The information needs of faculty members in a Nigerian private university: a self-study.

Author:Nnadozie, Chuma Opara


Prior to 1999, universities in Nigeria were all entities of federal or state governments. General and specialized universities were established by both levels of government. The mission of those universities is to improve literacy, increase scientific and technological research, and train human resources for the developmental needs of the country. The global recession in recent decades has severely diminished the financial resources of Nigerian federal and state governments. While income decreased, governmental responsibilities increased exponentially and university budgets witnessed a steady decline. The result is a dysfunctional infrastructure for research, insufficient classrooms and office accommodations, brain-drain, industrial disharmony, student unrest, instability in the academic calendar, and erosion of academic standards.

With a need to deregulate and liberalize higher education, the government monopoly on the ownership of universities in Nigeria was broken in 1999 with the licensing of the first private universities. Most commenced academic activities almost immediately and have been contributing to the Nigerian nation since then.

Faculty contribute to the attainment of the broad objectives of the university: teaching, research, and community service. Faculty provide academic guidance to students and extend the frontiers of knowledge through research and publication. This makes faculty members' need for information inevitable. Much of this information is acquired, processed, and disseminated through the university library which has been variously described as "the heart of the institution" (Aloh 1988), "a place where books and users interact together for the transmission of civilization and cultivation of human beings" (Adelabu 1973), and "the most important resource in the pursuit of the general goals and objectives of the institution of higher learning" (Nwosu, 2000).

This study explores the information needs of faculty members in one of these private tertiary institutions and also looks for a significant difference between the information needs of faculty members in private and public universities.

Research questions:

* What is the academic rank of respondents?

* What are the information needs of faculty members in Nigerian private universities?

* What sources of information do faculty members rely on?

* What type of publications do faculty members in Nigerian private universities consult?

* What problems do lecturers in Nigerian private universities encounter when searching for information?

* How can the information needs of faculty members in private universities be met?

Madonna University

Madonna University is located at Okija, a few kilometers from the commercial and industrial town of Onitsha in the South-East zone of Nigeria. Because of the license secured from Nigeria's National Universities Commission (NUC) in 1999, Madonna University was the country's first private university and the first Catholic university in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Madonna University Library System (MULS) was established at the inception of the university. The MULS has been a part of the massive expansion and development of academic and infrastructure facilities of the university. The MULS presently has a five branches with a combined collection of 55,170 volumes, located on the Okija and Elele campuses.

The branches of MULS include:

* The main library with a total collection of 31,000 monographs, 464 periodical titles (2,300 volumes). It has a seating capacity of 250 readers and a floor space of 324 square meters.

* The Law Library has a total of 8,000 law books, 2,000 non-law books, and 1,600 volumes of 90 periodical titles. The seating capacity is 104 readers and the floor area is 132 square meters.

* The Medical Library holds about 6,120 medical texts and 865 volumes of 46 journal titles. The library has a seating capacity of 56 readers and a floor space of 176.27 square meters.

* The Library and Information Science Department Library has 850 monographs, 80 journals, 23 reading spaces, and a floor area of 88.135 square meters.

In addition to those branches on the main campus at Okija, the campus library at Elele has a collection of 7,200 books, 500 volumes of 64 titles of medical journals and 1,250 volumes of 23 titles of non-medical journals. The library accommodates about 96 readers in a useable floor area of 321.10 square meters.

Literature Review

Cronin (1981) says that research on library and information users improves understanding of the processes of information transfer. While the library provides services to diverse user-groups, Akinwunmi (1986) insists that "the services so provided should correspond, as closely as possible, to the needs of the users." Landau (1969) states that the reasons for user studies include: testing the usefulness of existing information resources and increasing the use of older works.

Beginning in the 1960s and even earlier, there has been an increasing volume of literature on user studies, information needs, and information seeking behaviour, which is a testimony to the importance of this topic. The literature is full of studies on the information needs of faculty. Mote (1962) looks at the reasons...

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