The evolution of library as a centre for gathering, organization and dissemination of information has taken an interesting dimension ever since the advent of the Sumerians who developed tablets on which cuneiform signs were inscribed to record official, religious and financial transactions. This vital role has continued to be the focal point of library routine activities despite the avalanche of various formats of information storage. In academic institutions, the role becomes more apparent as the library is seen as a corollary of academic excellence and information driven research. As crucial as the role of library is, the ingenious input of collection development section holds the ace for an efficient library users' service. In that wise, a carefully designed policy formulation and implementation is necessary for a purposeful collection development. Haliso and Aina (2012) advocate for quality service in the area of collection of current, relevant and adequate print and electronic information resources to achieve a standard that suits the needs of the users. While collection development policy in the print book section of the library has attained the status of a well acculturated duty in the library, the same cannot be said about e-book collection. This evolving but important segment is still attempting to attain a platform that can engender stability even in the developed world. However, the challenges are more pronounced in developing nations due to their peculiar inadequacies. Sambo, Abu-udenyi, Urhefe and Yakubu (2014) posit that absence of e-book collection development policy, selection criteria, and planning and evaluation committees remain the bane of e-resources acquisition in Nigeria. Yet, this segment of the book trade swells in volumes on daily basis as a result of ever increasing embrace the e-resources enjoy in both the developed and developing worlds. The preponderance of e-resources can better be appreciated when they are made readily available for accessibility to the library users. In Nigeria, the academic community has become familiar with e-resources revolution in recent time, even though one may not be able to determine the level of attention devoted to e-book as a specific and special area of the e-resources collection. Since the country is an integral part of the global academic arena, it is not disputable that happenings around the world will definitely impact on the nation. The level of social and economic development issues is paramount to industrial growth of any nation. Attainment of the duo are unarguably anchored on the outcome of rigorous and enduring scientific researches which are products of current and valuable information; the vital service coordinated in the library as a complement of educational and research institutions. In recent times, the process has further been eased due to availability of e-resources in general and e-books in particular, giving room for copying and pasting, and transfer of information materials to colleagues anywhere in the globe.
Statement of Problem
Even though there has been a gradual acceptance of e-resources as alternative information sources in Nigeria, a phenomenon which Gani (2014) describes as a recent development in Nigerian libraries, it is pertinent to note that Nigerian literature has focused more on the general concept of e-resources without a dedicated attention to e-books as a special element within this compound hub. Challenges such as identified with packaged subscription to databases, poor electricity, shortfall in technical expertise and software/hardware complements have been the focus of Nigerian authors assessing the e-resources arena. While highlighting the issues in implementation of e-book usage in Nigerian school libraries, Yaya (2015) acknowledges the numerous advantages of e-books. Even though he names initial huge fund needed for the takeoff as a challenge, the research work did not examine issues around e-book as information resources. Allen and Kaddu (2014) discover that majority of libraries (73%) that responded to their questionnaire were academic libraries with both school and public libraries having no response due to non-availability of e-books. This work attempts to take a critical look at the challenges related to e-books as library materials and their collection in the library in the same way collection issues relating to print books are professionally examined in the university library system and literature.
Significance of Study
In recent time, Nigerian academic libraries are getting more interested in collection of e-resources for the usage of the patrons. While the academic community has become accustomed to the use of e-journals, a different scenario plays out with regards to e-book acquisition and usage. In as much as it is important to situate the users in this event, it is significant to note that a perfect understanding of the delicacies involved in provision of e-books by the librarians themselves will assist at placing e-book services on an enviable pedestrian for optima usage by the users. This research work serves the purpose of being a guide to Collection Development Librarians and their counterparts in the ICT section of the library to continuously experiment with various modules and options available in the e-books arena with a view to finally formulating an acceptable collection development policy for Nigerian university libraries.
Concept and Evolution of E-book
Literature search has shown that there exists no single and collectively acceptable definition for eBook. Armstrong (2008) considers e-book to be "any content that is recognizably book-like, regardless of size, origin or composition, but excluding serial publications, made available electronically for reference or reading on any device (handheld or desk-bound) that includes a screen". Vassileiou and Rowley (2008) posit that: '(1) an e-book is a digital object with textual and/or other content, which arises as a result of integrating the familiar concept of a book with features that can be provided in an electronic environment'. In a project coordinated by Portico, the consensus among stakeholders comprising of six scholarly publishers and three commercial eBook aggregators defined e-book as inclusive of 'e-only monographs, monographs appearing both in print and online, digitized print titles, and continuously updated reference databases'. They however took exception to inclusion of audio books, whereas, eleven libraries and a consortium considered an e-book to comprise of 'e-only monographs, monographs appearing both in print and online, digitized print titles (including objects digitized by the library), and continuously updated reference databases'. But they considered audio books technically speaking to be e-books even though they are not within the scope of their collection (Tracy, 2008). Also Doiron (2011) while describing e-books says that they are considered as the digital version of printed books, as well as those books primarily written for publication in the electronic section of the book trade.
Various accounts are awash with the history of the emergence of e-books...