Value-added Service to Academic Library Users in 21st Century: Using Competitive Intelligence Approach.

Author:Jerome, Idiegbeyan-ose
 
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Introduction

Higher education providers all over the world are in a serious competition. This is predicated on the greater demand for access to tertiary education globally. Consequently, various nations are witnessing heightened pressure in the licensing and establishment of more institutions. In Nigeria for example, there are 138 Universities granted licenses to operate by the government consisting of 40 federal, 39 states and 59 privates. (National Universities Commission, 2015).

Without undermining quality and carrying capacity, the institutions are constantly concerned with increasing enrolment by attracting best brains, stimulating breakthroughs in research, pioneering centres of excellence, production of first rate graduates and getting listed in top ranking league tables. The scenario has brought about a paradigm shift necessitating stiff competition among the institutions. One of the parameters for competitive advantage in the current milieu is the quality of the academic library.

Academic libraries have been unarguably adjudged as the hub on which academic activities, that is, teaching, learning and research revolve. The value of academic library to the users has long been assumed; all library resources, that is both prints and electronics, other services that support teaching and research, the library catalogue are essential to the success of the library users. (Tenopire, 2011). The issue of value-added services defines the continuous relevance of the libraries in conferring prestige and expanding the frontiers of scholarship in their respective parent institutions.

Statement of the Problem

Higher education in the twenty-first century globally has been characterized and driven on business ethos. The institutions are faced with stiff competitions in an attempt to increase their student enrolment and remain relevant. Academic libraries all over the world therefore are in a serious competition to contribute to their parent institution's competitive advantage. The problem is what the libraries can do to have an edge over their competitors and remain relevant as a hub of scholarship in this 21st century business driven environment. It is against this background that the paper seeks to establish the nexus between Competitive Intelligence and value-added services to academic library users.

Objective

The major objective of this work is to discuss value-added service to academic library users in 21st century using competitive intelligence approach. Other specific objectives are to:

i. Examine the concept of value-added

ii. Examine Total Quality Management as a framework underpinning for understanding

value-added services and Competitive Intelligence (CI)

iii. Contextualize the application of CI to library services with a view to distilling specific innovations to hitherto routine processes

Theoretical Framework on Value-Added Library Service: Total Quality Management Theory (TQM)

Quality is a competitive priority for any organization / library that must render value-added services to users. Total Quality Management (TQM) is a theory that explains that quality in organization processing and services will lead to value-added services to the customers or users.

Psychogios and Priporas (2007) cited Morgan and Murgatroyd, (1997) defined TQM as the mutual co-operation of everyone in an organization and associated business processes to produce products and services, which meet and, hopefully, exceed the needs and expectations of customers. TQM is both a philosophy and a set of management guiding principles for managing an organization. (p. 42)

TQM theory postulates that the best way to improve organizational output is to continually enhance performance. Quality improvement is not a task that has an end, as it is not static. The emphasis is on seeking improvement opportunities, not just holding the status quo. The focus is on planning, prevention, and anticipation (Psychogios and Priporas, 2007 p. 44 cited Dale, 1996; Goetsch and Davis, 1994; Ho and Fung 1994).

Relevance of this Theory to the Study

Quality is the bedrock of value-added services to users. Any academic library that must remain relevant and be on top of competitors must make sure that their personnel, operations and services to users are of the almost highest quality. TQM theory addresses this pertinent issue, it states that quality processes in organization or library will produce products and services, which meet and, exceed the needs and expectations of customers. This actually is the concept of valueadded services in library and information centres.

Concept of Value-Added services

In an era of increasing choices, academic libraries all over the world are faced with finding the best way to add value to their services so as to attract customers (users) and remain in business.

Steeney (1997) stressed that value added services means that the needs of the majority of people are being met, the new generations of users are passionate for the services, and a scenario set for success, library services that integrate these features will definitely be rendering value added services. He further pointed out that valued added services imply giving users their expected services at the same time surprising them with some unexpected positive functionalities, features and support.

Academic libraries must incorporate new services that provide leap and add value to users. They must find out how many users are satisfied with their...

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