via the Internet. This transformation has caused a drop in circulation statistics at some libraries; nevertheless, many academic libraries remain full of students and activity. These trends indicate libraries are serving purposes beyond providing access to information (Mount Royal University 2011). Walton (2006) listed some of the reasons why library is used:

i. To access resources;

ii. To use learning space; and

iii. To benefit from the environment.

Cannell (2007) on his own part noted that library is used as a place to find books/electronic resources, get help to work, use e-learning resource, celebrate research and meet together. Library is a convenient place for students to revise for examinations, study course work and research. Students are able to use books and electronic information simultaneously. Learning space of varying purposes are provided like carrels which are sound proof, study rooms which may be noisy, rooms for serious work and group work/assignment. The learning environment in the library should be attractive enough to study better than the home environment. It should be quiet and with no distraction. Ugwuanyi, et. al (2011) reported library as a place of learning encourages browse ability, use of special collections, offers help by the library staff, a convenient space and materials to do academic work, where to experience digital libraries, celebrate research and new discoveries and to meet other researchers and students for cross-disciplinary discussion and creativity to flourish.

Freeman (2005) emphasised that academic library as a place holds a unique position on campus as it symbolically and physically represents the academic heart of an institution. He maintained that its architectural expression and citing continue to reflect the unique legacy and traditions of institutions of which it is a part. A good academic library building as a place is expected to provide flexible learning space and traditional reading rooms that encourages learning and scholarship. While some groups are regarding the Library as a "deserted library" (Carlson, 2001) and arguing that it is no more relevant in this virtual era, others are maintaining the ground that library is still a place to use for study, learning and research. Smith et al. (2005) cited by Ugwuanyi et al. (2011) corroborate this statement that "library is still indispensable as a place or base for teaching, learning and research in the digital age." Essentially, what has taken place is that the importance of Library space is shifting from the content on our shelves to how students use and learn in our space.

Situation of Space in Kenneth Dike Library

The assessment of space utilization in libraries of recent prompted this study to evaluate KDL in-terms of space availability for learning and research purposes since its establishment in 1948and how adequate the spaces available in KDL are in terms of study space and group study. While Scholars wrote about renovations, remodeling, extensions and constructions of additional libraries buildings in response to the impact of technology, KDL has not undergone any major significant renovation to create more space for its users. In early 1990s, during its computerized programmes, spaces were created from the existing space to accommodate computers which further eroded space for collections and study areas. Additional space creation has been an issue since the last construction was made in 1970s. During the commissioning of the Main Library of the University of Ibadan in 1954, the opinion expressed then was that it was too large for the needs of the university (Odularu 2000). That assumption changed within six years of operation, due to expansion of academic programmes and consequent increase in students' enrolment, when the designed reading space of 250 was made to accommodate 320 readers. By February 1969, a new building, called the Research library joined the original one at the west end. The new extension added 5212.57sq metres of floor...

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