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COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES IN THE DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT AMONG FEDERAL UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
Background of the Study
Libraries are the repositories of knowledge and form an integral part of education. Libraries have a long history, starting with the chained and closed-access libraries of earlier times to the present day hybrid, digital and virtual libraries that use the latest technology for provision of information through various services. Accordingly, librarians have also changed from storekeepers who were concerned with protection of books against theft, mutilation and pilferage, to that of information officers navigators, and cybrarians who find themselves in the vast ocean of reading materials and are busy in satisfying their clients who want anytime and anywhere information. University libraries are the nerve centers of university institutions, and must support teaching, research, and other academic programmes. University libraries serve their students, staff and faculty. Because larger institutions may have several libraries on their campuses dedicated to serving particular schools such as law and science libraries, university librarianship offers a great opportunity to utilize subject expertise. Professional status varies by institution, but many university libraries have faculty status including tenure. Federal universities are academic institutions established and funded by the federal government for teaching, learning, and research including community development. Today’s universities libraries are involved in a variety of challenging activities. They may:
- Consult with individuals in analyzing, identifying and fulfilling their information needs.
- Create campus-wide information literacy programmes and deliver classroom instruction to strengthen information literacy skills.
- Select, organize, and facilitate access to information in a variety of formats.
- Keep abreast of technological advancements and develop strategies to take advantage of them.
- Plan implement and administer computer-based systems, electronic databases design and manage websites.
- Collaborate with classroom faculty, computer specialists, and instructional developers.
In addition to the above activities, university libraries are involved in these monumental task which include: Acquire and promote special collections of scholarly significance(print, digital, multimedia and art factual) to enrich the research and teaching environment on campus and make these unique materials accessible to scholars worldwide; Expand preservation efforts for digital resources, reallocating funds and working with trusted third parties. Provide long-term access to digital content that is core to the university’s academic mission, including research data, visual resources, subject repositories, e-books, streaming media, institutional records, websites and digitized copies of print resources. Thirdly, they systematically gather and analyze usage data and other metrics, as well as direct input from library users, on both print and digital resources to ensure that collections meet existing needs and areas of emerging research significance for the parent institutions; They selectively adopt new acquisition and access methods, including demand-driven approaches, to respond quickly to patrons and expand the scope of available resources. More so, university libraries support the work of selecting library materials in the context of changing collection needs and our multi-institutional collaborations with improved work flows, collections data, and new tools for library staff; they enhance the discovery and use of resources in creative, functional ways by harnessing subject expertise to complement technical capabilities such as content mining and pattern recognition; They respond to users need for training and guidance in managing information resources and embedding scholarly resources and services in online learning environments. Furthermore, they improve scholarly communication and publishing by increasing library staff participation on advisory boards of societies, publishers and other organizations across the disciplines. They also enhance on demand specialized services to support faculty collections and a broad range of scholarly activities, including digitization ,meta data creation, visual resource management and online publishing. University libraries greatly enhance online guides and instructional tools for library databases and reference collections, improve their ability in the library’s online presence, and assess the usefulness of these tools for students.
Ifidon (1999) described the university as an institution of higher learning where students are trained in thinking problem solving processes and in vocational skills. He went further to list the functions of university as teaching, learning, research publications, extension services, interpretations, conservation of knowledge and ideas, pursuit, promotion and dissemination of knowledge and information, provision of intellectual understanding. This means that the universities exist for the purpose of equipping those who pass through them with high level skills to impact the society. To achieve the above functions of the university, information should be provided for both the teacher and the students in form of books, audio visual materials, computer and internet facilities etc. Most of these materials are located in the libraries and no university can exist without a good library. Line(1988) observed that the function of a university library is mainly to serve the university community and if possible beyond to the fullest extent possible. The emphasis must be on communication between information center providing access to information that is available not only locally but also nationally and internationally by developing and applying new techniques and methods[It is absolutely essential for libraries to possess the resources that will enable it meet its goals, well trained staff and modern information storage and retrieval system can only be appreciated if excellent services are given to users. These services cannot be given without a collection of information materials. According to Ekere (1992) the objective of any university library, is to support the teaching, learning and research activities of the parent institution.
The University libraries are committed to offer services such as public services which include circulation and borrowing, course reserves and interlibrary loan. Again, there is the Technical Services section which includes acquisition, bindery services and cataloguing. There are other services rendered in the reference section by providing information through encyclopedia, dictionaries, directories, abstracts, maps, indexes etc. The University Libraries also provide the users with journal publications, newspapers, magazines and other periodic publications in the Serials section of the library. Other services are rendered in the Africana and Government document sections of the University Libraries.
Collection development is a back bone to any library and information center, whether it is public, academic or special library. No library thrives or satisfies its users if it does not gradually build its information resources. In other words, collection development is a pillar in every library. Collection development is defined as systematic building of information resources in a library and information center (Lee, 1999). According to Ozioko and Ekere (2011), collection development can equally be described as a process whereby a library provides information sources that a patron wants, regardless of format or location and rendering service and probably every librarian in the world sees that as the reasons for the existence of libraries and indeed of librarians. According to Cline(1981),Collection Development is a term encompassing a variety of activities designed to ensure that a library includes in its holdings; book and non book resources required to support the instructional and research programs of the host university.
Practices are ways of doing something, especially as a result of habit, custom, or tradition. Practices entail carrying out the different processes involved in the act of collection development. The practices include selection, acquisition, weeding and collection evaluation.
The collection development practices are also selection policy, acquisition or subscription of e-resources, weeding and collection evaluation. These practices designed to assess both the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in specific subject areas, may involve library staff, academics, students, administrators, and representatives of commercial vendors or jobbers of library materials.
In selection, library materials are selected on the basis of informational, educational, cultural and recreational value. These materials are selected in compliance with the mission and goals of the library. The following general criteria are also used in selecting materials for addition to the collection; (1)importance and value to the collection and library users (2).Significance of the subject matter. (3).Current appeal and popular demand.(4).Local interest.(5).Cost and budgetary constraints.(6).Authority, accuracy and artistic quality. Special considerations for electronic information sources are: ease of the use of the product, availability of the information to multiple, concurrent users, technical requirements to provide access to the information, technical support and training (Adomi,2006).
Moreso, the acquisition practice focuses on the methodological and topical themes pertaining to the interrelated processes of collection development (planning and building a useful and balanced collection of library materials over a period of years)and acquisition. Activities associated with the acquisition of materials(print and electronic ) resources by purchase, exchange, gift, or legal deposit, online subscription include: ordering, receiving, claiming and payment; selecting and evaluating supply sources; negotiating pricing; licensing of electronic resources(Adomi,2006).Specialized interests of acquisition practices include collection development policies, collection development methods, techniques and practices for collection assessment, usage statistics, material pricing issues, ownership vs access issues, the open access movement, format duplication, scholarly communication, librarians relations with the publisher and vendors and utilizing emerging technologies to enhance access to information resources.
Furthermore, weeding of both print and digital library resources is essential for the maintenance of current, academically useful library collection. Librarians are responsible for conducting regular weeding efforts and are encouraged to coordinate these initiatives with the faculty. The decision to withdraw an item is based on well-established professional guidelines and deselection criteria(Adomi,2006).Weeding is considered according to: Out of date or obsolete information; if the material has not been accessed in the last three to five years; withdrawal of resource if vital information is missing; availability of replacement or new edition i.e superseded editions; if information resource does not support the current curriculum; materials that cannot be accessed or maintained.
In the same vein, collection evaluation is the consistent assessment of the extent to which a collection meets the library’s objectives.(Ifidon,1997).This has to do with determining the scope, depth, and usefulness of the collection, test the effectiveness, utility and practical applicability of the written collection development policy, assess the adequacies and suggest ways of rectifying them, reallocate resources so that the areas that really need them can receive greater attention; convince the library’s authorities that the allocated resources are not only being judiciously utilized, but also inadequate; and to identify areas where weeding is required (Ozioko & Ekere,2011). According to Ozioko & Ekere (2011), there are certain reasons for evaluating library collection (1).Library collection needs to be evaluated from time to time to check how the selection policies are working out. This helps the librarian work on the acquired resources.(2).Evaluation can help yield the data required to support increased budgetary demands.(3).Another reason is for accreditation purposes. There is need to show an accreditation body that the present institution possesses the necessary materials or facilities to support instructions and research in certain subject fields. Ifidon (1999)suggested methods of collection evaluation: compiling statistics on holding, use and expenditures; checking standards lists, catalogues and bibliographies; applying library standards etc .Singh (2004)suggested that internet resources should be evaluated according to: the quality and credibility of their contents, relevancy of information, ease of use, reliability and stability, hardware and software requirements etc.
The 21st century has witnessed an unprecedented paradigm shift in the rendering of library and information services worldwide. The ripple effect of the influence of information and communication (ICT) on every aspect of human endeavor remains colossal and its impact on library and information services has not been exclusive.
A major consequence of this development has been the concept of the emergence of electronic services on the libraries or better still, the concept of digital libraries (Youngok, 2006). Library services are assuming a different dimension in philosophy, model and information delivery. The trend worldwide has proved that information provision and delivery had shifted from the traditional models to electronic and web-based formats. Traditional collections are giving way to if not total but at least hybrid collections. This change in structure is not without its attendant challenges as electronic and digital libraries come along with their peculiar characteristics despite sharing the same purpose of preserving, organizing and distributing information resources as in the case of traditional libraries (Youngok, 2006).
With the rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the advent of internet, the whole publishing world is revolutionized with print to digital environment (Demas, 1994). The transition had been reflected greatly in library and information centres, which are being transformed gradually from traditional library to hybrid library to Digital library and finally to virtual library. The developments started in late 1980s and then go momentum in 1990s in developed countries. The developing countries are also slowly moving to the digital environment. Digital libraries had emerged as a leading edge technological solution to the persistent problems of enhancing access, enduring archive and expanding the dissemination of information. Since the rapid move to a digital environment, it had changed the taste and preferences of users. Non-availability of documents in print form and opportunities of accessing documents, forced the libraries to shift gradually from print to digital medium.
Digital Environment is used synonymously with electronic environment or digital age and or virtual environment. Kena (1998)defined digital environment as where collections are merely in electronic formats with the technology needed to utilize and explore them. The term digital environment implies that the physical, operational and human elements found in the environment are either thinking or talking in electronic terms. The electronic environment is characterized by the application of digital technologies to the information generation processing and distribution chain. Digitization of information is not just the act of scanning an analogue document into digital form but series of activities that result in a digital copy being made available to end user via the internet or other means for a sustained length of time. Digitization implies conversion of documents and art works into digital images(Fabunmi,2006).Digital data can be compressed for storage, meaning that enormous amounts of analogue content can be stored on a computer drive, or on a CD-ROM. Digital content can be browsed easily and can be searched ,indexed or collated instantly. Most importantly, it can be linked to a whole ‘web’ of other content, either locally or globally via the internet.
Collection development in the digital environment, is the gradual building up of collections in digital form (Demas, 1994). Besides, it includes subscriptions of e-journals and databases with a flavor to archival facility. The aim of collection development is to facilitate access to some of e-journals, e-resources, e-conferences proceedings, databases (full text and bibliographic databases) to the users on request basis within the campus of the university library. Collection development in digital environment has policies intended to guide the digital collection development work of library bibliographers and digitization mangers as well as provide information to potential collaboration partners both on campus and external to a university. There is a selection criteria which includes factors that would be considered when evaluating proposals to digitize or enhance digital access: (a) it constitutes official records of the university (b) forms part of the university archives (c) is at risk of being lost due to poor condition or obsolete media format (d) falls within the library’s stewardship responsibility (e) has institutional significance (f) is of particular regional or local value. The proposed activity would support institutional goals, adds to institutional distinctiveness and recognition, make new uses possible, provide a strategic opportunity for library innovation and learning, provide a strategic opportunity for library partnership, or collaboration; contribute to an existing digital collection, bring together materials in different formats or repositories, link previously isolated titles, or create an entirely new collection.
Nnamdi Azikiwe library(NAL)University of Nigeria, Nsukka was established in 1960.In 2009,the library moved to a much bigger building with a sitting capacity of 7,500 and 804,000 volumes of books, subscribes to 150 journal title, and has access to six current online databases. Within the last five years, the university library has made tremendous efforts for the adoption of electronic library services by establishing electronic library system. The library has started online digital collection development through subscription of e-journals. The journal in Nnamdi Azikiwe library(UNN) are in two categories viz; journals that can be accessed freely(open access journal such as JSTOR) and journals that cannot be accessed freely(closed access journal such as Hinarri, OARE).
Festus Aghagbo Nwako library ,Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka boasts of a digital library presently. The digital library encourages the growth of ICT and its application to collection development practices with regard to information retrieval. The digital library is a monumental edifice with seven hundred computers. It was opened to users on the 1st of March 2010.It is a delivery of new TEEAL Database (the Essential Electronic Agricultural Library Database)from the U.S.A. Among the state of art equipment currently housed in the library are 700 computers and also online access and search engines(Ogunsola,2011).Both libraries have made several attempts to embrace digital collection development with the application of modern digital technologies. The rationale for studying these universities is because they are open to adopting ICT and electronic tools and the tools are available in the library. The researcher is interested in the south-east geopolitical zone because he is from there.
Furthermore, there are factors that militate against collection development practices in digital environment such as financial constraints, lack of ICT skill manpower, problems of digital divide, poor access to material for acquisition, problems associated with internet facilities, poor administrative policies and programmes for the library etc. The will also be strategies that can enhance digital collection development practices.
Statement of the Problem
The advent of information and communication technology(ICT) has indeed revolutionized the way we do things. It has affected many spheres of human endeavor and the field of library and information science is not an exception. This has resulted in the digitization of library oriented services. This practice has become prominent in the wake of 21st century and accompanies with it associated advantages such as speed, flexibility, ubiquitous service delivery, multimedia resource formats, to mention a few. This is particularly relevant for improving library collection development in the electronic age. The digitization project has become a fundamental aspect of remodeling the landscape of library and information services. Compliance to collection development practices in the digital environment brings about rich access to information resources in the library and successfully brings about efficacy and efficiency in library services. The absence of digital effort in the library may have a negative consequences on the services it offers with regard to collection development practices. This may lead to inefficiency and ineffectiveness in service delivery, poor access to resources in the library, inability in exchanging library resources with others who are digitized, among others.
However, observation shows that libraries generally are yet to fully implement digitization in their collection development practices. Many libraries have not adhered to this practice which has negatively affected their service delivery. The problems include lack of fund to equip the libraries digitally and lack of technical knowledge to navigate in the digital environment. The lack of study in this field of CD practices in the digital environment resulted in the need for this present study in the Federal University libraries in Enugu and Anambra states. If these libraries are not adequately funded to procure the necessary digital equipments, how can the staff be trained or acquire skills in order to navigate in the digital environment for effective collection development?
Purpose of the Study
Generally, this study is set to look into collection development practices in the digital environment among federal universities in Enugu and Anambra states. Specific objectives are to:
- Find out the criteria for selection of library resources for digital collection development in Nnamdi Azikiwe University and University of Nigeria, Nsukka libraries.
- Examine the methods acquisition of resources in the digital environment of the universities under study.
- Ascertain the criteria that guide weeding in the digital environment of the both university libraries.
- Examine the measures applied in evaluating collections in the digital environment of the both universities.
5.Ascertain the challenges associated with collection development in the digital environment of the universities under study.
- Examine the strategies that enhance collection development in the digital environment of the both universities.
To ensure the realization of the above objectives of the study, the following research questions would guide the study
- What are the criteria for selection of library resources for digital collection development in Nnamdi Azikiwe University and University of Nigeria, Nsukka libraries?
- What are the methods of acquisition of resources in the digital environment of the universities under study?
- What are the criteria that guide weeding in the digital environment of the both university libraries?
- What are the measures applied in evaluating collections in the digital environment of the both universities?
- What are the challenges associated with collection development in the digital environment of the universities under study?
- What are the strategies that enhance collection development in the digital environment of both universities?
Significance of the Study
It is hoped that the findings of this work or study would be beneficial and useful to university library administrators, professionals in librarianship, ICT experts in library, general library staff at large and library users or patrons/researchers. This study would make library administrators to keep abreast with the changing trend of library collection development from print to electronic forms of collection development in different academic libraries. It would also (the result of the study) assist librarians to create avenues of tackling the problems in the area of collection development evaluation, selection, acquisition, as well as making library administrators to be acquainted with the policies that guide acquisition of electronic materials such as e-books, e-journals and other types of databases. This is important because it would alert librarians on the need for proper collection development, policies and constant evaluation of collection in the electronic or digital environment in order to satisfy the needs of users, especially in academic libraries.
The recommendations would help in giving the librarians an insight of information on the different collection development practices so as to adopt better ones. For students, researchers and other users, the findings would provide them with basic and factual information at their disposal. Likewise the government will benefit from the study as they would realize their budgeting inadequacies for digital library collection development. This will enable them counter these inadequacies or challenges.
Finally, the study will be useful for other academic purposes by providing the database from which information on digital collection development in libraries could be obtained in order to contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the area of library and information science which will benefit future researchers in the field.