Information Seeking Habits of Nigerian Agricultural Scientists
Agricultural research began in Nigeria about 100 years ago, and there has been a steady rise in its output. The country has two universities of agriculture, 20 schools or faculties of agriculture in general universities, and 16 agricultural research institutes. In order to give optimal service to researchers in agriculture, libraries need to know how they use information in their work. The present study attempted to gather some facts by means of a questionnaire sent to seven universities, of which six provided usable responses. Of 205 questionnaires mailed, 82 were returned (45.6 percent). Although the survey dealt with a number of professional activities, such as teaching, only the results that relate directly to research are reported here.
Nearly all the respondents (96.3 percent) were active researchers. With one exception, they stated that their institutional library was the first port of call as they initiated new projects. Contact with colleagues was also a typical step: fellow scientists were involved in the review of research carried out by 87.8 percent of the respondents. Favored materials in the library were (in order of reported use): journals, dissertations and theses, technical reports, conference proceedings, monographs, abstract/index services, and bibliographies. It is encouraging that 75.6 percent of the scientists stated that the reference librarian was a significant assistant in locating information. As in earlier studies of scientific research behavior, the use of personal files was also prominent, cited by 74.4 percent of the respondents. Only 34.1 percent reported use of current awareness services which are not offered by most libraries. Microprint files were also used less than might be expected (24.4 percent of the respondents), considering that they contain important journal files and much of the technical report literature, but in Nigerian libraries the reading equipment is often nonfunctional. Computer software, CDROMs and other electronic resources are generally not available in Nigerian universities.
To recommend the addition of costly equipment is not realistic in view of the depressed economy of the country. But librarians could enhance current awareness activities without incurring major new costs. Another inexpensive
aid to researchers would be to offer them convenient facilities for the discussions with their colleagues that are so important in their work. Above all, since they do appear high on the list of resources used by the scientists, reference librarians should intensify their own preparation to deal with literature searches and factual inquiries.
About the Author
E. K AdegbuleAdesida is a librarian in the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria.
© 1994, E. K AdegbuleAdesida.
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