The role of academic library in facilitating graduate and post graduate students: the case of the University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

Author:Khan, Amjid

Introduction and Background of the Study

The university library has a prominent role to play in supporting higher education to fulfill objectives of its parent body. Students in higher education are to be provided with the facilities necessary for mastering the subject matter, techniques, skills, habits of thought, and methods of work in their chosen field. Classroom instructions alone will not provide all the opportunities needed for attaining all these complex educational objectives. It is here that the libraries come to help the students. The university library is a collection of sources, services and the building in which it is housed. It provides access to various resources in order to support teaching, learning and research activities (Vishala & Bhandi, 2009). In academic institutes both academicians as well researchers mostly depend on the library resources and facilities. No doubt a quick and easy access to such resources accelerates both academic and research activities more effectively. According to Krolak (2005), a university library assist in finding, using and interpreting appropriate information that opens up opportunities for lifelong learning, literacy enhancement, informed citizenship, creative imagination, individual research, critical thinking, and ultimately, empowerment in an increasingly complex world. This equitable access to information is essential to enable educated and informed citizens to participate in a democratic global community. University is a community of scholars and students engaged in the task of seeking truth.

The university library also supports the course curriculum and assesses the researchers to extend their research work and create new knowledge successfully (Higham, 1980). Furthermore, Young and Belanger (1983) defines university library as: "a library, or system of libraries, established, supported and administered by a university to meet the information needs of its students, faculty and support its instructional research and service programs". These services are needed to enable an individual to develop full potentials and extend the horizons of perception, interests and skills. Khan and Bhatti (2012) noted that academic institutes could not achieve its twin task of spreading knowledge and extending its research progress till it has not first provided itself to enrich library resources and services. On the other hand, to offer quality information services, the university authority should have a cyclic and systematic evaluation policy in order to maintain and to further improve the quality of services to meet the information needs of users. According to Hussain and Abalkhail (2013), evaluation of the quality of library services could be achieved by taking feedback from users as they are the best judges to quality. It also assists to indicate the performance of the services provided for the library users. The role of a university library is obviously to meet the research and information needs of its community. If we look at the functioning of a university in the developed world, they manage to provide their clients with local and remote access to collections in all kinds of formats. This is not the case in the less developed countries like Pakistan. The university library collections have been based mainly on books and then serial publications like newspapers, magazines and journals (Ameen, 2005; Bhatti, September 2008).

Central Library University of Peshawar

The University of Peshawar, established in 1950, is the mother University of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. It is situated about 10 Kilometers North-West from the city center on the main Grand Trunk road leading towards Torkham (Pak-Afghan Boarder also called the Durand Line). It ranks as the 5th best university of Pakistan in the Higher Education Commission (HEC) ranking list. It has presently 6 faculties run by a teaching faculty of 592, three campuses, five constituent colleges, three constituent schools and over 14000 on campus students. The Central Library of the University of Peshawar is the largest and richest library in the Province. The existing four story building, with an area of 16000 sq. ft. (approx.) is located near the Administration Block, University of Peshawar. The library provides services and facilities to the staff and students. In addition to the usual stock, it houses a good Oriental Collection of valuable and rare books and manuscripts. The philanthropists of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have donated a number of collections on local history and tribal customs and traditions. Computer, internet and email facilities are available. The library is being completely refurbished and soon its operations will be digitalized. The Central Library of the University of Peshawar has been declared an official United Nations (UN) Library, which is one of the seven UN depository libraries. Publications and official UN texts are placed in a separate section called the UN repository section. The library regionally coordinates and facilitates the scholars with the HEC digital library access program, e-brary USA, along with other facilities (University of Peshawar, 2012). Regarding the library collections, University of Peshawar library is reported as the richest library in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa comprised of a total collection of 162570 which is 24% of the total collection of the all Public Sector University (PSU) libraries of KP. The library contains 700 manuscripts of the middle ages. There are 07 professional, 05 paraprofessional, 30 non-professional and 04 automation and digitization staff for the operations of the library activities (University of Peshawar, 2012).

Review of Literature

The provision of quality services in university libraries is considered a major issue university library circles. Librarians see the library more in terms of the provision of and access to service quality than as just a physical place. Technology and automation have also changed the way people perceive libraries. Fewer and fewer professors and students go to the library. They access the internet to collect information instead of using the library in the traditional way (Albanese & Oder, 2002; Herring, 2001). As a result, the role of libraries and librarians is also changing. Librarian themselves have been re-evaluating their role as reflected in many discussions and papers. They emphasize the provision of good library service as more important to the user than the mere physical library building. This perspective is evident in several studies conducted in Pakistani context (Bhatti, 2009; Kanwal, 2006; Khan & Ahmed, 2013; Khan & Bhatti, 2012; Rehman, Shfique, & Mahmood, 2011; Shan & Shaheen, 2013). Bhatti (September 2008) identified that "Pakistani universities have to meet global academic standards and inculcate universal academic values; on the other hand, they have to respond to the peculiar demands and needs of their community".

To start with, the investigator began literature search and collected selected documents on the topic of the research and related fields. For this purpose, Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertation (NDLTD) along with printed and online library science journals/Books were used as sources of information. The review of the related literature helped the investigator to identify previous and present studies on the same or similar topics and assisted the researcher to properly understand the issues involved in the present study in the right perspective.

Popoola (2008) surveyed the faculty awareness and use of library information resources and services in South-West Nigerian universities by using a systematic random sampling technique. A Sample of 446 faculty members (out of 4,459 populations) was selected with a response rate of 89.7% (400). The study found a significant difference in faculty awareness of available library information resources and services. They had a lack of sufficient knowledge with those resources and services that were pertinent to their teaching and research activities. The study indicated that one hundred and ninety respondents rarely used these resources. They were not aware of how to use them effectively. In addition, those who were fully aware, but occasionally used it, claimed that the libraries lacked current materials and good customer relations.

Arif and Mahmood (2010) examined the satisfaction level of users with the central library collection and services at Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) Islamabad, Pakistan. A semi-structured questionnaire was used as a data collection tool from the subjects of the study...

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