In the light of the recent developments in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the rapid rate of information explosion, libraries and librarians have been charged with the responsibility of embracing and inculcating the use of these technologies in library services and processes. This has led to the need for the transfer of its existing print resources to formats and/or mediums readable with the use of these information and communication technologies. Digitization refers to a wide variety of steps involved in the process of conversions and making of historical and other materials globally accessible through the application of digital processes (Otubelu and Ume, 2015).
In striving for survival, libraries all over the world are fast embracing digitization processes of its resources to enhance its survival mechanism and increase its relevance in this era of gross information explosion and accessibility mediums. Mohammed (2009) noted that the development of ICT and its subsequent integration in library and information services have a greater impact on libraries and the level of its service delivery to the community. Digitization involves the transfer of tangible information materials to digital format; thus protecting the original item from damage while providing public access to materials that might otherwise be restricted as a result of location differences (Yaya and Adeeko, 2016). This definition brings into cognizance the aspect of digitization which sought to ensure the posterity of information bearing materials without necessarily restricting access and use by the general public. Furthermore, Akintunde and Anjo (2012) In Igwe and Uzuegbu (2013) pictures digitization as the process of preserving, liberalizing and internationalizing access to documents with the ultimate aim of improving their usability by converting them into digital form.
Thus, it could be agreed that digitization fulfills two of the major objectives of a library:
* Access to available information resources;
* Preservation and conservation of materials for posterity.
Despite the evidential benefits of digitized libraries and digitization processes, academic libraries in Nigeria have experienced a dearth in this facet of librarianship. The research carried out by Olatokun (2008) reveals that only a handful of academic libraries in Nigeria have embarked on partial digitization of students' projects, theses and dissertation. This has made the concept of digitization to be fantasized theoretically without a practical implementation.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Previous studies reveal that few libraries in Nigeria have embarked on digitization of their collection. There is still a significant ratio in the inadequacy of current information available on the digitization efforts of Nigerian University libraries in recent times. There is, therefore, need to provide current information on digitization of academic library resources in Nigerian university libraries in recent times through a research of this nature.
Digitization of library resources has been conceived as a move for libraries to increase its relevance in this contemporary era of information communication technology (ICT) and has been observed to be numerously significant in budgetary and cost management. This is evinced by the rate of information explosion and its availability and accessible via internet irrespective of time and location.
For libraries to co-exist and maintain its relevance as a disseminator of information in this era, the need for librarians to embark on digitization of library resources becomes indispensable. Thus, with identifiable benefits evidenced in digitization of library resources in the acquisition, organization, dissemination, access, use, preservation and conservation of information resources, libraries in Nigeria seems to still be on the bench of the drive towards achieving a digitized collection. This has become a tropical issue in library and information service profession. Consequently, the need to investigate the status-quo on digitization of library resources in academic libraries in Rivers State, Nigeria using Donald E. U. Ekong Library, University of Port Harcourt as a case study has become necessary.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
In general, the purpose of the study is to examine the digitization of library resources in academic libraries in Rivers State, Nigeria using Donald E. U. Ekong library, University of Port Harcourt as a case study.
Specifically, the objectives of this study are as follows:
i. To determine the need for digitization of library resources;
ii. To examine the extent of digitization of library resources in academic libraries;
iii. To ascertain the skills and competencies required for digitization of library resources;
iv. To identify the challenges of digitization of academic library resources;
v. To proffer measures to combat issues in digitization of library resources.
In response to the threats to libraries in this ICT era such as the internet, it has become the primary objective of every library to involve in the digitization of its resources. The term digitization has earned a lot of research interest over the years. In the words of Baker (2007), digitization refers to "convert content from a tangible, analog form into a digital electronic representation of that content". In agreement Omotayo and Aboyade (2009), asserts that "digitization refers to all the steps involved in the process of making collections of historical and other materials available online". They further stated that digitization is not limited to libraries but also to other categories of information dissemination centers. Digitization addresses three main needs of libraries (Tuna, Zogo and Demirelli, 2013). These needs, according to Tuna, Zogo and Demirelli, (2013) are: preserving the document, making the document more accessible and ensuring reusability of the document. Digitization is an electronic process of converging information from a print format to a digital format (Egberongbe, 2016). Igwe and Uzuegbu (2013) defined digitization as "the transformation of an object from analog to digital." They further noted that in the course of the ICT era several new technologies have emerged and are still emerging allowing the digitization of various formats of information materials such as artifacts documents photographs sound recordings etc. Quoting Akintunde and Anjo (2012), Igwe and Uzuegbu (2013) defined digitization as the process of preserving, liberalizing and internationalizing access to documents with the ultimate aim of improving their usability by converting them into digital form. Fabumi, Paris and Fabumi (2008) in their work see digitization as "the conversion of documents and art into digital images".
Thus, from the definitions portrayed by these authors it can be deduced that digitization is a planned and systematic process of transforming hardcopies of information resources to its electronic formats say softcopy. Planning is the brainchild of every successful project be it library related or otherwise. In planning for digitization of library resources it is pertinent to inculcate the Copyright law its provision and limitations to such process.
Igwe and Uzuegbu (2013) identified five needs behind the digitization of library resources in libraries:
Resource sharing and services delivery
Prestige and visibility
Preservation: According to Reitz (2004) preservation is the prolonging of the existence of library and archival materials by maintaining them in condition suitable either in their original or in a form more durable say digitization. There is need to preserve information resources through digitization especially for materials with limited supply such as manuscripts diaries grey literatures etc. Digitization reduces manual handling by so doing limiting mutilation through external forces and prolongs the lifespan of such materials.
Accessibility: the ease with which access and use of its materials is gained regardless of location. Digitization facilitates access to information resources. Also it improves the efficiency of information search mechanism. This is based on the fact that digitized resources will be available online; the problem of location notwithstanding. Digital documents/files can be accessed retrieved and reused by any person at a wider coverage in comparison to the manual/analog library.
Resource Sharing and Service Delivery: According to the Feather and Stages (2003) resource sharing is "a mode of co-operation where library resources and functions are shared in common by a number of libraries". Igwe and Uzuegbu (2013) asserts that it is an activity that results from an agreement formal or informal among libraries usually a consortium or library network to share collections data facilities personnel for the benefit of their users and to reduce the expense of collection development. Digitization holds the advantage of providing a platform for duplicity of data and library networking.
Prestige and visibility: digitization can bring about prestige respect and visibility to a collection of information resources that is unique and of global importance. This is made true as information on the internet is viral unlike that in a library with controlled access and usage.
Technological development: the availability of technological advancements in ICT calls for libraries and information centres to embrace the drives in technological development to their benefits. Thus digitization is a contributory factor in building ICT era.
Responding to the rationale for the digitization of library resources, Fabunmi, Paris and Fabunmi (2006), notes that there are three major reasons for digitization of library resources:
i. There is a need to preserve endangered library resources,
ii. Improvement of the efficiency of information search...