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DISASTER CONTROL MEASURES IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES
Background of the Study
Academic libraries exist in institutions of higher education such as University, Colleges of Education, Colleges of technology and polytechnic. These are largely tertiary educational institutions usually available after secondary education.
The need for well developed libraries is inexorable greater in Nigeria than in advanced countries. We cannot expect an excellent academic programmed in any educational institution without the support of a well equipped library. University, colleges of Education and Polytechnic are not adjuncts to their parent institutions, but integral parts of them.
Professor Alex Kwaanpong, former Vice- Chancellor of the University of Ghana once declared:
“The university library is the heart, if not aorta, of any University, and its academic health, intellectual vitality and effectiveness, therefore, closely depend on the state of health and excellence of its library. An inert and moribund library invariable means an inert and moribund university.
Again the centrality of the University library in the intellectual life of the university is epitomized in the off quoted statement of the British University grants committee.
“The character and efficiency of a university may be gauged by its treatment of its central organ, the library. We regard the fullest provision for library maintenance as the primary and most vital need in the equipment of a university. An adequate library is not only the basis of all teaching and study, it is the essential condition of research, without which additions cannot be made to sum of human.
The university, college or education and polytechnics library must posses a minimum number of books and current periodicals, let alone other types of information resources in certain subjects, to be able to satisfy the basic information and bibliographic needs of students and faculty in those subjects. It is the size of a collection combined with its quality that ensures its adequacy, which has thus both qualitative and quantitative dimensions.
The academic libraries need to protect their resources and collection from disaster. This, therefore, implies that the information resources these building holding could be at risk in the event of a disaster. Morgan and Smith (1997) state and library resources are very valuable either for the information they contain or for their physical beauty. The materials are meant to be a sources knowledge, pleasure and assistance for generations to cone. Libraries house and protect materials which by the very native are very susceptible to disasters. Academic library collection could be easily lost in a disaster and a nation stands to loss greatly if theses are no arrangements to prevent or mitigate the consequences of disaster. Mathew (1994) who asserted that survey have shown that some sort of disaster in libraries almost inevitable. There is no any comprehensive document on disaster control in Nasarawa State. That is why, the researcher want to find out measures academic libraries use to control disasters in their libraries
Across the world, disaster has devastating results due to inadequate preparation to control and manage it. The impact of disasters, usually spontaneous and severe, is often irreparable. Library materials are particularly vulnerable to the effects of disasters. Alegbeleye (1993), citing League of the Red Cross defines disaster as a catastrophic situation in which the daily ways of life are suddenly disrupted and people are thrown into confusion and suffering and as a result need protection and other necessities of livelihood. Alegbeleye(1993) cites McIntyre describes disaster as “an event, the timing of which is unexpected and the consequences seriously disruptive”. Blagg (2007) sees disaster as “an occurrence that causes death or destruction”. From the definitions above, the researcher understands disaster as an unexpected event, catastrophic, accident, destruction to human life and properties.
Akussah and Fosu (2001) citing Anderson and McIntyre and relating disaster more closely to libraries, define it as an unexpected event with destructive consequences to the library materials. Another definition offered by Mathews and Eden (1996) see library disaster as any incident which threatens human safety and damage library buildings, collections, equipment and systems. Alegbeleye (1993) writes that library disaster could be tragedies that befall libraries, archives, registries, electronic data processing centers, others, whose records and documents are destroyed. A disaster results in sudden removal of records and documents from accessibility and use.
Libraries provide an ideal environment for the initiation of fire as they contain combustible matter and materials that support burning like books, computer, carrel, wooden shelves. Fire incidents in libraries partial or total results in burning of books. Smoke, heat and water can cause great damage. Smoke leaves an unpleasant odour that can inhibit the use of books. Soot may cover the books to such extent that they could be unusable and may be discarded. The heat that accompanies the smoke can make the paper very brittle and consequently shorten its life span. Water used in extinguisher to suppress fire, often compounds damage as the books soak a considerable amount of it, which may cause their eventual destruction.
Fire disaster has been destroying libraries for time immemorial. In Nigeria, Alegbeleye (1993) reported that the library of the Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, was destroyed by fire in 1987.
Resources in libraries have been damaged by water in form of rain, flood, and water leakage through roofs, blown off roof, faulty air condition system, burst or leaking pipes, or event from water used in putting off fire in case of fire out break. In Nigeria, Leaking roof destroyed books and teaching aids of the Federal Ministry of Education library in 1987. Library materials were also destroyed at the Nigeria Forestry Research Library by heavy rainfall. There was flooding through the roof during renovation in 1988.
Akinforlarin (1992) writes that all over the world, the problem has reached the point where students do not care being seen by others in the act of illegal removal of library resources. Ancient libraries had to chain their collections as a result of this problem (Jackson, 1990). Libraries have adopted various strategies to minimize the loss inflicted on their collections as a result of stealing. Some of the measures include
- Surveillance of stock and reading areas by staff
- Use of human security guards at the library exit
- Instillation of burglary proof on all doors and windows
- Educating users on how the library suffers when theft and mutilation occur
- Electronic alarm system on all books (Kaufman, 1995; and Ozioko 1997).
Library materials have some biological agents that attack its collections. Varieties of insects have been identified as enemies of library materials. The most common of these pests are cockroaches, silverfish, termites and moths. They can attack collections, causing extensive damage. Prevention of insect attack in libraries according to Alegbeleye, (1993). Can be approached through the following measures:.
- Good library building design, with require building materials.
- Regular monitoring of the collection to spot areas of their activity.
- Keep all insects out of buildings by use of pesticides and modern pest-control to eliminate, when even they are detected.
Rodents like rats, mice and squirrels causes a lot of damage to library collection as a result of chewing off electrical wire and destroying materials of nesting purposes defecating and urinating on them. (Plumbe,1964;Parke 1986;Alegbeleye,1993).
The wide range of non-book materials like computers, video tape, cassette etc. the following have been listed as sources of damage to audio-visual materials: fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity, dust, sunlight excessive fluorescent lighting, incorrect shelving and careless handling by librarians and users. (Agayi, 1988 and schuller,1996)
From the disaster mentioned above, if any affects a library, there is bound to be destruction of library collections or structure. Rare and some times irreplaceable materials that cost large sums of institutional money could be destroyed. Albuquerque (2004) reported that after a library has gone through disaster, recovery work takes a lot of time of librarians and patrons who serve as volunteer workers in the rescue operation. It also involves a lot of money, labor and very valuable materials that may be hard to replace if damaged beyond repair. There is need to plan ahead, not only to minimize permanent damage or loss to a collection, but also to try and prevent disaster from occurring. They advised that librarians should not only play an active role in developing disaster plans, but should be realistically prepared, if the worst happens.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
By nature, library materials are vulnerable to disasters of various kinds. Quite like disasters in any other human organization, they usually leave in their trail very unpleasant experiences. However, the particular circumstance of disasters in libraries is that they may bring about extensive damage or loss of information a resource which is invaluable in daily lives. This implies that such condition should not be allowed to prevail in the life of any library.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that academic libraries in Nigeria may be prepared against disasters. When they are at all in place, Eden and Mathews (1996) have noted that they may be inadequate to cope with the magnitude of the imminence of disaster. Worse still, there is no empirically derived dada or findings on the status of disasters in these libraries, particularly in Nasarawa State.
Ever though human beings generally hate disaster, it is not a matter to ignore. One obvious implication of ignoring disasters and their planning is that it increases the risk of the magnitude of loss when it occurs. This is why a study of this nature is needed urgently to look into the disaster control measures in academic libraries in Nasarawa state.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This study intends to investigate disaster control measures in academic libraries in Nasarawa State. Specifically the study was set to out:
- Identify the kinds of disaster prevalent in academic libraries in Nasarawa State.
- Find out the causes of those disasters.
- Find out the consequences of disaster on the library collection and services of academic libraries in Nasarawa State
- Disaster control measures employed in the libraries
- Suggest solutions to the problems of disasters in libraries.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is particularly in the areas of revealing the factors that cause damage to collections in academic libraries in Nasarawa State. It is hoped that the knowledge will help the administrators of these academic libraries in planning for disaster and in formulation of disaster control policies for their institutions. The study will provide librarians in these academic libraries with the measures used to prevent the occurrence of disaster in their libraries.
It is also hoped that, the study will reveal the methods some other academic libraries use in solving their disaster problems and thus, help to make the knowledge of these methods available to librarians in the state. The result of this study may help to eliminate or minimize re-occurrence of disaster problems in academic libraries in Nasarawa state of Nigeria. Finally, it is hoped that the study will benefit students and researchers, who will embark on similar studies in this area in future by furnishing them with literature in this area.
The study covered academic libraries in Nasarawa State in the North central State of Nigeria. The study will also cover types of disaster, causes, consequences and measures used in combating disaster in libraries.
The following research questions guided the study:-
- What kinds of disasters are prevalent in academic libraries in Nasarawa State?
- What are the causes of disaster in academic libraries in Nasarawa State?
- What are the consequences of disaster on the library collection and services in academic libraries in Nasarawa State?
- What are the disaster control measures employed in the libraries?
- What are the strategies to prevent disasters in the library?