A survey of information resources required by Ulama to perform their work roles: a case study of Borno State, Nigeria.

Author:Abu Bakar, Ahmed Bakeri
Position:Case study


The shift in emphasis from the study of Information system to the Individual as the finder and user of information, has over the years received unprecedented attention among librarians and information professionals as indicated by the overwhelming number of researches carried out in the area. Various groups ranging from professionals to unskilled workers have been studied to identify their information needs with a view to providing them the right information in order to contribute their quota to the development of the society. One important professional group which has been playing, and will continue to play influential role in the life of individuals and the society that is not given corresponding attention is the Clergy. A search into the literature shows that between 1973 and 2008 a period of thirty-seven years, only seven major studies (Porcella 1973, Erdel 1978, Allen 1987, Tanner 1992, Phillips 1992, Wicks 1997, and Daniel 2008) were conducted on the information behavior of the clergy in different context. All the studies however were on Christian clergy and with the exception of Allen's which concentrated on developing countries of South America; all others were conducted in the United States and Canada.

Similarly, the paucity of literature in information behavior research in developing countries is further exposed by Dutta (2009). She reviewed studies conducted on information behavior of people in developing countries and lamented that "there are relatively small number of studies done on the information behavior of the citizens of developing countries, and the few studies concentrate on educated individuals and certain geographic areas of the urban population." In Nigeria the few includes Tiamiyu's (1990) study on the use of information sources in government institutions, Haruna and Mabawonku (2001) studied the information needs and seeking behavior of legal practitioners in Lagos State, Momodu (2002) investigated the information needs and seeking behavior of rural dwellers in Edo State, Nweke (2002) compared the information seeking and use of human and veterinary medical students of University of Maiduguri. Others include Njoku (2004) who examined the information needs and seeking behavior of fishermen in Lagos State, Hassan (2007) studied the information needs and gathering of medical practitioners, and Kamba (2009) investigated the information seeking behavior of school teachers in rural areas of Nigeria.

Despite the increasing interest in the information behavior of professionals as indicated by the large number of researches as illustrated above, Wicks (1997) lamented that the clergy as a professional group has not been adequately covered in terms of their information behavior. The situation is further compounded when viewed from the general perception the society has of the clergy as a conservative group which very little or nothing is known about the kinds of sources they prefer and the purposes for which they put the information to use.

It is in the light of the above that this study investigates the information behavior of Muslim clerics (Ulama) in relation to--What types of information sources they prefer?, and To what purposes do they use the information?, with particular reference to Borno State in Nigeria.

Borno State

Borno State is the largest of all the 36 States of Nigeria covering an area of 116,589 Square Kilometers and occupying the greater part of the Lake Chad Basin in the extreme North Eastern part of the Country. The State is highly pluralistic in its ethnic composition with Kanuri being the dominant ethnic group, and a rich and diverse cultural heritage. It has a population of 4.3 million, eighty percent (80%) of which are Muslims (Census 2006).

Historically, Kanem Borno was one of the great kingdoms of Central Sudan, otherwise known as Bilad al Sudan (the land of blacks) described by historians as the area stretching from Dafur in Sudan to the Lake Chad Region in the east, and the great bend of River Niger and the Western Coast of the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The region as rightly observed by Alkali (1989) is a dividing landmark between the Nile Valley and the Maghrib Al-Aqsa, extending from Egypt in the east to the Kingdom of Morocco in the west. Kanem Borno lies along the famous, stable, and ancient caravan routes which extended from West Africa and other parts of the Continent to Mecca. Numerous scholars (Doi 1984, Clerk 1982, Martin 1969, Smith 1971, and Boahen 1964) have variously stressed the...

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