Library collection as correlate of library use: a study of secondary schools in Oyo State, Nigeria.

Author:Fasola, Omobolanle Seri


A school library is useful in literacy work from the earliest stage because it encourages good reading habits to be formed when children are young. Nothing is as important to the quality of library services provided to library patrons whether academic, public, special or school library as the quality and range of resources selected, acquired and retained by a library. A school library may be seen by some to be small and inconsequential but if the fact that it is part of the overall school system is critically looked at, it becomes obvious that as much as the collection of a university library is important to its community, so also is the collection of a school library to its pupils and staff. (Badawi, 2004).

The importance of libraries and their collections in the school system cannot be overemphasized. Effective teaching and learning requires the support of librarians and well-stocked libraries. Similarly, meaningful study and learning demand adequate provision of library services. (Fadero, 2001).

The Taiwo Commission (1968) on the review of the failed first Universal Free Education System, launched in the defunct Western Region noted that there was an appalling shortage of reading materials in most of the schools in the then Western region. The Commission observed further that very little consideration was given to the building up of libraries and to the inculcating in pupils the culture of using the library. Several studies have shown that library usage cannot be divorced from academic performance. The Ontario Library Association (2006) using a huge sample (800 elementary schools, 50,000 students, with a sample specifically of grades 3 and 6) showed correlations between library staffing and reading performance in both grades, as well as a decline in enjoyment of reading correlating with a decline in staffing of libraries. Dent (2006), similarly found in a study of three Ugandan schools with varying levels of library access, that those students with library access scored higher in particular subjects than those who did not have access. Goodall and Pattern (2011) also show a correlate between library use and performance in a research carried out at the Huddersfield University.

Well-equipped libraries are necessities in all institutions and especially in secondary schools since they are the foundations for higher education. Well-equipped school libraries not only enrich the curriculum but also serve as the common laboratory of every school, providing leadership in the teaching of everything in the sciences, humanities, management and in fact, all fields of endeavour. Libraries are places where information services are rendered to users. Catering for the needs of users, in the context of the libraries, ideally means the provision of physical and bibliographic access to information sources (Oyewumi, 2006) and (Aina et al, 2011). It is sad therefore to note that despite the importance of a well-stocked library, it is generally denied the attention that it deserves in major education plans especially pertaining to public secondary schools in Nigeria.

Hay and Stuart (2005) in a research conducted on school libraries in Australia found out that there is a strong relationship between the collection of a library and patronage. Their research showed that more pupils visited a well-stocked library and this further boosted high academic performance because they usually have the perception that the library will supply their academic needs. Reading skills involve thinking skills. The extent to which young people use information depends upon their ability to understand what they read, to integrate their understanding with what they already know and to realize their unanswered questions. To this end, school libraries model and collaboratively provide the much needed support.

Academic performance and library use cannot be separated. Kumar (1982), noted that the performance of students can be considerably improved if they use the library regularly. A school library does not exist in isolation but exists to serve the objectives of the parent organization. The objective of a good educational system is to equip pupils to be able to play their role in the society effectively. The library attempts to advance the objectives of the school and the aim of a good school library is to become a force for educational excellence (Wong and Webb, 2011).

Kumar (1982) again noted that patronage of a school library is enhanced when the library is well equipped, book and non-book materials are readily available for use and the library staff is ready and willing to assist the pupils in their search for information.


Management of Schools

One cannot fully appreciate the problem of library development in Nigerian schools without looking at management of schools. Management is partly responsible for the poor state of school libraries in Nigeria. Personal or group interests on the part of management forms the key to library development in the few schools that have libraries throughout the country. A school proprietor with interest in school libraries would at all times develop a soft spot for a library in his school. This is true regardless of whether it is an individual or groups of people, mission, local councils, state or federal governments. (Kochar and Sudarshan, 1997).

Private schools charging high fees have manageable enrolments and as such are at an advantage to provide facilities for teaching and learning aids which are generally lacking in most public schools. Because of the high fees collected in private schools, coupled with their regulated enrolment, private school libraries are expected to provide the much needed support for teaching and learning unlike what obtains at the over-crowded public schools. This factor is also responsible for the high academic performance witnessed in private schools where all the facilities needed for effective teaching and learning is available. Even with all this, Ogunniyi and Jato (2010) in a research on staff and organization of private schools in Ondo west local government of Ondo found out the though there were plenty of materials in the libraries surveyed, most of the materials were not relevant to the students' needs.

Private schools include not only one-man-owner schools but those specially created to serve the interests of a particular class of people that may be regarded as elitists in the context of the Nigerian society. These include the various university staff schools, Command schools, the Navy and the Air Force Primary/Secondary schools. Funding of these schools does not follow the normal pattern of the generality of public schools. Admission to them is strictly regulated to promote interests of their authorities. They are not public schools in the real sense even though they sometimes admit a very small number of civilian children (Okusaga, 2008).

Management of public schools on the other hand has for long been overburdened with bureaucracy which has been detrimental to their development. School administration has its share in the civil service red-tapism, as a result, those initiatives of many school administrators often died premature deaths on pages of files. (Fadero, 2001). He further noted that this red-tapism often slow down development in many areas thereby denying schools the much needed facilities which are essential for effective learning and teaching. These facilities often include provision of well stocked libraries. The introduction of UPE in the 60s and late 70s led to student population becoming highly explosive to the extent that existing library rooms had to give way...

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