The practicality of resource sharing in academic law libraries in South-western Nigeria.

Author:Ogba, Chidinma Onwuchekwa

1.0. Introduction/Background to the Study

Resource sharing is ingrained in many libraries worldwide (PARMA University, 2004). It has been prevalent in the United States of America, Germany, Italy, Europe and Nigeria (PARMA University, 2004 and Abubakar, 2007). Its advancement is attached to activities which dictates its pace and relevance. For the purpose of this study, the historical background of resource sharing within and outside Nigeria is stated.

In the United States of America, resource sharing was initialised in 1880 as a cultural cooperation and activities among libraries in US (Alexander, cited in PARMA University, 2004). The cultural cooperation and subsequent activities focussed on distribution of bibliographic card catalogues and publication of LC subject heading. These activities were carried out in the Library of Congress. Gradually, mere cooperation in distribution of bibliographic card catalogues and publication of LC subject heading amalgamated into a consortium; this was in 1933 and later emerged as the currently known "resource sharing" in all its forms and interpretations; including both electronic and print based resource sharing. In 1990, this cooperation advanced and resources were shared through "Virtual Union Catalogue". While this was the background of resource sharing in the USA, in Germany, its background started in the context of law and was linked to Anglo-America(Alexander, cited in PARMA University, 2004).

The prevalent consortium in the US at the inception of resource sharing was beneficial. It facilitated a cooperation that resulted in sharing of the scarce expertise at that time; interlibrary loan of print resources, cooperation on resource sharing relating to limited subject areas, and cooperation geared at computerization of libraries in the United States.

In Nigeria, the history of resource sharing started in 1963 at the "National Library of Nigeria" (Abubakar, 2007). Its emergence was linked to the creation of "National Union Catalogue" for all the resources held in Nigerian libraries. This is likened to the history of resource sharing in the United States. Each of the 85 participating libraries sent a copy of their main entry catalogue cards to the National Library of Nigeria. Consecutively, another historical emergence on resource sharing covering serials/periodicals was also initiated (Abubakar, 2007). Thus serials/periodical resources became part of the National Union Catalogue. These were all in print format. The deposition of catalogue cards was the main form of resource sharing until 1977 when inter-library loan of books or resources were initiated (Abubakar, 2007). This initiation was pursuant to the recommendation by the "Interlibrary Lending Committee" (held at Ife) that a "Bibliographic Centre" be formed. Later in 1980, a move for a cooperative acquisition amongst libraries was initiated; however, this was not expensive as it stopped at the initialization stage. This shows that resource sharing is not alien to Nigeria and is assumed to be the order of the day ; but this is yet to be explored. However, there are issues within the Nigerian educational system which could have awoken collaborative sharing of resources among law libraries in Nigeria which include issues like inadequate funding of Nigerian Universities (Odunewe and Omagbemi,2008 and Komolafe-Opadeji,2011), lack of adequate human resources or expertise and the lack of quality resources(Ali and Owoeye,2010). This study is therefore explorative and has the aim of finding out the practicability of resource sharing in Nigerian law libraries with focus on 5 Universities in the south western part of Nigeria.

Dada (cited in Hussain, Ali and Owoeye, 2010) defines law libraries as "special hybrid of the art of librarianship". In this definition, he included court libraries, commercial houses law libraries, ministry of justice and any organisation that bears the name "Law". This definition would not be adopted as the definition of law libraries for this study as it would make this study derail from its focus since this study focuses on law libraries in academic institutions.

For the purpose of this study, a law library is defined as a special library within an academic environment; dedicated to providing legal resources and services to law lecturers, law students, and members of the legal profession.

Resource sharing was defined by Walden (cited in Hussain, Ali and Owoeye,2010) as " a term used to describe organised attempts 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". This would be adopted as the definition of resource sharing in this study. Therefore literatures would be reviewed under the following facets:

  1. The practicability of resource sharing.

  2. Platforms and opportunities available for resource sharing.

  3. The underlying factor behind lack of resource sharing amongst Nigerian law libraries.

    2.1. The Practicability of Resource Sharing.

    Plethora of literature have shown that librarians are aware of resource sharing and its attendant benefits but do not practise it (Abubakar,2007; Lawal, Bassey and Ani,2008; Ejadafiru,2010; Hussain, Ali and Owoeye,2010; Komolafe-Opadeji,2011 and Owolabi, Bamigboye, Agboola and Lawal,2011). In Owolabi, Bamigboye Agboola and Lawal(2011), admittance; which is permission given to law students from other institution to visit and use resources in another institution was ranked highest as a form of resource...

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