USE OF OPEN SOURCE TECHNOLOGY FOR EFFECTIVE ACADEMIC LIBRARIES SERVICES IN NIGERIA.

Author:Njoku, Ifeoma S.
Position:Report
 
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1.0 INTRODUCTION

The development in the field of information technology (IT) is rapidly changing academic library services. The need for open source technology in library activities such as acquisition, cataloguing, circulation, serials and reports management all over the world is gaining grounds as libraries are moving from traditional practice to electronic system. The Web based information access of all kinds available free has made open source technology an indispensable research and learning environment. The term open source software has recently witnessed a variety of definitions. For example, the open source presents an open-source philosophy, and further defines a boundary on the usage, modification and redistribution of open-source software, software licenses grant rights to users which would otherwise be prohibited by copyright. These include rights on usage, modification and redistribution (Randhawa, 2012). Reddy and Kumar (2013) define it as computer software whose source code, free distribution and no discrimination against field of knowledge is available under a license such as public domain. On the other hand, Santos, Kuk, Kon and Pearson (2013) elaborately argued that open source software is software that provides access to the source code, meaning that users are free to see how the product is made, h right to modify the product code, update to different versions, resell the new product with the guarantee that they must also provide their source code. Modifying the product and redistribution are the two main components of open source software (Muir, 2005).

The question is "If open source is so splendid what is stopping libraries in Nigeria immediately becoming open source"? Part of the answer is that the awareness of open source technology is still new in Nigeria but the challenge is much more than integration but of individuals and organisational lack of technological skill, knowledge and passive attitude towards the use of technology for effective information service delivery. Also is of the library management to device ways to use open source software effectively to absorb the inevitable changes and to create the required technological environment frameworks. To make fundamental changes in the system requires interrelated shifts from the traditional to technological approach to library operations especially in the acquisition, cataloguing, circulation and serial management. Academic library users in Nigeria face difficulties because of the traditional nature of provision of information services and so do not fit into the prevailing information knowledge community globally. The open source technology has provided an opportunity in the context of open accessibility of knowledge and nurturing knowledge valuable to library users. The role of the librarian has changed so that it goes hand in hand with the implementation of these new technologies. Bolan and Cullin (2007) explained that information professionals need to address these technological advances in order to meet the new goals and challenges of the twenty-first century. Nigerian academic libraries and librarians should key in beyond boundaries with the aim of making information free for teaching, learning and research.

In that respect therefore, academic libraries in Imo state are expected to provide all necessary information services that best meet the information needs of their clients in this 21st century. Unfortunately however, Okiy (2011) lamented the gross under funding of universities which has adverse effect on the library development and subsequently, the services they could offer. The use of information technology in academic libraries measures the worth of an item to a library or information system. Use is therefore, the reason which could be used to determine the reason for open access of a library resources and use is important in determining the type of services needed for in the development effort of the library. Use also justifies the need for institutions to adequately finance their libraries or face dwindling library services. Thus, the need for open source technology integrated library services so that academic libraries in Imo State can join the world information community in the free access movement.

1.1. PROBLEM OF THE STUDY

Open software is the latest trend in integrated library management of acquisition, cataloguing, serial services, circulation control and report management. However, many of the academic libraries in Nigeria are focusing on automation but are not aware of the use and benefits of open source technology such as Koha, Dspace and Joomla in information management despite its numerous advantages. Academic libraries in Nigeria that have introduced automation and integrated library systems made use of proprietary software such as Alice and Alexandra. This is because library management and librarians do not have knowledge about the open source software and how it works. Taking into consideration that funding of academic libraries is a big problem in Nigeria given the dwindling economic state of the Nation. The problem of this study is for academic libraries to adopt and key into open source technology movement. This is because the use of open source will create a window of effective information management and dissemination in academic libraries in Imo State Nigeria.

1.2. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the use of open source technology in academic library in Imo State.

The specific objectives of the study are:

--Identify the different types of open source software technology

--Determine the extent of the use of open source software technology

--Determine the factors militating against the use of open source software technology

--Recommend possible solutions to these problems.

1.3. RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The study is guided by the following research questions:

--What are the different types of open source software technology?

--What is the extent of use of open source software technology?

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