THE USE AND APPLICATION OF OPEN SOURCE INTEGRATED LIBRARY SYSTEM IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES IN NIGERIA: KOHA EXAMPLE.

Author:Uzomba, Emeka Christian
 
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Introduction

The importance of integrated systems in library activities such as cataloguing, circulation, acquisition and serials management, etc is no longer debatable as libraries all over the world have realized the need to move from their manual practices into integrated systems and networked operations. Prior to computerization, library tasks were performed manually and independently from one another. Selectors ordered materials with ordering slips, cataloguers manually catalogued items and indexed them with the card catalog system (in which all bibliographic data was kept on a single index card), and users signed books out manually, indicating their name on cue cards which were then kept at the circulation desk. With the advent of computers, academic libraries in Nigeria are shifting from their isolated past into integrated systems and networked operations. The application of ICT to almost all spheres of life is no longer a new phenomenon. As Khalid (2000) observes, "networked and integrated functions draw on the experiences of the evolution of libraries in developed countries." Academic libraries in Nigeria are trying their best to catch up with their counterparts in the developed world. Omeluzor, Adara, Ezinwayi, Bamidele, and Umahi (2012) stated that "the pursuit for excellence in all aspects of a university educational system made it imperative for universities around the world to rise up to their responsibilities". If a librarian is to deliver prompt and adequate services to the clients, he/she must adapt to the changing environment and the use of current software to manage library routine activities.

An integrated library system (ILS), also known as a library management system (LMS), is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed. An ILS usually comprises a relational database, software to interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for patrons, one for staff). (Wikipedia, 2012) Most integrated library separate software functions into discrete programs called modules, each of them integrated with a unified interface. Muller (2011) stated that "integrated library systems (ILS) are multifunction, adaptable software applications that allow libraries to manage, catalog and circulate their materials to patrons". In choosing ILS software, libraries must base their decision not only on the performance and efficiency of the system, but also on its fundamental flexibility to readily adapt to the future demands and needs of their patrons. There are different types of integrated library system software that have been adopted by various academic libraries in Nigeria. Agboola (2000) stated that "the greatest impetus to library automation in Nigerian university libraries so far has come from a World Bank project". The World Bank gave automation in the university libraries as one of its conditions for support. As a result, the National University Commission (NUC) presented one microcomputer and a four-user local area network version of the TINLIB (The information Navigator) software to each of the 20 participating libraries in 1992. With this, some of the first generation universities in Nigeria started with TINLIB software. However, they could not continue with this particular software due to some technical problems. Experience has shown that very many libraries in Nigeria run into one problem or the other due to the wrong choice of library software. Obajemu, Osagie, Akinade, and Ekere (2013) stated that "some of the first generation universities in Nigeria started with TINLIB software but they could not continue due to some technical difficulties, maintenance problem, poor revision policy and the prohibitive cost of processing and maintaining it". Therefore, the reports highlighted above coupled with the experiences academic libraries in Nigeria faced in the wrong choice of library software necessitated the adoption of Koha open source integrated system by the researchers in this current study.

According to Projektlink (2010) and Wikipedia (2012), "Koha is the first open-source integrated library software (ILS) in use worldwide by public, school and special libraries which its development was steered by a growing community of libraries and users collaborating to achieve their technological goal". Koha sets the standard for open-source integrated library automation systems. In use worldwide, its development is steered by a growing community of libraries collaborating to achieve their technology goals. Koha user's interface is very configurable and adaptable which has been translated into many languages. It has most of the features that would be expected in an ILS, including simple clear interface for librarians and members (patrons), union catalog facility, customizable search, circulation and borrower management, serials system for magazines or newspapers among others (Wikipedia, 2012). Since the original implementation, Koha has been adopted by thousands of libraries worldwide, each adding features and functions, deepening the capability of the software. Omeluzor, et al (2012) stated that "since the original implementation, Koha has been adopted by thousands of libraries worldwide, each adding features and functions, deepening the capability of the software". Therefore, this study will serve a very useful purpose for academic libraries in Nigeria in particular, and their counterparts across the globe in general. This current study will serve as a viable, scalable solution for libraries of all kinds. The flexibility and friendly nature of the software will enable users maximize their gains in the search for information. Koha's impressive feature set will continue to evolve to meet the needs of its user-base.

Statement of the problem

It is not surprising that today; the discussion of ICT plays dominant roles in library activities. Integrated library system has become imperative due to the evolution of information technologies. In today's world of a highly connected public, the capabilities of the integrated library system determine the library's ability to deliver relevant services. Open source ILS products are making great strides in adoption in libraries across the globe, including Nigerian University libraries. Many literatures have existed on open source integrated library system such as: "Open Source Integrated Library Systems" (Breeding, 2009), "How to Choose a Free and Open Source Integrated Library System" (Muller, 2011), "Library Automation and Use of Open Source Software to Maximize Library Effectiveness" (Ukachi, Nwachukwu and Onuoha, 2014), etc. However, the use and application of Koha integrated library system in academic libraries has been found wanting. The importance and viability of this Koha library software makes it very imperative to be adopted by libraries that strives to better serve the interest of their users. Hence, this gave rise to the study. This work will guide the libraries, especially academic libraries to make the right choice in adopting open source library of their choice. Koha has been proven to be the most reliable open source alternative for libraries. The work will also guide the librarians to better serve the interest of their teeming users in the pursuit for information. The open and friendly nature of the software will help the users to navigate and maximize their search for information.

Objectives of the Study

The general objective of the study is to look at the use and application of open source integrated system in academic libraries in Nigeria, using Koha as a case study.

The specific objectives of the study are as follows:

  1. To find out the justifications for the adoption of open source software.

  2. To determine the extent of use of Koha integrated software in the libraries

  3. To ascertain the number of I.C.T facilities put in place in the libraries studied.

  4. To find out the problems encountered with the use of open source software in the libraries.

  5. To recommend possible solutions to these problems.

    Research Questions

    The study is guided by the following research questions:

  6. What are the justifications for the adoption of open source software?

  7. What is the extent of use of Koha integrated software in your library?

  8. What are the I.C.T facilities put in place in your library?

  9. What are the problems encountered with the use of Open source software in your library?

  10. What are the possible solutions to these problems?

    Literature Review

    The term Integrated Library System (ILS), also known as Library Management System (LMS) can be used to describe the software that automates the many activities in the library. It is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed items in the library (Wikipedia, 2012). This common application is tied together with data residing in common databases (as much as possible) that are related to many different tasks. Muller (2011) stated that "integrated library systems (ILS) are multifunction, adaptable software applications that allow libraries to manage, catalog and circulate their materials to patrons". In choosing ILS software, libraries must base their decision not only on the performance and efficiency of the system, but also on its fundamental flexibility to readily adapt to the future demands and needs of their patrons. According to Breeding (2012), "The Integrated Library System, or ILS, provides computer automation for all aspects of the operation of a library. These products are generally organized into modules that address specific functional areas". Standard modules include cataloging for creating bibliographic records that represent works in the library's collection, circulation that automates tasks related to loaning items to patrons, serials control for managing periodicals and serials, acquisitions to handle...

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