Effective motivation of paraprofessional staff in academic libraries In Nigeria.

Author:James, Iwu Juliana


Most libraries have a mission to offer a high quality service to all of their customers. The performance of paraprofessional staff determines to a large extent the quality of the customer satisfaction and has a significant impact on the contribution that libraries can make to their communities. They have a major role to play in achieving the objectives of the library. Rowley (1996) states that staff are a key resource and account for a significant component of the budget of libraries.

Paraprofessional staff are the chief agents in customer service and frequently act as the interface with the customer. Consequently, their motivation is crucial in determining the quality of this interface. Motivation, then, is critical in the establishment and further development of quality service. It would appear as if money, and more money, is what workers ever ask, recently, the Federal Government announced an upward review of the minimum wages in the civil service. Almost, immediately after the announcement, there was a nation-wide agitation by workers in the states and local government bureaucracies to benefit from the largesse.

There is a general notion that if only management can identify other things that can motivate the workforce apart from money, perhaps there will be a dramatic reduction in the demand by workers for pay rise because money only plays the role of common denominator of all things. Less time will be spent on the annual ritual of management/workers union negotiation meetings.

This paper argues that the effective manager needs to recognize that different motivators are appropriate for different staff and that different staff will demonstrate differing inherent levels of motivation in setting their own targets and striving towards them.

Good management consists of recognizing and working with those individual differences. Motivation has continuously been an area of interest to managers of different types of organizations including profit and nonprofit based organizations

Statement of the Problem

It is imperative to recognize that factors that affect the library employee as an individual can impact his or her performance as a service provider as well. Motivation is key to librarians as to any other profession.

Various criticisms have been leveled against the Nigerian workers. Fashina (1984) observed that despite the various demands of Nigerian workers for better conditions of service, the situation still remains the same. Nigerian workers are still performing very much below expectations. Workers productivity remains below average, morale is still low. This criticism may have risen from the out dated belief that the Nigerian worker does not nurse any sense of commitment to his job.

The inherent problem identified is that many employers have attempted several programs to motivate their employees, yet they have not worked for every category of staff in the library. Aziagba (2009) therefore emphasized that it is high time to stress on staff development with a view to improving library services as a whole.

In view of this, this study attempts to identify the key factors of motivation for paraprofessional library staff.

Significance of the Study

The study will be useful in explaining the meaning and underlying concept of motivation, useful for management of higher institutions and establishments responsible for reviewing and updating policies and legislation. The paper will attempt to proffer answers to the question of what to do to adequately motivate workers to contribute their optimal quota to their library's productivity and growth.

Finally, it is expected that this study will serve as a basis for improved working relationship between management of the organization and staff.

Who is a Paraprofessional?

In 1970, the American Library Association (ALA) adopted a policy statement that categorized and described the responsibilities of library personnel at the professional and support levels. This document reinforced the concept of the library paraprofessional. (Makinen and Speer 1993). The term paraprofessional designates library positions with entrance-level requirements that are distinctly different from those of librarians.

They are also known as library officers. They commonly perform their duties with some supervision by a librarian. Oberg (1992) defines paraprofessional library staff as personnel classified as library assistants, associates, technicians, and technical assistants. Examples of paraprofessional position titles include: interlibrary loan assistant, catalog assistant, periodicals supervisor, reference assistant, etc. A paraprofessional is a trained worker who is not a member of a profession but who assists a professional.

Motivation and Behaviour Modification of Workers

The word motivation is derived from motiv, which is an active form of a desire, craving or need, which must be satisfied .It is a common phenomenon often talked about by people in any given organization. Allan, Gadon and Willits (2001) define motivation as an inner state of mind that causes a person to behave in a way that endures the accomplishment of stated goals. To them motivation is something which impels a person to act, a reason of behavior. They further stated that motivation is not manipulation of people but understanding of needs, wages which prompt people to do things.

There is need for an understanding of the fundamental drives, urges, needs and desires of the peoples which can be manipulated and stimulated and a sense of

communication and methodology that would provide stimulation to these urges. Some of the methods used for this purpose may be the provision of financial incentive, cordial working environment, challenging work and responsibility, personal accomplishment, recognition for such...

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