Students' perception of digital library services: a case study of International Islamic University, Malaysia.

Author:Bagudu, Amina Adamu
Position::Case study


Traditional libraries in the print based environment were guided by the objective of linking users who needed information to the sources that had the information. Most of their work was done without the use of information technology and was time consuming depending on the nature of the search. Nowadays the scenario has changed with greater use and application of information and communication technology (ICT) especially in libraries. As more and more information sources become available online, many university libraries are introducing digital service. The aim of these services is to broaden the range of information resources available and to add value to their content by making them accessible through digital means so that students, researchers, and the entire members of the university community can access them anytime and anywhere. Chowdhury and Margariti (2004) further pointed out that the introduction and development of the Internet and its associated Web technologies in the past decade have significantly influenced both the way libraries provide information services to their users and the way users choose to access information. Academic libraries are now trying to meet the needs of the academic and research community by improving their services and enhancing their resources. One of the means is the provision of digital library collection. A successful strategy to enhance exploitation of resources is to ensure users' awareness about the existence of a particular service such as the current technologies in libraries which are meant to promote service efficiency and effectiveness.

The Evolution of Digital library system

Computer-based automation was initially incorporated into library operations as a mechanism for handling the routine functions of running a library such as circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, interlibrary loan and serials control (Fecko, 1997). Since the 1990s, technology has continued to develop, often faster than library professionals can convincingly cope with. Additionally, the availability of the Internet has brought about dramatic changes in libraries, especially institutional libraries, in terms of how they collect, organize and disseminate information. Perceptions of digital libraries vary and evolve over time, and many definitions for digital libraries have been proposed. The concept of a digital library means different things to different people. Even the key players in the development and use of digital libraries have different understanding of digital libraries. To librarians, a digital library is another form of a physical library; to computer scientists, a digital library is a distributed text-based information system or a networked multimedia information system; to end users, digital libraries are similar to the World Wide Web (www) with improvements in performance, organization, functionality, and usability (Fox, Akscyn, Furuta, & Leggett, 1995). Borgman (1999) added that two competing visions of digital libraries stimulate more discussions on the definition of a digital library by researchers and practitioners. The common elements of a digital library definition identified by the Association of Research Libraries (1995) are more acceptable to researchers of digital libraries, thus:

* The digital library is not a single entity.

* The digital library needs technology to connect the resources of many networks.

* The linkages amongst the many digital libraries and information services are clear to the end users.

* The goal is to provide universal access to digital libraries and information services

* Digital library collections are not restricted to document surrogates: they include digital artifacts that can-not be embodied or disseminated in printed format.

The technology that is continuously changing in today's digital age has made academic libraries to update and improve their present services and systems to ensure that their products or services meet the students demand for information. Xia (2003) reported that the introduction of modern information technology and information resources in a dynamic digital format has made libraries to introduce changes in the way they provide access. Information is circulated much more quickly over the Internet and patrons are able to access the latest versions of information resources almost as soon as they become available (Fecko, 1997). One of the results of the application of information technology in libraries is the coming of the digital library especially in academic environment. Today many university libraries offer electronic information resources to their users in order to satisfy their information needs. However for this effort to be successful the users need to be aware and have access to such collection and services as well.

Evolution of Digital Library in Malaysia

The launching of the World Digital library in April in 2009 is the beginning of the confirmation to the world the digital library has come to stay. Despite the limited writings on Malaysian digital library initiatives, still local libraries efforts towards automation have begun all the way back in 1978 with the MALMARC project before the culminating in the Malaysian national digital library initiative in1999 through the PERDANA project Norasi (2010). In the making of such attempts to realizing the importance of the digital library development, studies and investigation in order to understands the readiness of the traditionally based Malaysian libraries to transfer from traditional based to digital contents, through the extent of library automation and digital library initiatives, putting into consideration both the general and the digital library problems and the perceived condition of the future growth. Among some components that were considered at that period were demography, library holdings, automation, digitization projects, as well as the digital library use among uses. And the result of the Noasia revealed that there was gap between Malaysia library initiatives, most of which were done independently. However, Many Malaysian libraries had carried out some digitization initiatives, especially at various institutions and at national levels, but still needed more coordinated efforts to take it to greater length.

Harun. (2006) investigated the use, perceived usefulness and satisfaction with electronic resources among the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge (KIRK) and Kulliyyah of Information and Communication Technology (KICT) postgraduate students. The author used written close-ended and open-ended questionnaire as an instrument in collecting data and other information required. The results of the research shows that OPAC was the most regularly used one among E-resources provided by the IIUM library. And the research also discovered that the respondents perceived ER as useful.

Saoudi (2001) reported "The use of internet by IRKHS faculty members". The main focus of this study was to examine the Internet use by the IRKHS faculty members. The study concentrated on the analysis of the level of Internet services use by the academic staff for educational and learning purposes. A special attention was given to the examination of the main factors which influenced the rate of internet use as well as the problems associated with the use of internet facilities. The study also looked at the possibilities of promoting Internet use by staff members.

However, none of the above approaches has investigated students' perceptions on the digital library services as well as the usage level among the engineering student. The current objective was to investigate these and related issues.

The Role of Digital library in learning and research

The digital revolution has brought dramatic changes to information storage, access, and retrieving processes. The creation of digital libraries has made an essential impact on the teaching and learning process. Digital libraries facilitate information services for students, independent of time and place. This is much needed, especially if active learning styles become a common...

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