World Libraries


Instructional and Research Resources for Library Education in Nigeria: Problems of Availability and Accessibility

Abstract: Describes the support facilities of six Nigerian library schools. The survey includes attention to professional libraries, computers, audiovisual materials, microforms, library science laboratories, and demonstration rooms. Most of the schools have significant gaps in their resource provision. None has its own microcomputer in operatio yet, although the University of Ibadan has acquired one recently. Ibadan also has a separate professional library, the only program with one. Instructional laboratories are found in Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Maiduguri. It is suggested that in addition to improving the situation regarding facilities, the library schools need to establish a journal dedicated to library education, and to promote a local publishing effort to produce textbooks and professional literature. These problems are seen as interconnected; for without adequate resources for teaching and research, library educators cannot be effective publishing scholars. Recommendations are made for specific aproaches to better funding and research grants, improved bibliographical control of library literature, and better communication between library school directors and chief executives of universities.

 Section One

Library education in Nigeria has reached a stage where we need to take stock of our achievements. It is necessary to ask ourselves how well our goals have been met or are being met, and to analyze the problems militating against their full realization. This paper is therefore concerned with an analysis of the extent of availability of certain resources in our library schools and libraries to support library education instruction and research. It may be well to begin with a brief survey of the current library schools in Nigeria.

  1. Department of Library, Archives, and Information Studies (1960) University of Ibadan Ibadan, Oyo State
  2. Department of Library Science (1968) Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State
  3. Department of Library Science (1977) Bayero University Kano, Kano State
  4. Department of Library Science (1978) University of Maiduguri Maiduguri, Borno State
  5. Library Studies Unit (1981) Imo State University Okigwe, Imo State
  6. Department of Library Science (1983) University of Nigeria Nsukka, Anambra State

Available data reveal the following facilities in respect to each of the above schools. The University of Ibadan Library School, the first library school in the country, offers a two–year diploma program to train paraprofessionals, the M.L.S. degree program, the Master of Philosophy program, and the Ph.D. program, all in librarianship. This school has a library science library. A microcomputer with some terminals were acquired recently but have not been put into operation yet.

At the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the library school runs a two–year diploma program, a bachelor's degree program, the M.L.S. program, and the Ph.D. program, all in librarianship. In terms of physical facilities, there is a faculty of education library whose resources are shared by all the departments in the faculty, including library science. There are no computers in this department, but there is an instructional technology center.

The library school at Bayero University, Kano, runs a two–year diploma and a bachelor’s degree program, both in librarianship. The M.L.S. degree program commenced in October 1990. There is no departmental library, laboratory, or computer.

The University of Maiduguri library school currently runs only a bachelor’s degree program, having suspended its two–year diploma program in 1987. It plans to start an M.L.S. program. The department has a laboratory but has no computer facilities.

Imo State University library school offers only a bachelor’s degree program and has neither a departmental library nor computer facilities.

At the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the library school offers only a bachelor’s degree program. There is no departmental library, laboratory, or computer.

It can be seen that the library schools at Ibadan and Zaria are the most favored in terms of these facilities, even though the computer acquired recently by the former has not been put to use. It is, however, noteworthy that a number of the parent universities of these library schools have central computer facilities that their respective schools can exploit for instruction and research purposes. Those that have such central facilities include the universities in Ibadan, Zaria, Kano, and Nsukka. As of now, Maiduguri and Okigwe do not have central computer facilities.

Resources in the context of this paper are viewed as of three types: information materials such as textbooks, journal literature, research reports, etc.; equipment or material resources such as computers, audio–visual aids, and microform reading materials; and physical facilities such as library science libraries, laboratories, and demonstration rooms.

The importance of information resources to the educational administration and development of any discipline cannot be overemphasized. At this stage of our development, we in the profession need to focus our attention on the adequacy of the information resources that are being produced locally by our own writers. It is also important that we know the relative ease with which our libraries acquire materials published outside the country. This is important because without these resources, instruction and research in library and information science will be in jeopardy. Bozimo posits that:

Our commitment to the proper training of future generations of library professionals requires that we as educators find and create the literature that will serve as effective learning tools, the literature that is pedagogically sound, the literature in other words, that is relevant to our educational purposes [1].

We must ensure that the literature which we adopt and recommend for instruction is relevant to the subject content which we teach and that the literature (should) not only be relevant to our local setting but also appropriate for use by our students [2].

Reasoning along the same line as Bozimo, it would be desirable for a great deal of this literature to be generated locally. But the current situation is such that library educators in this country have very little or no choice other than to look outward for resources to effectively carry out instruction and research. Thus, while the issues of relevance and appropriateness are emphasized, it might be difficult to embrace them entirely, since a majority of such resources are published outside the country. Until an appreciable participation in the generation of information resources is recorded locally, we will continue to grapple with this problem.

In the field of journal literature, for example, the founding of a journal in library education in Nigeria is long overdue. It will be recalled that at the conference on library education in Kano in 1984, the possibility of establishing a journal of this sort was deliberated upon. It is regrettable that seven years later, the modalities for its inception have still not been worked out. What we need now is action to match our words and ideas.

The application and utilization of basic modern technologies such as computers, audio–visual materials, and microforms is not only important but indispensable in instruction. One would suppose that the parent institutions where those library schools exist would have such formats available for teachers to use. But personal observations and experiences have shown that in many campuses and organizations, including government agencies, such materials are nonexistent. And even where some of these materials are available, there may be restricted access to them.

The importance of physical facilities such as library science libraries, laboratories, and demonstration rooms cannot be over–stressed in a discipline such as ours. In this regard, I totally agree with Nwakoby's observation that:

Ideally, the department of Library Studies should be housed in its own building, equipped with classrooms, a large lecture theatre, a seminar room, offices, laboratories, a library and a minicomputer center [3].

In the developed countries, there is a tradition of establishing separate library science libraries, or distinct areas within the main university libraries, and to have independent library school laboratories (for cataloging, computer use, and perhaps reference books). This has not been the practice in Nigeria. The operation of laboratories and demonstration rooms like the one we have at the University of Maiduguri Library School is a new phenomenon, not found in most of our library schools.

Another problem lies with publication difficulties in the area of textbooks, journal literature, etc. Dipeolu made the painful observation two decades ago that:

Lack of information as to what has been published, poor sales promotion and distribution techniques appear to be the major problems that bedevil the African published materials by African University Libraries [4].

Similarly, secondary sources such as abstracts, indexes, bibliographies, and other current awareness services do not help much in this area. Either they are nonexistent, or those in existence do not carry materials that are locally available. A typical library user undertaking a research paper or even a term paper would likely consult current copies of publications such as Current Contents or Library Literature. These sources list a number of current and retrospective but relevant articles in the field of library and information science and related disciplines. But personal usage of them has for the most part resulted in frustration, as the listed journal articles are not often available locally in our libraries. This phenomenon may be due to the problem raised by Dipeolu, who went on to say:

It is hardly an exaggeration to observe that more than ninety percent of books purchased by African University Libraries emanate from Europe and America. The remaining 10% or less are published in different parts of Africa [5].

In librarianship the situation described is even more gloomy, with a higher percentage of our books emanating from the developed countries.

It might be expected that despite the lack of library science libraries and local publications, library school faculties would engage in active research and publications. As of now, it is difficult to ascertain the amount of research and publication that goes on in our library schools. We need more information, in order to measure the quantity of our research and publication output. As members of the academic and scientific community, we also face the problem of a high rate of rejection of research reports originating from the less developed countries in foreign–based journals. The reasons for this poor performance have earlier been traced by Gordon [6] and others to the lack of current literature available in the developing countries, and to poor citation practice by the authors [7].

We have problems of availability of adequate resources to carry out effective teaching and research in library and information science education. Even where these resources are available, empirical evidence has shown that this does not necessarily guarantee access to them. Therefore, availability of resources is not coterminous with accessibility to resources. Certain information materials, equipment, and facilities may not be available at all at a given period. Others may be available but not accessible for certain reasons, while most of these materials may be available but at varying degrees or levels of accessibility. Lancaster expressed the opinion that in any information centre resources are usually made available according to tiers of accessibility. He specifically posited four levels, in order of decreasing accessibility:

First Level: The documents or resources are in the centre’s collection and on open shelves, thereby guaranteeing free or unrestricted access.
Second Level: The documents are in the centre's collection but in controlled–access shelves.
Third Level:The documents are in an off–site storage area, creating some time lag in their accessibility.
Fourth Level: The documents are not in the centre’s collection but may be acquired through interlibrary loan and thereby creating a longer time lag in terms of their accessibility [8].

This situation often creates difficulties in locating and acquiring certain materials that may be needed urgently for teaching and research work. Library science libraries, where they exist, will undertake the tasks of literature searching, location, circulation, and even photocopying of resources whenever the need arises.

Saracevic identified four factors responsible for user frustration in gaining access to books in academic libraries:

  1. acquisition failure, relating to the fact that the library has no subscription to the desired title;
  2. circulation failure, relating to a situation when a user/ searcher cannot locate a book because it is checked out or in internal library operations;
  3. library operations failure, relating to some malfunctioning in the library such as missing books, inadequate procedures, policies, and directions;
  4. user failure, relating to a situation where a desired title may be in the library but the user fails to find it due to his/her own error [9].

For Eres and Noerr the problem of accessibility to published materials in our libraries is related to the inability of users to gain access to the use of secondary services and the inability to obtain relevant primary literature in a timely and cost–effective manner. They are of the view that these two categories of problems are interrelated in the sense that access to and use of secondary literature makes one knowledgeable of potential relevant primary literature [10]. These findings have great relevance to the situation which we are currently passing through in Nigeria. If we cannot have access to the available literature, no meaningful teaching and research can go on, nor any appreciable contribution to the world of information resources.

The limited role of local publishing cannot be ignored. The contributions of our local authors still leave very much to be desired. More efforts are required in this regard by both library educators and practitioners. We need to generate more literature that will be relevant to the education and training of our future professionals. In this regard, Bozimo observed that:

as educators, our roles in this process should be even more pervasive. We need to carry out, or motivate others to carry out researches which will provide information on common student understanding of Library Science ideas, and the nature and extent of difficulties which they currently face with the available literature [11].

It is as a result of the dearth of local literature that our libraries have to turn to foreign acquisitions, with all its attendant problems of delays, foreign exchange, etc. Some schools of thought have even questioned the relevance of these foreign materials to our local needs. Librarianship is a profession that should be practiced with a great deal of local adaptation. This is due to the fact that the library and information problems of one country are likely to vary considerably from those of other countries.

We must recognize, however, that the measurement of these variables is closely tied to the level of availability and accessibility of the different types of resources identified in this essay. On the other hand, before we can talk of measurement, the question of whether or not we have developed the standards for measurement must first be resolved. In the United States there is a constant review of library school programs by the American Library Association, to determine which programs meet established standards. In the Nigerian experience, this process has been completely absent. If such reviews were periodically carried out, library schools, apart from striving to improve the quality of their programs and products, could begin some form of specialization. This could be either at the undergraduate level or at the postgraduate level, or even at both levels. Thus library schools could place more emphasis on areas in which they have better human, materials/ equipment, and information resources. For example, the University of Ibadan Library School could concentrate in the area of information science and archival studies, Ahmadu Bello University could concentrate on instructional technology and automation, University of Maiduguri could concentrate in library management and systems analysis, Bayero University on bibliographic organization and studies, and so on.

Research grants are currently scarce for the library field. There are a number of unexplored and problematic areas needing urgent attention. There is, therefore, the need for library educators and practitioners to embark upon individual and group or institutional/ departmental research proposals for submission to parent universities and organizations, both local and international sources. We have been concentrating too much on our parent institutions for funding our research work.

Outside bodies, such as the Social Sciences Research Council of Nigeria and the British Council, are prospective sources of research grants. Scholars and researchers from other sister disciplines have benefited immensely from these sources.

The general poverty of information, material/equipment, and physical resources that should support library science instruction and research is greatly hampering the growth of library education in this country. This, in turn, has militated against the full realization of the goals of library education. Meaningful instruction and research can only take place in a climate where different kinds of resources are available and easily accessible. It is therefore suggested that these problems can be overcome or at least minimized by the following measures:

  1. The publication of more information resources, resulting from more research by both educators and practitioners.
  2. The development of strategies by library schools by which they could secure funds for more research. One way of doing this could be to submit joint research grant proposals to the government, either directly or through the National Library of Nigeria.
  3. The establishment of local research–based facilities in our library schools, such as library science libraries, laboratories, and demonstration rooms.
  4. The adoption of a policy of aggressive identification, location, acquisition, organization, and dissemination of published and unpublished materials in the field of library and information science.
  5. The establishment of permanent forums between the library schools and the chief executives of universities to discuss issues affecting library and information science departments.

 References

1 Doris Bozimo, "Towards Relevant Literature for Library Science Education," in Proceedings of the Second National Conference on Library Education (Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University, April 6–8, 1985), p. 187.

2 Ibid., p. 189.

3 M. A. Nwakoby, "Physical Facilities and Resources for Education in Librarianship in Nigeria," Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 31–1 (Summer 1990):77.

4 J.O. Dipeolu, "Problems of Acquiring African Published Materials: The Experience of African University Libraries," in Publishing in Africa in the Seventies (Ife–Ife: University of Ife Press, 1975), p. 141.

5 Ibid., pp. 134–135.

6 Michael Gordon, "Deficiencies of Scientific Information Access and Output in Less Developed Countries," Journal of the American Societyfor Information Science 30–6 (1989): 240–252.

7 Another problem lies with the choice of research topic; see Editorially Speaking in TWL 2–1 [ed].

8 F. W. Lancaster, Information Retrieval Systems: Characteristics, Testing and Evaluation, 2nd ed. (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1979), p. 5.

9 SW. M. Shaw, T. Saracevic and P. Kantor, "Causes and Dynamics of User Frustration in an Academic Library," College & Research Libraries 38 (January 1977): 7–18.

10 Beth Eres, K. Noerr, and K. Bivins, "Access to Primary and Secondary Literature from Peripheral or Less Developed Countries," Journal of the American Society for Information Science 36–3 (May 1985): 184.

11 Bozimo, p. 194.

About the Author

Michael G. Ochogwu teaches in the Department of Library Science, Faculty of Education, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria. He taught previously ath the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. He has an M.L.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Dr. Ochogwu has published recently in Training and Education and Journal of Library and Information Science.

© 1992 Dominican University

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