THE INFLUENCE OF TECHNOLOGIES ON LIBRARY FUNCTION AND EFFECTIVE INFORMATION SERVICE RENDERING
1.1 Background to the study.
Service effectiveness is often associated with a judgment of how well a service is performing by the direct beneficiaries of that service. In the opinion of Harvey (2004), it is the extent to which an activity fulfils its intended purpose or function. The concept of service effectiveness is of utmost importance to university libraries because the effectiveness of the library as a whole can be inferred from its service provision. In the view of Leckie, Pettigrew and Sylvain (2006), well-stocked and efficient libraries act as eyes or pathfinders for researchers and provide them the inspiration to venture into new areas of research. An ineffective library, on the other hand, may lead to low quality or duplication of research thus resulting in waste of financial, material and human resources.
Lancaster (2000) was of the opinion that, the overall criterion of effectiveness is the proportion of user demands that are satisfied. Satisfaction has however, been described as a sense of contentment that arises from an actual experience in relation to an expected experience (Hernon and Whitman 2001). It is a judgment that a service provided (or is providing) a pleasurable level of consumption. Satisfaction with library services is therefore, a feeling of fulfillment that is derived from the use of library services.
Assessing service effectiveness from users’ perspective is of crucial importance to libraries as Buckland (1999) warns, that considering library services in the absence of the people who use them would have little meaning and less benefit. Therefore, it is necessary for university libraries to understand how user group views their services in order to aid the planning of future services. Library managers are most strategically positioned to deal with issues relating to work process creation, evaluation and improvement strategies. The argument here is that they are professionally and educationally trained to do so. Library managers must realize that old ways of doing things can no longer cope with the challenges of a globalized environment and information and communication technology-driven work culture. Failure to initiate fast, adaptable, dynamic and interactive work process will invite the imposition of same from other professions like Information Communication Technology, organizational developers and management consultants.
The Library as an important and integral component of a higher institution has offered opportunity for students and staff to explore and expand their minds (Blau, 2004). It could be said that the library has become a focal place for enrichment, entertainment, education and empowerment through knowledge. In striving to serve its client, there is need for a library to clearly understand the continually changing needs of its constituency, from undergraduates, graduates, academic staff and even school age children and local citizens (Blau, 2004). Despite the processing and propagation of library resources, a key trait of a university library is the services based around personal interaction between users and the library staff. Librarians should make sure that these services show proper levels of customer care and that the information given to the users is useful and at the right level (Loughborough University Library, 2005).
It is interesting to note that to be successful, today’s librarians need to not only understand but also embrace current and emerging technologies affecting library functions and the information needs of library users (Nyambpga and Kemparaju, 2002). Olanlokun and Tiamigh (1982) have opined that with the advent of technology, things that were done manually in the past are now done using computers and communication technologies. In otherwords technology involves the application of computers and other information communication gadgets to facilitate the librarian work. Thus, technology has become a blessing in the generation, packaging and utilization of information by information seekers, and librarians should braze up to the new challenges. In a survey conducted by Ojo and Akande (2005) to know how students use the electronic information resources, it was gathered that students use technology (internet) more. Other electronic information resources used by students in the order of importance include CD-ROM, e-Journal, OPAC. A lot of academic information can be received using the resources both inside and outside of the library. This may be the reason why they are more popular than other resources. Asked where they normally go to access electronic information resources, some of them say cyber café, while others say they use the internet in the library, others use the internet in their parents’ offices.
Technology is pervasive in connecting peers, exploring interests, and finding both informational and recreational material (Ito et al. 2008). According to Ito et al., teens use online spaces, which allows for “constant contact with friends via texting, IM, mobile phone and Internet connections” (2008). They also “use the online world to explore their interests and find information beyond what they have access to at school or in their local community”. This enables them to connect to peers with specialized interests and fosters exploration of new media and technology. This “messing around” and variety of play experiences (Crow 2011) foster curiosity and give students the opportunity to explore and create.
The unprecedented pace of technological change in the development of digital information networks and electronic services in recent years has also helped to expand the role of the academic library. Once only a storehouse of printed materials, it is now a technology-laden information network where students can conduct research in a mixed print and digital-resource environment, experience the use of advanced information technologies, and hone their computer skills (Weddell, 2008). Academic libraries especially the university libraries have been using ICT in the provision of services and in the management of their collection. This is a shift from the traditional method.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The library has traditionally been seen and recognized as the academic heart of the university, with students relying mostly on it for their information needs. Although libraries strive hard to ensure that services are effective, it is not unlikely that users, especially undergraduates have a different view of library services. In order to reconcile the library’s assessment of its own service effectiveness with that of the users, it therefore becomes necessary for libraries to carry out occasional assessment of service effectiveness.
Technology was expected to support the level of service rendering in libraries but over the years this has not been the case due to poor documentation and users apathy. However, as Ojo and Akande (2005) confirmed not much has been documented on its impact on effective information service rendering of academic libraries. Therefore, in the light of this, this study examined the influence of technologies on Library function and effective information service in selected university libraries in Edo State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study.
The broad objective of this study is to look at the influence of technologies on Library function and effective information service rendering. The specific objectives are:
- To determine the types of technologies in university Libraries.
- To determine the extent of use of technologies in service rendering in the libraries.
- To determine the benefits of technology on users of selected academic libraries.
- To find out the challenges in the use of technologies on services rendering in selected academic libraries.
- To determine possible solutions to challenges associated with the use of technology in library service rendering.
1.4 Research Questions.
- What are the types of technologies in university Libraries.
- What is the extent of use of technologies in service rendering in the libraries.
- What are the impacts of technologies on Librarians of selected academic libraries.
- What are the challenges in the use of technologies on services rendering in selected academic libraries.
- What are the solutions to established challenges in the application of technologies on Library services.
1.5 Scope of the Study.
The scope of this study will be limited to universities in Edo State. It will focus on effects of technologies on library information service rendering in university libraries.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is considered significant in many respects. It is hoped that the findings will reveal some technologies that may be of importance to researchers at the University that librarians might not be aware. Secondly, the findings of the study might serve as a platform on which the library´s strength in meeting researcher information needs can be achieved. Furthermore, it is hoped that the study will establish the existing gaps in the adoption of technology in the operations of academic library in achieving their statutory functions.
Also, the output of this study will serve as a blueprint for libraries, information managers/information scientists, researchers, lecturers, students, and teachers to chart the right course of action for the use of information and communication technology in furthering service rendering. Finally, the outcomes from the study will provide a panacea for solving the challenges faced by academic libraries in coping with the trends in ICT.
1.7 Limitation of Study
This study should have covered the entire universities in Nigeria in order to draw a holistic conclusion on the subject, but it is restricted to a few selected universities in Nigeria due to time and financial constraints.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Communication: Communication refers to the transfer or exchange of information from person to person or from one place to another. When action produces a reaction whether positive or negative, communication has taken place. It is also a process: a transfer of information, ideas, thoughts and messages. It involves a sender, medium or channel, a receiver, a code and, a language that is understood by both the sender and the receiver.
Information: Information means processed data or, that which aids decision making. Information is abstract, and could also be visualized as a commodity, which could be bought or sold (Krubu and Osawuru, 2011).
Information and Communication Technology (ICT): It is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning.
Library: A library is an organized collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It includes other sources like reference materials, books relating to school curriculum, general books not relating to a specific subject area, periodicals, newspapers, audio- visual materials, government publications and electronically stored and retrievable materials.
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