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ACCESSIBILITY, USE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES AND RESEARCH OUTPUT OF LIBRARIANS IN UNIVERSITIES IN EKITI, ONDO AND OSUN STATES, NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Study
Research output of librarians is the extent to which librarians engage in their own research and publish articles in refereed journals, conference proceedings, write of books or book chapters, gather and analyze original evidence, work with postgraduate students on dissertations and class projects, obtain research grants, carry out editorial duties, obtain patents and licenses, write monographs, develop experimental designs, produce works of artistic or creative nature, engage in public debates and commentaries. Research output is a means by which librarians contribute new knowledge to the existing body of knowledge. Research output of librarians is worthy of focus as the quality and quantity of their publications are a determining factor in their performance evaluation.
Research output plays a major role in attaining success in the academia as it relates to promotion, tenure and salary of librarians. It has also been reported that the quality of research output by academics in any university system depends largely on the quality and quantity of information resources at their disposal (Popoola, 2008). Powell (1997) maintains that research and publication help individuals to think critically and analytically.Librarians in academic libraries are considered as academic staff, so engaging in research has become an expected activity on their part. Despite the benefits of research output to librarians, they do not conduct enough research and publication.
Librarians when compared with other academic staff, record low publication output and this has affected the rate of promotion of many librarians. This may be due to lack of access to adequate electronic information resources, economic crises, subscription to current journals, lack of time for research work due to the nature of their routine work, insufficient skills in research, poor training programme on research and erratic electric power supply, which may all lead to poor research output of the librarians.Oduwole & Ikhizama (2007) use the survey method to ascertain research output of librarians in Nigerian agricultural research institutes. They found out that the librarians’ research output, although generally low, was related to their work experience.
According to Reitz (2005) & Powell et al (2002) research is a systematic painstaking investigation of a topic or in a field of study often employing technique of hypotheses and experimentation, undertaken by a person intent on revealing new facts, theories or principles or determining skill and identification of research problems. Research is a vital and indispensable activity in universities and research institutions. It has become essential for a university’s prestige as well as the career of librarians.
Research provides a good platform for librarians to become successful academics. This is because research develops their knowledge and reinforces the skills needed for effective knowledge transfer. It also inspires librarians towards hard work, fills the gaps of previous researches, and creates an opportunity for future research. According to Rashid (2001), research is conscious effortto collect, verify, and analyze information. Research is essentially an investigation, a recording and an analysis of evidence for the purpose of gaining new knowledge. Research occupies a critical role in promoting the prosperity of a nation and its citizens’ well-being. Research output and research productivity are often used interchangeably. According to Hoffman et al. (2014), independent of research requirements for tenure or promotion, an increasing emphasis on a culture of assessment and evidence-based librarianship has contributed to greater need for librarians to conduct research.
Research output is one of the criteria that are used for the promotion of librarians in universities and other higher institutions of learning in Nigeria. Research output contributes towards image building for universities as well as ranking, it becomes highly necessary for universities to invest more on access to information resources especially electronic resources. Output is of primary concern to the management of every organization, including university libraries. Thus, the need to accord high premium to the welfare of the employees has been the major preoccupation of management. Topicivity is considered as an output of a staff on the job, measurable in terms of quality and quantity of job performed or done (Oduwole, 2004). The quality of research could be measured, according to Popoola (2002), by counting the numbers of books published, or journal articles produced over a period of time.
Information Communication Technology has brought about innovation in librarianship where access to information is made possible to library users beyond the physical boundary of the university library. According to Pullinger (1999), the academic information environment has changed for both librarians and patrons, since most of the information sources are now available and as well accessible in electronic format, the electronic information resources have unprecedented contribution on library collections.
Electronic Information Resources refer to information bearing materials that provide access to users in a digital or in an electronic format. Electronic information resources also have been viewed by Haridasan and Khan (2009) as a resource in which information is stored electronically and accessed through electronic systems and networks. Electronic information resources have many functions and benefits which can be of immense use to librarians’. Once a user is connected to the Internet such user can link up with any part of the world for whatever purpose the user has in mind, (Osunrinde, Adekiya and Adyemo, 2002). Okiki and Asiru (2011) view electronic resources as the product of information communication technologies which are found relevant to aid librarians’ performance and research process in the universities.
The accessibility and use of electronic information resources is very important as to the research output of librarians in universities, because it is perceived that when these resources are accessible, the use will be easy and may contribute to the research output and the development of the library at large. Hence, it appears that when electronic information resources are accessible, it may hamper the research output of librarians. This reason informed the need to investigate the accessibility and use of electronic information resources on research output of librarians in universities. The accessibility and use of e-resources is dependent on the functionality of information communication technology tools and interest within the library. Oduwole and Akpati (2003) investigate the accessibility and retrieval of electronic information resources at the University of Agriculture Library, Abeokuta, Nigeria. The study revealed that all members of the university community have access toelectronic information resources and it was easy to use and were satisfied with their research outputs.
Use of electronic information resources according to Nawe and Kiondo (2005) the study report that research quality had improved significantly with the use of electronic information resources. Results of the study also revealed that the quality of teaching and learning had improved significantly as a result of information and communication technology (ICT) application in library operation. Foster et al. (2008) argue that inadequate access and use of electronic resources affectthe publication outputs of Nigerian universities in international journals is reportedly low, and publication output is a major indicator of productivity; this implies that academic staff in Nigerian universities are not internationally productive.
Internet resources such as online databases, e-books, and e-journals were among the EIRs used for academic purposes. Other resources found to be used were CD-ROMs and OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue). Generally, literature has shown that there is a positive relationship between the use of electronic information resources and improvement in the quality and quantity of research output. Nawe and Kiondo (2005) in their study report that research quality had improved significantly with the use of electronic information resources. Results of the study also revealed that the quality of teaching and learning had improved significantly as a result of information and communication technology (ICT) application in library operation.
The accessibility and use of the electronic information resources will be of immense benefit to librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun State, Nigeria. Electronic information resources will assist them to produce or publish a good research output which can be added to existing knowledge. Electronic information resources provide access and use according to various literature reviews and these can broaden the mind of librarians when embarking on research which will lead to quality research or output. The accessibility of electronic information resources enhances librarians research output by providing various information needed for research. It also increases access and use of information materials that will be of immense benefit to librarians in their research work.
Electronic information resources are in digitized format which requires access to computers and internet connection. Accessibility and use of these resources is influenced by various factors. However, because of the flexibility of electronic information resources, they have added advantage over print materials in research conduction. Thus, the ease with which electronic information resources is accessed and used to obtain needed information significantly influence the degree of the use of these materials by librarians and this is turn has great impact on the research output of librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States.
Despite the importance of and advantages offered by electronic information resources (EIRs) studies have identified a number of problems associated with accessibility and use of electronic information resources, these problems range from lack of or inadequate resources, mainly computers, poor internet connectivity, inappropriate usage of electronic information resources lack of appropriate skills in research among librarians. In spite of the advantages offered by electronic information resources, not much have been explored by librarians in their research output on this subject matter, hence the need for their study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Research output contributes towards image building of universities as well as ranking. Research output is a criterion that is used for promotion and tenure of librarians in universities and other higher institution of learning in Nigeria. However, it seems likely that librarians record low research output when compared with lecturers or academic staff and even the one they published does not rank high in academics. This low research output could be librarians’ inability to access electronic information resources or could it be that librarians are inadequately using these electronic information resources on their research output.
Moreover, previous work on accessibility and use of electronic information resources may not have focused on the possible influence which accessibility and use of electronic information resources could have on research output of librarians in the study locale. Therefore, this study sought to investigate accessibility and use of electronic information resources as correlates of research output of librarians in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States universities.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between electronic information resources accessibility and use towards research output of librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
- identify the level of electronic information resources that are available in the universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States;
- ascertain the level of accessibility of electronic information resources by librarians in the universities under study;
- find out the level of electronic information resources use by librarians in the area of study;
- find out the research output of librarians in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States universities;
- examine the relationship between accessibility of electronic information resources and research output of librarians in the study locale;
- determine the relationship between the use of electronic information resources and research output of librarians in the study locale;.
- determine the combined effect of accessibility and use of electronic information resources on research output of librarians in the universities under study and
- identify the challenges of research output of librarians in the under studied universities.
1.4 Research Questions
In order to achieve the above objectives of the study, the following research questions were used to garner data for the research:
- To what level are electronic information resources available for use by librarians in universities under study?
- To what extent are electronic information resources accessible to librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States?
- What is the level of use of electronic information resources by librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States?
- What is the research output of librarians in universitiesunder study?
- What are the challenges of research output among librarians in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States?
The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide this study, and were be tested at 0.05 level of significance:
H01: There is no significant correlation between accessibility of electronic information resources and research output of librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States.
H02:There is no significant correlation between the use of electronic information resources and research outputof librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States.
H03: There is no significant effect of accessibility and use of electronic information resources on research output of librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study evaluated accessibility and use of electronic information resources on research output of librarians in universities in Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States within the period of (2010 – 2015) to enable the research determine the research output of librarians during this period. The study will focus on librarians with first degree BLS/BLIS, Masters MLS/MLIS and Ph.D in the field o