INTRODUCTION AND NECESSITY FOR THE STUDY
The advent of information age, the desire for higher education, and the proliferation of tertiary institutions have brought about the need for distance, part- time, and sandwich education opportunities. Virtually all the tertiary institutions in Nigeria, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Universities are providing distance or part-time education for the population of the country youth. Many of these youth are among the numerous higher education seekers that could not be admitted into full-time programme because of the paucity of space. Statistics have shown that one million Nigerian school leavers apply for university admission yearly, only twenty percent of this applicant are accommodated. Also, individuals who are constrained by jobs and family commitment are also taken care of by the programme.
Singh (1997, pp42-50) identified distance education as an educational approach which helps to bring education to the doorsteps of a large and varied clientele who cannot benefit from the conventional system of education. This suggests that distance education enlarges educational opportunities by capturing into its fold persons who could not access education due to certain constraints in their live settings and or in the conventional system of education. Also, Encarta (2007) defines the term distance education as:
formal instruction conducted at a distance by a teacher who plans. guides and evaluates the learning process. Keegan (1997, pp 42-50) concludes that "the major goat of distance education is to provide courses anytime, anywhere, and anywhere there are students or only one student". This approach to education can indeed serve the educational needs of individuals who are still out of the corridors of the conventional system of education for whatever reason. Arising from these definitions, Samalla (2008, Pp 269-278) observes that distance education, in its basic firm, is characterized by a teacher and learners whose contact with each other is enhanced and performed by a form of mediating technology. He further identifies three variables in a distance education transaction. These are:
* The teacher variable: as a planner, guide, and evaluator of the learning process;
* The learner variable: as a recipient of the planned and guided knowledge and;
* The communication variable:- as the channel or medium through items to be learnt are delivered to the learner, and feedback returned to teacher.
Shale and Gommes (1998, Pp 21-25) identify certain features of distance education which makes it suitable to the needs and interests of individuals who are not favoured by the conventional system of education. The features are absence of formal admission requirements; liberal policies with respect to time to complete courses; provision of continuous life-long learning opportunities through part-time study; continuous year round enrolment and self-pacing; and liberalisation or abolition of residency requirements.
As earlier stated in this introduction, institutions that provide distance and part-time teaming abound in Nigeria. There are however two national institution established to provide distance learning. These are National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) for University education; and National Teacher Institute (NTI) for higher teacher education. Other tertiary institutions provide part-time and sandwich courses where students attended classes in evening, weekend and during long vacation. The two universities focused in the study fall into this latter category. The Universities are Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-lwoye, and Tai Solarin University of Education. Both institutions are established and funded by the Ogun State government, Nigeria.
The two universities are striving to make earning of degree more feasible for several individuals in the state and outside it who have families and jobs. Also for several individuals who have desire to further their education to university level but who could not secure admission into conventional universities. These universities may have good intentions and policies on their part-time/distance programmes, their libraries have never at one time or the other conducted a survey of their students regarding their information needs, or finding out the adequacy of the available library services.
Furthermore, ACRL (2000) Guidelines for Distance learning library services strongly recommends that student be surveyed to determine library service needs and user satisfaction. Consequently, this study aims at surveying the part-time and sandwich students of the aforementioned universities. Besides this, it is more imperative that the libraries know their users and make efforts to serve them better, moreso with the influx of ICT that is rapidly changing the information management scene.
Other specific objectives of this study are:
To identify the information needs of the students of the university;
To identify the impediments to their information source utilization; and
To find out the extent to which the students use electronic information sources.
Based on the above set-out objectives of this study, the following research questions shall be answered through the data gathered.
What are the demographic variables of the respondents?
What are the respondents' reasons for opting for part-time/sandwich courses?
What are the library and information needs of the respondents?
In what format do the respondents prefer their information sources?
What are the library and information facilities available to the respondents?
What are the impediments facing by the respondents in their use of library facilities of their respective universities?
Are the respondents skillful in formation and ICT literacy?
Ault (2002, Pp.39-48), observes that at the advent of the new millennium and in the midst of the information age, distance education underwent rapid and widespread change. This is further enhanced by the faster and easily accessible information. Information is now easily accessible at fast speed, and that meant more people cold have the benefit of information and education.
Cooke (2004, Pp. 47-57) concludes that the provision of library services to non-regular and remote users can be so involved. Consequently, the library must understand distance and adult learners. He further advises that librarians must create policies and procedure specific to distance learning; they must coordinate programme correspondents such as document delivery and reference services; they need to market their services; they need to continually evaluate the best information resources; they must create and maintain websites, and they must collaborate with faculty, administrators and other librarians.
Distance education or part-time students as a group of information user, have their information needs and information seeking behaviours. Several studies have been conducted into these, Jaggen, Taliman and Waddell (1999, Pp. 131-175)...