Background of the Study:
The academic library is one of the many types of libraries charged with the responsibility of satisfying the instructive and research needs of the students and the faculty. It is an indispensable instrument for intellectual development which a user of a particular higher institution can go into at will unrestricted to help him or her to the whole field of knowledge. Academic library, according to Reitz(2004) is “a library that is an integral part of the College, University, or other institutions of post secondary education and administered to meet the information and research needs of its students, faculty and staff”. The academic library is fundamentally established to render services to the community in a disciplined and responsible manner and to teach the users how to use the library to enjoy the utilization of the services available.
Every academic library usually receives the mandate of its parent institution to carry out the functions which are reflective of their objectives which are guides by which it’s proper assessment can be carried out. Edoka (2000) has given the functions of the academic library as follow, to: provide information materials required for the academic programmed of the parent institution, provide research information resources in consonance with the needs of faculty and research students, provide information resources for recreation and for personal self-development of users, provide study accommodation in a useful variety of locations, provide protection and security for the materials, cooperate with other libraries at appropriate levels for improved information services, provide specialized information services to appropriate segments of the wider community.
The role of academic library is to support teaching, learning, and research by maintaining relevant materials and creating enabling environment for the users to achieve their respective aims of using it. It plays the role of information provider for the successful completion of the users’ courses. An academic library that does not carry out these functions faces the danger of criticism by the users, and even non-users of such library. The lecturers, the students, and the researchers are usually affected in their zeal to excel in whatever their academic desires are if the functions which dictate their role are not performed. This is because their success depends to a large extent on how well the library carries its functions..
For high performance by the users, the library is expected to stock proper information resources. And in order to qualify to be regarded as a store house of record of human experience which the academic community can depend upon for information, assorted information resources are provided. These include Yearbooks, Almanacs, Directories, Handbooks, Manuals, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, Periodicals such as Newspapers, Magazines, and Journals, Films, Filmstrips, Slides, CDROMS, Photographs, Maps, Atlases, Gazettes, Gazetteers, Tapes and Cassettes, Projectors, Computers, Indexes, Abstracts, Bibliographies, Government documents etc.. These materials should be current and adequate in quantity and be consistently made available. The resources can be provided on site from remote storage locations through Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
It must be seen clearly, to support the programmes and the courses offered by the institution. This support must be visible in the hours the library maintains for its users. The longer the hours the better, to enable the students have ample opportunities to make use of the library resources after the hectic lecture hours that last from morning to evening in most of the days of the week. This is one of the problems of library services in Nigeria because it affects greatly the students’ utilization of the resources therein by reducing the number of hours the users make use of the library. Observations show that most of the students use library a few hours per day. Shorter opening and closing hour deprive the users the privilege they are entitled to make use of the library.
Information is the principal factor for the establishment of any tertiary institution library. The academic library exists to gather and organize information in different formats to satisfy the inquisitive minds of the users. The New Webster’s dictionary of the English language (1992) defines information as knowledge obtained by search, study, etc. It is an important ingredient to development in all aspects of life. No fundamental development or achievement can take place without it. Every development hinges on adequate and timely information. Realistically, an individual or society that is starved of information is stationary in growth economically, scientifically, technologically and otherwise.
Libraries are expected to be providers of information. The students desire to be availed assorted information resources in all the areas of their courses of study. To be able to serve them effectively, the librarians in the academic institutions are expected to be experts in identifying relevant information and making them available to the users. Libraries usually develop mechanisms for the timely and adequate provision for their learning readers through different kinds of library services.
Library and information service is provided in the academic community to ensure that the users in the community are served optimally. The word service is defined by Encarta Dictionary as “Work done for somebody, a job, duty, punishment or favour”. As a unit that exists to support the academic programmes of its parent institution, the academic library is expected to provide quality services to satisfy the users’ needs to actually facilitate the users success and encourage life-long learning. Every library service therefore has the following objectives to: implement the provision of the library, meet the information needs of the entire community, provide a high standard of service and assistance to readers, provide adequate facilities for viewing. Provision of information services is known to promote library usage in the academic library by the users. In the words of Oni-Orisan (1973) “service concept implies all the librarian does to make a reader feel welcome and comfortable in his library and to enable him get materials he requires with minimum efforts either by himself or through the assistance of a librarian”. Library and Information service consists of finding specific facts, interpreting the information sources, translating, indexing, abstracting, literature searching. Information services are carried out with certain objectives such as assisting users to gain quick access to information, creating awareness of information that is available.
They are provided by the library to the readers to receive the required attention to enable them enjoy their usage of the library. Information services can be rendered to a group or individually to enable them get as much as possible the information that is necessary for the completion of their academic pursuit. Failure to render this service will definitely affect the performance of the student and amount of information the lecturers can dole out to the students. Users of the academic libraries are assisted in finding the right books that contain answers to questions they have in mind. Every information service rendered should be directly related to the needs of the users and can be grouped into the following categories as revealed by Weisman(1972) Documentation, Dissemination, Inquiry, and Special activities. As a result of the critical nature of information services provision, there is a need to regularly assess whether these services are adequately provided in academic libraries
Equally, the academic libraries in whatever type of institutions should not lose sight of general reference service, routing of current periodicals to the lecturers and research fellows, preparing library bulletin and engaging in selective dissemination of information. In order to enjoy fuller exploration of the libraries, the academic libraries equally provide the following services: registration of readers to issue borrowing tickets to enable them borrow books and use the library outside at their convenient time, photocopying pages of highly needed book, preparing of bibliographies in certain subject areas, interlibrary loan to enable them have access to the materials that are not available in their own library, since no single library can provide enough information sources for its readers, book exhibition, cataloguing, classification, and shelf management. All these help in no small measure to utilize library .
The library service that is most appreciated is that which takes into consideration the disadvantaged users in the academic community. The academic library should therefore adopt all-embracing service which considers the blind, or the visually impaired users, the lame and the hearing impaired .Their own materials must be provided and they should enjoy friendliness from the staff whenever they need help. Even the normal readers deserve to be given friendly treatment in order to utilize the library fully.
The users of the academic library are the students who form the larger percentage, the lecturers, the senior and junior non-academic staff. The users have diverse areas of interest and different levels of needs as to their disciplines and years of study. The needs of the First year, second, third, fourth or fifth year students differ. There are also post graduate students whose needs differ from the other levels or categories of readers. By implication, each student has special needs which must be satisfactorily met with diverse and special services. This means that special information service facilities must be put in place if all the users will gain from using the library The services rendered by the academic library should be able to establish, promote, maintain and increase the users’ desire to seek more information. This kind of services involve making available varied authoritative and current resources that support the mission of the library and the goals of the parent institution. The students particularly should be taught so that they can recognize when an information is needed and why the information is needed. In order to achieve this, the academic library must conserve, transmit and create knowledge.
The beauty of the academic library does not lie so much on the facilities available but on how satisfied the users are on the services rendered to them. The information materials provided to the readers are aimed at satisfying the information needs. While it is good for the library to select and acquire materials of general interests in large quantities, there is the need to make sure they are highly useful so that they can be made accessible and satisfactorily used. The users, both the students and the lecturers become fascinated about the collection that may be available in a library in several volumes which is an indication of how good or bad it is, but if the materials do not meet their needs, they will be dissatisfied over them. The quality of collection of the academic library is one of the principal indicators of the quality of services which it’s readers enjoy. It is the satisfaction the users enjoy that explains of the library derives the honour of being regarded as the ‘heart’ of the institution. If the relevant materials are conveniently made available and they are actually used, the outstanding performance of the students will be witnessed.
A supplemented and well stocked library that is not used is as useless as a library without adequate collection. Reasons abound why very relevant collection may not be used in an academic library. Such reasons are summarized by Aguolu and Aguolu (2002) as follow: the users do not know precisely what they want, they cannot articulate their needs accurately to the library staff. Equally, the bibliographic or intellectual access to the content of the library is inadequate, owing to the poor indexing system of the library catalogue or of the library collection itself., Loan and circulation policy of the library is inefficient, shelving methods inadvertent and guides to library arrangements lacking., un-necessary physical and administrative barriers are imposed upon the use of library materials by the library management. The materials are expected to be borrowed. The borrowing shows how the library is patronized or how relevant the materials are. It is expected that the level of borrowing should be high. If it is low, it can be an indication of their irrelevance. The low patronage may be due to the fact that the students are not properly taught how to use the library
There is the need to create effective retrieval tools so that the readers can find the materials they want for their assignments and research work. One of such tools is the catalogue through which the reader mirrors the total collection of library and knows where each material desirable is located. The students need to be taught to
Use the catalogue because of its technicality. A reader who knows how to use the catalogue can explore the library to the fullest. Other of such tools are the indexes and abstracts which mirror what is contained in some newspapers and magazines in the serials section of the same library or somewhere else. The abstracts in addition to assisting in retrieval, contain summaries of intellectual contents of works. The readers need these tools to be thorough in their searches for relevant information and to save their time which is hardly enough in any particular day because of lectures, assignments and research activities.
Utilizing the academic library service has been enhanced by the new computer technology which is greatly changing its environment. The Information Communication Technology has come into the library and is slowly overtaking the traditional method of information provision and creating wonderful accessibility to even the traditional resources of the library. Utilization of the services that are provided by the library is enjoying a boost .This is because it is highly cherished by the readers. It has brought new learning opportunities. Because of the important impact this is making on the education process, every academic library should make it a responsibility to teach the users how to operate computer in order to enjoy full utilization through access to immeasurable information resources in the internet. If possible, each reading carrel should have a computer placed on it for readers to use when in the library.
Assessment is a word that is used synonymously with evaluation which Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary (2005) defines as “an opinion or a judgment about somebody or something that has been thought about very carefully.”Assessment is one scientific way by which an academic library can be known to be really serving the users adequately or inadequately. The Librarians regard assessment as an opportunity to improve the quality of their (own) work.
Assessment in any academic library usually points certain problems besieging it. Such problems may include as Okiy (2010) has stated: poor computer facilities, poor level of awareness, poor level of ICT literacy. Akobundu (2007) gave such problems as: lack of space, provision of 24 hours service. Others may include irrelevant and un-current materials.
For a proper assessment to be done, there has to be written qualitative standards other than the general articles found in library and information science literature. The standards are meant to give higher institution libraries a readable, carefully reasoned document that they can present to their authorities and to the academic community leaders when they want to give them a better understanding of the place the library should occupy in the modern time and to plead with their administrators for more vigorous financial support. Equally, it helps libraries to assess themselves internally.
The issues of standards have always been considered important to the librarian in all categories of libraries when carrying out assessment. It receives encouraging attention from every quarter, and is welcomed particularly from the librarians because it aims at establishing professionalism in each library. Standards provide principles by which perfect assessment can be achieved. If there are no standards, the assessor will be lost in the cause of assessing any academic library. Examples of standards are: Guidelines for Running Libraries in Colleges of Education in Nigeria (1994) by NCCE, Association of Colleges and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2004, Guidelines for University Library Services for Undergraduate Students (2004).These standards provide comprehensive outlines to methodically examine and analyse all library operations, services and outcomes in the context of accreditation. They are all designed for libraries in higher education to guide academic libraries in advancing and sustaining their role as partners in educating students, achieving their institutions’ missions, and positioning libraries as leaders in assessment and continuous improvement on their campuses.
Though, it is a fact that no guideline has been prepared conjunctively by the monitoring bodies of higher institutions in Nigeria which could apply uniformly to all categories of academic libraries in Nigerian higher institutions,(National Universities Commission, National Board for Technical Education, and National Commission for Colleges of Education); existing standards mentioned earlier that are generic and applicable to all academic libraries all over the world can be used since the underlying objectives of the academic libraries and the principles of assessment remain the same. Lack of guideline prepared by a monitoring body can pose a problem to academic libraries. As a result of this problem in Nigeria, according to Igben (1992) polytechnic libraries currently existing have adopted the standards set for universities. This problem needs to be looked into because universities and polytechnics are not the same.
- D. Gomwalk library was established by the statue establishing the College of Education Akwanga earlier known as Advanced Teachers’ college at its temporary site in Jos in January 1977.
College librarian who organized the library into five sections namely, Administration, Technical, Readers Services, Acquisition, and Serials/s/reference.. Then in 1990 the present library was built, commissioned and occupied. It can sit about four hundred readers at a time from the one thousand, four hundred and eighty registered readers which are made of one thousand, four hundred and thirty students and fifty staff. The library is at its last lap of its automation process. It has over twenty five computer units and has purchased wires for interconnectivity. The collection and the staff strengths of the college library stand at twenty five thousand, nine hundred and seventy eight volumes and twenty nine staff respectively.
COA library, Lafia came into existence in 1988 in a temporary building .In 1990; the present library building was completed and occupied. Though, the library is not organized in order of units, it renders services appropriately like any other library with distinct units,
The library has a computer (PC) which was purchased in 2007, though mostly used for clerical work. It has eleven staff comprising two professionals and nine non-professionals. It has a total of three hundred and twenty registered readers which is made of three hundred students and twenty staff. At the moment, the collection of the library stands at seven thousand and eighty three books, and can sit ninety readers at a time.
NSUK library, Keffi took off in 2002 in a temporary building. It is divided into five service units. The library at the moment has about one thousand one hundred and sixty registered students and two hundred and sixty registered staff. It can sit eight hundred readers at a time. The library has a total collection of twenty six thousand, five hundred and eighty eight books. The move to computerize the library started in 2003. At the moment, it has about twenty computer units which have been connected to the internet since 2004.
The school of Nursing and midwifery Lafia was established in 1999 with the aim of training nurses. The school has a total student population of one hundred and ninety nine and
the staff population of sixty which is made up of thirty three academic and thirty nonacademic staff. The library has only one library assistant who is assisted by one or two other library attendants. The library has a few collections of books which are not registered and it can sit about ten readers at a time. However it has only six registered readers with no categorization.
The Nasarawa State polytechnic library, Lafia was established in February, 2001, a few months after the establishment of the polytechnic, Lafia on the 15th August 2000.. In May, 2003, the library benefited from the collections of the reformed College of Arts and Science Technology (CAST) Keffi.
The library has since then undergone significant expansion in its physical building, staff and stock. Its collection of books at the moment sands at five thousand volumes and about one hundred titles of periodicals. However the total number of registered readers is five hundred and forty which are made of five hundred and ten students and thirty staff. It has the staff strength of 29 which is made of 3 professionals, para-professionals and 17 non-paraprofessionals.
Statement of the Problem
Academic libraries exist in higher institutions to provide the users relevant information materials for the fulfillment of their academic desires and the mission of the organization. They are to fully provide and sustain high quality services to maintain and improve their relevance in their environments. They render information services to satisfy their readers in order to engender increased patronage, promote improved academic performance of the students and teaching capability of the lecturers. The libraries play a significant role to contribute to the speedy development of community; implant ideas, open up minds, fire imagination, release the break of ignorance and reinforce the dynamics of progress.
Despite all the apparent benefits accruable, quality services are observed not to be offered by most academic libraries in Nasarawa State. It is equally observed that students for whom services are supposed to be rendered appear not keen at utilizing those services. Ajayi (1993) carried out a study on poor usage of library and laments that students visit the library only to read for examination. Aguolu & Aguolu (2002) have lamented that “the fundamental problem in provision of information services in Nigeria is that the potential user of some type of information does not try to obtain or seek it. This may be due to the fact that they are not aware of the existence of the services. These are great problems that need o be investigated because scholarship can only flourish with the quality and sufficiency of available information to the users through the services rendered and the utilization of the services. These situations, if are not taken care of, will have negative effects on the users in relation to their academic performance.
Furthermore, a look at the existing literature on information services in academic library show that a lot have been written, but there are a few publications covering academic libraries in Nasarawa State; this means there is a yawning gap to be filled which is the principal problem the researcher has undertaken the study to fill.
Because these problems are capable of causing draw back on the academic performance of the users, the researcher has chosen this work to address particularly, the problem of providing efficient library and information services in academic libraries in Nasarawa State.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to assess the library and information services to users of academic libraries in the state owned institutions in Nasarawa state. Specifically, the study is intended to:
- Identify the library and information services that are rendered to users of academic libraries in Nasarawa state.
- Identify information resources employed in the provision of information services to the users.
- Find out the level of satisfaction of the users with these services.
- Determine the extent of utilization of library and information services by users of these libraries.
- Determine the problems associated with the utilization of library and information services to users.
- Determine the strategies for the enhancement of the utilization of the library and information services in the academic libraries in Nasarawa State.
In order to carry out an investigation into the research problem, the following research questions are drawn to serve as guides to collect relevant data:
- What are the library and information services rendered by academic libraries in Nasarawa State?
- What are the information resources employed in the provision of library and information services to the users?
- What is the level of satisfaction of the users on these services?
- What is the extent of utilization of library and information services by users of these libraries?
- What are the problems associated with the utilization of library and information services to users?
- What are the strategies the academic libraries can adopt to enhance the utilization of the library and information services in academic libraries in Nasarawa state?
Significance of the Study
Library and information services play significant role in meeting the needs of the users. As a result, the study seeks to know the services that are rendered in academic libraries and how well they are rendered and actually utilized by the users. Therefore the findings of this research will be useful or beneficial to the following: Library managements, users, students, and researchers.
The management of the academic libraries covered by the study shall make use of available data to assist them in formulating library and information services policies. The findings will be of enormous importance to the management also by helping them to improve on the factors that positively influence effective library and information services through eliminating those factors that are capable of hindering effective information services delivery.
Equally, the findings will help the users to know those services that are available which they do not utilize and to also help them know services which are supposed to be provided which are not and how to improve on the use of the services. These findings shall also be beneficial to the students taking Introduction to Library Studies as a General Studies Education course by revealing to them the importance of user education which helps them to utilize the library. Besides, it will benefit students and researchers who will embark on similar studies in this area or related areas in future so that they can know what needs to be improved upon or be covered. Finally it will as well add to the existing literature in librarianship and will serve as a reference work to both learners and the learned.
Scope of the Study
The study will cover state-owned higher institutions in Nasarawa state and will equally cover the library services rendered to users