Background of the Study.
The manifestation of electronic resources has significantly transformed information handling and organization in Nigerian educational environments, as well as institution of higher education libraries in particular. For instance, if electronic resources are well organized for use, and all the facilities needed to make them accessible by users are provided, library patrons will have access to them, which will in turn help the librarians to provide adequate information service delivery to their patrons either remotely or otherwise.
What then are electronic resources? Electronic resources (ER) may be defined as online information resources, which include bibliographic database, electronic reference and are accessible with computers. Electronic resources could be described as one of the various items termed special materials in libraries. They are non-book format and therefore are handled differently from the general books and journals in print format.
Some of the common types are: indexes and abstracts, databases, full text aggregated, e-journal, e-books, reference databases (directories, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc) numerical and statistical databases, images, E-audio/visual resources websites, CD-Rom, multimedia products (Kumar, 2008). In this research, the researcher adopts the definition put forward by IFLA (2012) which says that, electronic resources to materials that require computer access, or remotely via the internet.
Introduction of electronic resources, and most importantly the internet, facilitates easy and quick access to information and makes the academic libraries more functional. Academic libraries are libraries in academic institutions that aids teaching and learning. They are established, maintained, and administered by a university to gather together the requests of its students and members of academic staff.
University libraries are at the vanguard of providing information services to their individual communities which encompass students, lecturers, and researchers in order to support their teaching, learning and research needs. Higher education libraries are the heart or centres of institutions of higher learning where all academic activities revolve.
University opined Patra (2013) are essential part of community that surrounds it. Its history, scope, and functions are fashioned and changed by many of the same forces that shape other types of institutions. Librarians need to recognize the changes that are taking place in the library, particularly the introduction of e-resources in the library collection.
They need to use this knowledge to actively reshape the library. If libraries are not actively concerned in the reshaping, key principles from librarianship may wane in the electronic library environment. Certain investment must be made if the library is to emerge as a key factor in the changing environment.
Participation in learning communities, in latest ventures, from knowledge management to dissemination of service to new audience, needs investment in technology, infrastructure and expertise in the handing of e-resource tools. Collaborative development tools, services/resources and capabilities are required in the new environment. The research and resources needs of patrons are the main purposes for establishing and funding university libraries according to Reitz (2004).
In some major libraries, graduate libraries are separated from undergraduate libraries. Modern university libraries provide enough and unhindered access to information resources using electronic technologies. They also navigate and analyze large information with diverse digital tools (Bothmann & Holmberg, 2006).
It is generally believed that the main objective of university libraries is to acquire, organize, preserve and make accessible information materials to users to enhance teaching, learning, and research. The objectives of university libraries which Clarke (1997) noted are providing materials for teaching and learning and meeting the research needs of faculty and students, and self-improvement of patrons. Others are, effecting services on the community where the libraries are established.
In the same vein, Reitz (2004) stated that the objectives of university libraries are specifically tied to those of their parent bodies. The functions of a university amongst others are promotion and dissemination of knowledge, conducting of research, manpower development, providing intellectual leadership and promoting unity (Metz, 2000). It is within this context that the researcher summarized the objectives of the university libraries as the provision of materials in support of teaching and research. It is also established to provide assistance to readers in the use of the materials by means of publications, individuals and group instructions, and other instructional materials to facilitate their use.
Similarly, Ifidon (2006) identified some objectives of university library as: “the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changes in the environment, the capacity of the organization to renew itself so as to be able to deal with problems of both growth and decay, adequacy of physical and financial reserves, provision of needed resources, protection and safeguarding of equipment and buildings, improvement of existing improvement of workers performance and attitudes since it is through people that the work gets done, development of management skills and provision of tools and opportunities that allow the organizational managers to carry out a good job, production of viable, and sometimes, tangible results”(p.6.).
Information service delivery is a system or operation by which people are provided with something they need. Information service delivery as used in this study is defined as storing, accessing, processing or delivering information to specific users. It includes resources and services such as CD-ROMs, databases, software, electronic documents, multimedia, video, etc.
It is the responsibility of librarians to provide information resources to users despite their qualification and experiences. Library information service is a key issue in libraries since the ancient times. It is a gauge of the library’s input to the revolutionization and progress of a society and the nation at large.
Library has been a collection of information materials for ages and print media have been the bulk of library resources. The introduction of information technology has led to the growth of information resources that are born digital and this has led to the supremacy of e-resources over print format (Parker, 2007).
The use of information communication technology (ICTs), according to Mayega (1997) has transformed users’ perception of libraries. Libraries importance is being measured in terms of fulfillment of speed, coverage, precision, flexibility, cost, etc in order to meet users’ request. The buying of resources from publishers and hosting them for “just in case” some patrons will need them is being substitute by delivering materials from publishers “just in time “to answer the user’s needs.
This innovation has challenges which include, sorting useful information from misinformation, and uploading the rising needs expectation of the users. For librarians to efficiently manage information service delivery, resource acquisition must be adequate. Acquisition generally, is the means of acquiring books for a library.
Acquisition of information materials according to Adomi (2006) is the process of adding information items to the library collection. Once materials have been selected, the procedure of acquisition begins, confirming the details of price and publication, placing orders, receiving items, paying invoices and processing in other to give customers easy access. Adomi further stated that acquisition functions seek to discover what materials exist that might fulfill the library’s objectives, to select and order those best suited to the library purpose that have not yet been acquired, to receive shipments and to claim all materials that fail to arrive.
Acquisition, as used in this study applies to the function of acquiring library materials which make up a library collection. The feat of a library depends upon the satisfaction of its user community. The user’s satisfaction will in turn depend upon their receiving the right information at an appropriate time, while provision of information will be possible when the library has a collection of adequate documents.
Some of the guides for electronic resources acquisition as noted by Metz (2000) include: consistency across formats, rationale for acquisition and access provision amongst others. Libraries should specify the content and the format for databases to be acquired. For example, the university libraries must be able to supply the vendor of a full text periodical database with a catalog of files for inclusion. This Guide focuses exclusively on electronic resources whether acquired via purchase or license, free from the web, born digital or multiple format materials (e.g., CD-ROM combined with a book). Electronic resources present a number of challenges not encountered with the selection and acquisition of traditional analog materials and it is advisable for the library to develop clear policies and processes for the selection and management of such resources. This will provide clarity to staff and ensure that electronic resources within the library are developed with due consideration of cost, technical feasibility, licensing, access and preservation requirements, and constraints (IFLA, 2012).
According to Metz (2000) an electronic resource should have adequate content to evaluate its usefulness and to validate its selection. The action plan for acquiring resources should be done with the purpose of university libraries in mind. Aside acquisition, libraries need policies that address issues such as types of resources to acquire to support the users’ community, licensing issues, and user access.
Acquisition policy statement provides a framework of procedures, and defining of library materials in both traditional and e-formats. The statement may be written or unwritten in an effort to communicate library policy to faculty, administrators, staff, and students with the host community. The policy and statement could be reviewed from time to time to continually support the mission and reflect accurately the institution’s academic profile, the content of the library’s collections, the organizational structure of the library, the range of resources actually being acquired, technological change affecting library acquisition and services, and the objectives of the library (Hinton, Pisha, Podell & Reberts, 2005).
Other policy topics include how and which resources should be catalogued, placed in a content management system or subject guide. It is imperative to state here that the university libraries studied have a predetermined content format, that is, the generally accepted criteria used in database/material selection as specified in the institutions acquisition policies.
Acquisition of essential electronic resources and their effective organization in libraries and information centres as noted by Metz (2000) is likely to enable information transfer and access. Also, libraries could participate in library consortia and build digital libraries. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of monographic materials, journals, learning resources databases, etc are existing in electronic formats, and these materials can be accessed from the distant corner of a country. According to him this can increase the use of information and the efficiency in service delivery in university libraries. The use of electronic resources in libraries has greatly affected all aspect of information acquisition, storage and transfer of which universities in south-south Nigeria are not excluded. E-resources have severely changed the mode of library operations and information delivery.
Also, acquisition and organization of electronic resources can be enhanced by the use of appropriate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Organization of modern technologies in libraries has formed a new forum for global information access. This is because information communication technology makes information to be available in a diverse format such as pictures, speech etc.
Organization of e-resources could be defined as a necessary job that make users to have access to information resources (Dhanavandan & Tamizhchelvan, 2012). In organizing the information, the system incorporates a lot of personalization and institutionalization factors. It incorporates the consideration of the tasks performed by every user, the way the task is performed and conditions of the various information resources used to execute the job, and also incorporate the knowledge regarding the rights to access the exact types of resources by a given user.
Most importantly, all these activities are done at the back-end and the user gets required information upon selection of a task. Organization of electronic resources as used in this study includes all the actions put in place by libraries thereby making access to materials possible. The organization of materials involves cataloguing, and allocation of classification numbers, a function that groups similar materials together.
By means of the classification system, the user can look for other books that treat the same subject. Furthermore, tools used in acquiring and organizing e-resources come with additional administrative accounts and tools provided by the publishers and vendors to organize and customize the electronic resources.
These include tools to obtain usage statistics, change IP addresses, authorize access to newly acquired electronic resources, and sometimes customize the resources’ use interface (Swenson, 2011). Blogs are centralized organization tools used to find challenges relating to e-resources and their workflow.
The blog can be setup to notify authors automatically with emails about newly created blog post and observations. The keyword search and browsing using author defined label enables resources to be retrieved when needed. The blog helps document problem solving efforts and identify the most effective steps resolution.
Information handling know-how is needed to access blog. Also, adequate knowledge is required to put these tools to meaningful use. Understanding how to operate personal computer (PC) will enable librarians’ cope with situations where there are technical problems while searching for information.
Librarians are changing from books, journals, catalogue cabinet with card, shelves loaded with books to E-libraries with e-book and e-journals, and OPAC databases. Idiedbeyan-Ose and Esse (2015) stated that in all, electronic resource librarians need the following skills if they must succeed in an e-environment and in this information age. Traditional librarianship skills, technical skills, management skills, are required to practice as a professional.
However, a lot of obstacles are faced by collection development librarians while making information resources available to patrons. Challenges as per this study refer to circumstances, situations, or states which stimulates interest or effort to test one’s powers and capabilities to the full. Furthermore, Devi and Devi (2010, p. 6) outlined issues involved in e-resource organization as inadequate preservation, lack of profession skills, inadequate library fund, technical infrastructure and inadequate support from staff members. Though ICTs are aiding the creation and manipulation of information, access to the resources possesses a great challenge. To make information accessible, it is important that materials are digitized to avoid challenges occasioned by changing technology.
However, inadequate management and technical know-how are making information accessible through digitization seems far from being realized in institutions. It is important that staff are trained in this regard if libraries are to reduce the challenge. Devi and Devi (2010) reiterated that a majority of the libraries have fewer funds for acquiring e-resources and so the patrons are denied their needed information.
In a digital information service system, infrastructure such as software, hardware, internet facilities and other physical equipment are needed to provide easier, faster and comprehensive access to information. Therefore, institutions in this e-information period should improve and promote present technological architecture to have room for e-services.
Interaction and co-oration between and among staff is very important in a digital environment. As such, the library staff should not only be knowledgeable but should also be user-friendly and this will boost information services delivery. Presently, one can access current materials that might be denied users as a result of geographical boundaries or finances as noted by Ouadri (2012). However, this laudable impact has been bedeviled by inadequate acquisition and organization.
The reason for this according to Kavitha, (2009) is that the organizational culture of a majority of the various libraries is poor due to poor e-resource management; non-availability of full time highly skilled computer professional in libraries, inadequate synchronization between computer professional in and out of the organization. Others are inadequate concern to keep abreast with the ever-changing information seeking behavior of library users, not adding values to their users, inadequate flair for users ‘needs, inadequate use of physical space and development of digital environment where electricity/power plays a major role. If the e-resources are acquired but not well organized, the aim of establishing university libraries would not be accomplished.
How do these libraries acquire and organize electronic resources for meaningful service delivery? Most work done on acquisition and organization of e-materials are internationally base. However, the few works carried out in Nigerian such as Onyemaize (2013), Oshalalu (2011), Oyelude (2010), Ozoemelen (2009) and few others did not delve into the present status of acquisition and organization of electronic resources in university library in the south-south Nigeria.
From the literature, it appears that acquisition and organization of electronic resources in university library in south- south geo-political zone is not properly addressed. Therefore, this study intends to examine the method of acquisition and organization of e-resources in university libraries in south-south Nigeria.
Statement of the Problem