Methods, effect and challenges of library instruction in academic libraries.

Author:Omeluzor, Saturday U.


The primary purpose of the academic libraries is to support its parent institution through acquisition of relevant information materials, processing, organizing, and disseminating them to the library users to enhance learning, teaching and research activities of the university community. Considering the continuous growth in library collections and technological advancement in information handling, retrieval and use, there is the need to give adequate library instruction to the library users. The users of academic libraries are made up of students, staff, and researchers who may not have any skill or knowledge to utilize library materials. Without library instruction, it may be difficult for the users to access, identify, retrieve and effectively use information from the library shelves and catalogue that will aid their learning, teaching, and research. According to Mahammadi, Moghaddan and Yeganeh (2008) teaching and research depend upon the library, and achievements in teaching and research are not possible without the library. Thus there is the need for the library to instruct its users to acquire information literacy skill in order to achieve academic excellence.

Library instruction also referred to as user education, library orientation or information literacy is a process of making library patrons understand how to make effective and efficient use of library resources and information through the acquisition of skills to identify, locate, search, retrieve and exploit information in the library (Igbena, 1990). Spenser (2003) noted that library instruction enable the users to have the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize, and effectively create, use and communicate information to address issues or problems at hand. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) in June 2016 defined information literacy as a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. This definition is relevant in this study hence it involves various activities which are aftermath of user education. The framework for information literacy for higher education as developed by ACRL is useful in guiding information users to effectively utilize information resources for their academic activities.

According to Madukoma, Onuoha, Omeluzor and Ogbuiyi (2013), library instruction was introduced in academic institutions to ensure that students have the intellectual ability and skill to access and retrieve information as well as construct a framework for learning. The effect of library instruction goes beyond the number of years that students spent in universities. It traverses all learning and research activities of students, staff, and faculty of any university. It has a life-long effect on library users and enables them to acquire library skill to be able to identify, access, retrieve and use library materials with ease. It is a process of educating the users to use information that is available in the library to their advantage.

Although, the method of application of library instruction differ from library to library, but, the main purpose is to enable users to become independent and skilful in accessing and utilizing library resources. The American Library Association developed a guideline for instruction programs in academic libraries which were adopted by ACRL in 2011. The programs include the identification of content of instruction, identification of modes of instruction, program structures, and evaluation of assessment.

In order to advance user education, the Multimedia Educational Resource Learning Online Teaching (MERLOT) adopted the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for information literacy program. The program was aimed at providing a systematic approach to incorporating ICT literacy into education to ensure that students become ICT literate at the end of the program. Suleiman (2012) and Madukoma, et al., (2013) stated that academic libraries in Nigeria and other developing nations in the world had developed some methods for instructing its new and current users. The methods include classroom teaching, orientation, guided library tour and library guide. How these methods have positively affected the users considering trends and proliferation in information provision and adoption of modern technologies in academic libraries is a matter of concern. Observation has shown that most academic libraries in Nigeria were yet to adopt modern methods for library instruction due to certain challenges, hence this study sought to investigate the methods, effect and challenges of library instruction in Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun (FUPRE), Nigeria.

Library Instruction in Academic Institutions

Library instruction is an important activity which is usually carried out by academic librarians. In most academic libraries for example, Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (FUPRE), Nigeria, library instruction takes place at every new semester beginning in October each year. The target group for instruction at such time is the newly admitted students into the University's four and five-year academic programmes. All admitted 100 level students into various courses offered at the University would be taken through the various types of library instruction including classroom teaching, orientation and library tour among others.

The classroom teaching is a one unit course titled "Use of Library" with a course code 'GSE 112'. The objective of the course is to expose students to the library services and its resources and to educate and guide them to effectively utilize the library services and resources. The class held for one hour, once-a-week and usually last for thirteen weeks. The other methods i.e. orientation and guided library tour is a one or two days interactive session which gives librarians opportunity to inform the newly admitted students about the programs, activities, resources, opening hour, contact information, rules, and regulations of the library. During any of the instruction programmes, newly admitted students would be given the opportunity to ask questions on any issue pertaining to the library that they did not understand clearly which will be answered immediately by the librarians. Another means of instructing the library users is through the 'Library guide.' This is a small booklet published by the University Library which introduces users to the Units and services of the library. The booklet is usually given to each registered student during orientation program. It is meant to guide the newly admitted students on the 'dos and don'ts' of the library. In addition, the library also uses 'one-on-one guidance' which is also a method of library instruction usually utilized by any user who need to personally consult a librarian.

Research Question

To achieve the purpose this research, this study was guided with the following research questions:

  1. What are the methods used for library instruction in academic libraries?

  2. How often does the library instruct its users?

  3. What is the effect of library instruction on the library users?

  4. What are the challenges facing library instruction in academic libraries?

    Literature Review

    According to Igwebuike and Agbo (2014), inculcating information literacy skills is the foundation for independent lifelong learning for Nigerian University students. Library users' independence in accessing information in the library is achievable through library instruction. Library instruction in academic libraries is an important activity that engages the academic librarians and the library patrons. It involves classroom teaching, users' guide, orientation, guided library tour and one-on-one guidance which are peculiar to many academic libraries (Esse, 2014; Ullah & Ameen, 2014). The programmes help the library users to become independent learners in utilizing library resources (Ojasaar, 2003; Igwebuike & Agbo, 2014). Studies revealed that library instruction has shown significant impact on library users (Nweze, 2011; Esse, 2014).

    According to Bhatti (2010), the changing nature of higher education worldwide, along with ever increasing growth of library collections, technological developments in handling and retrieving of information and fundamental changes in the nature of reference services justifies the need for user education services in academic institutions. Bhatti further asserted that library education arose within an assumption that the information environment is complex and dynamic. In addition, Alimohammadi and Sajjadi (2006) argued that users do not know how information is identified, organized, stored, searched, retrieved, manipulated, and interpreted. This kind of circumstance may place the users at a disadvantaged situation that require instruction in order to utilize the library services effectively. In order to make the library users active in using library resources, Bamidele (2015) opined that librarian can develop reading and library use plan by delving into a series of lectures under user instruction, user education or library orientation programme. Library instruction should be result-oriented and must focus on sensitive areas as follows:

  5. Bibliographic instruction in using a catalogue, index, abstract and understanding the catalogue filing.

  6. Training users in the use of electronic information resources (EIRs).

  7. Training users in information evaluation, access, and retrieval.

  8. Training users in the adequate use of library websites.

  9. Training users in the use of online public access catalogue (OPAC).

  10. Training users in using electronic databases (i.e. Ebsco, Science direct, etc.).

  11. Training users in Boolean search technique, and

  12. Referencing and citation techniques.

    According to Ojasaar (2003), user education is an instruction which equips library users with the skills to enable...

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