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CONSULTANCY SERVICES IN FIRST GENERATION FEDERAL UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
The online dictionary for library and information science (2004), Genaway (1992) and Painter (1992) are of the view that a consultant is one who gives professional advice in a specialized field, hired by a library or other institution to analyze a problem and provide professional or technical advice concerning possible solutions especially when the required level of expertise is not available within the organization or the opinion of an outsider is desirable.
National Industrial chemicals notification and assessment scheme (2006) and World net (2007) sees consultancy as the practice of procuring external specialists to provide expert advice and services where staff do not have the expertise or have overriding obligations within a particular field. Babu, Ramaiah,Saxena and Bedi (2007) are of the view that Consultancy in library and information science is regarded as an occupation that is legitimate, professional and respectable. Dougherty (1980) while tracing the beginning of library consulting noted that during the 1940’s and 1950’s information services and library consulting begun to evolve as a profession and individual consultants and firms began to focus on particular kinds of libraries or technologies. The first attempt consisted primarily of simple surveys, questionnaires, and personal interviews. Association for information Management (ASLIB) was a pioneer, having established a consultancy services in the mid 1960s and is gradually catching up in India and other parts of the world
Balikuddembe (2005) and Open System Management cooperation sees consultancy services as tapping talents that are aimed at aiding a person, group, organization, or larger systems in mobilizing internal and external resources to deal with problem confrontation. Consultancy services in library and information science seems to feature prominently among the sources of information that are increasingly taped by information consumers whenever they need information. Kurb (1996) reported that consultancy services involve the consultant who shares expertise with client (university libraries) instead of trying to hide it. The client (university libraries) who participates as closely and intensively as possible in the assignment. Both parties sparing no effort in making the assignment a valuable learning, thereby saving the client’s time, providing effective service by the consultant and helping university libraries meet user’s demands especially with new services and products. Consultancy services in library and Information science are gradually transforming libraries helping them to diversify library services rendered to users. According to the Gower Handbook(1998), the nature of consultancy services rendered to first generation federal university libraries are mostly in the areas of information communication technologies, other areas are abstracting and indexing, catalogue maintenance, binding services, current awareness services, CD-Rom search, database design, online-research services, software and hardware supply, automation of libraries and information systems to mention but a few. Consultancy services are therefore advisory services contracted for and provided to organizations or by clients, by specially trained and qualified persons who assist in an objective and independent manner, the client or organization, to identify problems, analyze such as a problem, recommend solutions to these problems and help when requested in the implementation of solutions.
The university library is regarded as the heart of the intellectual life of a University. The role it plays in the University is to support the objectives of the University, which is promoting teaching, learning and research. The University library is the nerve centre or the hub around which scholarship revolves. It is an indispensable instrument for intellectual development. A well stocked university library is a storehouse of information, or a record of human experience to which users may turn to for data or information. Jubb and Green (2007) observe that university libraries have for centuries played critically important roles in supporting research in all subjects and disciplines within their host universities or colleges. Oyesiku and Oduwole (2004) assert that in academic communities, libraries are indispensable. Guskin (1996) notes that the use of university libraries promotes active learning, thus contributing to students’ ability to think critically and work well independently or in group. An academic environment without a library is tantamount to a person without a brain.
Ifidon (1999) writing on the relevance of academic libraries stated the functions of academic library as: Provision of materials for undergraduate instruction, term paper as well as supplementary reading. Provision of materials in support of faculty, external and collaborative researches. Provision of postgraduate research. Provision of extensive standard work especially in the professional disciplines. Stimulation of researchers interest in the printed world. Provision of materials for personal development. External relationships and inter-library cooperation.
The library needs competent hands to help meet up with the demands of the users it serve and if they must give quality services that would satisfy their users, they need to employ certain strategies to help them develop their libraries.
Debowski (2003) in defining information service listed six key outcomes aimed at achieving library and information service, which academic libraries can adopt in meeting the objectives of the universities they were created to serve. They include, ensuring that the needs of users and the accessibility of information sources are suitably matched at all times. Delivering those information sources to the users in a timely and appropriate fashion. Ensuring that the information is of high quality, accurate and appropriate. Assisting the user in interpreting the materials when necessary. Promoting users awareness of new services and information sources they need. Providing users with individualized guidance and support as they build their information search and application skills.
Over the years university libraries in Nigeria have been striving to meet users demands, ensuring that information is of high quality, disseminated accurately and in a timely fashion. Various patterns and trends have been driving the changes in the use of University libraries in Nigeria today. The effectiveness, viability and vitality of university libraries are increasingly at risk. The sophistication of the students and researchers needs makes them to place a lot of demands on the university library as to obtain the needed information. Ifidon B. (1995) reported that the university library is in a state of transition in terms of resources and users, that many information sources are only available online and in electronic forms, university libraries are faced with the challenges of finding ways to overcoming problems library users encounter in their bid to get the required information. The most pressing of such challenges is that of the concept of ICT’s (Information Communication Technologies) such as retrospective conversion from manual to computerization of all library activities and lack of technical know how. This observed transition make it difficult for libraries to stay on their own but to embrace consultancy services and the wealth of experience they come with.
The importance of consultancy services to university libraries are numerous, they help libraries develop information related technologies and storage devices which makes university libraries focus on their core objective of meeting user’s needs, they help libraries acquire a higher-level and greater range of expertise, they help university libraries to acquire skills and knowledge transfer than they could afford themselves, they help libraries expand the delivery of specialized services within a confined budget, they help libraries obtain access to new markets and product services, they help libraries migrate to new platforms and infrastructure without a drain on resources or capital.
In Nigerian university libraries the opportunities for engaging consultants are already knocking on our doors, Libraries need to engage consultants to help train more staff on full time bases on current trends in libraries.
The Gower Handbook (1998) mentioned an important factor to the success of consultancy services which university libraries should adopt to be improve services rendered to users, that they should take time to determine their objectives for engaging consultants and develop their strategy to match the objectives and all that remains to be done is for university libraries in Nigeria to widely open their doors to accept consultancy services.
Statement of Problem
The improvement of university libraries and information services to a satisfactory and sustainable level has been a challenge to policy makers in universities and the university librarians in particular. Hence university libraries have adopted various policies and strategies to improve library and information service delivery to satisfy information and resources needs of their various users over the years.
In spite of these measures, university library services in first generation universities measured in terms of quality and relevant collections, timely service delivery and user’s satisfaction among others have remained insufficient. Consultancy services are essential for sustainable and satisfactory service delivery in university libraries, Consultancy services are dynamic and rapidly changing the sector of professional services. Jo (1998) is of the view that they enable libraries to focus upon its core objectives of service delivery without distractions. They help libraries migrate to new platforms, they fill an information gap, to be relevant and useful to clients, consultants keep abreast of economic and social trends, that may affect their client business and offer advice that help the client to achieve and maintain high performance in an increasingly complex, competitive and difficult environment.
But how are these demonstrated? How tangible is the linkage between investment in consultancy and the achievement of the goals and objectives of establishing university libraries? The rate of user satisfaction suggests that it potential value is self-evident. Scholars such as Robeson R. (2007) and Reid P. (2007) in their studies discovered that services rendered to university library users are largely unmet. As a result most of these libraries need to employ the services of consultancy firms to help them provide better services and continue to be useful to their clients. This is the challenge that prompted this research study. In essence, the study is seeking an answer to the specific question, what is the impact of consultancy services to sustainable and satisfactory service delivery in first generation federal university libraries in Nigeria?
- Determine consultancy service in first generation Universities libraries in Nigeria with view of finding out the nature of consultancy services that are offered by these university libraries in Nigeria and by consultants
- Identify the factors that motivate consultancy services in first generation university libraries in Nigeria, and the factors that motivate consultants to render services to federal university libraries in Nigeria.
- Identify the firms that offer these services to libraries in Nigeria.
- Investigate the level of satisfaction of librarians and consultants concerning the services rendered by these consultancy firms to first generation federal university libraries in Nigeria.
- Determine the benefits of offering consultancy services to first generation federal university libraries in Nigeria.
- Identify the perceived problems affecting consultancy services to these libraries.
- Determine what strategies can be employed to improve the services rendered by consultancy firms to these libraries.
The following research questions guided the study;
- What is the nature of consultancy services that are offered to first generation university libraries in Nigeria and by these consultants?
- What factors motivate consultancy services in first generation university libraries in Nigeria?
- What firms offer these services to these university libraries?
- What is the level of satisfaction of librarians and consultants concerning these services rendered by consultancy firms to federal university libraries?
- What are the benefits of offering consultancy services to first generation federal university libraries in Nigeria?
- What are the perceived problems facing consultancy services to these libraries and consultants?
- What strategies can be employed by libraries and consultants to improving the services rendered by these consultancy firms to federal university libraries?
In view of the various new trends in and demands on university libraries, such as dramatic growth in interdisciplinary research, changes in the information seeking behaviours and needs of students, lecturers, researchers , it would appear that these forces are positioning university libraries on the continuum between the liaison and consulting models. As a result university library services are increasingly in high demand, if something drastically is not done, libraries would be seen as inadequate for the study, research and teaching needs of the University academic community.