This study investigated accessibility and utilization of reference and information resources and services by students in four Colleges of Education libraries in Anambra and Enugu States. Seven research questions were formulated to guide the study. The specific objectives are t identify the types of reference and information services and resources available to students, find out the extent the students use the various bibliographic tools in their search for information, determine the extent of accessibility of reference and information services and resources, determine the purpose for the utilization of information services and resources by students, find the extent of utilization of reference and information services and resources by students, identify the factors hindering effective access and use of reference services and resources by students, to propound strategies for enhancing student’s access to and utilization of reference and information services and resources Data relevant to the study were collected using questionnaire and observation checklist. The population of 1674 registered students and librarians was sampled using proportionate stratified random sampling technique which brought the sample respondents to 670. Two questionnaires were used: one for registered students and one for the librarians titled “Accessibility and Utilization of Reference and Information Services and Resources Questionnaire for students (AURISRSQ) and “Accessibility and Utilization of Reference and Information Services and Resources Questionnaire for librarians (AURISRLQ) face validation of instrument was undertaken by three renowned researchers in library and information science (AURISQ). Instrument was administered by the researcher and trained assistant. Descriptive statistical analysis was used where responses were tabulated and analysed using tables, percentages and frequencies to answer research questions. Major findings revealed that apart from the fact that most of the information resources and services available were not adequate, they were not highly accessible and utilized. Most of the bibliographic tools were not in use as adequate library orientation are not offered to the students. The findings also revealed that the information resources were utilized for examination, research and recreation. Respondents said that they were not satisfied with the accessibility and utilization of information resources. The problems hindering the effectiveness of accessibility and utilization were lack of current information materials, lack of library orientation given to students, the absence of conducive reading environment, non-friendliness of the library staff incessant power supply, and lack of funds. Strategies proffered were procurement of current information resources, library orientation, proper organization of information resources, friendliness of the library staff and conducive reading environment. Based on the findings, the researcher recommended that government should provide funds in order to procure current information resources. Library staff should be approachable as well as having good relationship with the clients. In order to ensure accessibility and utilization of information resources and services, user education should be imbibed in the curriculum or be taught from time to time.
Background of the Study
The establishment of colleges of education marked a turning point in teacher education and teacher professionalization. This is because it was designed to meet the middle–level manpower needs of our economy, especially at the education sector. In particular, it was meant for the training and production of branded teachers, well qualified graduate teacher who will teach at the primary and secondary levels of education. According to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in her National Policy on Education (2004) the objectives of teacher education, which are also the objectives of colleges of education include
- To produce highly motivated, conscientious and efficient classroom teachers for all levels of our education system.
- To encourage further the spirit of equity and creativity in teachers.
- To help teachers to fit into the social life of the community and society at large and to enhance their commitment to national objectives.
- To provide teachers with intellectual and professional background, adequate for their assignment and to make them adaptable to any change situation not only in the life of their country but in the wider world.
- To enhance teachers commitment to the teaching profession.
To achieve the above laudable goals the curriculum of the colleges of education has been structured as follows; General Studies or General Education, Foundation Studies (covering principles and practice of Education Area of subject concentration/field of teaching (e.g. Biology, Physics, English language etc). and Teaching Practice.
The above components of training in colleges of education were therefore targeted toward the production of teachers with professional and intellectual skills needed for efficient classroom activities in primary and secondary schools. The library as a necessary appendage of any educational environment cannot be left out of colleges of education. To this end, the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) Stated that there shall normally be one central College library except for multi-campus Colleges. The library shall have the status of an academic department. It is these policy statements that gave the necessary impetus for the establishment of libraries in all colleges of education in the country.
The collection is tailored towards achievement of institutional goals of teaching, learning and research. They serve the students, lecturers, administrative members of the academic communities as well as potential users. The college libraries are unique among the academic libraries because of its emphasis on professional training of efficient classroom teachers.
The National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) today also tends to place more emphatic premium on professional teacher competence and effectiveness with regard to the objectives and philosophy of colleges of education and their curricula. Such emphasis of the NCCE (1994) is the objective of libraries in Colleges of Education and it include the following:
- To ensure that its collections and services are designed to meet the objectives and information requirement of Colleges of Education
- To ensure that the resources and facilities provided are maximally used through proper organization and dissemination.
- To give qualitative reference and information services for study, teaching and research needs in the college community.
- To assist the library users in their own personal development.
- Provision of user education
- To evaluate from time to time the success of library in meeting the library and information needs of users.
According to Okafor (1992) the mission of colleges of education is to teach, conduct research and provide service to humanity. College libraries help to ensure that these goals are achieved. The libraries are the pivots on which academic activities revolve. Hence Aguolu (1983) stated that the academic health, intellectual vitality and effectiveness of any College of education depend largely upon the state of information and reference service provision. Okoro (1999) opined that the focus of the library is to assist the college of education to fulfill its goals and objectives through the provision of information resources to clientele. This is done through the process of establishing contact between a reader and the books by personal services, thereby bringing the right reader and the right book together. This is in line with Ranganathan’s grand rules of librarianship as outlined by Azubuike (1999).
1. Books are for use
2. Every reader his book
3. Every book its readers
4. Save the time of the user
5. The library is a growing organism.
Libraries especially those located in the Colleges of Education are veritable resources for scholarship. They help students to successfully address academic problems. The establishment of reference service be it manual or online has been able to bring about solution to student’s academic problems. Reference services, according to Adokun (2003) involve assisting readers in obtaining information from the libraries. It also includes all the services or assistance given to the library users to help him make adequate use of the resources with minimal waste of time. The main tools for actualizing reference services are called Reference materials. Reference services are also that aspect of librarianship which deals with the interpersonal relationship between the reference Librarian and library users. Aboyade (1985) was of the opinion that Reference service in any library is a sum total of all the library activities aimed at facilitating the use of the library and its resources”. Reference service is the formalized provision of information in diverse forms by a reference librarian who is interposed between the questioner and available information sources. Kumar (2006) wrote that Reference services involve spirit of human which aims at establishing the contact between the right user and the right materials at a right time.
. An overview of the reference services and sources provided among others are the following: Computer data base resources, Encyclopedia, Dictionaries, Concordance, Directories, Gazettes, Atlases, Handbook/manual, Biographies, National Directories, Indexes, Periodicals, internet resources, Africa today, Europa world of learning, Europa world year book, Readers guide, facts on file, Thesaurus etc in both print and non print format in order to meet up the information needs of her users. Adequate or enough facilities like tables, chair, computers, fans, air condition, lightings, telephone, funds and even photocopying services are needed also. These facilities and resources are used by the reference librarian to achieve the objectives of college, that is, the parent body. Indeed, the reference sources and services are very essential in every college of education because they help the academic staff, non academic staff and students of such colleges of education to achieve their goals and objectives.
The reference and information sections of the colleges do this through the provision of the following services: Helping clientele or patrons to find information resources they need, Answering information queries from patrons, Providing brief information for ready reference services, Providing current Awareness services (CAS), Providing selective Dissemination of information (SDI), Providing instruction on how to use the resources of the library, Providing inter-library loan and sharing of materials needed by patrons, Conducting literature searches, Compiling bibliographies on topics desired to help users obtain the information and materials they need, Providing user education (Orientation/instruction) Uzoigwe and Onwubuike (2004).
The indexing and abstracting services offered in reference services help the researcher to elicit information needed without waste of time, as it is more or less a summary of the information they are looking for. It is also one of the ways of determining the quality of any material since it has gone through the process of traditional publishing. Reference services offer opportunity for database searches. Since access to these materials are numerous – imprint copy, one can access through the title, subjects, authors etc. For electronic, you subscribe, since electronic search offers the researcher a wide range of data bases for search. Another importance of reference service to academic work is that a student will have access to valid reference sources. Gogdil and Zaka (2002) stated that whatever be the future, the services of information provision will continue to be an essential instrument of human welfare. Edoka (2000) on his part averred that the entire human and material resources in the library are put in place at a considerable expense for the overall purpose of effective services to the library users.
The nature of reference service varies from one person to another. The nature differs accordingly to the kind of clientele to be served and the objectives of the library to be fulfilled. In a college library, reference services predominate and are rendered to the clientele without any distinction. Those to be served may include students, lecturers, Non academic staff and others. The reference services rendered in colleges of education libraries can only be enhanced through the availability of resources or facilities, Murison (1998) stated, that “the significance of library to its users will generally be demonstrated by the facilities (resources) which it offers to them”. The facilities and resources available should be able to enhance reference services in the area of quick services to customers by the reference librarian as well as provision of Selective dissemination of information (SDI), sustenance of physical and mental alertness which is done through the provision of cooling system (air condition and lightning), current awareness services (CAS), provision of bibliographic verification, inter-library loan and user’s education.
What is peculiar to the colleges in terms of the objectives in which the library intends to address is the collection that will reflect the research information needs that are required for academic programmes of the parent institutions. These research information needs are the resources that are in consonance with the needs of the teacher trainees as well as provision of information resources for recreation and human resources development.
Utilization of information resources and services becomes possible when they are made available and access is provided by libraries for effective retrieval and use. Information acquisition and use is an essential tool for the quality research and study activities of the teacher trainees. These resources and services are used for academic activities such as assignments, examinations and also carrying out teaching practices. The role of the college libraries is to acquire, store, organize and disseminate information for use. The success of the programme and achievements of the stated goals depend on the accessibility of the information resources and services in the college libraries. The students will benefit a lot when the resources are accessible. The level of utilization will increase among students as they become quality teachers in the event of accessibility of information resources. That is why it is expected that the Colleges of Education libraries in Anambra and Enugu states having substantial number of students should make information resources and services accessible to them, to achieve their purpose of establishment.
Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe has General Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Yearbooks, Indexes, Directories, Almanacs, Biographies, Gazettes etc. It is not surprising that the Nwafor Orizu College of Education library is of this high standard. The fundamental reason for this is that the library is a conglomeration of libraries of two Colleges that were merged. These are the Anambra State College of Education, Awka and the old College of Education, Nsugbe. The merging of the two Colleges of Education following the creation of Anambra State for which the campus of the former College of Education Awka was used as a takeoff of New Anambra State Secretariat, provided opportunity for the rich standards of the joint libraries of the two old Colleges of Education.
The situation with the Federal College of Education (Technical) Umunze, Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu and Enugu State College of Education, Enugu is quite different from the experience of the College of Education, Nsugbe. Invariably thus, the libraries of Federal College of Education (Technical) Umunze, in Anambra State. Federal College of Education, Eha-Amufu and Enugu State College of Education, Enugu both in Enugu State are comparatively not fantastic with regard to the status of reference and information services in the libraries though there are quite a number of reference and information resources.