Information repackaging and library services: a challenge to information professionals in Nigeria.

Author:Iwhiwhu, Enemute Basil


Library services, including the packaging and repackaging of information, have been provided in Nigeria for many decades. Technological advancement has posed challenges which call for changes in library services. Information is a driving force in contemporary society. Libraries exist to serve as many people as possible, disseminating information, preserving culture, and contributing to intellectual and social life.

Library services tend to focus on means rather than ends (Buckland, 1992). This may cause confusion and reduce satisfaction for users. With several alternative sources of information, many library users have turned their backs on the library. For information professionals, the focus must shift from the information provider to the information consumer (clientele). Consumers' needs must guide organizational strategy (Kunneke, 2001). Libraries in higher education in Nigeria must complete migration from traditional library services to electronic formats and remote access. Electronic library materials differ significantly from traditional media. In particular, unlike paper and microform, it is possible to make electronic media available so that they

* Can be used from a distance,

* Can be used by more than one person at a time, and

* Can be used in more different ways.

Repackaging is not a new idea, but changes in information technology have enhanced the process, creating the potential for better serve.

Theoretical Framework

Stilwell et al. (2001) note that the meaning of repackaging information or information repackaging (IR) is unclear. Saracevic and Woods (1981) and Bunch (1984) were the first to use the term in their publications in describing how an information service selects appropriate materials, reprocessing and packaging the information, and arranging materials in a way that is appropriate to the user. These studies focused on scientific and technical information and on community information. Those two types of information and the communities that use them are still the basis for information repackaging today, which is part of both rural development and highly industrialized settings.

Packaging is the bundling of products and services to address specific needs. It can be done by:

* Reformatting and synthesizing raw information;

* Combining expertise or consulting on a subject with access to relevant information sources;

* Providing training or assistance to a user in accessing an information product.

Quantum Dialog (2004) note that to add value to a product, the information provider must understand the types of information access problems most frequently encountered. Based on this knowledge, packaging can add value or services that are not readily available elsewhere. Person-to-person communication is one important form of repackaging. Sturges and Neill (1998) argue that people prefer personal contact as means of acquiring practical information.

In the information age, information overload can occur. Information repackaging can save time, labour, and costs to the user. It is a systematic process of adding value to information services (Greer, Agada and Grover, 1994). This is in line with the shift from documents to their contents and from collections to their users.

Repackaging can take many forms. Popular theatre is one familiar form that is connected with popular culture and indigenous knowledge systems. Drama, storytelling, and the use of songs are examples suggested by Rosenberg (1987). The present technology of integrated text, graphics, and media facilitates this kind of repackaging. Rosenberg discusses this kind of repackaging in providing information to illiterate or semi-literate people in the southern Sudan. She states that librarians have long been involved in repackaging information for their clients and that the measurement of a library's effectiveness is the extent to which its collection has been put to use. Boadi (1987) notes abstracting and indexing, SDI, translation services, bibliographies, special bulletins, and other...

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