The Use Of Information And Communication Technologies By Library Professionals In Delta State
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1.1 Background to the Study
Today libraries are shifting their role from the custodian of traditional information resources to the provider of service-oriented digital an ICT-based information resources. Widespread use of computers, increased reliance on computer networks, rapid growth of the internet and explosion in the quality and quantity of information compelled libraries and library professionals to adopt new means and methods for the storage, retrieval, processing and dissemination of information (Quadri, 2009).
In this age of globalization, the importance of ICT to library professionals cannot be over-emphasized. This is true because ICT facilitates quick and easy access to a wide range of information and information resources worldwide. In fact, it is now difficult to imagine a world without information technology (William & Channaveeraiah, 2008). The provision and use of ICTs is part and parcel of the entire system to both the students, library professionals and the society at large. It is one thing to recognize the importance of ICTs and another to know if they are effectively used by library professionals. If ICTs are effectively put to use, the essence of acquiring them is to a large extent, justified (Quadri, 2009).
Lowe and McAvley (2002) defined ICT as tools in the digital age used in the information profession for acquiring processing and communicating information. Similarly, Ebijuwa (2005) defined ICT as electronic tools used for collection, processing storage, transmission and dissemination of information. Haag (2002) sees ICT as any computer based tools that facilitate the search and retrieval as well as dissemination of information to information seekers and also supports the information processing needs of individuals, groups and organizations. In the view of Ehikhamenor (1993), ICT encompasses the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of information by means of computers, office machines and telecommunications. He further stated that while computers provide the processing, storage and retrieval facilities, telecommunications provide the facilities for the transfer or communication of data and information to users.
With advances in ICTs, electronic information resources such as electronic books, electronic journals, CD-ROM databases, OPAC, online databases and the internet have launched the world and library professionals into an information age. In the developed world, no library professional can still rely on only traditional printed information resource to perform library services and operations effectively and efficiently. To library professionals, ICT is a significant development that provides tools for managing the vast quantity of information generated by modern society (Ebijuwa, 2005). With the emergence of ICTs, library professionals subscribe to e-journals, e-books, CD-Rom databases, online databases, web-based resources and a variety of other electronic resources. Library professionals participate in library consortia and build a network of information exchange via ICT facilities (Quadri, 2009).
According to Khan and Bhatti (2008), a library professional is a person who looks after the storage and retrieval of information in the library. In the library, the library professional is usually a professional who is trained and educated to deal with information in a wide variety of formats and settings including the use of ICTs. Wordiq (2010) state that library professionals help users to navigate into the voyage of internet and evaluate information efficiently. Furthermore, library professionals after a helping hand for users to find out the required piece of information and to use it for personal and professional purposes.
Rao and Babu (2001) opined that due to the advent of the internet, world-wide-web, ICT tools and proliferation of online catalogue, the role of the library professional has been changed. Now, library professionals are more efficient and have new roles as intermediary, facilitator, end-user trainer/educator, web organizer and designer, researcher, interface designer, knowledge manager/professional and provider of timely information via ICT-based resources. In the view of Career Overview (2011), with the advent of ICTs, library professionals should acknowledge and be knowledgeable in a variety of information sources and follow the new trends and advancements in computers, media and publishing. It is evident from the literature that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have affected positively the skills and responsibilities of library professionals in this new era. ICTs have changed not only the face of information but also the professional work ethic of library professionals. Technology demands high level of technical skill set from library professionals in order to make maximum use of new technological tools for providing effective and better services to users (Khan & Bhatti, 2008).
Library professionals are traditionally information brokers, they deal with the packaging and dissemination of information for people in the society. The need for the recognition and use of information by all sectors of the society has always been of paramount interest to the library professionals with the result that they are always in the vanguard for the creation of awareness of information need, access, retrieval and utilization (Ugboma, 2006).
Book fairs, workshops, seminars and readership campaigns are some of the strategies that had been employed in the past to create an informed society.
However, in the recent times, campaigns for the use of ICTs have been added in Nigeria, this campaign started in-house, that is, among and for the library professional themselves. This is evident from the themes of conferences and Annual General Meetings of the Nigerian Library Association, which since has been strengthening libraries and library professionals for new information age through ICT. It is obvious that library professionals are conscious of the need for them to acquire ICT knowledge and use ICT in order to function effectively in the new digital age (Ugboma, 2006).
According to Ifidon (2003), for any library professional to function effectively in this information and digital age; it is imperative, therefore, that library professionals need to use ICT in the discharge of their duties, which is, matching information to users.
Much more than before, information seeking process transcends the simple librarian-client relationship of question and answer to involve a whole new, more complex process of advisory, search, retrieval and delivery vis-à-vis ICE-based resources (Madu & Adeniran, 2000).
In a changing environment when most of the library services are ICT-based, it is important for library professionals to be well informed and updated regarding developments in ICT and therefore use ICT for library services and operations. Srivastava (2008) conducted a study to determine the extent of usage of ICT components by library professionals and found that ICT components form an integral part of library operations and services. The study revealed that library professionals use ICT resources in library services and operations. Also, DOS/UNIX databases, library application software, CD-ROM databases, word processing, bar-coding, multimedia, etc are important to library professionals.
Similarly, Ramesh and Parameswaran (1999) conducted a study on the automation of public library and information services in and around Chennai and the attitude of library professionals towards the application of ICT. The results showed that the library professionals have a positive attitude towards the application and use of ICTs for library operations and services. Also, the library professionals showed their keen interest in professional development vis-à-vis ICT usage to keep pace with the trends of electronic information era. The study concluded that ICT applications and usage among the library professionals improved communication and helped in enhancing technical knowledge, providing better services, improving library status, change information handling methods and reduce work-load (Ramesh & Parameswaran, 1999).
Hence, this study seeks to investigate the use of information and communication technology by library professionals in Delta State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Library profession is revolutionizing significantly in many aspects. The emergence of new information and communication technologies, the internet, world wide web, among others pose new challenges for library professionals therefore, it requires library professionals to become positively energetic, equipped with greater skills and capabilities to survive and thrive in this new digital environment (Khan & Bhatti, 2008). Despite the afore-mentioned positivity, library professionals in Nigerian Libraries are still lagging behind in the adoption, application and use of ICTs in the library profession
This is as a result of certain constraints such as poor budgetary allocation, inadequate ICT infrastructure in libraries, ineffective leadership, low professional status, poor information literacy skills and digital literacy, inadequately trained and skilled ICT manpower, limited ICT resources, insufficient communication skills and poor power supply. It is against this background that this research is embarked upon to investigate the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by library professionals in Delta State.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions were raised to guide the study:
- What are the ICT facilities used by library professionals in Delta State?
- What is the attitude of the library professionals towards ICT usage?
- What is the level of use of ICTs by library professionals in Delta State?
- What are the benefits of ICT usage to the library professionals?
- What are the constraints militating against the effective use of ICTs by the library professionals?
1.4 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by library professionals in Delta State.
The specific objectives of the study include:
- To find out the ICT facilities used by library professionals in Delta State.
- To examine the attitude of the library professionals towards ICT usage.
- To explore the level of use of ICTs by library professionals in Delta State.
- To discover the benefits of ICT usage to the library professionals.
- To unravel the constraints militating against the effective use of ICTs by the library professionals.
1.5 Significance of the Study
ICT as an advance technology, enhance service provision in the library as well as teaching, learning and research. Hence, library professionals are expected to use and maximize the awesome potentials of ICTs in order to improve their information search, storage, retrieval and dissemination and at the same time promote effectiveness and efficiency in the library and information profession. This study therefore, will be of immense benefit to policy makers and library management in Delta State, to enable them formulate effective policies towards the provision and use of ICTs in libraries by library professionals.
Also, this study will be beneficial to library professionals in Delta State, in the area of creating awareness of the relevance of ICT usage in the library and information profession by library professionals. In the same vein, this study will be of significant benefit to students by providing them information on the use of ICTs by library professionals in Delta State.
Lastly, it is believed that this research work will fill a gap in knowledge and will be useful to prospective researchers who intend to conduct similar study on this topic in the near future and this will go a long way to increase the literature base of this research.
1.6 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The focus of the study is on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by library professionals in Delta State. The study covers library professionals in libraries in Delta State. The study is delimited to library professionals in two academic libraries in Delta State. They are: Delta State University Library, Abraka and Petroleum Training Institute Library, Warri.
The scope of this study covers ICT facilities used by library professionals in Delta State, the attitude of the library professionals towards ICT usage, the level it use of ICTs by library professionals in Delta State, benefits of ICT usage to the library professionals and the constraints militating against the effective use of ICTs by the library professionals.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The following operational terms have been defined as used in the study:
This is an acronym which stands for Information and Communication Technology. It is the technology used for information gathering, processing, storage, retrieval and dissemination by library professionals and users.
This refers to a warehouse of knowledge where information resources are acquired, processed, organized and kept for usage and dissemination.
These are well trained librarians or information practitioners working in the library.
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