Library as a Goldmine: Social Media Technologies (SMT) as the Way Forward.

Author:Bakare, Oluwabunmi Dorcas


The history of the library dates back to unknown antiquity, and its impact on human development in all spheres of human endeavour cannot be over accentuated. It has for centuries provided a haven of support for collection development, acquisition of materials, arrangement of these collections, accessibility to organise collections of these documents, processing of these resources and the ability to retrieved these processed collections by clienteles without seamlessly. But, traditionally, the library has been regarded as compendium of manuscripts and books used for reading or scholarship housed in a building in which such a collection is kept. However, Leigh, Douglas, Frank and Salman (2017) affirmed that libraries have emerged since the middle of the 20th century as a far-reaching body of information resources and services that do not even require a building but been pervasive

The advent of Social Media Technologies (SMT) which is hinged on the interactive web, engage users to participate in online discussion of their interest. So also, commenting on and creating content as means of communicating and connecting with other users. This encourages public forum which has gone a long way in repositioning the library from being collection specific to user-centric. Not that the library does not care about her clienteles in previous centuries, but extant literature has shown that the library was more conscious of keeping her collections safe because there is the believe that these collections makes up the "library". This is a great misconception that the present 21st century library has changed in all its entirety.

In those rare cases where it was possible for a scholar to consult these collections, there seems to have been no direct access to the stacks (Phillips, 2010), libraries were parochial in disposition (Castagna, 1967) and was not uniformly opened to the public (Predeek, 1947). In all recorded cases the books were kept in a relatively small room where the staff went to get them for readers, who had to consult them in an adjacent gallery or covered alley.

Nonetheless, contemporary libraries play a vital role in the dissemination of knowledge in any organisation in which it plays a vital role in making information readily available to clienteles at real-time at the click of a button. It has been referred to in many quotas as the heart of the intellectual system of an institution (Chaka, 2013), most especially academic libraries which are the focal point of any tertiary institution.

Thus, the importance of academic libraries in the curriculum and research output of their parent institution cannot be quantified in unequivocal terms. The onus, therefore, lies on the management of these University institutions to see the library as a gold mine that need to be harnessed since it determines the success of a robust curriculum and enhanced research productivity of these institutions. The main objective of this paper therefore, is to examine the library as a gold mine by taking into cognizance the fact that SMT upon which the 21st century is hinged are veritable technologies in making library clienteles tap into the wealth of library resources as gold mine. This will advertently lead to meaningful research output and enhanced research productivity of the academic community that the library is located so as to be able to compete favourably with their counterparts in developed world.

The Academic Library

An academic library is a library that is attached to a higher education institution which serves two complementary purposes to support the school's curriculum and to support the research of the university faculty and students (1). This support comes in the form of providing relevant materials and resources for various programs being run by the University. Due to decreasing budgets, specific course-related resources are usually provided by the library, such as copies of textbooks and article readings held in 'reserve' (2). The implication of this therefore is that these materials are loaned out only on a short-term basis, usually a matter of hours so that these limited copies can be readily accessible to the vast numbers of students. The preceding is one fundamental problem that academic libraries worldwide have been battling with and the management of the library has been finding means of keeping their heads afloat despite these scarce resources.

Therefore, sections of the libraries are working in unison to provide adequate and effectual library services so that the resources of the library can be harnessed by library patrons. There are different sections and units within an academic library and these sections can be broadly categorised into the frontend section and the backend section. The backend section of the library is the technical section which sees to collection development, acquisition, cataloguing and classification of library collections. That is, these are services that are carried out behind the scene without the knowledge of end users. It is when all these library materials are acquired and processed that they are made available to library patrons by being arranged according to their classification mark on the shelves for easy accessibility. Classification marks are called "Call Marks" which are a unique identifier of each library materials through which it can be retrieved from the catalogue box. It is the technical unit that ensures that a catalogue card is prepared for each library material. These catalogue cards contain bibliographic description of each material which could be arranged according to authors name or by subject title. While the frontend services relate directly with services offered directly to library users.

The image maker of the library is the Reader's service section which is the frontend of the library. This houses the reference section, automation section, document delivery section, and serial's sections in most academic libraries. The circulation unit sees to the registration of users, provide easy access to library materials for patrons by introducing them to manual and Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), providing selective dissemination information services (SDI), displaying of newly acquired books to create current awareness services (CAS) and charging and discharging of library materials (3). The reference section of the academic library holds books that are meant for facilitating a robust research (4). Such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, bibliographies, Memoirs, Study guides, Atlas and the likes are common reference books, and are therefore not lent out (5). These materials are fundamental to research by providing quick and accessible information on any particular topic and are usually used to find facts or provide broad overviews of topics. This section is managed by a reference librarian whose primary responsibility is to attend to users' queries, provide bibliographic services, indexing services and abstracting services. The reference librarian is expected to be well vast with the library collections and should, therefore, be able to direct readers to the library catalogue which is the pointer to library collections. The serials' section on the other hand houses current and back issues of both foreign and local Journals, Magazines, Newspapers, Special Collections, such as Government Publication, Inaugural Lecture Series and other significant collections (6)

Academic libraries also ensure that they provide support for research and resource linkage for students and faculty of the educational institution. These libraries organise in-house training for their clientels on various aspects that the management of the library believe is pertinent in improving the research productivity of each department as a whole. These hands-on training can be series of workshops and seminars which are outside the formal or course work of each department to ensure that these library patrons are better equipped to succeed in their programs. These workshops may include help with citations, effective search techniques, Journal databases, and electronic citation software (7). This goes a long way in better equipping these students with skills that can help them achieve success in their academic careers. So also by preparing them for the challenges of the outside world when they graduate from the university because they will find the knowledge gained during these hands-on training very handy which...

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