MANAGEMENT OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS IN A PERIOD OF REDUCED FUNDING
The objective of this research was to investigate the management of the Special Collection Division in a period of reduced funding in Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Six research questions were framed to guide the study. It was a case study. The population comprise of all the users of Special Collection Division, the Library Staff working there and the University Librarian himself. A sample population was made of 14 staff and 75 users of different categories. Questionnaire and oral interview were the instrument use for data collection while data collected was analyzed using frequency tables. The major findings of the study were as follows. There is a lack of bibliographic tools for processing of the resources, there is inadequate resources that are acquired and stocked for users, users are frustrated as a result of lack of learning resources they need and few learning resources are acquired for teaching and learning. A number of recommendations were made that could help alleviate the condition such as provision of more space for better organization of materials, taking acquisition tour to fill gaps in government document from Nigeria and paying for United Nations Documents, introduction of information technology in the management of Special Collection, recruiting more hands to handle materials organization and services in the division, prudent management of available resources as well as customer-oriented services, among others.
1.1 Background of the study
The quality of the management of any organization, whether it be a corporation, a government agency or a museum has a great deal to do with ultimate success of the group involved Mount (1984). This certainly holds true for libraries including those devoted to special collections. There is un-doubtable general agreement that the degree to which Special Collection Division achieve high standard of performance in dealing with their users especially during period of reduced funding depends chiefly upon the administrative ability of the library managers.
Special Collection according to Love and Feather (1998) are collection of materials, which are distinguished by their age, rarity, provenance, subject matter, or some other definition characteristics. They are a traditional feature of many academic libraries, and an important resource for primary research in the humanities and the historical social science. According to Harrods’s Librarian Glossary (1995) special collections are a collections of books connected with local history, celebrities, industries etc or on a certain subject or period or gathered for some particular reason in library which is general in character. Beemer (1984) pointed out that special collections division were formed for administrative convenience in libraries to take care of miscellaneous non-conforming library such as photographic collections, incunabula, and literary manuscripts, “archive” of the institutional variety are a recent addition to the list.
Nearly all academic libraries including Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, University of Nigeria, Nsukka have some part of the collection which have to be treated in a special way: a collection of rare valuable books, important donations, or achieves etc. In many cases these special collections are resources of national important, the qualities unique to special collections according to Scham (1987) set this department apart from the rest of the library and frequently from the library administration as well. The decision according to him by libraries to replace the term “rare books” with “special collection” has been of incalculable significance to both libraries and their users. If “rare books” traditionally includes mainly old, rare, unique and valuable works, the change and expansion of such holdings offered by the term “special collection” becomes apparent immediately.
Special Collection frequently exceed these boundaries. A distinguished scholar may donate his or her papers, recordings, video tapes and books or a government may establish a special collection, to include everything on the subject of its politics, history and commerce, which would include both the oldest and most recent publications in order to maintain and complete a library as possible. There is nothing mysterious about the reasons for the existence of special collection. Indeed, it would be faire to say that without them in our libraries and institutions our society would be grievously poorer. And even now, despite our efforts great gaps exist in our knowledge about certain societies. We learn about human history by studying human works, neglect or destroy those works and we will have caused those who have proceeded us to have lived in vain by having made it impossible for them to hand down to us the fruits of their labour and experiences.
Special Collection exist because of the research needs of students, staff and researchers. It provides specialized information for researchers and other categories of users. Special Collections also preserve our human heritage, which are rare “materials” and such collections are indispensable for scholarship. All special collections division with undoubtedly have operating cost which, unless are remarkable we and consistently funded, will have an effect up to the overall operation of the library. Unfortunately, the economic problem of the country started to manifest in the late eighties and was aggravated in the eighties to the fluctuation in grant allocation to the universities and indeed their libraries Kolo, (1999). This situation makes it even more imperative for proper management of existing special collection in academic libraries.
Management according to Edoka, (2000) refer to a special group of people whose job is to combine and utilize the organizational resources of men, money, information items and other resources to achieve organizational objectives. Library management according to the Harrods’s Librarians’ Glossary (1995) entails organizing motivating staff, securing resources and evaluating performance. According to Shafrits (1985) management can be referred to both the people responsible for running an organization and the running process itself, the utilization of numerous resources to accomplish an organizational goal. On his own part Johnson (1990) refers to management as the effective use and coordination of resources such as capital, plants, materials and labour to achieve defined objectives with maximum efficiency.
For the purpose of this work, management means those people whose duty it is to effectively use the resources of any organization, such as materials, labour and capital to achieve the purpose of its establishment.
Special Collection Department carryout these tasks by determining the direction of the Division, determining the fiscal constraints of the Division, determining the type and size of staff and how best to motivate for effective service/productivity and periodically examining the division performance among other strategies Mount, (1984). The management of libraries generally and in particular Special Collection has never been an easy task even at the best of time. At a time of dwindling resources, the management of special collection therefore, becomes a great challenge to the library administrations. In the past, libraries and information centers had to manually manage their information resources. The laboriousness of such practice, the attendant delay in information processing and delivery services and general ineffectiveness of information services at that time no doubt motivated serious research into the better means of information management.
Nwalo (2000), said that the information technologies found in libraries at present can be divided into three categories: computer storage, media and telecommunication. These three aspects, working together have brought about great improvement in the quantity and quality of library services to users and an amazing reduction in the delivery time. With the emergence of the Internet, the world has been truly reduced to a global information village. This world wide network, though designed to serve the information needs and interests of all facets of the society has provided a great boost to library services generally and special collections in particular.
The availability and access of special collections in the information technologies is a welcome development and should be integrated with other library collections with the aim of maximizing services to users. As result of increased pressures and demands, and in view of the reduced funding experienced in most libraries, concerted effort will inevitably be spent on the process of resources management in academic libraries in future. Proper management in academic libraries collection becomes imperative if the general objectives of any university library should be achieved. In order to achieve optimum result, a number of strategies should be put in place to manage special collections in the face of reduced funding.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe Library University of Nigeria Nsukka Special Collection Division was set up to acquire, process and service and assortment of special document of grate relevance to the research students and the academic staff, Okorie (1998). The library was opened in October 1960 occupying temporary two tiny rooms in the faculty of education building. The Africana collection otherwise known as Special Collections today, opened in a room of its own with an initial collection of one thousand five hundred volumes of books in September, 1964. Many of the books in the special collections were donations from the late right honorable Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe Obi, (1986). According to Okorie, (1998) Nnamdi Azikiwe Library Special Collection habours a number nudocuments, which include Africana, Achebeana, Biafrana, Government documents/Achieves and United Nations Publications. This division is part of the general administrative system of the library.
1.2 Statement of the problem.
The importance of Special Collections in the library of any university cannot be over stressed. The university library even though with meager resources knew that special collections are indispensable part of its collections. This is because students of the university and beyond rely on special collections for their programme especially at postgraduate level. Special Collections provide specialized kind of information, which cannot be obtained from any other section in the library. It is indeed an indispensable information centre for researchers. At a time in history we are in a rush, the importance of maintaining and expanding Special Collection takes on an even greater significant, for one day the youthful generation who are running today will have to slow down, and the protection of our written heritage will be understood and appreciated. At the same time, it is the task of curators of special collections to make known their holdings and to attract scholars and students. However, it appears that reduced funding to libraries is affecting the management of Special Collections in Nnamdi Azikiwe Library. It appears that the situation has affected the acquisitions and organization of the Special Collection Materials. It also appears that more relevant are needed special collection materials are longer coming into the library to meet the information needs of its teaming users. Equally it appears that staff is being demotivated and this is affecting their efficiency and productivity.
If this important unit is not properly managed, serious damaging consequences will affect resources available therein. This will bring about “half education” and mediocre graduates who are not sound in training. The future of learning and research will be bleak. It becomes necessary therefore, to find out how the Special Collections are being managed especially in the face of reduced funding.
What are the challenges of managing the Special Collections better with a view to satisfying the user under this prevailing economic down turn?
This is indeed the problem of this study.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to look into the management of Special Collections in a period of reduced funding in Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The special objectives are as follows:
- To find out research resources that are available in the Special Collections Division
- To find out methods of resources acquisition in the Special Collections Division.
- To find out ways in which the Special Collection Division is rearranged based on its constituent parts for effective use
- To find out the effects of reduced funding on the management of Special Collections.
- To find out whether students and researchers feel satisfied with services rendered in the Special Collection Division.
- To Suggest strategies by the users for improving the services of the Collection.
1.4 Significance of Study
The result of this research will be of great benefit to different people in different ways.
Noteworthy is that the result will be useful to University Library administration in that it will help them to know problems of managing their
Special Collection and need for them to support the unit financially and otherwise. Alto the university authorities will find the result useful as it will provide the reason why adequate funds should be made available to libraries for better performance.
Furthermore, the National University Commission (NUC) will find the result relevant as it will show them the need to effectively enforce the release of library funds by the University authorities. Staff of Special Collection Division will benefit from the result of the study by knowing how best to manage the available resources in times of reduced funding. Students and other researchers will equally find the result useful as it will provide background information for a work in hand especially, those carrying out studies in related areas. Finally, it will show the need for the introduction of information technologies to the operation of the division so as to enhance on-line access and data services in the electronics environment.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions have been structured to guide the study.
- What are the research resources available in the Special Collection Division of Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, U.N.N.
- What are the methods of acquiring these resources?
- In what ways are the resources of the special collections organized for effective use?
- What are the effects of the reduced funding on the management of Special Collection in terms of resource acquisition, staffing, training of staff and services offered?
- To what extent are students and other researchers satisfied with the services rendered in the Special Collection Division?
- What strategies are suggested by users for improving the services of the division?
1.6 Scope of the study
The study mainly centered on the management of Special Collections a period of reduced funding in Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. This focuses on the organizations of its units, Africana, United Nations Publications, Nigerian Government Publications and Achebeana, Theses and Dissertations.