Training and Development Issues: Evidence form Polytechnic Libraries in Ghana.

Author:Asante, Edward


Academic libraries are set up in academic setting solely to support teaching, learning and research. They are the core of the academic set up because; they stock information resource that is relevant to the various disciplines being pursued in the institution. A Polytechnic library is a library set up by the institution to support learning, teaching and research. This is mainly through collaboration with faculty for the provision of recommended and relevant text to support the various disciplines in the institution. A typical Polytechnic library is equivalent to that of a tertiary library because the Polytechnic is a tertiary institution (Ministry of Education, 2003).The personnel in the Polytechnic library environment are professionals of higher academic qualification in library science and librarianship ranging from Doctorate, Masters to Diploma and Certificate levels.

According to Castelyn (2007) all libraries aim to have efficient staff in order to provide a good library service to the public they hope to serve, whether that readership is using a public, university, school or private library. Training and development therefore, is of the utmost importance in the library field, although each library organization must decide for itself what it means by a desired state of efficiency, as requirements will alter from library to library and country to country. However, the training and development should be designed to ensure efficient performance to the dual benefit of the library system and the users. Training and development of staff is crucial both in developed and developing countries. It is appropriate in an extremely sophisticated library system using the most up-to-date computer methods and equally appropriate in a library system that may only recently have been established.

Castelyn (2007) added that it must be recognized that libraries are labour-intensive and that staff are an expensive commodity, usually taking up to 60% of the budget in the form of salaries, which represents a sizeable amount of public or private expenditure. The motivation of staff and the efficient organization of a library system are two of the primary functions of a good library manager and should involve the proper use of training. It is also an economic necessity to have staff fully operational as soon as possible. Staff training and development should therefore be orientated towards the libraries' needs and services but should not ignore the requirements of the individual member of staff, either for the present or the future.

Castelyn (2007) was also of the view that a trained staff able to exploit the book stock means a more satisfied readership at all levels. The readers must be able to feel confident in the member of staff who may be dealing with them. This confidence means that readers will return again to borrow books and to ask for information from the library staff. Here the knowledge of the individual staff member plays an important part, for the staff, even if they have only a basic education, must be knowledgeable about the tasks they perform on a daily basis and must have a sound understanding of the organization in which they are working. Training and development will enable them to participate more intelligently in the work of the library. They must know why they are asked to operate certain procedures and what will happen if they make mistakes.

According to Mathis and Jackson (2000) training is the process by which employees acquire capabilities to aid in the achievement of organizational goals, hence the need for training and development activity to help in the achieving of the goals of academic libraries which is the total satisfaction of the clients. In a limited sense, training provides employees with specific, identifiable knowledge, and skills for use in their present jobs. Sometimes a distinction is drawn between training and development, with development being broader in scope and focusing on individual gaining new capabilities, useful for both present and future jobs. However, for the purpose of this work training and development are adopted as one activity.

According to McClelland (2002), the significance and value of training and development has long been recognized. The exponential growth in technology with its effect on the economy and society at large, the need for training and development is more pronounced than ever especially in social institutions like the academic library. Training and development in the most simplistic definition, is an activity that changes people's behaviour. Increased productivity is often said to be the most important reason for training and development. Training and development is essential not only to increase productivity but also to motivate and inspire workers by letting them know how important their jobs are and giving them all the information they need to perform those jobs of which librarian and library staff are not exempted (McClelland, 2002).

Olaniyan and Ojo (2008) added that training and development can solve a variety of manpower problems, which militate against optimal productivity in institutions. These can be summarized as increasing productivity, increasing the quality of work and raise morale of personnel, helping to develop new skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes for work, using rightly new tools and machines, processes and methods, reducing waste, accidents, turnover, lateness, absenteeism, and other overhead costs in organizations, implement new or changed policies or regulations, fighting obsolescence in skills and technologies, Increasing performance which meets the standard of performance for the job, developing replacements schedules, preparing people for advancement, improving manpower deployment and ensuing continuity of leadership and ensuing the survival and growth of the institutions in all times (Olaniyan & Ojo, 2008).

Third world academic libraries are not 'islands' in the information world. There is the need for them to move with the rest of the world, in the provision of quality information. As stated by an Australian born voluntary librarian, "we have to come into the world of technology sometime, otherwise we shall be left behind by the big countries" (Partridge, 1998).

According to Nabuyanda (2006), nowadays librarians and library staff task have broadened with added responsibilities placed on them by the demands of the diverse research needs of the clients. They are challenged to be open minded and approachable to queries while knowing how to satisfy the information needs of the client. A lot of current issues including information on HIV/AIDs, terrorism, environmental matters, politics and sport will be brought to their attention. Much as each individual library surveyed has their own unique features of information provided to the users depending on the type of courses provided, there are a lot of similarities in the challenges being faced. From the assertions above, it is obvious that training and development, no matter the level of the staff in an institution or organization is an important tool to enhance the performance level and increase productivity as well as coping with new challenges of which staff of Polytechnic libraries are key stakeholders. The absence of training and development activity usually tend to affect the quality of service, professional career development and seemingly affecting productivity in the libraries including the Polytechnic libraries.

  1. Statement of Problem

For the library personnel to be able to cope with the changing trends of teaching, learning and research, there is the need for relevant training and development activity on regular basis. It is basically accepted that training and development has come to stay in most institutions, Polytechnic libraries in Ghana are no exception. Academic libraries have usually been seen as custodians of books and journals for the academia but the challenge that is arising out of globalization and information technology is that the third world academic library has to provide up-to-date information which will benefit the clients both now and in the future (Cotta-Schonberg, 2005). It is therefore appropriate for all academic libraries to upgrade their staff to enable them fit into the global world. This means that there is the need for adequate training and development programmes in all academic libraries including the Polytechnic libraries through thoughtful and well defined needs analysis. However, it seems there is lack of training and development programmes in most Polytechnic libraries in Ghana. This may affect the delivery of quality services, professional career development and seemingly affecting productivity in the Polytechnic libraries in Ghana. This implies that when the personnel of the library are exposed to training and development activity, they can contribute their quota to the process of teaching, learning and research because they would be abreast with current trends in the profession. It was for these challenges that the researcher decided to conduct this study to assess the training and development programmes in the Polytechnic libraries in Ghana. Furthermore, the literature reviewed indicated that most of the researches (Yeboah & Antwi, 2001; Alemna, 2001; Abba & Dawha, 2009; Ajidahun, 2007; Adanu, 2006), conducted were all based on training and development of the library staff in Universities. It is against this background that the researchers consider it important to conduct a study of this kind in the Polytechnic libraries in Ghana.

3.0 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the research is to assess the training and development programmes in Polytechnic libraries in Ghana with a view of identifying possible problems and making the necessary recommendations for their resolution.


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