Background of the Study
Students and staff generally rely on university libraries for information materials to aid teaching, learning and research. Information materials which include books, manuscripts, journals, floppy disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs, audio visual materials such as microforms (i.e. microfilms, microfiches and micro cards), digital materials, motion pictures, sound recordings, graphic and cartographic materials, are domiciled in the university library. Access to these information materials is determined by the competency of the cataloguing staff of the library whose duty is to process these information materials for storage, and easy retrieval by users. This makes the job of cataloguers in university libraries very critical to the access of information materials and progress of academic activities in university libraries.
University libraries are academic libraries attached to universities, serving the teaching and research needs of staff and students of the parent institution. University libraries play two key roles; supporting the institution’s curriculum and supporting research and learning of the university faculties, staff and students. University libraries are a hub of knowledge and information services in their institutions and are usually established along with their mother institutions as an integral part (Abubakar, 2011; Mirza and Mahmood, 2009). Mole (2010) believes that university libraries are central to the universities’ objective of promoting research and scholarship. University libraries are academic libraries set up basically to satisfy the teaching, learning and research needs of their student populations, staff and visitors with information materials. Thus, the main purpose of the university library is to support the objectives of the university. The support of teaching, learning and research requires information materials.
The objective of university libraries, according to Taiwo (2012) is to ensure that maximum use is made of their resources and services. In the light of this assertion, library resources are considered a waste if library users are not able to gain access to them. Thus, it is very important that these resources are properly organized to make them easily accessible to users. The university library in pursuit of the needs of users provides services designed to meet the aspirations, vision and mission of its parent institution which is the university in which it is located. The services provided by university libraries are; the provision of information materials (book and non-book) required for academic programmes; provision of research information resources that are in consonance with the needs of the faculty and students; provision of protection and security of materials to prevent them from being stolen or mutilated; cooperation with other libraries at appropriate levels like inter-library lending, cooperative acquisitions, exchange of information materials, inter-library study facilities, joint publications and inter-change of staff for improved information services (Edoka, 2000). University libraries equally support the goals of their parent institutions through the provision of specialized information services like selective dissemination of information.
Services offered by university libraries are broken into two broad areas. They are public services and technical services. Public services include circulation and reference services while technical services include acquisition, cataloguing and bindery services. University libraries through the cataloguing process organize and classify information materials in the library for easy access by its clientele. University libraries also play key roles in acquiring, organizing, classifying, storing and disseminating information materials for the support of teaching, research and learning in the university. Thus, university libraries, according to Hardesty as cited in Mole (2010), are always struggling to acquire and catalogue printed and non-printed forms of materials in order to maintain collection for the community they serve.
Cataloguing is the process of describing each of the books and information materials that a library has (Ekere and Mole, 2014). They added that it is the process of describing an item of a collection with a view to determining its bibliographical attributes. It falls under the technical aspect of library services which centres on the organization of information materials to facilitate access for the library users. In addition, Adeyemi (2002) defined cataloguing as the correct and accurate description of the physical properties of a document, whether it is print, non print, audio-visual or both. Adeyemi added that it is a professional function performed by human beings which could also be carried out with the assistance of electronic devices.
The cataloguing process primarily involves making entries for a catalogue. This usually involves bibliographic description, subject analysis, assignment of class marks and processes pertaining to physically preparing the information material for access and use. Similarly, Aderinto and Obadere (2009) stated that cataloguing refers to the process of preparing catalogue entries for all materials that are available in the library. Cataloguing has evolved over the years. It started about four thousand (4,000) years ago during the Sumerian and Babylonian times and onwards to the ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Assyrian times. Books were organized by size, colour, or the name of the author because modern standards such as Classification schemes and Thesaurus did not exixt. Some catalogues were unorganized and jumbled up (Byford, Trickey and Woodhouse, 1993). They usually had standard headings (such as history, law, and rhetoric), followed by sub-headings with narrower topics, and under these they would list books by author, title, acquisition date, size, colour or some other feature. The Sumerian, Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian and Assyrian times preceded the encyclopedic era (Denton, 2007).
The Encyclopedic era was signified as a time of gathering, compiling and organizing the works of previous generations and creative writing. Two hundred years later, there was the listing of holdings of a medieval library whereby information was written on the fly leaf of books and consisted only of brief titles with authors appended to a few of them (Carpenter, 1981). There was no observable order of arrangement, as books were neither classified nor organized in alphabetical form. The sixteenth century brought sweeping changes to cataloguing in libraries. The changes gave rise to growth of universities.
The years from 1800s to 1900s were characterized by the introduction of various classification schemes (Denton, 2007). Some of the classification schemes are the Dewey Decimal Classification of Melvil Dewey (1876), Library of Congress Classification Scheme (1904), the Universal Decimal Classification (1905) and Bibliographic Classification of H. E. BLISS (1935). The use of these classification schemes to choose class marks depends on the type a library uses. It was difficult for Americans and the British to reach an agreement during the early years of the Anglo-American code (Dunkin, 1957). In 1960, Code of Cataloguing Rules (CCR) was formulated. In 1967, the AACR1 was formulated, later updates were reflected in AACR2 (Freedman, 1979). Resource Description and Access (RDA) is the most recent cataloguing rule. RDA grew out of a process begun in 2004, to produce the next edition of AACR2 (Welsh 2012). It followed similar but modified set of rules and regulations such as Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd edition (AACR2), combined with Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Record (FRBR). These cataloguing rules and regulations are adopted by cataloguers in the full description of each book, monograph, treatise and other types of information materials acquired by the library. Welsh added that cataloguers must at all times update their cataloguing competencies and tools as new descriptive and subject cataloguing standards evolve, libraries using obsolete cataloguing standards may fall short of effective cataloguing of the information materials before them.
There are basically two cataloguing practices; conventional and online cataloguing practices. Conventional cataloguing refers to the descriptive and subject processing of information materials. It involves the mastery of a set of rules such as the AACR2 or other cataloguing rules and the use of cataloguing tools to catalogue information materials while online cataloguing deals with searching and locating cataloguing data through online cataloguing databases, which give the cataloguer access to an unlimited number of bibliographic data online (Ruteyan, 2007). Conventional cataloguing is the traditional method of cataloguing documents. It involves descriptive cataloguing; subject competencies, critical and analytical thinking, combined with evaluation competencies while online cataloguing requires data mining competencies, computer and web navigation competencies, combined with system appreciation competencies.
The advent of online cataloguing has resulted in casting the traditional library operations in new methods of work; for conventional cataloguing, it is searching the literature and asking critical questions, for online cataloguing it is data mining. The common feature in their endeavour is that the request for the information must be presented to the clientele and technology in a highly precise manner at the man-machine readable interface (Dallape and Bonski, 1997). The task of distilling information from a universe of information, framing a query in new light, locating correct information is addressed by conventional and online cataloguing in their respective manner. For conventional cataloguing, the aids for framing a query in a precise manner are linguistics, semantics and context. The precise mechanisms developed for online cataloguing include structured query language (SQL) for relational data and Z39.50 standard for accessing and retrieving free text data. Online cataloguing makes the task of finding metadata easy.
Metadata simply refers to online data and describes the attributes and contents of an electronic document. Metadata makes information access easy by labeling the contents consistently and leaves a pathway for users to follow and find the information in one place (Milstead and Feldman as cited in Rao and Babu, 2001). For conventional cataloguing, the traditional tasks of cataloguing and indexing are equivalent to the task of metadata in online cataloguing. Rao and Babu added that the practice of cataloguing and classification of documents in a library aims at bringing related documents close together in physical arrangement in the stacks so that the users’ time is saved in locating all the documents relevant to the subject.
The task of cataloguing is usually done by librarians trained as cataloguers. Cataloguers in university libraries are academic librarians; they undertake the task of describing information materials for the card catalogue in the Library. They organize library materials for easy storage and retrieval by determining the main entry, added entries, subject headings and call numbers (Ode and Omakaro, 2007). Accuracy and consistency are usually cited as the competencies a good cataloguer requires. Competency is synonymous with the term skill. It means ability to execute a given work, as a result of experience, formal training or practice. It is the ability to combine and apply acquired expertise on a particular job. This involves application of high levels of knowledge, standards and capacity to assigned work (Ofodu 2015). Ofodu added that like other skills, competencies are acquired through the application of task strategies, personal dispositions, interest and values. Cataloguers and other librarians alike need competencies without which they will fail in their jobs. That’s why Uwaifo (2010) stated that competencies must be acquired through training so that one would be able to execute any given job with ease.
Thus Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) Bibliographic Standards Committee (2006) listed core competencies and qualities of cataloguers, which are; familiarity with and knowledge of the various standards used in cataloging rare books and special collections materials, in particular, descriptive cataloging of rare books, Anglo‐American Cataloguing Rules, 2nd ed. rev., MARC, International Standard Bibliographic Description (ISBD), Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), and specialized thesauri (particularly RBMS thesauri); familiarity with and knowledge of the use of online systems (both local and national); basic knowledge of printed and electronic tools, bibliographic resources, and reference sources related to rare and special collections materials; knowledge of the production methods and technical aspects of the materials residing in special collections; general bibliographic knowledge of the languages most frequently encountered in special collections; basic reading knowledge of at least one language other than English.; ability to manage time and balance tasks appropriately, particularly in managing the tension between comprehensive descriptions vs. timely provision of access.
Cataloguers must routinely strive to develop and update their cataloguing competencies. This assertion is supported by Omekwu (2007), who emphasized that each cataloguer must perceive oneself as a global professional. Furthermore, the terrain is networked; it is a complex interconnection of sexes, patterns and practices. It is inclusive and not isolated. For example, cataloguers who work in the university libraries could be male or female. This means that the profession is not limited by gender. Any gender who works in a library can catalogue information materials. In other words, cataloguing and the ability to catalogue are not peculiar to a particular gender. Moreover, the competencies for cataloguing work can be acquired and applied by any gender. To qualify as an academic librarian, the aspirant has to get at least a first degree in library and information science. Becoming a professional cataloguer requires formal training in the cataloguing process and standards with additional degrees at Masters and or Doctorate level while employed as an academic librarian in a university library. Moreover, the would-be-cataloguer is expected to acquire competence in cataloguing.
Acquisition and application of complementary competencies in conventional and online cataloguing, is not devoid of problems which range from lack of interest in cataloguing to obsolete cataloguing tools and on to poor teaching techniques and methods of instruction. However, the cataloguer must begin to evaluate his practice in terms of global best practices, standards and services; he must be acquainted with the tools, the terrain, the technique and emerging technologies by overcoming the challenges. This is critical because of the ever expanding growth of information, which keeps changing user expectations and behaviours and has led to higher levels of challenges for cataloguers (Murray 2010). To pursue professional ethics in creating timely and high quality records, cataloguers are expected to develop a new mindset and acquire competence to deal with the increased complexity in cataloguing (Munde, 2002). Thus, cataloguers have to be well-educated, multi-skilled, computer literate, must be able to operate different in-house cataloguing methods, and must have ability to use various online cataloguing schemes and packages. These cataloguing schemes and packages include MARC standards online, Library of Congress Subject Heading (LCSH), Library of Congress (LC) search interface, Cutter Sanborn, national and international union online catalogues, ability to keep pace with the changing cataloguing environment, managing materials in new formats, ability to manipulate different metadata schemes and have the competence to catalogue diverse information materials with diverse cataloguing methods (Eze, 2013). Thus, complementary acquisition and application of conventional and online cataloguing competencies amongst cataloguers refers to the obtaining and utilization of corresponding skills in conventional and online cataloguing for a dynamic and efficient practice of cataloguing amongst cataloguers.
Globally, the art of cataloguing in university libraries has developed in tune with ongoing information explosion and demand, especially in advanced countries. University libraries acquire up-to-date cataloguing tools and apply current information technology driven cataloguing processes, application and practice where and whenever necessary. In support of this assertion, Adeleke and Olorunsola (2006) added that in developed countries of the World, conventional and online cataloguing complement each other. It is compulsory that cataloguers in these countries have dynamic competencies in processing library materials with conventional or online cataloguing techniques complementing each other. However as Srider (2004) noted the reality is that there is a significant gap between these advanced countries and developing nations. He nonetheless stated that with the advent of electronic driven library services, there is a decline in conventional cataloguing competencies of librarians even in advanced countries.
In Nigeria, university libraries right from their outset practice conventional cataloguing. In the recent time, online cataloguing is the preferred cataloguing method (Adeleke and Olorunsola, 2009). This is because it is faster than conventional cataloguing in cataloguing of information materials and less tedious than conventional cataloguing. This may set a dangerous precedent as cataloguers may no longer strive to develop their conventional cataloguing competencies. This is very critical because conventional cataloguing plays a vital role in confirming that metadata derived from these online cataloguing databases are correct, besides, not all information materials in the library being catalogued are in these online cataloguing databases which zero down to using the conventional cataloguing method to catalogue these materials that are not found in the online cataloguing databases. Cataloguers could also switch to conventional cataloguing when there is lack of power supply to run the computer systems used for online cataloguing in the federal university libraries.
There are eighteen (18) federal universities in southern Nigeria. Majority of these universities have standard functional cataloguing sections practicing conventional and online cataloguing. These university libraries use the Library of Congress Classification Scheme because of the scheme’s ability to be used to organize libraries with large collection. Thus the tools used for cataloguing include The Library of Congress Subject Headings, the Library of Congress Classification Schedules and Cutter Sanborn Three Figure Author Table. The cataloguing in these university libraries is done by academic librarians trained as cataloguers. The six federal universities selected for this study are Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, University of Benin, Benin, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, University of Lagos, Akoka, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt. These six university libraries are owned and funded by the federal government of Nigeria. The six federal universities were established between 1960 and 1975. They have very large volumes in their collections. These collections include; monographs, periodicals, pamphlets, maps, rare books, government publications, journals, theses and dissertations (both physical and electronic), audio-visual materials covering various disciplines. Their institutional repositories are powered by D-space Institutional Repository Software. The holdings comprise thousands of physical information materials and millions of e-resources domiciled in international databases. These online resources are categorized into password, Internet protocol, and open access based databases.
These university libraries serve the teaching, learning and research needs of staff, students, and visitors of the university. They have both card catalogue and Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs) through which users access the library holdings. The OPAC in these university libraries is powered by a library management software (LMS) known as KOHA. The university libraries have functional cataloguing sections practicing both conventional and online cataloguing. In these university libraries, librarians trained as cataloguers catalogue the library collections for proper storage of the information materials and easy retrieval by users.
Considering the critical role played by cataloguers in cataloguing the information resources of these university libraries for storage and easy access; this study is therefore undertaken to determine strategies to enhancing the complementary acquisition and application of conventional and online cataloguing competencies amongst cataloguers in Southern Nigerian University libraries.
Statement of the Problem It is very important that cataloguers acquire and apply conventional and online