Challenges And Prospects Of The Availability And Utilization Of ICT In Processing Information Resources By TSD
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) enhance service provision in libraries. Librarians use ICTs to perform functions like cataloging and classification, serials management, collection management, budgeting, circulation management, referencing, indexing and abstracting in order to improve information services to library users. However, it has been observed that most academic librarians in Nigeria still struggle with manual library operation method. Consequently, library users show dissatisfaction and complain of poor information services delivery by the academic librarians. It is in the light of this that the present study investigated availability and utilization of information and communication technologies as they relate to job performance of the academic librarians in Southwestern Nigeria.
The study adopted the descriptive research design. Only institutions that have made ICTs available to their personnel were selected for the study. The study population consisted of 150students from five higher institutions in Northern Nigeria.
1.1 Background of Study
Availability and utilization of ICTs contributed significantly to the job performance of the academic librarians collectively and individually. As the academic librarians continually use the available ICTs, the job performance of the librarians keep on improving. It is recommended therefore that university administration should make funds available for the ICTs project in academic libraries and a proper ICTs training policy be put in place.
The University libraries are libraries established to cater for the academic and research needs of the university. They serve the reading and research interests of undergraduates, lecturers, researchers, and other users. University libraries are big repositories of information and knowledge from all fields of learning to the academic community of students and staff that they serve. University libraries, which are academic libraries, provide support to members of an academic community, including students, researchers and lecturing staff.
Academic libraries are libraries established in Universities, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics and Monotechnics. Their collection is tailored towards achievement of the institution goals of teaching, learning and research. They serve the students, lecturers, administrative members of the academic community as well as others. They are central to learning, research, and have always depended on relevant new technologies, which on the other hand are driven by emerging trends in education and research. The major function of University libraries is to provide resources to meet the needs of users. Their materials are diversified to support teaching and programmes that take place within them. Therefore, the University library has to build a strong collection of information resources in physical and digital formats to cater for the knowledge requirements of students, faculty members and research scholars of the institution. To remain relevant, libraries must fulfill some set of roles for serving their parent institutions.
Akintunde (2006) submitted that, librarianship continues to hold a central place in higher education worldwide. It has remained the strength of the best traditions in academics worldwide. Nonetheless, significant progress will have to be made for Nigerian higher education libraries to be in the main stream of the digital revolution. This is because library services today require more global networking in delivering services.
According to Aguolu and Aguolu (2002), the University library is the university‟s principal instrument in the conservation of knowledge through its rational, systematic andcomprehensive acquisition of all types of human communication records, published and unpublished, written or oral in recorded form that embody the ideas of knowledge of the past. As a store-house of information or a record of human experiences to which students, lecturers, and researchers may turn for data or information, the university library stands in the same relationship to the society as the memory to an individual by making available and accessible to its users information resources needed for teaching and students‟ independent study. To act on these noble core purposes in today‟s academic environment, however, requires that libraries move beyond parameters of earlier times to pursue new modes of serving their institutions (Rathinasabapathy, 2005).
The need to have ready access to relevant information for improving knowledge is of strategic importance to society (Lakos, 2004). The Internet is expanding fast in response to this, and the amount of digital information available is increasing daily. The importance of information to the success of any academic institution cannot be over – emphasized. Akinade and Ogunyade (2002) ascertain that it is a valuable resource required in any society or an institution to meet its objective. Ready available information to students determines largely their success and future development. Aguolu and Aguolu, (2002) asserts that, the basic tripartite function of any university is to conserve the existing knowledge, to transmit knowledge through teaching, and to create new knowledge through research. There is no doubt that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be a major source of sharing knowledge and information, and they have come to complement physical library resources.
Information Technology (IT) is an omnibus term that combines computer and telecommunications technology; hence, it is sometimes called Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It is concerned with the technology used in handling, acquiring, processing, storing and disseminating information (Aina, 2004).
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has revolutionized information transmission and storage and has brought the globe to the doorsteps of people. It is a new paradigm in all spheres of life, be it governance, civil service, health, business, education, and the like. Wole (2002) defined ICT as electronic technologies for creating, acquiring, storing, processing, communication and using information. It is a conglomeration of compatible hardware and software arranged to communicate information from one location to another through the inter-connectivity or a network of computers.
The use of internet in higher institutions to access Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is an exciting prospect, especially where there are significant impediments to obtaining relevant current information the print collections and CD-ROM databases available locally in the institutional libraries. Cornell (1999) opined that the use ofElectronic Information Sources (EIS) in tertiary education has resulted in fundamental changes in teaching and learning, bringing new focus, which is considered by some to have provided a paradigm shift. It is against this background that this study is been conducted to assess the utilization of ICTs by students in the federal university libraries in the North- Central zone of Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
University libraries provide resources and services for their users. Services to users constitute an important area of University library services. These services are designed for meeting the information needs of library users. Studies have shown that many University libraries in Nigeria are finding it difficult to meet the information needs of their users; a number of challenges have compounded this ugly trend (Aguolu and Agulou, 2002). However, from research dimension, many authors have tried to write about one aspect or another on the subject of information and communication technologies (ICTs) but little study has been carried out in the area of the utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by students in federal university libraries in North- Central zone of Nigeria. Although, studies abound on the application and impact of ICTs on libraries and majority of the studies were based on personal experiences not on empirical research. Very insignificantly, where empirical study done, it was always a generalized study relating to the library and most cases were subjective. Thus, this study therefore is expected to fill some of these gaps in the literature.
However, previous studies and observations of some University libraries have revealed that ICTs is inadequately being used in library operations because many libraries still use manual method. Discussions with some librarians also confirmed the inadequate utilization of ICTs for the provision of library services and this has greatly affected the effectiveness of the services rendered in an information age for libraries under study. Thismethod invariably creates delay and waste of precious time of the students and other users. Therefore, there is a gap in the immense imperative of the challenges and prospects of using ICT in retrieving information resource. Thus, the present study aims at filling this gap.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine the challenges and prospects in Utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by Students in Federal University Libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria.
1.3.1 The specific objectives are to:
Find out the ICT facilities available to students in the various Federal University Libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria;
- Ascertain the extent to which students‟ utilize ICT facilities in university libraries;
- Determine the level of ICTs skills of students of the various Universities under study;
- Find out challenges encountered by students using ICT facilities of these Universities;
- Identify the strategies that could solve the problems and enhance the effective utilization of ICTs in these Universities.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions formed the major basis upon which this study was carried out. They are:
- Which of the following ICT facilities are available in the University libraries?
- What is the extent of students‟ utilization of ICT facilities in the library?
- What are the various ICT skills possessed by students in the university?
- What are the problems militating against the use of ICTs by students in the University?
- How can these problems militating against the use of ICTs by students in the Universities be solved?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The value of the study relates to the understanding of the utilization of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by students in federal university libraries in North- Central zone of Nigeria. It is expected that the findings of this research work will assist students to have access to the Internet in their respective libraries. Internet access is used for electronic mailing services, electronic on-line chats, and group activities. It will also x-ray the problems associated with the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and as such, the result of the findings of this study will contribute to the body of knowledge on the use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). In addition, findings of this study are expected to be beneficial to librarians, lecturers, students and public interested in this area of study. The findings of this study are expected to be of benefit to students as it will reveal to them the various library resources that are been computerized to enable them carryout effective learning and research. The findings of this study will be of help to lecturers in diverse fields of knowledge by providing access to information related to the topics that would be beneficial to them; also, it will enhance their research outputs. The findings of this study will be of benefit to the public, as it will help widening their horizon in the knowledge of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) processes in the libraries.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research work is on Utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by Students in Federal University Libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria. They include University of Abuja Library, Abuja; Federal University of Agriculture Library, Makurdi; Federal University of Technology Library, Minna; University of Jos Library, Jos and University of Ilorin Library, Ilorin.
The study also covered all the Federal University Libraries. The study will focus on Utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by Students in Federal University Libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria.
Discussion of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Discussion and Interpretation of the Findings:
The findings of the study shown in table 1 revealed that, most of the ICT facilities are available in the various university libraries understudied. They include Computers, Magnetic Disk, Floppy Disk, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, Printers, Scanners, Monitors, Speakers, Plotters, Photocopiers, Microfilms, Telephone Lines, Television, E-Mail and World Wide Web (www). Also, networks such as LAN (Local Area Network), WAN (Wide Area Network) and Internet network facilities were available to the respondents. Though, some of the facilities available in these libraries are not functional, only digital cameras, Telex, Facsimiles and Teleconferencing are not available. This agrees with Dirisu (2009) who posited that, ICT facilities available in academic libraries are Computers, Microforms, Photocopiers, CD-ROM, Databases, Videotapes, Audiotape, Internet and Printers. Anunobi (2005), in a study on ICT availability and use in Nigerian university libraries found that, majority of the libraries have personal computers and that CD-ROM, LAN, Internet are of average usage while WAN, FAX and OPAC are not widely available. The finding negates the study by Edem, (2007) which indicates that computer/Internet was not extensively used by librarians and the level of use was very low.
Research question two was intended to find out the extent at which students utilize ICT facilities in university libraries. From table 3, it is observed that the mean score of the respondents on these ICT facilities mentioned were more than the 2.50 criterion mean indicating that, ICT facilities such as Storage Devices, Output Devices and Telecommunication facilities were utilized. This is in line with the findings of Edem (2007) who in a study on the use of ICTs in selected university libraries found that, majority of respondents use computers for word processing and Internet search. This also corroborates Gama (2008) that ICT facilities can be used for different purposes such as academic, leisure or fun etc. A user for instance may use Internet for fun apart from academic purposes.
Findings from the study as revealed in the table 4 indicate that, the students claimed to have possessed all skills listed. The students possess all the skills to a very great extent in areas of sending e-mail, opening/browsing a web page, Internet surfing skill and word processing program than the others. However, in skills like typing, scanning, printing, photocopying/cyclostyling, downloading/saving a webpage, computer networking, web- linking trouble-shooting, database program, spreadsheet program and Internet program records an above average mean rate. Skills in Web design, Project management software, desktop publishing program, graphic program, statistical analysis program and Computer language programming program records a minimal mean rate less than the 2.50 benchmark.
Challenges of the effective use of ICT facilities by students in the university libraries
From the result of the study as presented in table 5 and aimed at identifying the factors militating against the effective use of ICT facilities by students in the university libraries, the following factors were identified: lack of ICT facilities, lack of funds, lack of capacity/competence, inadequate and epileptic power supply, high tariff in telecommunication/computer importation in the country, inadequate number of effective Internet Service Provider (ISP),lack of policy framework on ICTs in the country and lack of ICT centres in the university and the nation at large.
Strategies for improvement of ICTs usage by students in the universities
On the proffered solutions to the problems and strategies for improvement of ICT usage by students in the universities, the respondents as shown in table 6 adopted most of the strategies suggested ranging from proper ICT seminars/workshops in the universities; provision of sufficient ICT facilities; provision of grants and aids by the government and universities; staff training and orientation; government support on provision of stable power supply; reduction of telecommunication/computer importation tariffs; provision of adequate and effective Internet service provider and more cyber cafes; the National Information Technology Policy to be revised and establishment of National Research Centre for ICT.
In view of the implications of the findings on effect of ICTs on students in the various universities studied, the following measures were recommended.
The study recommends that ICT facilities should be made available and accessible to students in the universities since ICTs were greatly affecting the ways learning and research activities were been carried out in academic institutions.
There is need to place a high premium/priority on application of ICTs in the services of university libraries.
Students should be encouraged to utilize ICTs based presentation formats like Microsoft power point, Microsoft excel, CorelDraw, Microsoft access, statistical analysis, and computer programming languages to present their academic activities.
Government should show more commitment to our universities and to the development of an ICT base in the country by making available special ICT grants to Universities and students on an annual basis. Universities should supplement power supply for effective use of ICTs.
More cyber cafes with effective and efficient Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to be set up and located closer to student hostels for convenience and be equipped with needed ICT facilities. Universities should also meet the ICT training needs of the library staff and students through sponsorship of workshops, seminars, conferences and orientations.
ICT facilities are crucial to information processing and retrieval in the present day libraries especially in an academic environment. This trend has continued to transform the pattern and scope of library services. ICT skills are also required of students and staff of academic institutions in order to benefit maximally and to be able to handle the facilities and process information effectively.
This study has attempted to evaluate the status, importance, challenges and strategies for effective utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by students in federal university libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria. Findings from the study have shown that, most of the ICT facilities are available in the university libraries in North- Central zone of Nigeria. The study revealed that, most of the ICT skills were also found to be possessed by students and some library staff though not to a very large extent. The study suggested that, government and institutions of higher learning should subsidized ICT training and encourage staff; government should improve on power supply; ICT facilities should be made available in the libraries for effective and efficient service delivery and more attention should be given to funding of ICT programmes. Libraries should source funds internally for ICT projects among others to sustain this global trend. In order to achieve effective ICT project in university libraries in Nigeria, adequate attention must be given to strategies and recommendations suggested in this study.
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