The university library, information provision, and use by policymakers in Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Nigeria.

Author:Odunewu, Abiodun O.
Position:Case study


The concept of development is a universal one. Nyerere (1978:27) says development is the power of people to solve their own problems with their own wisdom, experience, and resources, with a view to eliminating poverty, pestilence, and starvation. In accomplishing this, reliable human resources remain the backbone of any nation's development.

Adedeji (1998:7), supporting this view says:

Human development is the process of increasing knowledge, skills and capacities of all the people in any society.... capacity to face the future, master the probable and manage the unpredictable. Akinleye (2002:63) writes that

Human resources constitute the ultimate basis for wealth of nations, capital and natural resources are passive factors to accumulate capital, exploit natural resources, build social, economic and political organizations and carry forward national development. Clearly, a country which is unable to develop the skills and knowledge of its people, to utilize them effectively in natural economy will be unable to develop anything else. Universities exist with the aim of advancing the frontiers of knowledge. They help to enlarge human choices, skills and capabilities, by developing human resources.

The traditional functions of Universities include teaching, research and community service as well as knowledge preservation (Ifidon 1985:89).

Okiy (1998), referring to Aguolu (1983) identifies six main functions of Nigerian Universities as:

* Conservation of knowledge

* Pursuit, promotion and dissemination of knowledge through teaching

* Advancement of knowledge through research, pure, applied and development oriented.

* Provision of intellectual leadership.

* Development of human resources for meeting manpower needs.

* Promotion of social and economic modernization.

In order to carry out these responsibilities efficiently, Universities need reliable and effective policy making body as well as an effective implementing body. Onye (1998:3) citing Anafulu (1996) posits that a typical university has hierarchical structures, official decision-making processes, institutional policy, routines, etc., to achieve its goals. There are governing bodies within the university structure. UNECA (1996:6) says governance is "the process through which institutions, businesses, and citizens' groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations, and mediate their differences."

The Olabisi Onabanjo University, a state-owned public university, statutorily has governing bodies which work to define, refine, and actualize its goals. These policymaking bodies are:

(i) The University Governing Council

(ii) The University Senate.

The University Governing Council is headed by the Pro Chancellor as Chairman, with the Registrar serving a Secretary. It consists of members representing various interests outside the university appointed by the visitor and other university community members representing specific interests. The Vice Chancellor is an important member.

The University Senate basically consists of internal university members, headed by the Vice Chancellor, with the Registrar as Secretary. The Council and Senate have oversight of the day to day running of the university through the Vice Chancellor who is the link between these two bodies and the university community. The Vice Chancellor as the leader of the university's management team translates and executes policies formulated by the two bodies.

Tiamiyu (2002:32) opines that at all levels of human needs, individuals require information about the nature and extent of their needs and about the resources they can harness in meeting these needs.

The university's policymaking requires timely and unhindered access to information to ensure adequate and positive decision- making and implementation. The basic requirement for good governance is unhindered access to quality information.

The university library is the part of the university with the responsibility for selecting, acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating needed information, to meet the mandates of the university. Onye (1998:5) says:

Librarianship's main purpose is to promote effective academic action through making knowledge available through efficient bibliographic control and through a rapid and effective dissemination of information ... Information itself is of little value until is disseminated and used to create new knowledge. The role of academic libraries is therefore central in the business of knowledge creation.

Machlup (1962:52) pioneered the idea of adding economic value to information. He invented the phrase "knowledge industries" to refer to the growing prominence of education, information, and research and development (R&D).

Drucker (1968:13) came up with the concept of "knowledge economy"; while Bell (1973) and Cronin (1983) as cited by Tiamiyu (2002:30) wrote on "post Industrial society" which is described as the replacement of raw energy or muscle power from industrial to "knowledge Industries".

Tiamiyu (2002:41) referring to Cogburn and Adeya(1999), Mansell and When(1999) writes that:

Regardless of the academic debates, one thing that is reasonably clear is that both information and knowledge, in the widest sense, are becoming fundamental components of socioeconomic development. Globally, investment in intangible goods and services is growing much more rapidly than investments in physical goods and services. Also nations endowed with greater knowledge and information resources are becoming more competitive. Information plays an indispensable role in achieving goals. This assumes a higher dimension if one considers information use by a university's policymaking bodies. The relationship between them and the information managing institution-the library-is closely linked.

Aiyepeku (1997:2) equates information with capital, labour, and material. He also likens information to money and power, which make the difference among people and nations. Stanley (1990:6) submits that information is a basic human need, after air, water, food...

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