Issues in Acquisition and Application of Conventional and Online Complementary Cataloguing Competencies in Nigerian University Libraries.

Author:Ihekwoaba, Emmanuel Chukwudi


University libraries are academic libraries set up basically to satisfy the teaching, learning and research needs of their student population, staff and visitors with information resources. They are a hub of knowledge and information services in their institutions and are usually established along with their mother institutions as an integral part (Abubakar, 2011; Mirza and Mahmood, 2009). According to Mole (2010), university libraries are central to the universities' objective of promoting research and scholarship. As a result, they are always struggling to acquire and catalogue printed and non-printed forms of materials. (Hardesty as cited in Mole, 2010).

Cataloguing is the process of describing each of the books and information materials that a library has (Ekere and Mole, 2014). They added that it is the process of describing an item of a collection with a view to determining its bibliographical attributes. Adeyemi (2002) defined cataloguing as the correct and accurate description of the physical properties of a document, whether it is print, non print, audio-visual or both.

There are basically two cataloguing practices or modes: conventional and online. Conventional cataloguing is the traditional method of cataloguing documents. It refers to the descriptive and subject processing of information materials. It requires the mastery of a set of rules such as the AACR2 or other cataloguing rules and the use of cataloguing tools to catalogue information materials while online cataloguing deals with searching and locating cataloguing data through online cataloguing databases, which give the cataloguer access to an unlimited number of bibliographic data online (Ruteyan, 2007). In terms of competency, conventional cataloguing may require competencies in descriptive cataloguing, subject cataloguing, critical and analytical thinking, and evaluation of information while online cataloguing requires data mining competencies, computer and web navigation competencies, combined with system appreciation competencies. The advent of online cataloguing has resulted in casting the traditional library operations in new methods of work; for conventional cataloguing, it is searching the literature and asking critical questions, for online cataloguing it is data mining. Online cataloguing makes the task of finding metadata easy.

The task of cataloguing is usually done by librarians trained as cataloguers. Cataloguers in university libraries are academic librarians; they undertake the task of describing information materials for the catalogue in the Library. They organize library materials for easy storage and retrieval by determining the main entry, added entries, subject headings and call numbers (Ode and Omakaro, 2007). Accuracy and consistency are usually cited as the competencies a good cataloguer requires. Competency is synonymous with the term skill. It means ability to execute a given work, as a result of experience, formal training or practice. It is the ability to combine and apply acquired expertise on a particular job. This involves application of high levels of knowledge, standards and capacity to assigned work (Ofodu, 2015).

Complementary acquisition and application of conventional and online cataloguing competencies amongst cataloguers refers to the capacity of the cataloguer to obtain and utilize corresponding skills in conventional and online cataloguing for a dynamic and efficient practice of cataloguing in the library. Adeleke and Olorunsola (2006) noted that in developed countries of the world, conventional and online cataloguing complement each other. It is necessary that cataloguers in these countries have dynamic competencies in processing library materials with conventional or online cataloguing techniques complementing each other. However as Srider (2004) noted the reality is that there is a significant gap between these countries and developing nations such as Nigeria. He nonetheless stated that with the advent of electronic driven library services, there is a decline in conventional cataloguing competencies of librarians even in advanced countries.

In Nigeria, university libraries right from their outset practice conventional cataloguing. In the recent time, online cataloguing is the preferred cataloguing method (Adeleke and Olorunsola, 2009). This is because it is faster and less tedious than conventional cataloguing in cataloguing of information materials. This may set a dangerous precedent as cataloguers may no longer strive to develop their conventional cataloguing competencies. This is very critical because conventional cataloguing plays a vital role in confirming that metadata derived from these online cataloguing databases are correct; besides, not all information materials in the library being catalogued are in these online cataloguing databases which zero down to using the conventional cataloguing method to catalogue these materials that are not found in the online cataloguing databases. Cataloguers could also switch to conventional cataloguing when there is lack of power supply (usually experienced in Nigeria) to run the computer systems used for online cataloguing in the federal university libraries.

There are eighteen (18) federal universities in Southern Nigeria. Majority of these universities have standard functional cataloguing sections practicing conventional and online cataloguing. These university libraries use the Library of Congress Classification Scheme because of the scheme's suitability for organizing large library collections. Other tools used in cataloguing include The Library of Congress Subject Heading List, and the Cutter Sanborn Three Figure Author Table.

The six federal universities selected for this study are Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, University of Benin, Benin, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, University of Lagos, Akoka, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt. These six university libraries are owned and funded by the federal government of Nigeria. The six federal universities were established between 1960 and 1975. They have very large volumes of collections. These collections include monographs, periodicals, pamphlets, maps, rare books, government publications, journals, theses and dissertations (both physical and electronic), audiovisual materials covering various disciplines. Their institutional repositories are powered by D-space Institutional Repository Software. The holdings comprise thousands of physical information materials and millions of e-resources domiciled in international databases. These online resources are categorized into password, Internet protocol, and open access based databases.

These university libraries serve the teaching, learning and research needs of staff, students, and visitors of the university. They have both card catalogue and Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs) through which users access the library holdings. The OPAC in these university libraries is powered by a library management software (LMS) known as KOHA. The university libraries have functional cataloguing sections practicing both conventional and online cataloguing. In these university libraries, cataloguers catalogue the library collections for proper storage of the information materials and easy retrieval by users. Considering the critical role played by cataloguers in cataloguing the information resources of these university libraries for storage and easy access, this study is undertaken to determine issues in acquisition and application of conventional and online complementary cataloguing competencies in Nigerian university libraries with a view to proffering appropriate solution.

Statement of the Problem

Cataloguers need to key into new techniques as well as the conventional practice of cataloguing. However, these new methods and techniques may at the same time affect either the conventional cataloguing competencies of cataloguers thereby affecting their work output. This is sad because preference of one cataloguing method over another may in the long run affect the competencies of cataloguers and their performance on the other. It is of great concern that many cataloguers in Nigerian university libraries now prefer online cataloguing to conventional cataloguing which may in the long run make them to lose critical cataloguing competencies due to dependence on online cataloguing.

Online cataloguing was actually not introduced to replace conventional cataloguing but to complement it. The researcher is worried by cataloguers' inability to adopt online cataloguing and acquire competencies in both conventional and online cataloguing processes as the dynamics of the profession require. The researcher is also concerned that with the advent of online cataloguing, cataloguers seem to be losing focus and competency in conventional cataloguing. This has left a negative impact on the cardinal objective of the university library in particular and the university in general. There is need therefore, to determine issues in acquisition and application of conventional and online complementary cataloguing competencies in Nigerian university libraries with a view to proffering appropriate solution. It is of great concern that despite the pertinent need for a study to determine issues in acquisition and application of conventional and online complementary cataloguing competencies in Nigerian university libraries, no such study has been carried out. This justifies the need for this study.

Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study;

  1. What is the state of application of conventional and online cataloguing in university libraries in Nigeria?

  2. What methods are required for acquisition and application of conventional and online complementary cataloguing competencies in the libraries?

  3. What are the methods employed for acquisition and application of conventional and online...

To continue reading