Public Relations Practices In Nigerian Public Libraries (A Case Study Of Abia State Library Board Umuahia)

Project and Seminar Material for Library and Information Science

Public Relations Practices In Nigerian Public Libraries (A Case Study Of Abia State Library Board Umuahia)


Good public relations are a panacea for any good relationship between organizations and clients. The library, a client oriented organization is not an exemption public relations popularly known as PR within the Nigeria context s a prerequisite for the effective functioning of any library, public services librarians in most libraries are the image makers and indeed, the gateway through which people get in contact with the information and reach environment of library. This research work therefore evaluates how public relations are practiced in Nigeria public libraries.

Table Of Contents

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgment
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Historical background of the study
  • 1.2 Definition of public relations
  • 1.3 Historical background of Abia state library board
  • 1.4 Statement of problem
  • 1.5 Aims and objectives of the study
  • 1.5 Research questions
  • 1.7 Scope of the study
  • 1.8 Methodology

Chapter Two

2.0 Literature Review

  • 2.1 Importance of public relations
  • 2.2 Enhancing good public relations through the services of public librarians
  • 2.3 Qualities of a good public services librarian as a vehicle for good public relations in the library
  • 2.4 Types of public relations ion public libraries
  • 2.5 Media of public relations in public libraries
  • 2.6 The practice of public relations
  • 2.7 Constraints of PR in public libraries

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research design
  • 3.2 Methods of gathering data
  • 3.3 Population of the study
  • 3.4 sample size
  • 3.5 Statistical analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Results and Discussions

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations

  • 5.1 Summary of findings
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix

Chapter One


1.1 Historical Background Of The Study

The practice of public relations can be traced back to ancient times. The military reports and commentaries prepared by Julius Caesar can be viewed as triumph in personal and political public relations.

During the medieval times both the Church and the guilds practice rudimentary forms of public relations. It was not until the Nigeria revolution against the British rule that more recognized PR activities became evident. The early patriots were aware that public opinion would play an important role in the Nigerian independence and planned their activities accordingly.

The debate of modern public relation techniques dates back to the first decade of the 1900’s. Most historians agree that the first real PR pioneer was a man named Ivy Lee. In 1903, lee and George Parker opened a publicity office. A few years later, lee became the press representative to the anthracite coal operators and the pennsylvama Railroad. When confronted with a strike in the coal industry, Lee issued a “Declaration of principles”. This statement endorsed the concepts of openness and honesty in dealing with the public. It is also marked the shift from 19th century press agency to 20th century public relations. Lee went on to have a successful career counseling people such as john D. Rockfeller (Jr.). Among other achievements is most effective when it affects employees, customers and members of the community.

As Harold Lasswell explained 1928 “public relations” was a term used as a way of shielding the profession from the ill repute increasingly associated with the word “propaganda”. Propaganda has become an epithet of contempt and hate, and the propaganda have sought protective coloration in such names “public relation council, specialist in public education, public relation adviser”.

Public relations and publicity are not synonymous, but many PR campaigns include provision for publicity. Publicity is the spreading of information to gain public awareness for a product, person, service, cause or organization, and can be seen as a result of effective PR planning. More recently, in public relations, professionals are using technology as their main tool to get their messages to target audiences. With the creation of social network, blongs and even internet radio public relations professionals are able to send direct messages through these mediums that attract the target audiences. Methods used to find out what is appealing to target audiences include the use of surveys, conducting research or even focus groups” tactics are the ways to attract target audiences by using the information gathered about that audience and directing a message to them using tools such as social media or other technology.

There are various tools that can be used in the practice of PR, traditional Tools include press releases and media kits which are sent out to generate positive press on behalf of the organization other widely and annual reports.

Increasingly, companies are utilizing interactive social media, such as blogs, twitter and face book, as tools in their PR campaign unlike the traditional which allowed for only one-way communication, social media allows the organization to engage in two-way communication, and receive immediate feedback from their various stakeholders and publics. A press kit as one of the most popular and traditional tools for public relations are usually a folder that consists of a promotional materials that gives information about an event, organization, business, or even a person.

A fundamental technique used in public relations is to identify that audience and to tailor every message to appeals to that audience. It can be a general, nationwide or worldwide audience, but it is more often a segment of a population. A good elevator pitch can help tailored messaging to each target audience. Marketers often refers to economy-driven “demographics, such as black males”, but in public relations an audience is more fluid being whoever someone wants to reach. “Soccer Moms” and “NASCAR” clads. There is also psychographic grouping based on fitness level, eating preferences, adrenaline junkies”, etc.

In additions to audience, there are usually stakeholders, people who have a stake in a given issue.

All audiences are stakeholders but not all stakeholders are audiences. For example, if a charity commissions a PR agency to create advertising campaigns to raise money to find a cure for a disease, the charity and the people with the disease are stakeholders, but the audience is anyone who is likely to donate money.

Sometimes the interests of differing audiences and stakeholders common to a PR effort necessitate the creation of several distinct but complementary messages. This is not always easy to do and sometimes especially in polities (decision making) a spokesperson or client says something to one audience that angers another audience or group of stakeholders.

Reasons For Public Relations

The purpose of PR practices is to establish two-way communication seeking common ground or areas of mutual interest and to establish understanding based on truth, knowledge and full information.

In a family, or a small closely-knit communities there are few obstacles to mutual discussion and the communication of ideas. In commercial life, however, the family circle is usually widely dispersed and the absence of personal contact makes co-operation and understanding more difficult.

People skills in public relations practice use modern method of communication and persuasion to bridge the gap toe establish mutual understanding. Understanding is conditionals by reputation, previous experience and culturally; factors.

To cultivate a good reputation, a credible identity and a positive co-operate strategy are important integral part of most public relations programmes.

Since the end of Nigeria independence, changes in Nigeria society have created an atmosphere in which public relations has shown tremendous growth. Some of the reasons behind the recent surge in this include:

  1. Many co-operation have recognized that they have social responsibility to serve the public. Finding the means of fulfilling this responsibility is the task of the PR department.
  2. A growing tide of consumerism has caused many corporation and government agencies to be more responsive and communicative to their customers or clients, a function served by the public relation department.
  3. The growing complexity of modern corporations and government agencies has made it difficult for them to get their message to the public without a department that is specially assignment to that task.
  4. Increasingly population growth along with more specialization and job mobility have made it necessary for companies to have communication specialists whose task is to interpret the needs of the audience for the organization.

All of the above have combined to marked the last thirty years the “era of PR”. Today, more than 50% of the top company in Nigeria has some kind of PR department. Along with this growth has come increased professionalization among public relations practitioners. For example, a professional organization, the public relations society of America, was founded in 1947 and adopted a code of standards in 1954.
Public relations education has made great strides in Nigeria. Recent estimates suggest that more than twenty universities in Nigeria offer courses in public relations.

The importance of good PR practices to any organization cannot be over emphasized. The operation of successful library services relies heavily on the effective application of public relations strategy.
Thus, public relations practices in library are aimed at increasing visibility of the profession within that society and also getting the public to understand and appreciate the role of the library as a social institution. The work of public services librarians has indeed gone beyond answering questions through the use of catalogues, stacks and shelves, to a stage were our communicative value has to improve. The library has to communicate its services to the outside world in order to breach the information and support life long learning.

Therefore, public relations in this context deals with the several ways the public services librarians can use in promoting the library as a whole, through developing an identity and image and communicating library goals, and missions, to the community.

1.2 Definition Of Public Relations

Public relation is often term that is ubiquitous. Every known department lays claim to it. It transcends every relationship and it is becoming one of the 21st century’s most maligned term, meaning different things for different people. Therefore, a cursory look will be taken on some of the definitions given by some works before it could be zeroed down to library professional definitions.

The Mexican statement, signed by the representatives of more than thirty (30) national and regional public relations Association in Mexico (1978), defined PR as “the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling, organization and the public interest.”

Dr. Rex Harlow, a veteran public relations practitioner of san Francisco examined 472 different definitions of PR practice and distilled them into the following working definition. PR is a distinctive management function which helps to establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance and co-operation between an organization and its publics; involves the management of problems or issues; helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion, defines and emphasis the responsibility of management to serve the public interest, help management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change, serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound and ethical communication techniques as its principals tools”.

The Webster’s new international dictionary 1995 succinctly defines the scope of modern PR as “co-operation, profession, government or often, organization in building and maintaining sound and productive relations with special public such as customers, employees or stock holders……… so as to adopt itself to its environment through mutual understanding based on truth and full information.

The international encyclopedia of Higher Education (1978:3408) sees the term as “an active effort to create understanding and favourable impressions of the institution in the mind of all individuals and groups important to that institution”.

At this juncture, it is germane to look at other definitions of the term from scholars in the field of library services.

Ushermood (1981) defined PR as “the process that seeks to promote mutual understanding and co-operation between the library and its publics”.

Public relations is also defined as a deliberate and conscious effort to create understanding and communication favourably impressions about the library in the minds of the reading public.

It is also defined as a planned and sustained effort by a library association or a library authority to promote librarianship within a given community or society.

From these definitions, ‘communication’ is a paramount aspect of PR and has been recurrent in all. Communication is most importantly done to created positive attitudes towards an organization by its clients. When this favourable and positive climate is created, the organization can then market its serviced effectively.

1.3 Historical Background Of Abia State Library Board Umuahia

The Abia state library board (ASIB) came into existence following the certain of Abia state from old Imo state among other new states on the 27th days of august (1991) by general Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. The young Abia state library of Imo state library board. It acquired most of its equipment, services and personnel from Imo state.

Being already existing service, there is no other option than to consolidate the already existing system. At its creation, Umuahia divisional library which was part of Imo state eventually formed the headquarters of the state library services. Due the creation, Arochukwu and Abia state library Board hence Imo state with Aboh Mbaise, Owerri, Okigwe and others within the geographical location known as Imo state.

The law establishing Abia state Library Board came into force in 1992 which was signed by the then civilian governor of the state, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, soon after the six-men library headed by the chairman was appointed by the state Board. The board was inaugurated by the then commissioner of education, Mrs. Eunice Nwankwo on the 16th April, 1993. The Abia state library Board is a parastatal under the ministry of education, information, culture, youth and sports. This public library was located at No 1 Library Avenue Umuahia capital of Abia state. The library has director, secretary, deputy director, with also each section being supervised by professional librarians. The section of Abia state library board was as listed in a storey building with the following sections namely: acquisition section, technical section, readers services sections, reprographic section and children’s section. The present director of Abia state public library is Mr. Okatta.

1.4 Statements Of The Problems

It is the intension of the researcher to investigate ways public relations is practiced in Nigeria public libraries and its effect on libraries. Over the years, public libraries had not considered it necessary to establish public relation units. Many organizations though that PR operates only in industries, ministries, newspapers, organizations, business organization, military etc. the development have retarded the marketing of PR services in public libraries. The need for it is seen in library board.

The public should be reminded that we live in an information dependent era, in which every individual requires access to various kind of information in order to be informed and lead a meaningful life and, to participate intelligently and knowledgeably in matters of public interest.

They should know that the library plays an important role in this process. A significant number of people in the country do not only lack an understanding of what library does but, also lack the knowledge of the range and nature of services offered by libraries.

Through public relations we should seek to establish, maintain and develop mutual understanding between the library and the various publics. This false image should be corrected in a possible way by informing and educating the public about the services offered by public libraries.

1.5 Aims And Objectives Of Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the state of public relation practices in Nigeria public libraries, using Abia state Library Board as a case study. The study will therefore cover the following.

  1. Identifying those who are responsible for carrying out the practices of public relations in public libraries.
  2. Identifying the library’s public
  3. Discovering the public relation procedures, techniques, strategies and available operational tools.
  4. Estimating the impact and benefits to be derived from good PR practices by Nigerian public libraries.
  5. Critically evaluating PR operations in public libraries problems and prospects.

1.6 Research Questions

  1. What are the activities of public relation units?
  2. What impact has public relations practices made to library services?
  3. What tools are used by library to facilitate public relations practices?
  4. What problems hinder effective PR practices in the library?

1.7 Scope Of Study

The scope of this research is limited to Abia state library Board, Umuahia. The board is used as a standard for assessing the extent public relations have been in practice in public libraries and the relationship public library has with its public.

1.8 Methodology

This is a means by which data are collected in study area so that the issue under survey would be brought to focus at the point worth pursuing and analyzed.

The methodology to be adopted in this research work is the questionnaire method. This method is chosen because of the population that is involved in the research is otherwise called ‘a case study research work’ as a particular library is focused on investigation, allowing the gathering of data on large number of variables to enhance the validity of the findings.

A uniform questionnaire shall be designed and the individual data from the respondent is collected and joined to aggregate data for evaluation.

The questionnaire on the other hand shall be devoted to x-ray, assess and/or evaluate PR practices in public libraries. The researcher shall ensure that question in the questionnaire are carefully designed so as to avoid the collection of faulty and deceptive data. Furthermore, the questionnaire shall be personally administered or distributed by the researcher to the respondents, and shall be collected back by her thereafter.

Chapter Five

Summary Of The Findings, Conclusion And Recommendations

5.1 Summary Of The Findings

It is observed from the analysis that public relations have not been fully practiced in Abia state public library. Owing to the fact that the unit is not managed by PR practitioners which is also specialized in librarianship. It becomes not easy to carry out most of its programmes and activities effectively to meet and satisfy the demands of the library users and the populace. However, the library tries to establish mutual relationship with it public by keeping users abreast of what is hoping on in the library and the current trends. This is done by the library’s engagement in exhibition, exercise, library talks and extension service, etc.

It is also seen from that analysis that the library concentrates more on the use of notice Board in marketing of its services in its public relations practices.

Most of its personnel (library staffs) lack proper knowledge of library services. This is because the library is dominated by non-profession la library staff, out of the total number of one hundred and fifteen (115) workers, only ten (10) are professional librarians.

5.2 Conclusion

Public relations are a management function. Therefore, public services librarians have the mandate to give the library patrons access to past wisdom and present knowledge. Public services librarians must adept at interpreting their profession and the institutions they serve effectively. This will enable them to provide right information, in the right form, to the right people, at the right time.

5.3 Recommendations

The government of Abia state under which Abia state library Board was established should see the need to finance the library properly and also help in sponsoring the programmes and activities of the public relations unit. In this way, the library should be borne in mind and considered to be among the priorities during the annual state budget allocations, thus earmarking substantial sum of money to run the library. Abia state public library is supposed to be given annual subvention by the state government for its smooth and effective operation; hence, a good public relations practice is enhanced.

Training programmes, workshops and seminars on customer care should from time to time be organized for library staff to get them equipped and knowledgeable in the services of the library, and promoting effective practice of public relations.

Furthermore, the public relations unit should device other means (media) of reaching the public or creating awareness of its activities to the general public, as well as increases its public relation tools.

The management of the public relations unit should be handled by a public relation officer in the field of library profession.

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