A ten-year descriptive review of book acquisitions trends, challenges, and current issues in a Nigerian Medical School Library.

Author:Komolafe-Opadeji, Helen


Collection development refers to the process of systematically building library collections (which used to be mainly print materials) to enhance learning, study, teaching, research, recreational, and other needs of library users. In Africa and in particular Nigeria, collection development is probably the most challenging as well as frustrating aspect of university librarianship.

Many changes have occurred in the process of collection development in the recent past, through the introduction of electronic resources such as electronic books/ journals and networked databases. This has made librarians to have more than the print formats to consider when making purchasing decisions for their libraries.

It is incontrovertible that every good collection is an expression of adequate and sound financial backing, and no collection development can achieve this objective if it is financially handicapped. (Alemna 1994)

In Nigeria, the long-standing issue of inadequate funding coupled with little hope for improvement; still make the practice of collection development to mean; trying to do more with less.

The issue of underfunding the Nigerian university libraries had caused negative ripples since the 1980s, bringing about many changes in the basic tradition of book acquisitions in affected libraries.

This paper intends looking into the challenges/ issues, trends and plausible solutions to the challenges affecting book acquisitions in Nigeria's premiere medical school library.

In Nigeria, most medical school libraries have multifaceted functions of an academic, hospital and special libraries, all rolled into one.

The E. Latunde Odeku Medical Library (ELOML)

The E. Latunde Odeku Medical Library (ELOML) was established in 1967, and it is Nigeria's first medical school library, servicing the information needs of the premiere College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, founded in 1948.

The College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and its medical school library are on the hospital premises of the University College Hospital (UCH), which is equally the oldest federal medical institution for tertiary health care, teaching and research activities.

The ELOML handles the academic health information needs of both the students and staff of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan as well as the clinical information needs of UCH. It is also a World Health Organization (WHO) focal point in Nigeria, as well as a designated 'central node' for National Health Information Services and Information network by the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria. Until the early 1990s the ELOML was regarded within and outside the country as the National Medical Library of Nigeria, because of the richness if its vast medical book collections (College of Medicine Brochure 2006), spanning all areas of clinical medicine, housed in conducive and serene hospital environment. Up to this period in the history of the library, it had external grants to support book acquisition especially in neurosurgery.

ELOML is an integral part of the University of Ibadan library system though an off-campus site of about 10 kilometers away from the main campus. Administratively, it is accountable to the Provost, College of Medicine for its day-to-day running, and in matters of decision-making; like budgeting, acquisitions and professional staff recruitment, it reverts to the University Library management.

The ELOML is like any special library; created for the specific purpose of providing accurate and current information for a particular set of patrons and, therefore, it must contain materials considered to be of quality for those it was designed.

Funding University Libraries in Nigeria

In Nigeria, there are three categories of universities, namely; federal, state and private: their libraries affiliated to their parent institutions.

The National University Commission (NUC) manages and regulates all the universities, while the government through the same organ funds the federal universities. In addition, the NUC acts as a buffer between the federal government and the universities. It is also responsible for funding of federal universities and issuance of guidelines for the running of the universities (Agboola 2000).

According to Nwafor (1990) government provides about 90% of the total revenue of each university, while it was mandatory that these universities earmark ten percent (10%) of such grants for library development, but Ifidon (2000) noted that most libraries receive far less funding than the percentage earmarked for them. Again, in a situation where university libraries have fixed funding from the NUC, it is best to bear in mind that, a fixed budget in inflationary times diminishes in real terms.

The University of Ibadan Library system in turn sets aside five percent (5%) of the remitted library development fund for the running of the ELOML.

Many a time, parent institutions divert all of the remitted government grants to other university projects except the library. Ogunsola (2004) observes that because the federal university libraries depend heavily on their parent institutions, they might not be completely isolated from effects of their financial problems

Economic Issues Affecting Book Acquisitions in Nigeria

Economic problems in Nigeria have persisted for long while the economic problems of the early 80s due to oil glut and poor management of resources persisted until this moment. This has led to a drastic devaluation of the local currency, the Naira, to the extent that, from the parity of exchange it enjoyed with the US dollar in the 80's (1Naira exchanged for a US dollar then), it now exchanges for over a hundred naira (N180.00) to the US dollar. With more than 80% of book needs of Nigerian Universities imported from Europe and America, high exchange rate drastically affected the growth of library collections in terms of quality and quantity (Tamuno 1994).

A recent study sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation (2005) on the state of Nigerian university libraries, also have reports claiming that, most of the print collections in Nigerian academic libraries, stopped growing substantially in the mid1970s and the print materials are not in good condition due to inadequate funding .Apparently, 'funding is a key element in determining the direction of an organization, and its future success or failure' (Linn 2007) topical

ICT is becoming a topical issue in Nigerian librarianship as' its widespread acceptance brings clear benefits, such as the automation of traditional activities, resulting in time saving and better services through...

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