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PROJECT TOPIC – Strategies for Improving the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) Services in Some Research Libraries in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria

Strategies for Improving the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) Services in Some Research Libraries in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria



The research work embodied in this project is on the strategies for improving the selective dissemination of information (SDI) services in some reseal ch libraries in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria. It has the purpose of proposing the useful ways of providing SDI services in these libraries as these services are found to be a major priority in establishing the research library. The study identified the nature of SDl in regartis to policies, funding, method of application, and training available for the staff of the libraries. Also, problems affecting the SDI services were discussed. The r,opulation of the study included all the special libraries in the Federal Capital city of Abuja, but a random sampling technique was used to select study areas which made up to 40% of the entire population .

Thus a total of ten libraries were involved in the study. Questionnaires, labeled A and B were used to collect data from two categories of correspondents. Questionnaire type A had 8 items, all  while the type B questionnaire contained 20 items with closed and open-ended questions. The results obtained from the study show:d that provision of funds, adequate policy to guide the services, staff’ commitment on duty, motivation of the staff by the management of libraries, staff training and supply of working tools are all required to improve the selective information dissemination in Nigerian special libraries.




For decades,scholars and futurists have predicted an information revolution. ,those predictions have come to life dramatically in recent years. We now live in an information age, an age in which the ability to generate and access new knowledge has became a key driver of social and economic growth. This conviction is powerfully reflected in the development of the information super highway and in the feverish spate of takeovers and joint ventures in the telecommunication, able, and computer industry. Such developments are transforming both scholarly and lay perceptions of the value of information.

information has long been treated as a public good, freely available to citizens, but now, signs of new age are everywhere, as shown by personal computers in the classrooms, interactive media in the homes, digital libraries, global communication network,;, and electronic publishing. The statistics are irresistible, as has been  reflected in the amount of information produced in the last decade, which alone is greater than all the information created in the past  millennia (Indiana Univ. Bulletin, 2000:l). Public awareness of the importance of information has never been stronger than now. The rhetoric of the information age has finally become a reality.

And that reality translate 3 into unprecedented career opportunities for information professionals who know how to organize,  manage and exploit  information assets to produce and analyze  d u e information for organizations of all kinds. It is not surprising therefore that today’s information  professionals do not concretely store and locate information, they also analyze and synthesize raw data to produce customized, value-added services and products for a diverse clientele. It has also been acknowledged that an effective management of information system and resources is critical to successful organizational performance. And what would this effective management of information connote? It will involve expert collection, collatior, handling and processing of information in various ways, of which selective dissemination of information is just one aspect.

As Fidoten (1971:332) wrote in the Encyclopedia of library and information science, it is diff-cult to ascertain the first use of the term current awareness. The service is derived from the need to keep up to date with progress within a field. He cited Luhn trial in defining the service as “an essential function of management to make the members of its organization aware promptly of such new information which will most likely contribute to performing their  individual tasks with the highest degree of competence”
Gessesse (1997:3 80) defined current awareness as: “Systems for reviewing newly available documents, or the information about them, based on the  needs of an individual or group in research and development. C AS aim  to keep participants informed about additions to the current literature relative to their own subject interests”. In another of his works, Luhn (1960:291) talked on the perishable nature of the new information and the pressing demand for speedier communication in science. From these identified problems and needs, grew the realization that conventionally compiled literature indexes and conventional dissemination techniques were inadequate to keep pace with the accelerated output of technical literature, thus current ‘awareness evolved.
Before thj3 work of Luhn in 1960, Whitehall (1986:viii) reported that in 1947, Fleming, a university librarian had provided his clients with a continuous bibliographic service by laying out for their attention, items of reticently acquired literature and notifying readers of their availability (though these item were
selected oil the basis of Fleming’s knowledge of the reader’s interest).

The golden age of current awareness service, he continued, was most probably the early 1960s. At that time, the larger companies began to hire chemist, engineers, and biologists to work in or alongside their libraries, or staff were transferred from the laboratory, in order to have people who Could read the vast amount of technical literature and recognize ideas of value to the research aid development effort.However, modern procedures and techniques of current awareness service have included individual notifications of published information directed to individual professional persons, scientists, engineers and  others (Fidoten, 1971: 334). The use of individual notification has been enhanced by the availability of advanced techniques such as selective dissemination of information (SDI). SDI is a method of providing personal current awareness information to individuals or groups. It involves .;canning contents of  documents and provisional of a computer-based technique for relating the content profile of information to the interest profile of users.

In the foiqoing, the advent of SDI was made possible by the emergence of current awareness service, which had started long ago and has also been  computerized. For instance, t x Library of Congress has a library service division named Congressional Research Service. It is staffed by professional reference librarians and technicians who acqu.re, process and distribute research materials and periodicals within the service a,ld for bibliographic support. In 1969, it was reported that the division had converted a manually produced current awareness service to a computerized SDI systein (1,ethbrigde and McClung, (1 975 :43)).By way of definition, SDI is a system, usually automated, whereby listed items are matched against the interest profiles of individual or corporate users of an information service and relevant documents or abstracts are supplied to the users immediately.

It is related to current awareness (I-Iarrods’s librarians glossary). SDl service cannot be detached from current awareness, as the discussion of the latter
very much reveals the activities in the former. Roysdon and Mistichelli (1976:358) in their article “Manual SDI” also described the term SDI as a mechanized system of alerting researchers to current publications of interest. The concept embraces the manually produced current awareness service specificaly designed for the information needs of particular researchers or groups. They maintained that SDI ‘ systems, sike their initial formulation in 1959 or thereabout, have not met their primary goal of achieving a general information retrieval systein of great hospitality and flexibility that is user-friendly.

Rowlcy 1:1998: 177) agreed that despite the short – comings in the SDI system appropriate current awareness is central for business in maintaining their
competitive advantage, and for public sector organizations in responding effectively to environmental change. According to her, professionals, be they doctors, lawyers, librarian;, or teachers and managers, whether in marketing, production or information systems, need to be aware of change in the environment hat impinges upon the organization for which they work. Although such useful information is available in newsletters, journals, electronic
bulletin boards, and newspapers, it can be very time-consuming for individual information users to scan all of the appropriate sources. In order to support their employees in keeping pace with recent happenings, organizations like librarians (in this regard, research libraries), have traditionally provided current awareness services. Such current awareness (SDI) services are expected to:.Keep the information user up-to-date. Save project time

Aid in the creation of new ideas Save tim2 and money spent on journals Reduce the paper flow through the organization. The provision of these SDI services agrees with the purpose of establishing special or research libraries in Nigeria as reported by Nweke (1 989:83). In order to achieve these objectives listed above, librarians have for years, devised patterns of rendering this type of service to their patrons. The problem of information explosion necessitated the service. But in spite of the acknowledged usefulness o f this sort of service, a number of problems have been identified as militating against it. Fidoten (1 97 1 :335) and Whitehall (1 986:ix) have identified these problems to include: the problem of slowness of traditional methods of the service; incomplete  coverage of literature; delay of publication of scanned information,pressure form the labor-intensive nature of the traditional service; the labour cost of the service; pressure from the technological development of the society and finally, the pressure to choose between many alternative approaches to current awareness service.

SDI today,may be electronically/mechanically rendered (via computer), it may be manually or traditionally done (by index cards, currents contents etc) or a
modification of the two methods. Each method of the SDI has not been adjudged error or problem free. While the traditional pattern brings about distortion of
information and fatigue, the computerized version tends to be limited to a very few of  people who are computer literate. The modified approach, apart from being a duplication of effort, is also costly and perhaps costlier than the computerized pattern. The users’ reactions to the use of both methods also differ from person to person and place to place. The issue remains that selective dissemination of information can be offered by research libraries and even the academic ones,irrespective of their size or stock of materials. It takes only time, effort and initiative to opera; e a SDI programme.


Strategies for Improving the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) Services in Some Research Libraries in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria



Research or special libraries help in their parent organization’s productivity by cost effective information services. One very important objective of  establishing a research library, according to International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, IITA ( 1998: 1 > is to disseminate scientific and technical  information to staff and trainees through various means, including reference, bibliographical and most of all, SDI (Current awareness service) customized or news service as it may be called. Various patterns of mechanical, manual or a combination of the two systems are used in the provision of the service..
However, non-of these methods have been able to solve the problems identified by Fidoten and Whitehall. They are neither adequate nor effective. Likewise, other peculiar- ties in individual libraries have contributed to the poor growth of service in some research libraries, es2ecially in Africa, and have resulted in dissatisfaction of both the researchers and proprietors of research institutions. This study is therefore, undertaken to suggest strategies for improving the SDI services in Nigerian research libraries.

Strategies for Improving the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) Services in Some Research Libraries in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria

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