Challenges of Managing University Libraries in Contemporary Digital Environment.

Author:Enweani, Uchechukwu Victoria Victoria

1.0 Introduction

The development of libraries irrespective of type is anchored on the leadership of that library. Library managers make the difference to the performance and productivity of libraries. Without suitable leadership, libraries as a social institution will move at a very slow rate. Power, diversity issues, leaders as change agents and management styles are characteristics that influence the effectiveness of academic library leaders (Weiner, 2003).

With the proliferation of ICTs in libraries, libraries management in university settings has become more complicated. Quality management is increasingly integrated into library service, following their perceived success in manufacturing industries, with particular emphasis on improving service quality (Hsiah, Chang & Lu, 2000). Libraries like other organization are required to maintain harmony with their ever-changing environment. They have to maintain compatibility with the environmental changes for their survival, growth and prosperity (Purushothama, 2015).

Library, like any organization, require managers, but to find a new way forward requires much more than just efficient management or responsible care taking it requires leadership. The global way of information service delivery has change with the inception of ICT in libraries (Jenkins, 2011; Madu & Azubogu, 2017).

ICT has brought thorough change to each and every facet of our lives in the modern era and of course, libraries are not an exempted. It has provided libraries with new opportunities to improve their resource and range of services, which is almost impossible to provide otherwise manually (Garg, 2013). The university libraries in Nigeria form significant part of the nation's transformation and development in providing quality education (Igun, 2013).

University libraries have been enmeshed in the web of changes sweeping across various sectors of the globe as a result of information and communication technologies. The evolution of the " "digital age" has prompted profound changes in the library and information services environment (Tam & Robertson, 2002). Technological changes present a special challenge to library management. Managing this change is the way librarians can carry the library's mission forward (Elbaz & Maraist, 1996). In other words, digital age has reshaped the structure as well as the form of libraries (Al-Suqri & Afzal, 2007). Though, the digital age is providing lots of new opportunities for various institutions including libraries, there are some challenges too. As aptly captured by Lawal-Solarin (2013:39):

The 21st century is regarded as an era of information revolution. Advances in information technology have led to far reaching development in higher education sector; an example of which is the application of digital information in learning. Libraries and information centres in Nigeria are not only equipped with materials that are in traditional format but also in electronic formats. The information communication technology (ICT) has transformed the world to global village (Yaya & Adeyokin, 2011). Information technology-based systems are the greatest wonders of the 21st century and the most powerful and versatile tools for exchange of information (Aniebo, 2004). ICT in the 21st century has greatly transformed all human endeavours in social, economic political, cultural, educational and agricultural spheres. The world has never remained the same as a result of the overwhelming influence of ICT (Ojo, 2012).

A revolution in information technology is occurring now, it is revolutions that will essentially shatter the effectiveness of traditional, scientific and authoritative methods, of management and it will undoubtedly lead these changes and not allow ourselves to be dragged about by them (Yaya & Adeyokun, 2011). The landscape of library and information service (LIS) has been one of the constant change, not only in Nigeria but elsewhere, since the early 1980s (Ononogbo, 2018). Library management is a significant aspect of librarians. It is the control and coordination of human and material resources and services (Anie & Otolo, 2008).

Librarians function in a series of large environments. These include their immediate personnel and home environments, their position in a particular organization, and their citizenship of a country (driven and shaped by political, social, economical, ideological and educational influences) (Fourie, 2004). They are part of a global world that is increasingly being shaped by electronic networks and information technology (IT) (Fourie, 2004). It is in the light of the above, that this paper seeks to address the challenges of managing university libraries in contemporary digital environment

1.1 Statement of Problem

University libraries by design exist to support the university's overall objective that cuts across learning, teaching, research and community services. This cardinal role however, is being influenced by the penetrating force of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Nevertheless, despite the numerous benefits associated with the incorporation of ICTs to library service delivery, it is disheartening to note that managing university libraries in the digital environment is becoming much more challenging. As noted Thomas, Satpathi and Satpathi (2010), the emerging challenges posed by the contemporary environment are great in number and these challenges posed by the application of ICT, manifest in many form. This situation may be attributed to various variables that have not been empirically unraveled; hence this paper through a content analysis approach tends to examine the challenges of managing university libraries in a digital environment with reference to Nigerian environment.

1.2 Objectives of the Study/ Methodology/Approach:

This study is specifically focused on:

i. identifying challenges of managing university libraries in digital environment

ii. Suggests strategies for effective management of university libraries in digital era

The desk research approach and brainstorming with professional colleagues were combined to elicit the data for the study. The paper adopted content analysis, in which various literatures relating to the subject were used to draw inferences.

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Conceptual Framework of the Study

2.1.1 Digital Environment

Digital refers to an age that is characterized by efficient and effective conversion, storage, diffusion and dissemination of data to users (Al-Suqri & Afzal, 2007). The digital environment is the age of networked society where IT, in addition to its use in all spheres of human activity has been used extensively to record, store, and disseminate information in digital form (Saravathy, Nambratha, & Giddaiah, 2012)

The digital age started with the advent of computers and virtual networks (Al-Suqri & Afzal, 2007). In the digital age today, librarians can no longer be simply information providers or the "keepers of knowledge" (Ojo, 2012). Though the digital environment is built as a system, which can be used by its ultimate end user directly from their desktop PC, the role of librarian cannot be overlooked in digital environment, also the librarian and information scientist will be needed for packaging and repackaging of information (Yaya & Adeyokun, 2011).

2.1.2 University Library

Universities are important academic institutions...

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