ASSESSMENT OF THE APPLICATION OF INFORMATION RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES FOR ACQUISITION INSPECIAL LIBRARIES IN PLATEAU STATE
This study was conducted to assess the various strategies applied by special libraries in Plateau State in increasing their collections through acquisition. Some known strategies for application in acquisition in special libraries include purchase, donation, endowments, bequests, resource sharing, exchange, and consortium. Mixed research method was adopted for the research. Closed ended questionnaire with multiple choice answers and open ended interview were the instruments that were used in gathering data for the study.
Heads of technical unit of the libraries and heads of the libraries were administered the instruments. The data gathered was analyzed using tables and percentage scores and the major findings were that the special libraries house textbooks, journals, government documents, medical records, online resourcesand audio visual materials. The strategies they mostly apply to acquire the resources are purchase and donation which might not be enough to provide relevant and current resources for the users as even the purchase is hampered by insufficient fund and interference by some institution management.
They indicated that they use ordering, registration for resources and arrangements as methods for achieving success in acquisition using the strategies. Although they have such strategies, they are not satisfied because they are unable to develop their resources to fully provide necessary information to their users. Some challenges identified included inadequate funding, high cost of resources and difficult requirements by donors.
Having discovered that most of the libraries do not employ sufficient strategies for increasing their resources and satisfying their users the study concluded that the strategies do not actually help in acquisition of resources unless many of them are applied. Recommendations were proffered to help in broadening their options and they include encouraging them to employ co-operation, call on Alumni for partnership, have active databases and management giving free hand for librarians to handle development issues in the libraries.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The SpecialLibrary has existed for ages with the emergence of specializations in different fields. With the several years of its existence, it still engages in its traditional role of providing information resources to its various special clienteles. It came into existence to fulfill a need for information in the special fields so it engages in selecting and acquiring varieties of publications in different forms to meet the needs of its users. The primary aim of the special library is to build a useful collection to serve users, and it presupposes selection from a vast number of possibilities. Thespecial library develops and maintains collection that supports and enhances the information needs of the patrons. That is the mandate given to it by the institution it belongs to.
Information resource development refers to the process of systematically building library collections to serve study, teaching, research, recreational, and other needs of library users. The process includes selection and de-selection of current and retrospective materials, the planning of strategies for continuing acquisition, and evaluation of collections to determine how well they serve user needs. Overall, it encompasses many library operations ranging from the selection of individual titles for purchase to the withdrawal of expendable materials (Fordham, 2010). Information resource development includes every activity that goes into acquiring materials which include selection, ordering, and payment. It is a chain of events that include planning, administration and control. It serves as a foundation upon which other library services are built
(Olaojo and Akewukereke, 2006). Resource development is a planned, continuous and cost effective acquisition of quality, relevant materials to meet the needs of users and the objectives of the library. It is not just the growth in volumes and titles but in the quality of acquired materials in enhancing effective information delivery. This is the only reason for development to be meaningful where resources are concerned. Ajidahun( 2004) stated that a library that cannot fulfill this yearning is a moribund and anemic information system because it has lost its vitality, honor and attraction.
Information resource development is a fundamental activity of the library and information profession. It involves identification, selection, acquisition and evaluation of the resources which can be print and non-print aimed at satisfying users‘ needs. Nnadozie (2006) sees information resource development as the activities that enhance the assemblage and provision of a variety of information materials to meet the needs of library users with operations like selection , acquisition, receiving, bibliographic checking, weeding and collection evaluation. Resources in the library are supposed to meet the standards of quality in content, expression, format, purpose and need. In assessing a library, the major benefit of a good collection is that it helps the library review the strength and weakness of its resources. This review will help in improving on the weaknesses while maintaining or increasing the strengths. It is a truism that any collection that is weak is not able to provide the needed information to clients. Based on the above, information resource development therefore helps in enhancing the assemblage and provision of a variety of information materials to meet the desperate needs of the users.
In assembling information resources for the special libraries, there is the need to know the profile of the parent organization and the users. This means knowing their objectives(knowing what the organization exists to achieve), area of specialization (specific field of endeavor), users‘ educational attainment( level of their education as it will influence the level of information resources that should be acquired), interests (this takes care of their extracurricular interests), population (there is need to know this because of quantity of information resources to acquire)e.t.c. This is derived from the library‘s objectives. Ifidon(2006) also maintained that library objectives and philosophy must be taken into consideration in developing information resources as emphasis must be put on the areas of interests and concerns of users.
Strategy is a plan of action intended to achieve or accomplish a specific goal or purpose (The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1999). It means the methods or ways to acquire information resources for the special library designed to be followed. This aims at increasing the holdings of a library.Building library resources can be done through donations, purchases, legal deposits, exchanges, bequests/endowments, photocopying. Awolabi and Akintola (2009) also corroborated this view by indicating that library has other methods of developing resources which also include resource sharing, consortia, open access e.t.c .A wide variety of electronic databases and other digital reference sources both general and subject specific, including full text resources are available on the web for users. (Ossai, 2010).According to Ogbonyomi(2009)the libraries for a long time have been engaged in acquisition of physical books andperiodicals that can be borrowed as opposed to the current situation where publishers of databases do not sell but license such resources for use and limitations are sometimes placed on the number of prints that can be produced. The information resources must be acquired for them to be accessed.
Selection is the process of deciding which material should be added to a library collection (Adesanya, 2015). In a special library selection decisions are made by librarians designated as selectors in the specific subject area of the organization. Staff members in that field, students and users can also make recommendations on resources that can be included in the library. Selection is the heart of the resource development process since it aims at building the library‘s resources for the institution clientele. Skill, knowledge and the right tools are required to select appropriate resources that will meet the needs of the community.
Acquisition, according to Ukejianya (2007),is the process of obtaining books and other documents for the library by purchase, exchange or gift to meet the needs of the clientele in the most economical and expeditious manner. It aims at minimizing loss and saving costs for the library. Acquisition is a chain of activities including selection, ordering and receiving materials ordered. Exchange is a common practice in special libraries and it is done to complement the information needs of others in the same field who have indicated interest for the resource. Johnson (2011) opined that special libraries belonging to the network of their ‗family‘ make investments in their arrangements to enable patrons find resources that are otherwise out of reach. It is a give and take arrangement and everyone benefits. Sometimes special libraries have some resources in excess and would want to give some out to those that do not have. Once they have identified others with same field of subject area, they make such gift available to them at no costs.
Orders are placed for the supply of the selected resources after carefully choosing the supplier. According to the Business Dictionary (2012) orders are requests, verbal or written, for purchase sent out to suppliers under specific terms which is binding once it is accepted by both parties. There are many kinds of orders and the most advantageous is to be given consideration. Weeding is an activity of resource development and is aimed at maintaining relevance as the libraries must provide specialized information that will satisfy the needs of the clients with
minimal time wastage. It is the process of removing books and other information resources that do not have usefulness to users from a library collection. Boon (2009) stated that print collection grows daily yet libraries drown in obsolete, unused and unwanted materials. To ensure survival they weed, but this too is hindered by dwindling material budgets, reluctance to let go some materials because of the inability to replace them. Such books lose their attraction to users and become useless. Crew (2011) advanced some reasons for weeding resources to include:
- .Misleading-When the information is inaccurate or out of date. b. Ugly- When the material is worn out, tattered, mildewed.
- Superseded- When title is replaced by a newer format or title. d. Trivial- If the information is not well written.
- Irrelevant- When no one uses it because it‘s not needed or useful
- Elsewhere- That is when the information can be found elsewhere i.e. in another format or title.
Weeding enables the special libraries to fulfill their mandate of providing relevant, current information to patrons and is expected to be carried out every three to five years. .
A special library is that one established and maintained by an individual, corporation, association, government agency or any group for the collection, organization and dissemination of information primarily devoted to a special subject and offering specialized services to a specialized clientele (Johnson: 2011). A special library is one that is established to cater for the needs of a special group and dedicated to a field of endeavor.
The resourcesfound in it are geared towards the needs of a special clientele with special characteristics and to fulfill the goals and objectives of a unique organization. Special libraries often have more specific users than those in traditional educational or public settings and deal with more specialized kinds of information. They are established to support the mission of their sponsoring organizations and their resources and services are more targeted and specific to the needs of their users.
According to Garg and Gupta (2008) special libraries are devoted to fields of science and technology, agriculture, medicine, social sciences, economics and the likes. They are attached to research organizations, departments in universities, industrial organizations, professional societies and trade associations e.t.c. Many private businesses and public organizations, including hospitals, museums, research laboratories, law firms, and many government departments and agencies, maintain their own libraries for the use of their employees in doing specialized research related to their work.
Special libraries may or may not be accessible to some identified part of the general public. Branches of large academic or research libraries dealing with particular subjects are also usually called “special libraries”, they are generally associated with one or more academic departments. They function as change agents and leaders providing theinformationneeded to help their organizations achieve their goals.
The special library is usually created for specific purpose of providing accurate and current information for a particular set of patrons and therefore should contain materials considered to be of quality and be able to access them in sometimes demanding circumstances. Inaccurate information in a special library may cause havoc for the supporting organization. In addition to identifying and acquiring external sources of information, they help to organize internal sources of information. In the views expressed by Ghosh and Wesley (2002) they provide vital information services by preparing abstracts, indexes of current periodicals, organizing bibliographies or analyzing background information and preparing reports on areas of particular interest.
Special libraries are unique because of the nature of their clientele, collection, services, and mandate etc. as opposed to other libraries around. Agreeing to this, Ghosh and Wesley(2006), Jeffs(2010) identified five unique features which differentiate special libraries from conventional ones as –
- Nature and type of resources and coverage of interdisciplinary topics and themes which reflect the interest of organization.
- Nature of users- their academic /professional background, information requirements. Most of these are focused on particular topics or issues not broad generic subjects.
- Nature of information processing and management activities in the combination environment (partially computerized and partially manual operation).Subject classification and arrangement are theme based, issue based or project defined, customized according to research issues of organization. Keywords /descriptors form important component of document processing activity.
- Nature of queries, reflecting research requirements of special users. They are very unique and specific.
- Nature and types of services provided particularly in the electronic environment with fast progress of information technology. Reference service is always available, telephone and mail information requests are handled when possible.
Bender (1998) posited that with so much information available in so many different forms, companies need an information professional just to sort out what is good and what is bad. One could get lost on the Internet looking for reliable data. Easy access to information does not qualify that information. To this end, special librarians are able to provide users with honest,
valuable knowledge, because they understand their companies’ business perspective and can track data through a variety of sources, both print and online, to find the knowledge that will affect their companies’ strategic direction. Today’s special librarian must possess knowledge of myriad information resources, specialized subject areas, and the technology used for acquiring, organizing, and disseminating information.
Special libraries are those libraries that do not fit comfortably into the other categories that are available e.g. Public, Academic, School and National etc. In Nigeria, there are many libraries which are included in this category and some of them overlap some categories. They may be open to the public but might not have resources that are general in nature. Omojorho and Nwalo (2009) in their studies on Academic and Special Libraries mentioned that Special Libraries provide information for the organizations that support them and they can be a government department, private society, hospital, research association and so on.
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Special libraries provide resources that are unique, for a specialized clientele (those in a specific profession). Their resources are usually restricted to a field of specialization. Libraries in this category in Plateau State include the Veterinary Research Institute Library Vom, Federal School of Soil Science Kuru, Ministry of Justice Library Jos, Federal College of Medical Laboratory Science Library Vom, Plateau State Colleges of Health Technology LibrariesZawan and Pankshin, Plateau State Colleges of Nursing and Midwifery Libraries Jos and Vom, Theological College of Northern Nigeria LibraryBukuru, Plateau State Specialist Hospital Library Jos, Jos University Teaching Hospital Library Jos to mention but a few. These Libraries house information resources for specific disciplines, have fewer clientele who are mostly staff and students of the organization, they are mandated to acquire information resources that will help the organization in taking decisions, their operations are partially computerized and partially manual and have theme based classification and arrangements of resources.
ASSESSMENT OF THE APPLICATION OF INFORMATION RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES FOR ACQUISITION INSPECIAL LIBRARIES IN PLATEAU STATE
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Information resources are expected to increase periodically in order to put in place an enabling environment for research and decision making in fields of endeavor. The information resources so developed are expected to meet the information needs of the clientele. Special libraries are therefore tasked with providing information that is current, relevant and in formats that are convenient to the patrons so they can make informed decisions.
It is however saddening that after preliminary investigation conducted by the researcher in some special libraries in Plateau State, it was discovered that they have resources which are old, torn or outdated. The librarians complained of inability to acquire new resources or maintain active Internet connection because of lack of adequate funding. This has made acquisition of current information resources very difficult and only a few libraries could afford to buy books and journals.This is not in tandem with the norm in special libraries.
This situation can deny access to needed resources for informed decision.Special libraries facing tight budgets and reduced staff need to find innovative ways to provide value added services in their libraries.They are expected to have adequate resources that are current, relevant,which can be made available through various strategies to provide needed information to serve their clientele in the face of such financial challenges. These include donation, sharing of resources, exchanges among similar libraries, photocopying, endowments, and bequests among others. Libraries are expected to apply these techniques to acquire or boost their holdings but expected growth is not seen in the special libraries in Plateau State. Are the strategies highlighted above utilized in the libraries in acquisition and how well do they help in increasing the information resources of the libraries? This study intends to find out.
1.3. Research Questions
The study sought to find answers to the following questions-
- What are the available information resources acquired in special libraries in Plateau State?
- What information resource development strategies are applied in acquisition by special libraries in Plateau State?
- How do special libraries in Plateau State apply information resource development strategies in acquiring resources?
- How satisfactory are the use of information resource development strategies for acquisition in special libraries in Plateau State?
- What are the challenges encountered in applying information resource development strategies for acquisition in special libraries in Plateau State?
1.4. Objectives of the Study
For the purpose of this study, the following objectives will be considered.
- To find out the available information resources acquired in special libraries in Plateau State.
- To find out the information resource development strategies appliedfor acquisitionin special libraries in Plateau state.
- To find out how the special libraries in Plateau State apply information resource development strategies for acquisition.
- To find out if the information resource development strategies used for acquisition satisfy the special libraries in Plateau State.
- To know the challenges special libraries in Plateau State encounter in applying information resource development strategies for acquisition.
1.5.Significance of the Study
The essence of establishing a library in any organization is to provide needed information that is relevant, current and with minimal delays to its clientele. The result of this study enables such libraries discover the reasons why their resources are not increasing as expected.It also helps the libraries to utilize the identified strategies to improve their holdings as efforts geared towards remedying the deficiencies will be employed.
Users will naturally consult sources that are available and useful to their needs but where the resources are non-existent, outdated, and time consuming; the appeal for using them is diminished. Users will be beneficiaries since the libraries, having known the reasons for their lack of growth will improve on the identified challenges. This will also improve patronage by users who will obtain satisfaction from using the resources.
The knowledge of the reasons for lack of increase in quantity and quality enables affected organizations to improve on their commitment in properly equipping the special libraries to better fulfill their mandate.The government benefits more from the study as it will be a yardstick for measuring its commitment to funding the libraries and also making informed decisions.
1.6. Scope of the Study
The study was intended to cover only Technical Units of libraries designated as ―special‖in Plateau State as it is the unit responsible for collection development activities. Furthermore, only such special libraries belonging to the Federal and Plateau State governments and their agencies were studied. This is because most non-governmental organizations, industries, only have information centers as opposed to full functional libraries.
1.7 Basic Assumption.
It is assumed that special libraries because of their nature, have resources that are current, relevant and in formats that provide the information needs of their special clients through the various strategies available and useful to them.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
For the purpose of this study, the following terms are defined operationally.
Acquisition- It is to gain or possess library resources to serve the information needs of the special clientele in Plateau state.
Information-Data that has been analyzed and is meaningful for decision making in Plateau state special libraries.
Resource Development– It is the practice of building, through acquisition, the holdings of a special library on a periodic basis in Plateau State.
Resources-These are the informational materials found in the special libraries in Plateau State. They can be print or non-print.
Resource Development Strategy– This is the method that can be used to increase the information resources of special libraries in Plateau State e.g. purchase, donation, exchange.
Special Libraries– They are libraries that stock and provide resources and services to their patrons in Plateau State based on their various fields of specialization.