Background of the Study
Law libraries are libraries established in servicing law firms or institutions. They are in the category of special libraries that are hardly self existent. Special libraries on the other hand are dependent institutions, established to serve their parents organizations. Special libraries are characterized by supplying detailed, quick, factual and accurate information respecting some limited subject field. The subject field may be related to law, science, banking and so on. These characteristics are applicable to law libraries.
However, law libraries have been defined by various authors. Okafor (2001) defined law library generally as a building containing a collection of law books, law journals, law reports, pamphlets, documents and non book material which deal with law, body of rules or conduct prescribed by controlling authority. Law libraries, like any other special libraries, stand as a repertoire of legal information, purveyor of knowledge, a tripartite institution from which the legal arms draw. They have legal binding necessary to support theory and practice of the legal profession. Law libraries are of different types it could be judiciary law library, ministry of justice law library, the legislature or parliamentary law library, private chambers law library, research institute law library and academic law libraries.
Furthermore, Academic law libraries are those libraries in the faculties of law in the universities, law research institutions and law schools. They carry out service to law students, law teachers, legal practitioners, researchers in related discipline. The study and practice of law are essentially library-based. This is because a law library is to the lawyer or legal research fellow what the laboratory is to the scientist. Both students of law and legal practitioners spend a great deal of time in the law libraries, because the academic law library is an important intellectual resource centre of the academic community, and helps them fulfill the curriculum requirements and to promote studies and research (Rajendran and Rathinasabapathy, 2005).
According to Akande (1998) Books and words are said to be tools for Lawyers and without a well equipped law Library, law teachers, students both undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers will perform below standard in their academic programmes. Even practicing lawyers will surely perform below standard in the court and in rendering effective legal advice to the government. What differentiated law library be it academic or any other law library is because of its unique place as a tool in the teaching of law, research in law and its invaluable contributions to the maintenance of peace and stability in the country ).
However, academic libraries are important agent in the pursuit of academic excellence. Their main goal is to support the objectives of the host institution, which has to do with teaching, learning, research and services (Azino, 2006).
Users of law libraries include members of the legal profession- practicing lawyers, judges, magistrates, state counsels, law teachers, law students and members of the legislatures (Koleoso: 2007). The users of these law libraries are inquisitive, curious, and always in a hast, need quick referral services.
The objectives of all categories of law libraries are to procure, process and provide in the most comprehensive manner legal information resources and services by well- qualified personnel to all stakeholders in the administration of justice, in the most conducive and user friendly environment ( Omekwu, 2001). The academic law library caters for the information needs of community, through the provision of reading materials for the various programmes of the institution or law faculty.
However, the objectives of these academic libraries are to procure, process, provide and organize these law library materials for easy accessibility, to all law library users and in the most conducive and user friendly environment, taking into consideration how digital technology has radically impacted and could radically impact information management and handling. The procurement and processing of law materials are to facilitate information production and provision. The value of information so provided is predicated in the quality of available resources. In order for these academic law libraries to realize their laudable objectives and that of the legal education, adequate resources have to be maintained for their library services
In addition to the above points, it is believed that establishments of law institutions are basically to achieve certain goals in which these academic law libraries should help to achieve. Tuyo (2007) summarized goals of legal education thus, imparting to the students an understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of law and also to develop the skills needed to solve legal problems, providing a rigorous analytical and theoretical education to assist the students in developing constructive and critical approach to the processes of law, assisting the students in seeing law within its social,
Economic, political, historical, ethical and cultural content and also, doing a comparative analysis of other legal systems, especially civil law systems and relevant international law.
Furthermore, the ability to respond competently and comprehensively to the information demand in aid of prompt and adequate teaching, learning and research will depend on the standard of resources, services, personnel, finance and facilities that are available in the academic law libraries and that are accessible to their users. In addition, the overall goal of the collection development initiative of the academic law library is to build up a core and comprehensive collections that adequately address the information demand of its clientele system.
The standard collection in academic law libraries as listed by (Koleoso, 2007) include: The Constitution- from 1960 to date , Statutes (Acts, laws and Subsidiary Legislation) for both Federal and State and even foreign statutes such as Halsbury,s Statutes of England and Halsbury,s law of England with their complete volumes. Law Reports (Local and Foreign), Standard Practitioners texts on Procedure, example Criminal Procedure and Civil Procedure law, standard textbooks dealing with different areas of law such as Tort, Contract, Sales of goods, law journals local and foreign; monographs, current magazines and newspapers; reference law materials like Encyclopedia, dictionaries indexes, abstracts, bibliographies, digests, government publication such as gazettes, white papers, circulars to mention but a few. Others include the electronic resources which academic law libraries should have, to accommodate the paradigm shift in the documentation of legal information resources. These include: online law reports, journals, texts as well as Information resources in other digital formats such as CD-ROM.
These resources are the bed rock of law libraries because of their nature. For example law journals are periodical that keep up to date with the latest development in law and provide comments and criticisms of the law. Law reports on the other hand are central to the lawyers practice as well as forming the bedrock of the administration of justice. They continue to enjoy primary position among the sources of information on judicial decision because they are most current. Law books become outdated often due to dynamic nature of law that often changes of statutes, doctrines and principles in line with changing . Online resources such as internet remain the most formidable host of ICT research resources and services and has provided access to varied data and information to legal researchers.
Furthermore, according to (Idowu,2003), the Council of Legal Education, the accrediting body of all law Faculties in our Universities has put together a list of materials titled” A Selection of Legal Materials for Ideal Law Faculty Library” as follows : Complete sets of the up-to-date laws of the Federation and law of States,
Law Reports of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Federal High Court and State High Courts, Law Reports of at least Commonwealth countries ,Secondary works that needed to support the teaching of the subjects offered especially the core subjects, precedent books of foreign countries such as Britain, America and some Asian countries, legal dictionaries and other dictionaries, thesaurus, Legal Bibliographies and both legal and general Encyclopedia, law journals and periodicals, Legislation, Government publication, Newspapers and magazines. These are just the basic materials that any law library should have in its collections. The quantity should be such that the library users would not have to struggle before they can get the books to use.
The National Universities Commission on their own part approved a document which seeks to set uniform standards for academic law libraries, both in terms of staffing and facilities thus, University law library building: the law library should be a completely separate building.
Staffing: The standard approved by the NUC was that the law librarian must have qualifications that a librarian is required to possess in Nigeria. Preferably, he/she should in addition hold a Bachelors degree in law. Staffing of the academic law libraries should comprise at least a senior professional librarian, some library officers, library assistants, clerical staff and porters/security (Idowu, 2003). In addition, specific standard for financial provision and administration for academic law library as suggested by Omekwu (2002) include: at least 5% of the entire budget of the university. Operational costs in terms of maintenance of facilities –equipment, computers, books and journals, building, furniture and bibliographic tools are necessary budgetary provisions. This is because the quality of personnel, the standard of collection and the effectiveness of services delivery of the academic law libraries will depend on the level of financial support they receive.
The standard set in the area of personnel, finance and collection development are all geared toward effective information service delivery to the law library users. ). The information services in academic Law library often reflect the following: Current Awareness Services (CAS) Selective Dissemination of Information, (SDI) Reference Services (RS) Indexing and Abstracting Services (IAS), Gazette Funding (GF), Noter-up Services or Law Amendment (LA), Legal Research (LR), Reading list (RL), Internet Services/computer services, Photocopy services, binding services, Inter-library loan services, Translation services and so on as enumerated by (Okafor, 2001). In the evolving ICT era, the academic law library information services will include digital and online reference service, access to remote databases and web- enabled information exchanges and communication.
However, that a standard law library is the mainstay of any successful legal practice, teaching, learning and research is not as issue. What borders is the nature of these resources and maintaining of such collections. For instance, law publications are very costly and unlike in other discipline, the rate by which subsequent editions are produced is faster. This of course, is attributed to the dynamic nature of law itself with its ever changing rules, concepts and doctrines in response to changing circumstances.
Consequently, fundamental to any definition of the purpose and the functions of an academic law library is the question of the range of its resources, and the degree of adequacy it should endeavour to cover (Enem, 2007).Furthermore, Omekwu (2007) stated that the vision statement of all law libraries should be to deliver in the most efficient and effective manner information based on solutions that are supportive of the strategic directions of the organizational environment. The mission statement is to develop information resources and services by careful, competent and resourceful staff in the academic law library. In order to play these vital roles effectively, academic law libraries are supposed to be adequately funded by their parent institutions to procure adequate information resources and updating the holdings from time to time.
Consequently, the researcher in this study has the need to assess these academic law libraries on the extent of availability of the resources and services of these academic law libraries owing to the bad economy in Nigeria as Jegede (1993) pointed out in her trite opinion that it is not overstatement to say that the availability or non availability of legal books in Nigeria is tied to her economy policy… The researcher also has the need to find out how adequate and current
the resources and services of these academic law libraries are based on the rapid rate at which law books become outdated due to dynamic nature of law that often changes of statutes, doctrines and principles in line with changing circumstances.
Accessibility of these resources and services through different method of service delivery of these academic libraries taking in to consideration the paradigm shift in the documentation of legal information resources, the level of satisfaction of the users and staff with the resources and services of these academic law libraries following the lack of interest in the sustained growth and currency of the legal collections by the Chief Executive (major reason being lack of sufficient funds for the parent organization). The researcher looked at the problems encountered by these academic law libraries taking in to consideration the national economy, a situation that has made the various governments to reappraise and prioritize their programmes. Also, the researcher has the need to find out strategies for improving the resources and services of academic law libraries owing to the fact that law library is a specialized library because of its unique place as a tool in the teaching of law, research in law, and its invaluable contributions to the maintenance of peace and stability in the country. This is one of the ways libraries and information managers should follow to remain relevant in changing nature and content of legal information.
Furthermore, an outdated law library is a serious impediment to a successful legal practice, teaching, learning or legal research. Minimum holdings and standard of adequacy are phenomena that cannot be meaningfully considered nor understood without giving due cognizance to these criteria used by the researcher for assessing these resources example, currency of the resources: how current are the resources? Does it update knowledge of the clientele? The need to regularly check on and maintain the currency is important. Adequacy of the resources, to what extent are the resources and services adequate in these academic law libraries? Is it need base? That is on the need of the users. Does it link to other sources? Is it reliable? Availability of the resources: How available are the resources and services? Can users make use of them at their own time? Can they be regularly found? Accessibility of the resources: Is it reachable? Does it strike a balance between brevity and comprehensiveness? Emphasis on these criteria is the major point upon which this assessment is premise. Moreso, subscriptions for the law journals, law reports and other law library materials both primary and secondary, local and foreign have to be provided and adequately made available in order to avoid unnecessary gaps that may hinder legal research. Services provided by the law library must be made aware to users in order to meet their varying needs. Effective service in any type of library is judged by the result in both quality and time factor. The quality refers to accuracy, currency and completeness of answer given to the library users’ inquiry and the time factor relates to the speed with which the answer gets to the inquirer. Law libraries all over the world are known for effective library services and have always been guided by the principles of the right book or information to the right reader and at the right time (Jegede, 1985: 246). If what is available does not meet with what is requested, then it can be argued that there is a fall in standards.
Standard therefore is vital for appropriate evaluation of the relevance and usefulness of academic law libraries in terms of collection, personnel, and finance, physical facilitates and services. This necessitated the present study- assessment of resources and services of academic law libraries in Enugu State. According to Auyo (2001) academic law libraries without doubt cannot perform their expected social functions without resources- men and women, money and material, certainly the most critical of these resources is the human resources. Hazen (200) argued that the changes in the nature of information, in research strategies and in the structure of legal education are affecting academic law libraries. These changes define much of the paradigm shift within which academic law libraries must operate. Academic law librarians must strive to remain competent navigators of acquisition and collection building in order to assist library users. The law librarian therefore is seen and described as a social engineer, serving as a vital link between the law library materials and the users. The mere existence of law books and other materials therefore is not adequate to make for ordered society- it certainly requires the human catalysts. For a law librarian, according to Marafa (2001) academic and professional qualifications are important factors that would facilitate the execution of professional responsibilities from a position of strength. The librarian should not be a librarian alone but also has law qualification.
However, it will be appropriated to give a brief history of the universities under this study. The establishment of academic law libraries of the universities system in Nigeria, university of Nigeria Nsukka for instance in 1961 which has it law faculty at Enugu Campus (UNEC) was as a result of the change in the training of would- be lawyers in the country. These universities collect law books, journals, reviews, law reports and so on. These collections of the law material support both the teaching and the research work of the faculties. The volume of law books are forty thousand and twenty, law journals are one thousand in number. The law library is not yet computerized. It has no law librarian, one assistant librarian in – charge, two library officers, one library assistant and one security.
The Nigerian law School started in 1962 in Lagos in pursuant to legal Education Act. The Nigerian Law School Library opened its doors to the first set of students sometime in 1962. It collection reflects, to a great extent, the needs of the students training for the practice of law. However, the Nigerian law School has its branches now in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory, Kano and Enugu State which is under this study. The Law School Enugu started in 2001. It opened its door to the first set of students sometime in 2001. Its law collection reflects, to a great extent, the needs of the students for the practice of law. The law library houses fifteen thousand law books and one thousand journals. The law library is not computerized it has one law librarian, one principle librarian, one senior librarian, three library officers, one security and one library assistant.
University of Science and Technology Enugu State started in the year 1980.It has its first set of students in law in 1981/82. The ESUT law library was established to meet the needs of the law students and the law lecturers in their research and teaching work. The law library has in its collection a total of one thousand five hundred law books thirty law journals thirteen non law books. The law library is not computerized. It has one law librarian and two library officers.
General speaking, all the academic law libraries under study are involved with law collection and services. In one sense, the issue of meeting up with the standard set up by the accreditation bodies the National Universities Commission and Council of Legal Education (NUC and CLE) respectively as the researcher enumerated previously in this background of the study is yet to be fully actualized. This is because of the condition of these academic law libraries under study as follows: students scrabbling for few copies of law books, law journals and so on in the law library. User’s complaint of outdated books, non current journals, inadequate law library services and, insufficient staff and above all not satisfied with the resources and services. However, the primary objective of accreditation is a desire to ensure that both faculty members and students have access to minimum relevant materials for their research and teaching in the academic law libraries.
Statement of the Problem.
A good law library with well established services is a treasure to the law professionals. Books and words are said to be tools of lawyers because no other profession uses books than law profession. Without a well equipped law library, lawyers, law lecturers, law students and law researchers will perform below standard in court, in teaching, in legal research and in rendering effective legal advice to the government.
The collections in the law library which form the resources include books, law reports, constitutions, statutes law journals, indexes, abstracts, magazines and newspapers etc. An outdated law library is a serious impediment to a successful legal practice or legal research.
Minimum holdings and standard of law libraries are what cannot be meaningfully considered nor understood without giving due cognizance to the adequacy, currency and uptodatedness of the resources and services. The need to check on the availability of these resources considering the users, the need to check on and maintain the adequacy, currency and up-to- datedness of the materials, and emphases the access to adequate funding is the major slant upon which the resources are premised.
Furthermore, to check on the standard services like indexing and abstracting, current awareness, selective dissemination of information, reprographic services and Noter-up services which differentiated law libraries from the other libraries and which may lead to the death or live of a person. Subscriptions for law reports and law journals which if not followed closely will create gaps that may hinder legal research. For an academic law library to achieve its aims and objectives, the collections must not comprise of outdated materials, the quantity must not be inadequate for the users population and the quality must be that which will complement teaching and research.
However, the consequence of the fall of standard is that it will lead to fail of accreditation of the law faculty, unsatisfactory of the law library users and backwardness of the law library. To avoid these, is the gap the researcher wants to fill.
Purpose of the Study
The major purpose of this study is to assess the resources and services in academic law libraries in Enugu State, Nigeria. The study is designed to achieve the following specific objectives:
- Identify the resources and services available in the academic law libraries in Enugu State.
- Determine the adequacy of the resources and services of these academic law libraries in Enugu State.
- Determine the currency of resources and services of the academic law libraries in Enugu State
- Find out how these resources and services are made accessible to both staff and users of these academic law libraries.
- Identify problems academic law libraries encounter with regards to personnel, resources and services.
- Recommend strategies for improving the resources and services of academic law libraries in Enugu State.
In pursuance of the purpose of the study, answers were sought to the following questions:
1 What resources and services are available in academic law libraries in Enugu State?
- How adequate are the resources and services of academic law libraries in Enugu State.
- How current are the resources and services of these academic law libraries in Enugu State?
- What methods of services delivery are in use for easy accessible of these resources and services in the academic law libraries.
- What problems do these law libraries encounter with regards to resources and services.
- What are the strategies for improving the resources and services of academic law libraries in Enugu State?
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would be useful to law librarians, law students, law lecturers, researchers, the managements of law institutions, law faculties and the government in the following ways:
The result of the study would assist librarians especially in academic law libraries to improve the services to their clientele. When these resources are available, adequate and up-to-date librarians will improve in their services to their clientele.
The result of this study would provide an insight to the researchers, law teachers and students over the importance of law library resources and services in enhancing research, teaching and services in academic law libraries. By having access to the resources and services they want and be able to meet up with their information needs, they will realize the importance of law libraries.
The result of the study would be of help to lecturers and students to be aware of resources and services in academic law library and other law libraries in general on the information provided. This can be achieved through the library cooperation. Due to increasing amount of knowledge and greater diversity in demands, it becomes difficult for a law library to meet the demands of its own users. Law libraries through cooperation can meet the needs of the users more effectively. Be it judiciary, ministry of justice or parliamentary law library and so on.
The result could assist law school managers to see that their law libraries are up to minimum standard by equipping their law libraries with required resources and services as required by the accreditation bodies.
The result would provide insight to the users, like law students, law lecturers, staff and the managements of these academic law libraries on how to access law library resources and services through the search engines related to law now we are in the ICT age.
Moreover, the study would add to the literature which researchers from related disciplines will benefit from. By being in the library and being consulted by the researchers.
Scope of the Study
This researcher assesses the resources and services of academic law libraries in Enugu State, South- East zone Nigeria. The study covers resources and services available, adequacy of resources and services, methods of services delivery for easy accessibility of resources and services, problems and strategies for improving resources and services.