Mobile phones for library services: prospects for Delta State University Library, Abraka.

Author:Iwhiwhu, Basil Enemute


Communication is the process of exchanging information, using a common protocol. As technology develops, communication protocols also evolve. The pattern of communication today is changing as new technologies emerge, changing the ways people communicate and organize information. In fact, it is the changing technology of communication that tends to make the most frequent and widespread changes in society (Edison, 2002). There are many instruments to aid communication, including public address systems, bulletin boards, etc. Some means of communication are relatively simple. Other forms of communication are more complex. Advanced forms of communication involve an entire system (Seymour, et al., 1987).

Mobile phones have revolutionized the daily lives of ordinary people. Mobile phones (also called cellular phone or cell phone) do not use wires or cables, but work with radio waves and can be carried about and used anywhere (Homby, 2001).

Before the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), communication in the library was done through books, newspapers, microforms, slides, etc. As scientific knowledge increased, electronic communication systems began to develop. The use of telephones and computers led to the Internet. The application of telecommunications to an automated library system can bring more efficiency to library services. Just as the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) has revolutionized the daily lives of individuals, it can also enhance library operations. This study explores the prospect of providing library services with mobile phones in the Delta State University Library, Abraka, Nigeria.

The institution has a long and impressive history. It grew from the well-known Government Teachers' Training College, Abraka, which in the 1940a produced Grade II teachers to the reputable College of Education which awarded the Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE). In affiliation to the University of Benin, it offered degree programmes until November 1985, when it became a Faculty of Education of the then Bendel State University, Ekpoma (now Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma). It became fully autonomous on April 30, 1992 following the creation of Edo and Delta States in August 1991. There are three campuses, one in each of the three senatorial districts of the state: Abraka Campus, Asaba campus and Oleh campus (Delta State University student's handbook, 2004).

The university library operates at the main campus at Abraka, with branches at Anwai, Asaba, and Oleh campuses. The library is partially automated and will offer an Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) when automation is complete. GSM services commenced operations in Delta State University, Abraka, with MTN in October 2003, Zain (earlier called Econet, Vmobile, and Cetel) followed on February 2004 and then Globalcom came in March 2005. Other networks are also finding their way into the university community. Mobile phone/GSM is a common sight in the hands of staff and students. It has helped to bridge the communication gap in and outside the university environment. GSM has made it possible for information in various formats to be retrieved, processed, stored, and disseminated.

Brief History of Mobile Phones/GSM in Nigeria

GSM world (2004) explains that GSM supports more advanced data technologies. These technologies allow for a greater bandwidth and permit the development of mobile applications. According to Aragba-Akpore (2003), "GSM dominates the world today. As the most matured digital-cellular standard, GSM networks offer cellular switched data services well in advance of other networks." GSM is known as the second generations (2G) after the old analogue system, which was first generation (1G). The advent of GSM was revolutionary, especially because of its roaming capabilities.

Telecommunication services were introduced in Nigeria by the British Colonial Government in 1886 to facilitate colonial administration in the country. After independence, in 1966, there were only 18,724 telephone lines for use by a population of about 40 million people (Edison, 2002). In January 1985, the Post and Telecommunications Department split into a postal division and a telecommunication division. The latter was merged with the Nigerian External Telecommunication Limited (NITEL). Its main objective is to harmonize the planning and coordination of the internal and external telecommunications services (Edison, 2002). Two mobile cellular telephone networks were approved in September, 1997 by the Ministry of Communication and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which boost telecom services in Nigeria. The Nigerian Telecommunications limited (NITEL) cellular network and mobile Telecommunications services Limited (MTS), managed by NITEL cover Lagos, Enugu, and Abuja with a capacity of 10,000 lines having one mobile...

To continue reading