Supervision of special collections in federal and state university libraries in Nigeria.

Author:Echezona, R.I.


Management is planning, organizing, and supervising in organisations or institutions like university libraries. There are several interpretations of the term "supervision," but typically supervisors oversee the productivity and progress of employees who report directly to them. For example first level supervisor supervise entry level employees. Supervision requires leadership, although leadership does not necessarily involve supervision (Mcnamara, 2008). Leader and supervisors may struggle because they have not mastered the fundamental structures and processes of leadership and supervision, including inspecting performance, instructing and guiding, correcting and advising staff.

In this study, special collections refers to information resources collected because of their special nature, rarity, type, subject, and origin. It includes United Nations publications, Africana, Archives, and Government publications. Love and Feather (1998) describe special collections as materials which are distinguished by their age, rarity, provenance, subject, or some other defining characteristic. The origin of modern special collections can be traced back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when book collecting was a private endeavour and the antiquarian book trade developed (Genest & Salter, 2003).

The future of special collections in federal and state Nigerian university libraries is threatened by inadequate collections, inaccessibility of information materials, inadequate space and facilities for staff and clients, lack of online databases, unavailability of document request. These worrisome problems persist due to the continued poor supervision of special collections (Okore, 1998; Onifade, 2006; and Asogwa, 2003), The problem of this study put as a question is: what supervisory styles have been adopted in managing special collections in federal and state university libraries in Nigeria?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to assess supervisory styles adopted in managing special collections in Nigerian federal and state university libraries. Specifically, the study is designed to assess the extent to which various approaches are adopted.

Literature Review

In this study, materials collected because they are primary sources, unique, and rare, are regarded as special collections. Sturges (1998) reviews the literature published about rare books and special collections worldwide. Issues covered include: the unique nature of the collections; access; preservation; dispersals, standards and ethics, staffing and training; and the role of bibliography and scholarship. According to Macnamara (2008), special collections professional provide management in varying roles and settings. Skills in managing people, resources, material, and projects are required. Adebayo (2009) emphasises the need for adequate manpower and facilities with peer group assessment to assure quality.

Usoro (2009) discusses the organising function, which is breaking down tasks into individual assignments, and delegation of authority to the supervisor of the unit. McKinzie (2000) describes a system of checks and balances in supervising materials, including special collections.

There are different kinds of supervision and styles of supervisory leadership. Gent and Kempster (2002) indicate three types of management styles: autocratic...

To continue reading