A library portal serves as an integrated interface to a wide variety of digital resources and web-based library services. Web portals are also important tools for users to access and utilize library and information services over a network. This is because an informative homepage provides users with helpful information about the library, its collection, and services. Besides, library portals also host links to important internet resources useful for the parent organization (Letha, 2006).
Marketing deals with identifying and meeting human and social needs. One of the shortest definitions of marketing is "meeting needs profitably" (kotler and keller, 2007). Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stake holders (American Marketing Association, 2004). Therefore, marketing could be viewed holistically. As such, holistic marketing concept is based on the development, design, and implementation of marketing programs, processes and activities that recognize their breadth and interdependencies (kotler and keller, 2007). It recognizes that "everything matters" with marketing and that a broad, integrated perspective is often necessary. There is a paradigm shift in the philosophy behind the marketing concept. Instead of a product-centered, "make-and-sell" philosophy, business has shifted to a customer-centered, sense-and-respond" philosophy (kotler and keller, 2007). These authors opine that instead of "hunting", marketing is "gardening".
The digital revolution prevalent in the 21st century is an ongoing or continuous process. Therefore, for the library to remain relevant, it must evaluate its place and strategically market its services in the online world. Sequel to this, many library professionals recognize this inevitable up-coming need and are therefore driving adaptations designed to ensure that libraries remain an integral part of our society commitment to education, equity, and access to information (Hendrix, 2010). Current trends in library services should incorporate new philosophies, new technologies, and new spaces to meet the needs of all users in a more effective manner. It is pertinent to highlight some of the implications of the revolution in information technology on the library such as: technology is changing the fundamental forms of information; and these new forms are changing the way people find, access, and use information; and the attendant changes in the core library missions and services as a result of these new pattern of users' behaviours. These changes must come from within the library community--i.e. the content creators and distributors, the library staff and most importantly the library users. Pastore (2009) supported this view when he noted that it is essential for museums and libraries to take a proactive and positive stance in facing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. In a culture highly driven by new interactive web technologies, mobile and smart phone civilization has brought about a dynamic shift in users' expectations of how, when and where people access information on daily basis.
Ultimately, the World Wide Web leaves information seekers with considerably more options. Regarding aggressive marketing of library services to attract users' and potential users' attention to the library, Norshinfard & Ziaei (2011), asserted that: it is notable that attracting attention to a virtual environment is difficulty, [sic] because there is no mutual communication between users' and librarians, yet librarians have to go round the situation to draw users' attention to the library probably through words, sentences pictures, web pages information, timely responses to emails, moderating the delivery process and emergency delivery.
By implication, they share the same opinion with Siddike, Munshi and Mahamud (2013) that the library website is the primary vehicle used to distribute library information and collections electronically to university students, faculty, and staff. The mission of the library website must be in accordance with library mission of supporting the educational programs and curriculum of the university through acquiring and organizing both internal and external internet-based resources. The library website seeks to provide resources that will teach library users how to evaluate critically and cite correctly, the information retrieved through the website (Rayan, 2003). Marketing strategies in the traditional library setting included publicity activities such as display panels, posters, exhibits, bulletins, promotional materials (Ronan, 2003, and Kibbee et al, 2002).
The main objectives of libraries today are to obtain self-sufficiency in their resources and to provide optimum level of services to reach more potential users and encourage the use of library resources. This naturally requires a "shift from product or service orientation to customer or need orientation" (kavulya, 2004). This paradigm shift as earlier said, is also applicable to the philosophy behind the marketing concept. Instead of a product-centered, "make-and-sell" philosophy, business has shifted to a customer-centered, sense-and-respond" philosophy (kotler and keller, 2007). There are various marketing techniques and principles which provide libraries with the mechanisms for collecting and analyzing useful data about users information needs.
These in turn will equip librarians with creative and innovative power to design, develop and deliver services structured to be user-centered in line with technological advances. Kaur and Rani (2007) opine that irrespective of the type of library, the need to develop customer-centered and strategic market planning has now become part of effective library management. This implies that libraries must incorporate marketing strategies into their management philosophy and become marketing of library services conscious and proactive. Therefore, for the purpose of this study, marketing refers to those instruments through which information ... are transmitted to its members (users) (Sharma and Bhardwaj, 2009). Also, a means of ensuring that libraries, librarians and librarianship are integrated into both today's and tomorrow's global culture (Singh and Shukla, 2011). Thus, harnessing the internet and library websites to meet users' needs and be visible and relevant globally.
This study is premised on the hypotheses that academic libraries in Nigeria are not fully utilizing the library websites as a marketing tool and an enabler to reach out to the community for promotion of services and resources; and are lacking in their promotional activities.
Purpose of the study
The main objective of this paper was to examine and describe the current status of the Nigerian academic libraries websites in terms of marketing activities. Specifically, the objectives of the study were:
To ascertain marketing through the visibility of academic library websites from the...