Resource sharing among law libraries: an imperative for legal research and the administration of justice in Nigeria.

Author:Ali, Hussaini


"The present race between knowledge and book production has made it impossible for any library, however big it may be, to acquire all the printed literature in the world even on the smallest area of the spectrum of knowledge, or to cope with even a fraction of the daily production of literature" (Sangal, 1984).

The traditional concept of ownership in collection development is gradually being replaced by access to information and knowledge without regard to location and format. Resource sharing among libraries has become the common desire and practice. Increase in the volume of library materials and information, the increasing costs of acquiring and processing them, the need for trained personnel, storage space, and the increasing demands by users are motivating factors for libraries to share books, journals, preprints, catalogues, list of publications, recent additions, newsletters, policy decisions, current events, news flash, etc.

Definition of Concepts

The terms "library cooperation", "library networking", library linkages", "library collaboration", "library consortia", "interlibrary loan", "document supply", "document delivery", "access services", are used interchangeably to describe formal and informal cooperation, partnership and resource sharing activities in libraries.

Walden (1999) defines resource sharing as "a term used to describe organized attempt by libraries to share materials and services cooperatively so as to provide one another with resources that might otherwise not be available to an individual institution. It represents an attempt to expand the availability of specialized, expensive, or just plain not-owned resources beyond the bounds of a single institution". Also the Provincial Resource Sharing Network Policy for Alberta Public Library Boards (2009) defined resource sharing as "the common use by two or more libraries of each other's assets, whether they are equipment, staff, knowledge and expertise, materials facilities, and/or information resources".

Law Libraries

Dada (1998) stated that "the law libraries are a special hybrid of the art of librarianship. Be it academic law libraries, court library, commercial houses law libraries, the in-houses law library and the ministry of justice law libraries; the primary objective of the collection is directed as servicing the research and information needs of the parent organization".

The term "legal research" lacks a consistent, concise and generally accepted definition. From a parochial perspective, legal research has to do with how to use a law library and the materials it contains. Wikipedia (2009) defined legal research as "the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. In its broadest sense, legal research includes each step of course of action that begins with an analysis of the facts of a problem and concludes with the application and communication of the results of the investigation". Chinch (2006) maintained that generally there are three steps of legal research. These are:

* identifying and analyzing a problem;

* finding appropriate information to solve the problem'

* presenting the result of the analysis and research in appropriate and effective manner.

Justice has to do with "moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law natural law fairness, religion and/or equity" (Wikipedia, 2009). Justice and how it is administered entails the "maintenance of administration of what is just by the law, as by judicial or other proceedings" (, 2009). The phrase "administration of justice" has therefore been used to denote the system of administering laws with the ultimate objective of doing justice to all people without fear or favour, affection or ill will.

A number of researches have been carried out on the need for resource sharing among libraries in Africa. Notable amongst them are Etim (2006) on resource sharing in the digital age: prospects and problems in African universities; Speirs (2006) on resource sharing in the digital age; Waiganjo (2006) on academic and public libraries partnership in sharing information through technology in Kenya and the role of the African virtual library; Agboola (2003) on information technology potentials for interlibrary loan and cooperation; Lamikanra (2003); Ikem and Nwalo (2002) on prospects for resource sharing among university libraries in Nigeria; Jalloh (1999) on library networking and consortia initiatives in Africa; De Kock (1997) on information technology infrastructure for resource sharing in Southern African academic information services; Edwards (1994) on library cooperation and resource sharing in South Africa; Rosenberg (1993) on resource sharing for Africa; Ubogu, et al., (1992) on library networks and resource sharing in Nigeria, etc.

It is evident that not much has been written on resource sharing among law libraries in Nigeria in particular, and Africa as a whole. This paper therefore presents the significance of resource sharing among libraries and states the need for law libraries to partake in this activity for the promotion of legal research and the administration of justice in Nigeria.

Brief History of Resource Sharing

THe Centre for Research Libraries was built in Chicago in the 1960s. This centre was to coordinate cooperation among 162 institutions to acquire; store and preserve less frequently used but very expensive research materials for the institutions need. In the 1970s costs of library materials began to go up while library budgets remained almost stagnant. As a result, in 1974 the Columbia, Harvard, and Yale research libraries and those of the New York Public Library founded the Research Libraries Group (RLG). This was born out of the belief that no library can...

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