Application of Information Technology to library services at the Federal University of Technology, Akure Library, Ondo State, Nigeria.

Author:Issa, Abdulwahab Olanrewaju


The term "Information Technology" (IT) has been variously defined. Marshall (1984) defined it as the coming together of computing and telecommunications for the purpose of handling information; the application of technologies to information handling; including generation, storage, processing, retrieval and dissemination. It is also concerned with the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of information-textual, numerical, pictorial and vocal. It is a broad-based term comprising the gathering (acquisition), organization (packaging), storage and retrieval (dissemination) of information that can be in textual or numerical (books, documents), pictorial and vocal forms (audio-visual) or a combination of all the above (multimedia), using a combination of computer and telecommunications devices. Emuakpor (2002) defines it as all forms of technology applied to the processing, storing and transmitting information in electronic form; stressing that the physical equipment used for this purpose include computers, communication equipment and networks; fax machines and electronic, pocket calculator. Ayo (2001) viewed it as the use of computer system and telecommunications equipment in information handling; consisting of essentially three basic components viz: Electronic processing using the computer; Transmission of information using telecommunication equipment; and Dissemination of information multimedia.

It becomes explicit from the above that IT in libraries comprises all the electronic infrastructure and facilities employed by libraries to improve and provide efficient services. Such facilities, in broad term, consist of hardware, software and communication links between the service outlets of different libraries to facilitate the sharing of common resources; especially the library networks. Osundina (1973) pointed out that the library of today should not merely store documents and preserve them; it must also devise means by which the contents of such documents can be rapidly and effectively transmitted for use. Trostinikor (1970) opined that rapid expansion of a mass of diversified information is occurring, which has received the name "information explosion". Thus, the need arose for a scientific approach to information and for elucidation of its characteristic properties, leading to two principal changes in interpretation of the concept of information. One, it was broadened to include information exchange not only between man and man; but also between machine and machine. Ogunsola (2004) explained that the pace of change brought by new technologies has had a significant effect on the way people live, work and play worldwide.

Capron (2000) revealed that mail, telephone, television, radio, books, newspapers and periodicals are the traditional ways users send and receive information. However, data communications system-computer system-also transmits data over communication lines such as telephone lines since the mid-1960s. Internet use has, today, revolutionalized access to information for the business world, libraries, education and individuals. A few of the most popular include E-mail, www (World Wide Web), FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Usenet, and Telnet. All these technological devices are regarded as central to the concept of globalization. The Internet and its technology continued to have profound effects on the promotion of information sharing; especially in the academic world, making possible rapid transactions among businesses and supporting global collaboration among individuals and organizations. These technologies have the potentials to develop "virtual campuses" and "virtual libraries" thus, increasing students' access and participation (Ogunsola, 2004). According to Daniel (2000) Nancy Schiller was one of the first writers to use the expression "virtual library" which she defined in 1992, simply as "libraries in which computer and telecommunications technologies make access to wide range of information resources possible". Today, the concept is referred to variously as "digital library", "electronic library", "community network", or simply "library without walls" (Ogunsola, 2004).

The organization of information/knowledge is an essential preliminary to its effective exploitation and dissemination. As the quantity of knowledge expands, the need to organize it becomes more pressing. A vast number of different means of organizing information have been devised and exploited since the earliest times. With the vast output of new information and ever-increasing degree of specialization in all areas of human knowledge, heavy demands are being placed on library information storage and retrieval systems, which can be scarcely met by the traditional methods except with the use of IT devices. The improvements and changes in computing and telecommunications and the integration of the two fields have had a huge role to play in the methods of information processing and dissemination in academic libraries; thus improving the quality of use to which such libraries are put.

Many academic libraries had, at different times, planned to automate their activities, but had to drop the plans mid-way due to certain inadequacies, which Madu (2002) enumerated to including: Economical, Manpower problem, Political instability, Capital, Geographical isolation, Social cultural and Exposure. Consequently, libraries especially those of tertiary institutions have had difficulties in their attempts at achieving full application of IT in the conduct of their operations; thereby failing to benefit maximally from such adoption. The justification of this study thus lies in the central and critical role that IT plays in education generally and library operations in particular as attested to by Nwizu (2008) that the use of audiovisual and electronic resources has broken the barriers of time, distance, and locale, which impeded the growth of formal education, just as Adeyemi (2004) emphasizes that students use these resources to complete major assignments. This position was supported stressed further that "Audiovisual and electronic resources have the potential for enhancing student learning. The role of these resources in teaching and learning is one of the most important and widely-discussed issues in contemporary education policy".

Thus, the objectives of this study are to: identify the Information Technology devices available at the Federal University of Technology...

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