USE OF OPAC IN LIBRARY SERVICE DELIVERY BY LIBRARIANS IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN EDO STATE
This study examined the use of OPAC in library service delivery by librarians in university libraries in Edo State, Nigeria. The study adopted the descriptive survey design and the population of the study comprised of all the 176 professional and para-professional librarians in university libraries in Edo State. The purposive sampling technique was used to draw a sample size of 127 because it allows a selection of sample based on perceived characteristics/variables relevant to the study and copies of questionnaire was used for data collection. Out of the 127 copies of the questionnaire administered, 100 were retrieved and analyzed using simple percentage, frequency count and tables. Findings from the study revealed that majority 89 (89%) of the respondents indicated that OPAC is available in their university libraries. Findings also revealed that majority of the respondents agreed that OPAC interface can be used to retrieved books through their call numbers 33 (33%), that OPAC saves time 55 (55%), facilitates easy access to library collection 69 (69%) and is faster than the manual catalogue 65 (65%).It was discovered that factors inhibiting the use of OPAC as indicated by majority of the respondents include irregular power supply 86 (86%), network failure 87 (87%) and inadequate computer systems 90 (90%). Recommendations posited by the study include adequate funding, launching library catalogue on the web and putting alternative source of power supply in place.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Research and publication have been and will continue to be a critical factor to reckon with in the career life of librarians especially those in the academic environment. It is, of course, a well-recognized verity that the quality and quantity of an institution’s research is one of the yardsticks of measuring its academic accomplishment and excellence. Hence, research productivity of librarians is worthy of focus as the quality and quantity of their publications are a determining factor in their performance evaluations, promotions, tenure, research grants, and salary increment (Okonedo, Popoola, Emmanuel and Bamigboye, 2015).
According to Ogbomo (2010), research productivity is often used interchangeably with publication output, publication productivity. Research output and sometimes knowledge productivity. Research productivity, therefore, is expressed by the entirety of researches conducted by academic librarians in universities in his or her career over a specified time frame. Research productivity of librarians in Nigeria rest largely on the quality, and often the quantity of research published as textbooks, or chapters in books, journal articles, conference/workshop proceedings, occasional papers, monographs, edited books, bibliographies, abstracts, and indexes published. Librarians carry out research and publish for career related rewards such as status enhancement, promotion, securing tenure or permanent appointment; to gain recognition for creative thinking, visibility and acceptability within and outside the university community; to satisfy intellectual curiosity (Ocholla and Onyancha, 2012).
The library has always been known as the heart of academic activities in institutions of learning; it is in this regard that Gbadamosi & Omotayo (1995) describe it as an essential tool in learning at any level of our development right from infancy till death. No institution of higher learning can be successful without a library especially as programmes of study offered within the university would not be accredited without a well-equipped library for the provision of adequate information resources in those areas of discipline.
In providing a conducive atmosphere for research and studies, the university library provides well stocked current research materials and trained personnel to organized available information materials and assist faculty and students in the retrieval and use of these resources. Information retrieval itself has become more complex especially in the face of information overload. As a means of meeting up with the challenges of ensuring that information materials are available and accessible, libraries provide catalogues to display what is available in the library through the circulation department and where they can be obtained.
A large number of libraries in Nigeria have automated their operations and services using this technology to fulfill their user’ needs. Public catalogue, which is an important service of the library, is not exceptional to computer technology. Computerized catalogue is termed Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). It acts as an information retrieval system for the user. OPAC has revolutionized access to bibliographic information through search capacities such as keyword searching, Boolean searching, truncation, proximity searching, and item identity number searching. These were not possible in the tradition catalogue.
Today, a number of libraries are providing OPAC service to their users to find out their documents. In such a situation, the libraries should examine periodically how much comfort the users feel with this service so that some initiatives could be taken timely to improve this facility. In the study, therefore, the productivity of academic librarians will be measured in terms of their research output. Research output includes the number of articles in journal publications, conference/workshop publications, chapters in books, number of books written, compilation of bibliographies, book reviews and on-going researches.
In theory there should be a huge demand for the services OPAC offers. When OPACs were first developed in the 1970s, they were welcomed by library users (Dowlin, 1980). More recent advances have broadened the capabilities of OPAC, increasing their potential to benefit the library user, offering an efficient and self-guided service which does not require heavy reliance upon library staff. Although a handful of experimental systems existed as early as the 1960s, the first large-scale online catalogs were developed at Ohio State University in 1975 and the Dallas Public Library in 1978. These and the other early online catalog systems intended to closely reflect the card catalogs that they were intended to replace. Using a dedicated terminal or telnet client, users could search a handful of pre-coordinate indexes and browse the resulting display in much the same way they had previously navigated the card catalog. Therefore this study examine will examine use of OPAC in service delivery by librarians in university libraries in Edo State.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Academic libraries are established in tertiary institution in Nigeria to render quality and efficient information and communication services in the academic milieu. The librarians in these libraries are the engines that are saddled with the herculean task of rendering these high quality and efficient information services. They are expected to be highly productive. High productivity on the part of librarians is very essential to ensure a very high degree of library effectiveness. Among the 20th century’s grandest information technology accomplishments was the transformation of the library card catalogue into the Online Public Access Catalogue. OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue) is an online bibliography of a library collection that is available to the public. Prior to the emergence of OPAC, for users to find information about any item in a library collection, they must flip through or search a collection of catalogue cards in a filing cabinet in circulation using appropriate access points for known items. Where the item is not known, the subject catalogue is used.
It is Important to reiterate that the aim of cataloguing materials is to create and organize information, so as to promote access and use of information, and catalogues are often based on the physical location of items in the library. The basic purpose of library automation software is to help in creating a database of library holdings, which will, in turn, provide an online catalogue to help the user in identifying and locating their required documents. However, most libraries in develop countries automated their systems way back in the early and mid-1980s, libraries in Nigeria did not join in the automation movement until recently, even at that, only a few is fully automated.
The measure of academic success in academia is research productivity which requires information resources and this can be obtained through OPAC. The universities and other higher institutions set up libraries to make information resources available to assist academic staff members in their research quest. Therefore, this study set out to investigate to what extent has application of OPAC aided librarians research productivity?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objectives of the study is to examine the effect of OPAC application on research productivity of librarians. The specific objectives are to find out:
- The extent of availability of OPAC in Nigeria University Libraries
- The extent of use of OPAC by librarians in university libraries.
- The effect of application OPAC on university library functions and services
- To determine the extent the use of OPAC affects research productivity of librarians in Universities
- Problems hindering the application and uses of OPAC by Librarians
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
To achieve the stated objectives, the following research questions are formulated:
- Is OPAC available in university Library?
- Is the OPAC used by librarians?
- What is the impact of application OPAC on university library functions and services?
- To what extent does OPAC affect research productivity of librarians in university library?
- What are the problems hindering the application and use of OPAC by librarians?
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study examines use of OPAC in library service delivery by librarians in university libraries in Edo state. Interestly, only librarians working in universities will be investigated, while other tertiary institutions will be excluded from the study.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is hoped that the findings from the study will contribute to existing literature on use of OPAC in library service delivery by librariansin library of higher institutions and the finding will stimulate the urge in librarians for furthering their knowledge base.
The findings from this study will also enhance librarians to identify problems militating the application of OPAC in university libraries because increase in the research outputs of academic librarians is likely to ease the tension that is usually associated with researches due to dearth of information materials. The application of OPAC will ease such process and make librarians more productive.
It is hoped that efficient library service delivery could be achieved through the use of OPAC by librarians. Furthermore, more respective colleges in the university could earn accreditation regularly from the National University Commission. The study is equally significant as it would help library authorities to see the effectiveness of meeting users need.
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following terms are defined as used in the context of this study for the purpose of clarity and precision.
- Library: Library is a place in which literary and artistic materials, such as books, periodicals newspapers, pamphlets, prints, records, and tapes, are kept for reading, reference, or lending.
- Academic Libraries: They comprise of school libraries at the primary and secondary levels, college libraries, and University libraries whose prime objective is to meet the academic needs of the particular institution for which it is created to serve. The purpose of a University Library differs, in varying degree, from that of a school or college library in that the former adheres extensive and particular emphasis to research projects apart from the curricular needs of the institution.
- Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC): OPAC has revolutionized traditional accessibility to resources of libraries in general and academic libraries in particular. It is an interface of information retrieval system which assist information searchers to access resources of library(ies) using several access points. Traditionally, it is concerned with searching for the retrieving bibliographic records of information items instead of full-text of the content of resources. It has made searching and retrieval of bibliographic records of materials easier and faster.
- Environmental Factors: this refers to the physical, social, psychological and technological conditions that are found in the work places which influence directly or indirectly the productivity of librarians. Environment factors include: human beings social interaction, physical and technological infrastructure, electricity, office furniture and equipment, relative humidity, temperature, noise level and atmospheric weather condition.
- Productivity: This refers to the research and intellectual output of each librarian. It is the ratio of input to output per librarian. It means doing more with less. Productivity is a standard yardstick for measuring efficiency and effectiveness of the librarians. Productivity in the study refers to the measurable and quantifiable aspect of academic librarian’s job. It refers to the amount of research output in terms of publications that the academic librarians are able to produce.
- Staff Development: This refers to all professional development (growth) activities that academic librarians are engaged in with a view to boosting their performance, efficiency, productivity, morale and status.
- Library Resources: This refers to valuable information resources that are available at the library; such as books, e-books, CDs DVDs, magazine, games, computers and internet accesses.
- Information And Communication Technology (ICT): They are the computing, communicating facilities and features that variously support teaching, learning and range of activates in education in various fields.
- Computer: Computer can be referred to as the backbone, nucleus or hub of ICT application. In virtually all ICT applications, the computer is interfaced with another device in order to function effectively.
- Internet Facility: Internet is described as a worldwide network of computer and people. Built upon state of the art technology, the internet makes it possible for thousands of dissimilar physical networks that are not connected to one another and that use diverse hardware technologies to connect and operate as a single communication system. There are locations of various types of information on computer system linked to the internet. It is an important tool for global online services.
- Networks: This is a system of interconnected computers for sharing information and resources. This may involve two or more computers in a single office or several computers in different units across an organization or across the country. The networks include the local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN). With computer network, libraries can access and share information in different locations and download for users needs.