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ACQUISITION AND UTILIZATION OF LIBRARY-ORIENTED SOFTWARE PACKAGES IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

 

Academic libraries are libraries which serve institution of higher learning such as Colleges of Education, Universities and Polytechnics. Academic libraries serve the teaching and research needs of students and staff. It always serves two complementary purposes which are to support the school curriculum and to support the institution, faculties and students. Since they are higher institutional libraries, they are charged with the duty of gathering and assembling all the necessary resource materials the students and researchers may need. The totality of the students and researchers performances is highly dependent on the quality and effectiveness of the library the institution breeds. Modern libraries provide resources to students and researchers through the online search. It also provides avenue for students and researchers to access resource materials across other automated libraries.

Library automation is one of the latest technological development which involves the application of computer technologies, library software, C.D.-ROM, telephones and other ICT facilities in library functions to make library resources available to users and also accessible online. An automated library refers to library which consists mainly of materials and services in electronic format transmitted over network and also accessible online (Geisler 2005).

Since the development in software technologies has made it less expensive to compile and disseminate scholarly information to users, many academic libraries are on the race to join the library automation in order to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date resource materials to their users. According to Calhoun (2006), libraries of the future may be evaluated based on their ability to provide their users with technologies that allow application to communicate across platforms and programming languages using standard protocols based on extensible markup language (XML) to connect catalogue and other library resources to search engines, e-learning system, portals, amazons etc. This is however hinged on libraries running operating systems that will leverage their automation projects on the “switching layer” platform. This “switching layer” platform runs on computer software.

Computer software package is a collection of computer programs and related data that provides the instruction, telling a computer what to do and how to do it. According to Oketunji (2006), computer software packages refer to one or more computer program and data, held in the storage of the computer for some purpose. It is a series of instruction designed for a computer to carry out specific functions. According to Ceruzzi (2000), there are two main types of computer software packages which are system software and application software. System software is responsible for managing variety of independent hardware components so that they can work together harmoniously. It provides the basic function for computer and helps run the computer hardware and system. It includes the combination of the following-device drivers, utilities, operating system, window system, and servers. Application software is the second type of software which is developed to aid in any task that benefit from computation. It is a broad category and encompasses software of many kinds, including the internet browser, library software, business software, computer aid design, spread sheet, mathematical software, educational software etc. For the purpose of this study, emphasis will be placed on the application software since it embodies the library software.

Library software packages are computer software packages designed to perform and accomplish library functions. The tasks designed for the software to accomplish in the library are in cataloguing, acquisition, circulation, reference sections etc. The advent of computer and software as a product of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) makes it easy to automate library operations, thereby facilitating students and staff in higher institution in searching information and carrying out research in their respective fields.  Raseroka (1999) asserted that the application of ICT has created in the library a new information service unit providing electronic acquisition, electronic cataloguing, electronics serial control Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), inter library loan and electronic circulation control. The application of computer and software in the library has brought into the world a data base for students and researchers to acquire knowledge or engage in participatory research. Illorah et al (2007) posited that computers are now being made use of in importing knowledge acquired. They also maintained that the application of computer and software in the library enables the library user to take charge of their own learning through direct exploration, expression and experience.

The advances in the area of software as well as breakthrough in the field of communication brought about a great revolution in the way libraries deliver their services. Also the arrival of the internet has moved the revolution beyond the imagination of information seekers both in terms of speed with which queries are answered and the volume of materials available in response to the given query (Olanlokun, 2003). Some of the library oriented software packages which are commonly used in academic libraries includes:- TINLIB Software, Resources Mate, Polaris ILS, Atrium, SLAM, X-Lib, Evergreen Software, CDS/ISIS, D-space, Alice for window, Oliver Koha, Fedora etc. From previous research reports,the methods of acquisition of library oriented software includes purchase, gift and exchange. In acquiring software for library, there are things to be considered before acquisition. The choice of software is an important, issue, its price, availability of manual and the type of training it gives (onsite or online) matters. Idahosa (2001) confirmed the in house development of software to be one of the best way of acquisition because it allows the developer to access the hardware and software available, the purpose of the software and other requirements before developing the software. Such software is only meant for the purpose it was created and cannot fit into any other library.

The purpose of utilization of software is to make resource materials available on line for students and researchers. These library software support library functions and are designed to meet all the library requirements which include online catalogue, circulation control, acquisition (Monographs), serial control, data import, data export, inter-library loan, report generation, CD-ROM interface and telecommunication and above all,  most of them are available separately as well as together in a fully integrated system.

Moreover, to ascertain the extent of usage of these software, UNESCO developed CDS/ISIS to benefit developing countries in which library and information services had to easy and affordable access to software. It is a package that has been developed for bibliographic information, which is information about documents such as books, journals articles or conference proceedings. Some academic and special libraries have used the software for instance the Lagos Business School (LBS) which adopted the CDS/ISIS because of its no-cost nature (Idahosa 2001).

On the other hand, Tinlib, widely used system application software in library was introduced in 1993 as part of the World Bank Loan Project in Nigeria. The National Universities Commission (NUC) introduced Tinlib software for online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) for use in Federal University Libraries. It is user friendly and only easy to understand. Oyinloye (2004) listed some of the features that make Tinlib preferred over other library software as availability of catalogue and retrieved module, circulation control, acquisition module, and serial management module.

Software Library for Appearance Matching (SLAM) is widely used library software recently licensed and distributed by the Columbia University to a number of educational institutions for appearance learning and matching problems in computational vision. Appearance learning involves use of principal components analysis for compression of a large input set to a compact low-dimensional subspace, called the eigenspace, in which the image will reside as parameterized manifold. SLAM enables the user to obtain this parametric representation by providing modules for eigenspace computation, projection of image to eigenspace and interpolation of multivariate manifolds through the projection ( Nayar et al, 1994).

Also, x-lib is library oriented software that is being used in most academic libraries in Nigeria. It was developed at the Raw Material Research and Development Centre (RMRDC) Abuja, as a local library software developed to meet the immediate needs of academic libraries in Nigeria (Bozimo 2006). It is commonly used in Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, although some Universities have adopted it. The system according to Oyinloye (2004) completely automates the management of the library in acquisition, catalogue and other allied readers services. It has been used in Nigeria libraries since 1996. However, it has been improved upon and the latest version of it is the lib +. The only difference between the two is that, the latest one has some new features incorporated in it.

According to previous studies, the problems militating against proper utilization of software in library includes erratic power supply, lack of staff training, and wrong choice of software. There are ways of enhancing software utilization in academic libraries of Nigeria which includes adequate power supply, proper choice of software, adequate maintenance of software and installation of antivirus in the systems.  Despite the efforts made by some higher institutions in Nigeria to get their library automated, effective utilization of the library oriented software is yet to be achieved.

This study aims at determining the acquisition and utilization of library oriented software packages in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. Six higher institutions were examined in both states which includes two Federal Universities, two State Universities and two Colleges of Education. The two Federal Universities are the University of Uyo located in Akwa Ibom State and the University of Calabar located in Cross River State. These two Universities are degree awarding Universities. The State Universities include the Akwa Ibom State University Mkpat Enin and the Cross River University of Science and Technology (CRUTECH]. Also, the Colleges of Education include the Akwa Ibom State College of Education, Afaha Nsit located in Akwa Ibom State and Federal College of Education Obudu, located in Cross River State. These Colleges of Educations are NCE awarding institutions. The above higher educational institutions under study are located in the South-South geo-political zone of Nigeria. Their libraries have been trying to improve upon their service delivery to their users. Interaction with colleagues revealed that some of them have had history of automation which dates back to late 2000. Although the World Bank organized and distributed computers and software through NUC to some Federal Universities in Nigeria to kick start their automation projects, many academic libraries abandoned it while some migrated to other software they found to be more user friendly.

The University of Uyo library migrated to other software because of the features they realized in the new package while the University of Calabar library abandoned the projects thus making use of the manual system of librarianship couple with the existence of LAN to make information materials available for users. However, the Akwa Ibom State University and the Cross River State University of Science and Technology, although they are planning to adopt a software for their library automation, they are currently making use of the manual system of librarianship in making information resources available to users, likewise the Akwa Ibom State College of Education and the Federal College of Education Obudu. .

Although software plays a vital role in developing more effective automated data acquisition and control in academic libraries, the nature of its utilization is yet to be determined in these academic libraries under study. At this juncture, this study is therefore aimed at examining acquisition and utilization of library oriented software packages in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.

 

Statement of the Problem

There are many benefits that automated libraries gain which include less drudgery, easy generation of records, space conservation, improvement of information services, time saving and easy retrieval among others. The problems of manual processing errors, retrieving errors, time consuming and drudgery are well taken care of. Apart from gaining quick access to educational and research materials online, it gets the staff and students acquainted with online database searches, CD Rom searches, internet searches, and computer literacy as a whole.

Nevertheless, previous studies have shown that UNESCO through NUC donated computers and software to some academic libraries in Nigeria to kick start their computerization and automation project. So far, the extent of utilization of these computers and software is in question. Although some academic libraries abandoned some software for others, how far have they utilized their present software is still in question.

The opportunities and potentials of software in academic library have not been fully utilized. This has in turn affected the academic library users because they have been denied of good access to educational and research materials, even the opportunity to get more literate and acquainted with computers. In this regard, the extent of software acquisition and utilization in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States is not known, hence this study seeks to examine acquisition and utilization of library oriented software packages in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.

 

Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this study is to examine acquisition and utilization of library oriented software packages in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. Other specific objectives are as follows:-

  • To examine the type of library software available in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.
  • To ascertain the methods of acquiring library oriented software packages.
  • To identify the purpose of utilization of these software.
  • To determine the extent of software utilization in these academic libraries.
  • To find out the problems associated with software utilization in these academic libraries.
  • To determine the strategies for enhancing software utilization in these libraries.

 

Research Questions

The study is conducted to answer the following questions.

  • What are the types of software available in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom State and Cross River States?
  • What are the methods of acquiring library oriented software?
  • What are the purposes of utilization of these library software?
  • To what extent are these software being utilized in these libraries?
  • What are the problems associated with software utilization in these libraries?
  • What are the strategies for enhancing software utilization in these libraries?

 

Significance of the Study

The result of this study will be of great importance to the academic institutions, students and researchers, library staff, and library committee.

In specific terms, the result of this study will be of immense benefit to the academic institution because it provides an empirical framework for accessing the extent of software utilization in these institutions. Furthermore, the result of the study will be of great importance to students and other researchers in the field of library and information Science because it forms a framework in which researchers consult in carrying out their research works.

The result of the study will be of immense benefit to the library staff because it will create awareness among them on the need for workshops and seminars to be organize for them so as to improve on their jobs. The result of the study will be of immense significance to the   library committee because it will assist them in adopting policies that will help in improving upon service delivery to users. The result will also help them in issues concerning the guidelines to software acquisition and on choice of software.

Scope of the Study

The study examines acquisition and utilization of library oriented software packages in academic libraries in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. The study is delimited to the academic libraries of University of Uyo, University of Calabar, Akwa Ibom State University Mkpat Enin, Cross River State University of Science and Technology, Akwa Ibom state College of Education Afaha Nsit, and Federal College of Education Obudu.

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