Educational needs of librarians in the digital environment: case studies of selected academic libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria.

Author:Fadehan, Olukemi A.
Position:Case study


The 21st century has witnessed an unprecedented paradigm shift in the rendering of library and information services worldwide. The ripple effect of the influence of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on every aspect of human endeavour remains colossal and its impact on library and information services has not been exclusive. Literature (Sridhar, 1999; Igun, 2006) as well as general observation of worldwide trends confirm this assertion.

A major consequence of this development has been the concept of the emergence of electronic services in libraries or betters still, the concept of digital libraries (Youngok, 2006). Library services are assuming a different dimension in philosophy, model and information delivery. The trend worldwide has proved that information provision and delivery had shifted from the traditional models to electronic and web-based formats. Traditional collections are giving way to if not total but at least hybrid collections. This change in structure is not without its attendant challenges as electronic and digital libraries come along with their peculiar characteristics despite sharing the same purpose of preserving, organizing and distributing information resources as in the case of traditional libraries (Youngok, 2006).

In the light of change in orientation of the 21st century libraries, Hayes (1998) opined that libraries must "move from resource centered, institutionalized and physically bound to network based". Becoming a network based library however, has a lot of technological implications; the single prominent factor being information technology (Sridhar 1989, 1995, 1997, 1999). Furthermore, literature affirmed that the change in the nature and roles of libraries vis-a-vis the digital environment has equally brought about the need for the development and acquisitions of new skills and competencies (Youngok, 2006). This development again has been greeted by dearth of experienced library staff that could meet the new demands (Oduwole, 2005; Adedoyin, 2005, Igun, 2006). This latter view was also corroborated by Edie Resmussen Choi, who opined that "without well-educated digital librarians, digital libraries cannot reach their full potential" (2006).

To this end, this study has been committed to investigating the librarians' perception of their educational needs in the 21st century digital environment using a number of selected academic libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria as case studies. This has been done with a view to identifying the gaps and making recommendations as appropriate vis-a-vis the designing and modeling of digital education in Nigeria.

Objectives of the Study

The study was guided by the following objectives:

(1) To identify the level of automation process/digital application in the critical operations of the libraries.

(2) To find out the educational needs of librarians in developing the digital environment.

(3) to determine the librarians general perception of the need for Digital Education/Training.


The research design adopted for this study was the case study method. The population size of the study was purposive and composed of librarians of five selected academic institutions in Lagos State. The study also adopted a purposive sampling method in the choice of its population; hence five academic libraries were selected as case studies.

The sampling size and procedure of study hinged on the total enumerative technique (census) of all practicing librarians of the five selected academic libraries totaling 50 (see Table 1). The choice of a total enumerative technique was because the total population was moderate enough and the available budget permitted it.

The scope of the work and choice of population was informed by the following: (1) the case studies reflected the pattern of educational needs of librarians in the same geographical and social-economic environment-Lagos State, Nigeria. (2) Each library/educational institution studied served as an example of the following educational set up: research libraries, college of education libraries, the polytechnic libraries and the university libraries (Two universities were under-studied with each presenting a federal and a state-owned establishment).

The major tool of collection of research data was a self-developed questionnaire. This was complemented with personal observation of library procedures in the investigated libraries (See Table 1 for questionnaire administration and rate of retrieval).

Operational Definition of Terms

Quite a number of words, phrases and concepts are used in a related or alternating manner in this work to depict or elucidate the scenario of obtainable electronic resources and services in the 21st century library service environment.

(a) Digital Libraries: This is defined as submitted by Weech (2005) in a presentation as thus: "organization which select, structure, offer access, interpretation, distribution, and preservation of collection of digital works and making them economically available".

(b) Digital Environment: This includes all of the resources (human and material) and scenario that characterizes the digital/electronic information management, communication as well as information delivery services especially as found dominant in the 21st century.

(c) Digital Education: This is used as encompassing all the processes and mode of teaching, training, skill acquisition and learning (formal, informal, in-service-training etc) in information technology vis-a-vis information management and library services.

Review of Related Literature

Perceptives in Digital Library Education

The world has become a global village. Information management and dissemination are increasingly becoming technologically driven with an exponential rate of turn-over in inventions and creations.

Observations and studies revealed inadequacy of library staff in developing countries particularly Nigeria in skills required to manage information in the 21st Century (Igun, 2006). When education is found available in this respect, mediocrity...

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