User education and library use in colleges of education in Abia and Imo States.

Author:Maduako, Patricia Uzoma
 
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Introduction

In Nigeria, colleges of education are part of what are usually referred to as the higher education or tertiary education system. They are centers of learning, teaching and research. In order to achieve their aims as centers of learning, teaching and research, it has become imperative for any established college of education to have and own a library. Any library established, maintained and administered by a college to meet the information needs of its staff and students is known as a college library. One of the major objectives of college libraries is to ensure that their collections and services are designed to meet the objectives and information requirements of the parent institution (National Commission for Colleges of Education; 1994). In order to fulfill this objective, the college library provides services usually referred to as reader services. These services are meant to bring the library, its services and its personnel into direct contact with the library users.

Atkin (cited in Arua and Chikezie, 2006), defined library use as the act of perusing the library stock, asking for assistance from library staff, actually finding information of value, borrowing a book in the library, studying one's own material in the library, coming into the library or merely meeting with friends in the library. Library use is also used to refer to the holding of library borrower's card and using or not using it. It is not exclusive to one of the above-listed activities, rather a combination of any two or more, or all of those and perhaps several others. Unlike the libraries of old which were satisfied with their role as "custodians" of library materials, the present day libraries, especially academic libraries, are saddled with the responsibility of information provision and effective access to information materials. The significance of the library in the academic life of the students lies on the degree of effective and efficient use of the library and its resources (Garba; 2004). The failure of a patron to use the library in a result-oriented way wastes the resources of the library.

Oyesiku (2000) pointed out that effective use of library by staff and students is expected to be the principal objective of establishing libraries in academic institutions. To achieve this objective, the librarians have to instruct the students on how to use the library. They have to familiarize the students with the techniques of library use and information retrieval. This is known as user education. User education encompasses all types of activities designed to teach users about library services, facilities, organization, resources, and search strategies in order to equip them with the basic skills to enable them to make optimal, efficient and independent use of information resources and services available in a given library (ALA;1989, Akimbola; 2007, Ogunmodede and Emeahara; 2010). It is simply a planned process and technique that is aimed at equipping library users with the basic skills to enable them optimally use resources available in a given library or libraries. Guiding users on how to use the library has become necessary because of the tremendous increase in volumes of publications as well as the resulting complexity of libraries and methods by which literature is organized and disseminated.

User education ranges from basic information on the college, up to the more formal structure and systematized programmes of instruction. With varied degrees of effectiveness, these forms of user education (whichever is adopted) aim at teaching library users how to make optimal use of the library and its resources, through the acquisition of skills in identification, location, retrieval and exploitation of information resources. With the establishment of NCCE and the standardization of the NCE programme, user education has been integrated into the curriculum of colleges of education. The course is a general studies course titled, "Introduction to Library Studies", and has the weight of a credit hour. The objectives of the course as outlined in NCCE Guidelines (1994) are:

a) to make students aware of the available and scope of library's resources and services.

b) to ensure those students are aware of and can effectively use information resources and retrieval techniques, which can assist in their learning and future careers.

c) to contribute to the personal and intellectual development of the student including his ability to continue autonomous learning outside the formal education context.

d) to enable students to control and structure the varied information available and regularly used by them to solve academic and later professional problems.

Although the course is taught with the aim of achieving the objectives above, studies carried out by Unomah (1985), Robertson (1992), Abubakar (2003) and Okonkwo (2004) have shown that even in colleges of education where students receive this basic education on how to use the library, several students were found to be ignorant of the basic idea of how to register as library members. Some were even unaware of the fact that books could be borrowed, while some others found it relatively hard to retrieve the information they needed.

In effect, therefore, this particular study is tailored towards relating user education with students' use of Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu (ASCETA) and Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri (AIFCE) libraries.

Statement of the Problem

The more the increase in research and scholarly publications, the more the problem of accessing the information needed by the users. Studies have shown that many students do not know how to go about searching for information to satisfy their information needs; they lack the basic skills and competencies required for the utilization of library and information resources on their entrance into institutions of higher learning. Furthermore, a good number of them have never even been to a library before. The result is that they find it difficult to make use of the library resources. The effective use of library by patrons is expected to be the principal objective of establishing libraries in academic libraries. The problem of this research, therefore, is to obtain reliable -cum - empirical data/results that can relate user education with students' use of college libraries.

Research Questions

i. What is the structure of user education programme in the college libraries under study?

ii. To what extent has the user education improved students' use of the library?

iii. What are the impediments to user education in the college libraries under study?

iv. What ways can be used to improve the user education programmes of the libraries under study?

Hypothesis

There is no significant relationship between user education programmes in Abia State College of Education (Technical), Arochukwu (ASCETA) and Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri (AIFCE) and library use by their library users.

Scope of the Study

This study covers two colleges of education in Nigeria; one in Abia State- ASCETA, and the other in Imo State- AIFCE. It focuses on the organization of user education programmes by the libraries of these colleges and their impact on users' utilization of the resources.

Theoretical Framework

The essence of user education is to equip library users with...

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