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PROJECT TOPIC- UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTs) IN PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICES IN NIGERIA

PROJECT TOPIC- UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTs) IN PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICES IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the utilization of Information and communication Technologies (ICTs) in public library services in Nigeria. Twelve public libraries from the six geopolitical zones of the country comprised the sample of the study. These include Abia State Public Library, Adamawa State Public Library, Akwa Ibom State Public Library, Benue State Public Library, Ekiti State Public Library, Imo State Public Library, Jigawa State Public Library, Oyo State Public Library, Plateau State Public Library, Rivers State Public Library, Yobe State Public Library and Zamfara State Public Library. The aim of the study was to inquire into the utilization of information and communication technologies in public library services in Nigeria. The specific purposes were to (i) identify the ICT facilities that are available in public libraries in Nigeria, (ii) determine the perception of librarians on the benefits of utilizing ICTs in public libraries in Nigeria, (iii) determine the extent to which ICTs are utilized for various public library operations, (iv) ascertain the extent to which users utilize ICT facilities in public libraries, (v) identify barriers to effective use of ICTs in public libraries, and (vi) proffer strategies for enhancing ICT utilization in public libraries in Nigeria. The questionnaires were validated by the expert opinions of three professionals in library and information science from the universities of Uyo, Maiduguri and Abuja, respectively. Reliability test of the instrument (questionnaire) was done using 120 users and 30 staff (librarians and library officers) from Bauchi, Kano and Nassarawa states public libraries. The study employed descriptive survey research design. Stratified sampling technique was used in choosing the sample. The population of the study consisted of four thousand two hundred and forty five (4,245) respondents which comprised librarians (74), library officers (164), and registered users (4,007). Three researcher designed instruments were used and these were questionnaire, interview schedule and observation checklist. The mean was used in answering the research questions and bar charts were used to show-case the analysis of the study. Data collected from the questionnaires, interview schedules and observation checklist were analyzed using descriptive statistical method. Based on the data collected and analyzed, findings revealed that: the commonly available ICT facilities in public libraries were computers, UPS, video tapes, television sets, photocopiers and printers; users were not satisfied with the ICT facilities available in public libraries; some of the barriers to effective utilization of ICTs in public libraries were inadequate funding, staff low level of computer literacy, inadequate ICT infrastructure and low level of ICT awareness among users; users of public libraries in Nigeria use ICTs mainly for accessing educational information, keeping abreast with current news, events, Internet browsing, down loading and storing information for personal use and for word processing. Based on these findings the researcher recommended that State governments should adequately fund public libraries, public libraries should partner with other agencies in ensuring the provision of ICT facilities, public library authorities should sponsor their staff to ICT- related workshops and training, and public libraries should organize workshops and seminars on ICT literacy for library users. The study concluded that, public libraries in Nigeria need to employ the use of ICT facilities and resources if their services are to improve.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Recent developments globally show that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have permeated all fields of human endeavour, including library and information services. It is perhaps for this reason that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as cited by Minishi-Majanja (2007) refers to ICT as a “powerful enabler of development” because of its significant impact on the economic, scientific, academic, social, political, cultural and other aspects of life. ICTs have therefore become synonymous with “development” in modern day society. According to Agaji as cited in Gujbawu (2004), the potential of Information and Communication Technology to transform development in both the underdeveloped and developed world is increasingly recognised by governments, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), corporations and global agencies such as the United Nations (UN).
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are tools that facilitate the production, transmission and processing of information (Grace, Kemy and King, cited by Eyo, Nkanu and Nkebem, 2011). This researcher categorizes these tools to include computer facilities (computers, scanners, printers, UPS and power point projectors); computer software resources (online databases, CD-ROMs, library application software, Internet and storage media); audio-visual media/equipment (satellite connection, digital cameras, video compact disk (VCD), digital video disk (DVD) radio, television, audio tapes, video tapes and photocopiers; and communication media (telephone-intercom and global system of mobile communication (GSM).

Generally speaking, ICTs consists of hardware, software, networks and media for processing, transmission and presentation of information (Eyo, Nkanu and Nkebem, 2011). Qiang as cited by Onwubiko (2011) perceives ICT as the application of communication technologies consisting of ‘’hardware, software, networks and media for the collection, storage, processing, transmission and presentation of information, via voice, data, text or images’’. A more lucid definition is that given by Onwubiko (2011) thus ‘’any technology that is used in producing, organizing and for distributing information. It is a broad-based concept that encompasses the gathering (acquisition), organization (packaging), storage and retrieval for disseminating information that can be in textual or numeric (books and documents), pictorial and vocal forms (audio-visual) using the combination of all the above (multimedia) including computers and telecommunication facilities’’ (p.62).
A public library is one which is generally funded from public sources (such as tax payers’ money). Harrod (1990) defines a public library as a library established by local, state or central government for the use of the general public. In Nigeria, public libraries function under state governments and have branches in the local government areas. A public library therefore is a library that offers services to the public, free of charge. Such services cover education, social, cultural and political information to its community, reference and information services, and selective dissemination of information (SDI).

PROJECT TOPIC- UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTs) IN PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICES IN NIGERIA

Public libraries exist in most nations of the world and are often considered an essential part of having an educated and literate population. Public libraries are important national resource with a vital role to play in establishing, nurturing and nourishing people’s love of reading. They also play an important part in life – long and informal learning, providing access to books as well as other reading materials, whether on paper or in digital form via the People’s Network (Bertot et al, 2008). According to UNESCO public library manifesto cited by Edoka, (2000):
The public library is the local centre of information, making all kinds of knowledge and information readily available to its users. The services of the public library are provided on the basis of equality of access for all, regardless of age, race, sex, religion, nationality, language or social status, specific services and materials must be provided for those users who cannot, for whatever reasons use the regular services and materials, for example, linguistic minorities, people with disabilities or people in hospital or prison (p.12).
Public libraries are distinct from research libraries, school libraries or other special libraries in that their mandate is to serve the public’s information needs generally (rather than serve a particular school, institution or research population) and offer materials for general entertainment and leisure purposes. Public libraries typically are lending libraries, allowing users to take books and other materials off the premises temporarily; they also have non-circulatory reference collections. They typically focus on popular materials such as popular fiction and movies as well as educational materials of interest to the general public (Bertot et al, 2008). The use of ICTs will further boost these services and ensure users’ satisfaction with the library service.
Public library users cut across a wide spectrum of the society.

They include artisans of various types, market women, children, secondary school students, university undergraduates and students of other tertiary institutions, professionals- such as doctors, engineers, lawyers etc. It is the varied nature of public library clientele that makes it distinct from other types of libraries. For instance, the academic library caters for the students, researchers and academic staff of the institution, while the special library is concerned with the information needs of the parent organisation, particularly the researchers. Public libraries cater for all classes of citizens. They are social institutions which contain diverse sources of information on a variety of subjects to serve the information and educational needs of the public. As Onadiran (1989) notes, “the usefulness of any public library depends on its ability to serve the community and the encouragement it provides for people of all ages to educate themselves continually”.
As the only libraries that have their doors wide open for all members of the community regardless of their sex, ethnicity, creed, social or class status, age, academic qualifications, or political leanings, ICTs are tremendously impacting on public library services in developed countries. This is made possible through training courses in ICT, Computer Literacy and Information Technology (CLAIT), the European Computer Driving Licenses (ECDL) etc. (Bird and Tedd, 2000). ICTs are also employed for reader development, resource management, information literacy etc. in public libraries. This is done through training programmes developed for both staff and users.

Books are selected to meet the specified criteria and links are made from the website to catalogues in certain libraries to ascertain the local availability of titles (Bird and Tedd, 2000). Job advertisements on the Internet provide job opportunities for users and there have been reported cases of users that have found jobs through the provision of Internet services in public libraries (Blake, 2003). The social impact of ICTs in public libraries is in connecting people to ICT, which in turn connects them with their communities and wider social infrastructures (Milner, 2007).

ICTs have shaped identities for library staff, who are now more of information providers and facilitators than mere custodians of information/knowledge (D-Lib Magazine, 2005). According to Eve and Brophy (2000), the provision of ICT is generally perceived as a crucial development that will place library service at the heart of the UK’s emerging “information society”. Services provided by public libraries such as reference services, lending service, current awareness service, reprographic service etc. could be enhanced with the use of ICT facilities such as Internet, CD-ROMs, digitized materials, library catalogues, printers, scanners etc. The quality of library services in Nigerian public libraries will equally be enhanced when ICT usage is intensified in library operations and services.
Ghosh (2005) also shows how ICTs are affecting the services of public libraries in India. He emphasizes the need for ICT- driven public libraries in India thus:
ICT-driven public libraries act as intermediary centre for improving literacy, awareness, welfare and cultural re-awakening, it is the intention to put public libraries in the right perspective, to arrive at a single window interacted environment for information concerned with all aspects of human life (p.5).
In India as well, the emergence of rural digital libraries and application of ICTs is helping solve the problems of developing public libraries (Ghosh, 2005). Effective utilization of ICTs in Nigerian rural libraries will yield similar results.
In the same vein, Garrod (2002) examines the relevance of ICTs in the activities of agencies in the United Kingdom, such as Regional Development Agencies (RDA), Peoples Network Programme (PNP) etc. The author highlights the relevance of these agencies in skills development and the labour market and suggests that public libraries can relate with these agencies in providing ICT services and support to the general public. He concludes that libraries offer both physical access to ICT facilities and tangible media (books, radio, virtual materials etc.), and virtual access to library catalogues, community library catalogues, community information, digital or digitized materials and a host of portals and gateways aimed at making the process of locating and retrieving quality information sources as easy as possible for the public. The intensification of usage of ICTs in Nigerian public libraries will improve their services in like manner.
Emphasizing the crucial role ICTs can play in public libraries worldwide; IFLA/UNESCO guideline for development (2001) stipulates that:
Public libraries have an exciting opportunity to help everyone into this global conversation and to bridge what is often called the ‘digital divide’. They can achieve this by providing information technology for public access, by teaching basic computer skills and by participating in programmes to combat illiteracy. While becoming the gateway to the electronic information world should be a key objective for the public library, every effort must be made not to close other doors through which knowledge and information can be provided (p.9).
It is therefore apparent that the utilization of ICTs in public libraries ensures quality service to users. It can also extend library services beyond the walls of the library.

PROJECT TOPIC- UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTs) IN PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICES IN NIGERIA

 

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