Assessment of Library Resources in Theological Institutions in North Central States of Nigeria

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Background of the Study

Theology is a term that has no single definition. Over the years different people have defined this term based on their conceptual framework and understanding. Hodge (1861) is of the opinion that theology is an English word derived from two Greek words signifying “discourse concerning God and man, and concerning God and man’s relationship to him”. It is the study which through participation in and reflection upon a religious faith seeks to express the content of this faith in the clearest and most coherent language available (Macquerrie, 1966). According to Ernst (2004), theology has some unique characteristics, which make it different from other disciplines of education; it is unique because it grows out of the encounter with God; it is an experience and reflection about this encounter. In the view of Hodge (1861) theology is scientific, while religion is practical and experiential. Rahner and Vorgrimber (1965) define theology as essentially the conscious effort of the Christian to harken on the actual verbal revelation, which God has promulgated in history, to acquire knowledge of it by the methods of scholarship and to reflect upon its implications. One attribute of theology is its inclination to scholarly contribution.  Dules (1992) opined that theology is usually restricted to scholarly reflection upon the faith by persons who have attained high degrees or noteworthy publications. Galadima (1998) and Kafang (2009) have written that theology is traditionally considered to be the task of academically trained Christian scholars. These scholars share one quality, publication of scholarly works, which contribute to knowledge. These definitions based on scientific approach and scholarship is relevant to this study because library resources of any academic centre are part of repositories that encourage research activities and scholastic publications

Babalola (2003) has observed that the essence of a sound theological knowledge is to enable the trainee to think and act reflectively on their acquired knowledge and to have self-control rather than externally imposed control. The establishment and survival of good theological institutions in Nigeria is fundamental to the spiritual and intellectual soundness of the entire nation and if poor theological education is tolerated, it will lead to weak spiritual foundations and spiritual chaos, which in turn will lead to a lawless, undisciplined, corrupt society and that will lead to lack of peace and tranquility as well as ungodly behaviour in society. A good theological institution, according to Bailey (2003), can provide an environment for biblical, theological and ministry training, while allowing for personal reflection under the direction and encouragement of highly skilled and caring mentors (scholars) that few people can find outside the seminary experience. Owoh (1986) stated that the Church views education as the instrument through which certain values and goals are acquired and propagated. The acquisition of these values and goals is an expression of human personality, and the search for these values and goals is to learn and understand, because the individual does not possess comprehensive knowledge. He further stated that education strengthens the feeling of responsibility to the community and at the same time strengthens individual will power. Education makes the conscience sensitive to social and intellectual truth. It imparts some power of discrimination between good and evil, between reality and superstition. Therefore, the Church’s contribution to development through education is an attempt to lead and liberate the community. Needless to stress that education is an instrument through which God, as the source of ultimate knowledge, love, solidarity speaks to the community.

According to Bidmos (1993), a critical examination of the religious climate makes a strong case for the development of sound theological knowledge, especially with the attendant eruption of violence in different parts of the globe. He opined that the training of church ministers must take cognizance of the characteristics and challenges of the religiously pluralistic society in which they will operate. They should be well equipped in theological knowledge for the task ahead of them and this includes exposure to standard libraries and their resources.  Ngufuwan (2010) has expressed the view that there are challenges like theological corruption, which deal with the distortion of some biblical doctrines by the Church. These are challenges that theological institutions need to address in their curriculum. The laity and religious adherents with no previous training in theology are the primary focus of most theological programmes worldwide. Courses offered in theological institutions are therefore less technical and are designed to respond to the pastoral needs of the participants Spiritan International School of Theology (SIST, 1998). Macquerrie (1966) opined that theology comes into relation with subjects like Philosophy, History, the sciences of man (anthropology, psychology, sociology, etc.) and the natural sciences. This is so because theology is part of the whole intellectual enterprise of mankind and must therefore stand in relation to other disciplines. The library collection should therefore be reflective of the various subjects in theological institutions.

The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology (1995) and Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of English Language (1996) defined library as a place set apart to contain books and other materials for reading, study, or reference, as a room, set of rooms, or building where books may be read or borrowed.  A library is defined as a collection of information, sources and services, organized for use, and maintained by a public body, an institution or a private individual. In the more traditional sense it means a collection of books. This collection and services are used by people who choose not to or cannot afford to purchase an extensive collection themselves, or who need materials no individual can reasonably be expected to have, or who require professional assistance with their research. However, with the collection of media other than books for storing information, many libraries are now also repositories and access points for maps, prints or other documents and artworks on various storage media such as microfilm, microfiche, audio tapes, compact discs (CDs), long programmes (LPs), Cassettes, Video tapes and digital versatile disc (DVDs), and provide public facilities to access compact rewriteable (CD-ROM) and subscription to databases and the Internet. Thus modern libraries are increasingly being redefined as places to get unrestricted access to information in many formats and from many sources. In addition to providing materials, they also provide the services of specialists who are experts in matters related to finding and organizing information and interpreting information needs, called librarians. More recently, libraries are understood as extending beyond the physical walls of a building, by including material accessible by electronic means, and by providing the assistance of librarians in navigating and analyzing tremendous amounts of knowledge with a variety of digital tools (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2012).

In the opinion of Igwebuike (2008) modern library functionality has gone beyond the use of print and non-print materials in information service. Current practice involves new information technology devices. Libraries with these modern devices download information through Internet. The Internet service offers full text database of journals, books, newsletters, standards, theses and dissertations. Digital (or electronic or virtual libraries) are paperless in content; they have all their stock in electronic format. Users of electronic libraries download all needed information through the Internet; this also includes theological libraries that are digital. A virtual library, in the opinion of Achebe (2008), is a library in which a number of different information resources are brought to the end users through electronic networks; it has no wall but the collections have boundaries. It is also telecommunication technology- driven, research oriented resources that enable scholars to obtain timely and up-to-the- minute information in any subject area. In the views of Serema and Mooko (2002), the Internet is a good example of a non-print reference source. It is also often referred to as an “information highway” because of its capability to transmit a vast amount of information to anybody anywhere in the world. Internet provides facilities like electronic mail, telnet, on-line searching, electronic publishing and user groups. It is assumed that in this age of technology all theological libraries in Nigeria are supposed to have Internet connectivity to assist users with such library needs.

Stressing the roles of a library that is rich in resources, Okpa-Iroha (1985) writes that:

  • It promotes the development of reading interests and habits among users.
  • It contributes to academic achievement in all subjects.
  • It increases the chance of success of students of higher learning or professional pursuits.
  • It provides users with vocational information leading to the choice of a suitable career.
  • It assists in the discovery and development of special gifts and talents of users.
  • It serves as centre for training users to study independently by providing a wide range of materials for class projects, individual projects and class assignments.
  • It serves as a centre of intellectual life.
  • It is an academic centre in any institution of learning, which trains users in the use of books and other sources of information (p 49).


Similarly, Akintunde (2003) writes that theological libraries are specialized academic institutions, invariably operating within the global definition of librarianship. Such libraries have to fulfill the conditions of staying within the boundary of practice in order to be regarded as libraries. According to Newhall (1970), the aim of a theological library is to make the library a centre of service to its users. The quality of the library is one important factor in the quality of education given by the seminary.  If the library is well run, well supplied with useful library resources and widely used, the whole programme of the theological institution will be strengthened. The library in a theological institution should offer students an exciting supplement to classroom lectures or tutorials. Its books, periodicals and facilities for Internet browsing give many students their first real opportunity for wider reading or research activities. With the encouragement from teachers and librarians the theological library should be the starting point for a life- long habit of reading, self-directed study and research habit for those that passed through it (Newhall, 1970). The Association of Christian Librarians (1994) consider the library as an essential part of any theological institution and that all educational processes rely on the library for resources for the intellectual development of the learners. It provides the tools which support classroom instruction and the curriculum of an institution. Hardy (2007) writes that an excellent theological library is that which is systematically collected according to a selection policy, built on the mission statement of the library and that of the institution, with trained personnel organizing it for maximum usefulness to both students and faculty. He stated that good libraries of the future will not be built on printed materials alone but take full advantage of information available globally through information technology.

Gates (1990) concured that the activities of a library are performed for the purpose of   serving its clientele. In a theological library the users are the faculty members, the students (seminarians), administrative staff, old students and researchers. Students in theological institutions form the bulk users of the library. They could be Church workers or intending Church workers, government workers or politicians, but the majority of seminary students are clergy or clergy in training. The prospectus of Spiritan International School of Theology (SIST,1998) stated that the products of its institution are to serve in the society as priests, religious missionary workers, administrators, teachers at all level of post-primary institutions, welfare and community officers, career advisers, as well as public relations and cultural officers. This shows that the products of theological institutions could be found in all walks of life. By their training they are supposed to be light of the world.

Library services depend on resources of various types: human and material. Resources in the context of this study refer to materials in the form of print, non-print and electronic resources (both hardware and software), facilities (library accommodation and functions), personnel working in the library (both professionals and non-professionals) and financial allocations of the library. The availability of these resources in standard form boosts the academic activities and attracts users to the library. Same is expected of theological libraries.

Facilities provision in libraries differs from one library to another. For University libraries, for example, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2012), writes that facilities provided by the library for its users are: repair, moving, communication, microform readers and security system. For Nanyang Technological University (NTU, 2012), the library is equipped with the following facilities to serve users: photocopying, network printing, faxing, and scanning, NTU wireless, computers, microfilm readers and printers. Other facilities include learning commons study rooms and instructional facilities. The library also provides users with study carrels as well as ample and conducive study spaces. In Camden Theological Library (2012), facilities include: Study areas, computing  Internet access, Microsoft (Ms) office, printing, Internet explorer (IE), Adobe reader, USB ports, for USB flash drives), wireless access, laptop for loan, photocopying and printing, and bindery. Facilities in John Kinder Theological Library (2012) include provision of Akomanga (information commons) for online learning-Internet access, Microsoft office suite, endnote software, living liturgy, Bible works. The Whariki (group study or meeting room) provides audio-visual conferencing facilities, projectors and smart board for presentations, while the Aho Mara ma, (a place of quiet reflection, contemplation and deep thought) is used for consultation of archives and special materials. Other facilities are microfilm readers for research purposes. In Nigeria the conventional library comprises of different components, these components are regarded as the facilities that assist in the smooth organization of the library. In the view of the researcher these facilities include reading space, shelves, cataloguing tools, bindery unit, circulation desk, audio visual, and computers. Others are workroom, offices, reading tables and chairs and availability of rest rooms (toilets).  These facilities would be better managed, if there are effective human resources in the library.

Human resources are the backbone for the operation and effective services in any library. According to Trustees of Indiana University (2012), human resources develop strategies and service to ensure the availability of highly motivated, well qualified, and customer- oriented library staff and operations of the library. Yale University Library (2012) provides clients (both internal and external) with comprehensive, customer driven human resources service that support the mission and vision of the library as well as that of the university. These services include: recruitment, retention, job placement, staff and labour relations, organization development, training, reward and recognition, professional development, compensation, risk management and regulatory compliance.

Financial resources constitute a very vital aspect of every academic institution, including theological institutions. Running of higher institutions world over is capital intensive, more so, they are very expensive to run. In the view of Kafang (2009), fundraising has become a very important component of theological institutions for the purpose of survival, expansion, development, reducing dependency and sustainability. He further stressed that sources of funding in theological institutions in Nigeria and their libraries are school fees, grants from the proprietor, support from local churches and denominations, donations or support from groups and individuals, support or grants from government, scholarships or assistance from Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Other sources are missionary support, contribution from alumni, students’ initiatives, occasional support from staff, grant from international sources including international foundations, mainline and nondenominational churches overseas. However, for a theological library the primary financial supporters are those who consider the institution to be their own (Hardy, 2007). This is part of ownership as they work with the institution to achieve financial viability and stability. These supporters include: alumni, mission organizations, Christian organizations, local churches, foundations, business community, government and friends of the institution.

Collections of theological libraries as provided by International Federation of Library Associations and Institutes (IFLA) in Lynch (1987) specify that: “a library’s collection shall be of sufficient size and quality to support the institutions and reference needs, and as applicable to facilitate research programmes”. Library’s collection should include required and assigned readings, reference and bibliographic materials, basic journals and serials, as well as any other library materials; students are expected to consult regularly in the course of their studies or while researching for their projects, theses and dissertations. The library shall formulate a written development policy, which will provide guidelines for the selection and retention of materials. This policy statement and accompanying documents shall be subject to periodic review. On the other hand American New Zealand Theological Library Association (ANZTLA, 2012) stipulates library collections to include: Collection development policy which shall be used as a planning tool and as a public document; it becomes a communication device to assist in the rationalization and sharing of resources with other libraries. The librarian shall be responsible for the management and development of collections within the terms of this policy. Collections shall comprise all types of recorded information including print and non-print materials, with access to electronic databases, CD-ROMS and other electronic forms. The library shall catalogue, classify and organize items according to professionally approved standards. The library shall cooperate with other libraries in sensibly rationalizing collection development, in sharing information and in appropriate forms of networking. These specifications will serve as a guide to examine the practice in the various institutions covered in this study and they are a combination of quantitative and qualitative considerations.

Collection based assessment deals with the collection resources in any library, while user-centred deals with assessment by users of the library collection. This study focused on collection-based and user-based methods of assessment. The research also highlighted on the standard for theological libraries in developed countries as stipulated by IFLA and ANZTLA. Assessment can be accomplished via direct observation, one-to-one interviews, focus groups, written surveys and online surveys. The best results are likely to be obtained with some combination of the above (Skyes, 2007). Information needs assessment study are valuable when a catalyst is needed for making major changes in information handling practices, where there are complaints about any aspect of information services and it is learned that information being delivered is not meeting needs of the target audience as stressed by Skyes. When viewing, evaluating or analyzing a library, the size, adequacy, and accessibility of its collections are the indexes mostly used (Biddle, 1992). Collection size and adequacy are measured in several ways. They are also measured in absolute numbers (how many titles, how many volumes, how many current periodical subscriptions, how much is spent on new titles and subscriptions each year) in relative terms (how do the holdings of, and additions to, library A compare to libraries B, C, and D), and in terms of accepted standards (to what extent do the holdings and growth figures of library A meet the standards recommended by various institutes). This view of Biddle was utilized to assess the library resources in the target population of this study.

Theological education in North Central States of Nigeria has its history right back to 1934 with the establishment of Gindiri Bible School by Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN). The school is now Gindiri College of Theology. This was followed by Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) Theological Seminary, Igbaja in 1941. Then came the multi-denominational Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) in 1954 first at Gindiri and later moved to its present and permanent site at Bukuru in the early sixties. Next was United Missionary Church of Africa Theological College (UMCATC) in 1956 first established at Jebba before it was later moved to Ilorin. Other Theological institutions in the Central States of Nigeria came into existence after Nigeria gained her independence in 1960. Being academic centres, such institutions are expected to provide an effective and conducive learning environment, which includes a library. With the history of the establishment of theological colleges in Nigeria dating back to the colonial era, it is assumed that libraries of such institutions will serve as a model to newly established institutions and professional bodies that started after Nigeria gained her independence in 1960. Akintunde (2002) is of the view that those who pass through theological institutions have historically been accorded some respect in the matters of external choices in the lives of many, and can as well influence others for the use of the library, in search of truth and knowledge.




Statement of the Problem

Religion plays many roles in human life and in the life of societies. It also has great influence on culture, the meaning of life, moral guidelines, support for daily living and at special times of crises and celebration. It teaches people certain values and possesses a high degree of power on individuals. It can have negative as well as positive consequences on individuals and the society. In view of the importance of religion in any society and for Nigeria as a pluralistic society, it is very relevant to have well informed, religious leaders of high quality. Such religious leaders are the foundation to a morally sound society; they are supposed to be educated in an effective and conducive learning environment with adequate learning resources that will make them adequately equip with knowledge, skills and wisdom. These resources should be found in theological libraries.

However, the academic level in most theological institutions in Nigeria and Africa in general is adversely affected, according to Kafang(2009), by lack of books and standard libraries. The researcher’s intensive search work in different libraries and Internet reveal that most research work in librarianship are mostly in the fields of academic, school, public, national libraries but few in special libraries especially on the assessment of library resources in theological libraries in North Central States of Nigeria, hence there is gap in the literature. Basically theological institutions require balanced and adequate library resources to help support the training and to produce the right calibre of religious personnel in the society. If there is no effective learning environment for faculty members and students in theological institutions in North Central States of Nigeria. For instance, if library materials are deficient, outdated, and insufficient, then products of such institutions cannot effectively play their role in the society because of the weak foundation.

Consequently the danger of poor library resources in theological institutions will deny students and faculty members materials that will assist them in preparing their lectures, assignments, examinations, sermons and conference papers. If such leaders are apathetic, uncommitted, uninspired, without a reading culture, then the whole society is doomed, especially if they are ignorant in their disciplines and impart wrong knowledge, then they become not only useless but dangerous. It is in the light of this that a study of this nature is not only relevant but also necessary, given the crucial role of religion in Nigerian society. It is very important to identify the current status of theological institutions’ libraries, problems of providing balanced library resources. Besides, the study proffer as well as solutions about the need to provide effective library resources. Furthermore, the study identifies the problem: do theological libraries provide adequate, effective and current library materials, facilities, qualified personnel and funding to attract their customers to the use of the libraries in the North Central States of Nigeria? It is the above problem that forms the focus of this research.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to assess the state of library resources in theological institutions in North Central States of Nigeria. Specifically, the study aims at:

  • Determining the sources and adequacy of funding theological libraries in North Central states of Nigeria.
  • Determining the print and electronic resources in theological libraries.
  • Identifying the library facilities in theological libraries in North Central states of Nigeria.
  • Identifying the level of human resources provision in theological libraries in North Central States of Nigeria.
  • Determining the extent that the collections cover the curricula of theological institutions.
  • Determining the challenges to library resource provision in theological libraries.


Research Questions

In order to have thorough understanding of the effects of library resources on theological education, this research will provide answers to the following questions.

  1. What are the sources and adequacy of funding theological libraries in theological institutions in North Central states of Nigeria?
  2. What print and electronic resources are available in theological libraries?
  3. What library facilities are available in theological libraries in North Central states of Nigeria?

What human resources are provided in theological in

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