Automation in two Nigerian university libraries.

Author:Adegbore, A.M.


The use of computers in libraries and information centers has become commonplace. Many Nigerian university libraries, however, are still battling to find their feet in the use of computers in libraries.

Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to investigate automation procedures in two Nigerian university libraries and the problems encountered during automation.

Literature Review

Historical survey of automation in Nigerian libraries

According to Nok (2006), automation is the automatic, as opposed to human, operation of process, equipment, or system, or the techniques and equipment used to achieve this. In libraries, automation refers to functions such as circulation, cataloguing, or acquisitions. Nwalo (2003) posited that library automation involves the full application of computers in library routines hitherto manually performed. He goes further to state that Olanlokun and Salisu (1993) have cited Mathews (1980) as adducing the following criteria for automating library services:

  1. It will help to improve the library services.

  2. Automation of the library processes can enhance its reputation.

  3. It can provide the Liberians with management information.

  4. It can help the librarian in reporting on the various operations of the library.

  5. Tasks can be completed more accurately and quickly with increased control.

  6. Increased demands for services can be counter balanced with improved productivity especially with either static or declining budget resources.

  7. It can facilitate co-operation between libraries.

  8. It can provide the means to offer new improved services to patrons.

  9. It may obviate the need to hire additional staff with increased demand for services.

    Library automation was come a long way, over an often uncertain and unpredictable path, since the 1930s when a few libraries began to incorporate IBM equipment into the circulation procedures. The evolution of technology is defined by developments in science and technology that create new modes of application. The convergence of information technology and communication technology in libraries has led to technological, organizational, and social change (Shepherd, 2000). Rosenberg (1997) surveyed African libraries and reported that IT exploitation by universities for information organization and access has become prevalent. A number of studies have reported on the application of information technology in university libraries in Nigeria. They include that of Oduwole citing Awogbami (1992), Lawani, Azubike and Ibekwe (1992), Mosuro (1996), Idowu and Mabawonku (1999), Ogunleye (1997) Agboola (2000), and Ajala (2001) Nok (2006). All of these studies have agreed that serious application of information technology to library processes started in Nigerian university libraries in the early 1990s.

    Individual efforts at library automation such as the one by the University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in the mid 1970s and 1980s, failed largely because of lack of technical knowhow relating to software development and maintenance of hardware (Alabi 1987). Agboola (2000) states that the greatest impetus to library automation in Nigerian university libraries so far has come from a World Bank project. The World Bank gave automation in the university libraries as one of its conditions for support. As a result, the National University Commission (NUC) presented one microcomputer and a four-user local area network version of the TINLIB (The information Navigator) software to each of the 20 participating libraries in 1992. This was after an agreement had been reached between the NUC and the University Librarians that all Federal Universities (Ogunleye 1997) use common software.

    Recent surveys carried out by Ogunleye (1997) and Idowu and Mabawonku (1999) showed that application of IT is gradually taking firm root in Nigerian university libraries. The University of Ibadan Library is so far the most advance in the IT application in the country. It has fully automated its cataloguing and circulation process using the network version of the TINLIB software capable of driving 20 workstations. Some federal universities and one state university use the four-workstation network version of the same software mostly for cataloguing. As computers become cheaper and more librarians acquire computer literacy, it is hoped that more of the manual processes will be automated.


    An interview checklist was administered on the University Librarian (UL) University of Agriculture Abeokuta and the Head of Multimedia Resources, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye on automation procedures in two Nigerian university libraries. While 100 questionnaires each were administered on the students in each of the schools to counter check whatever information from the librarians.

    Data Analysis

    The presentation and analysis of data was done separately. The 'Nimbe Adedipe library, University of Agriculture,Abeokuta's report was presented first followed by the Main Library Olabisi Onabanjo University.

    Presentation of Interview checklist's report of 'Nimbe Adedipe Library University of Agriculture Abeokuta.

    * Item 1: When was automation introduced into this library?

    * Response: 1994

    * Item 2: How was the ICT equipment procured?

    * Response: Purchased and gifts. Initial hardware used in 1994 was gift from NUC and the acquisitions there after were purchased.

    * Item 3: if purchased by whom?

    * Response: the library

    * Item 4: was the purchase contracted or open market?

    * Response: contracted

    * Item 5: the maker of the hardware is:

    * Response: IBM (initial hardware used) and others.

    * Item 6: what type of software is in use in the library?

    * Response: TINLIB and GLAS

    * Item 7: please state the preference for the choice of the software

    * Response: no response

    * Item 8: what type of databases are available in the library?

    * Response: AGRICOLA, AGRIS, CAB Abstracts, TEAL A, GRINDEX

    * Item 9: the installation and configuration was done by:

    * Response: the systems librarians in the university and a contracted firm.

    * Item 10: number of staff involved in the automation process

    * Response: whole staff

    * Item 11: were the staff in the system unit newly recruited or trained from the existing staff?

    * Response: trained from the existing staff

    * Item 12: please state the aspect of the library that has witnessed full automation

    * Response: Cataloguing (fully), Serials (partially)

    * Item 13: please state the pertinent problems being faced in the automation project implementation.

    * Response:

  10. Hardware breakdown

  11. Software problems

  12. Unreliable and epileptic power supply

  13. Inadequate funding

  14. Staff training deficiency

  15. Planned obsolescence of commercial software

    * Item 14: reaction of the users is............

    * Response: encouraging

    * Item 15: the automation process in this university library is..........

    * Response: continuing

    Above presentation is analyzed as follows:

    Automation was introduced into 'Nimbe Adedipe Library, University of Agriculture Abeokuta in 1994. The initial hardware used was gifts from National University Commission while the hardware subsequently used were purchased by the library through a firm that won the purchase contract. At the initial stage of the automation process, the brand of the hardware used was International Business Machine (IBM) computers. At later stage, various kinds of computer brands in the market at time of purchase...

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