Factors affecting information and communication technologies (ICTS) use by academic librarians in Southwestern Nigeria.

Author:Haliso, Yacob


The term "Information and communication technologies "(ICTs) is defined as a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate and create, disseminate, store, and manage information (Blurton 1999:46). ICTs encompass a range of rapidly evolving technologies and they include telecommunication technologies (telephony, cable, satellite, TV and radio, computer-mediated conferencing, video conferencing) as well as digital technologies (computers, information networks (internet, World Wide Web, intranets and extranets) and software applications (Chisenga, 2006).

The key purpose of any library is to provide a quality service: access to relevant information (Buckland, 1992), to computers, information networks and software applications. These technologies are making it possible for libraries to provide a variety of library and information services to clientele. All the functions and services that academic librarians used to provide manually can be provided now through the use of ICTs which can do things better and faster. To mention some of the opportunities presented by ICTs to the libraries according to Haliso (2007) and Chisenga (2006) are:

* Organization of information for use

* Capacity building

* Management information system

* Digital libraries

* Resource sharing/document delivery.

Academic libraries are institutions that are established to take care of the information need of students, lecturers, researchers and other community of scholars. Their mission is providing quality information service and knowledge products (print and electronic) to resident community of scholars. In the words of Wolpert (1999), "academic libraries are cost effective information service and provider of knowledge products to a resident community of scholars". In order to function and provide timely information at a faster speed to lecturers, researchers and students, it would appear that administrators of academic libraries realised the important role information and communication technologies (ICTs) play in their job performance and so made information and communication technologies (ICTs) available to their workforce.

From the global point of view, it appears that there is tacit consent that a relationship exists between use of information and communication technologies and job enhancement of librarians (Ajayi, 2001). Stephen (1995) submits that the use of information technology provides significant benefits in work measurement, cost reduction, productivity improvement and better services to customers and clients. Actually it is availability which makes use possible and it is use that makes performance attainable. So, the combined effect of availability of information and communication technologies can enhance the job performance of the academic librarians. There is need for all developed and developing nations of the world to take information and communication technologies (ICTs) as tools that aid the enhancement of job performance of the library staff through the application of the ICTs by the librarians (Rosenberg 2005; Mphidi 2004; Chuene, 2000; Lancaster & Sandore, 1997; Siddique, 1997). This cannot be achieved unless academic libraries realise the tremendous role information and communication technologies could play to enhance effective services. Rosenberg (2005) submitted that libraries need to develop a strategic information and communication plan that would enhance the deployment of ICTs in their libraries. The ICT deployment and application is done by academic librarians who are trained to man specific sectors of the library (Tenant, 1995).

In Canada, the use of ICTs and job performance of librarians is recorded. A report prepared by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) revealed that in the year 2000/2001, academic libraries subscribed to 436,731 electronic journals. The same report also states that librarians are leaders in using technology to transform traditional library resources and services to meet the challenge of the 21st Century.

In Singapore, Chia, Lee and Yeo (1998) report that a committee was set up by the government and mandated to design an information technology plan for the nation. The National Library of Singapore on its part took an initiative in ensuring all libraries especially academic libraries are ICT based. In Saudi Arabia, Siddique (1997) carried out a study on the use of ICT in academic libraries and the finding reveals that out of the six universities surveyed majority of the libraries had Internet, one kind of library software or the other, CD-ROM facility, OPAC services, FAX and E-mail services. It is eight years since Siddique carried out this study and if the same study were to be carried out today; the findings would be totally different.

Academic libraries in Africa do not enjoy the same information delivery methods like those in developed countries except those in Southern Africa. Chisenga and Rorissa (2001) point out the great disparity in the adoption and use of ICTs in academic libraries. Waiganjo (2006) writing from Kenya states that academic libraries in Kenya suffer poor funding, poor communication system and lack of ICT qualified librarians. The case is not different in Uganda. Magara (2002) pointed out that power unreliability, management attitude and poor ICT skill of the librarians; Adeya (2007, 2002) writing from Botswana states that inadequate computerization, inadequate infrastructure and inadequate human capacity as the major challenges towards ICT use. Rosenberg (2005) alludes the challenges to ICT use to lack of library software standardization

In Ghana, academic libraries enjoyed the availability and use of information and communication technology through the DANIDA sponsored project under the auspices of the International Federation of Library Association-Africa branch. The six universities were networked under this project and this made communication very easy and document delivery possible among the academic librarians in the six university libraries. However, the researcher made a visit between Feb 26, 2005 and March 7 to the University of Ghana in Legon to find out the progress of the DANIDA project but sad to report that the project could no more continue due to lack of funds.

Academic libraries in Nigeria attempted to automate library functions as far back as 1970; 1990 and the attempt still continues. TINLIB software was introduced in leading academic libraries including those of the University of Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University Library (Omoniwa, 2001) but due to some technical and organisational problems, no single academic library in Nigeria in general and in the Southwestern Nigeria in particular uses the TINLIB software today. Obajemu and Ibegwam (2006) point out that libraries in Nigeria are still on the race to make their services totally ICT- based. The MacArthur report of 2005 titled "Developing Strong University Libraries in Nigeria," points out the need to develop effective information delivery system as a key component of university teaching and learning, and modern technology greatly enhances such system. The report also points out lack of appropriate funding system to acquire relevant information and communication tools; lack of infrastructure to provide access to electronic information. Money was not there for collection development and there have been few acquisitions, most of the collections stopped growing substantially in the mid-70s.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) enhance service provision to library clientele. Librarians use ICTs to perform functions like cataloguing and classification, serials management, collection management, budgeting, circulation management, referencing, indexing and abstracting in order to improve information services to library users. However, it has been observed that most academic librarians in Nigeria still struggle with manual library operation method. Consequently, library users show dissatisfaction and complain of poor information services delivery by the academic librarians.

Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this research work was to investigate the level of availability and use of information and communication...

To continue reading