Background to the Study
University libraries play critical roles in the fulfillment of the university’s objectives, particularly with respect to teaching, learning and research, which they are uniquely placed to enhance. The unique role of the university library places it in such an important position that a university is said to be judged by the quality of its library, that is, its library resources which are the framework upon which library services are formed, regulated and used (University Grant Committee, 1921; Agboola, 2000). Library resources are the means by which the university library enhances the university’s core functions of learning, teaching and research and are therefore extremely important to the effective provision of library services. Library resources are the framework for use and regulation of library services. In fact, without library resources it would be very difficult if not impossible for any library to provide library services at all. Library resources include information resources, infrastructural resources, financial resources and different categories of human resources, all of which are indispensable to the effective provision of library services in a university. This underscores the imperative for effective provision of library resources in every university, a task which enables the university library deliver effective services to its users. The provision of library resources is thus a primary responsibility of university libraries.
Information resources are the different formats of recorded knowledge, including books and journals in hard and soft copies, which libraries select, acquire, organize and then make available to their users. As repositories of knowledge, university libraries hold rich collections of books, journals and other varieties of information resources in both print and electronic forms, as well as maps, manuscripts, pictures, incunabula and real objects. These varieties of information resources in the library constitute the framework by which the students, lecturers and other users of the university library interact with writers, artists and other types of authors in different fields in furtherance of their teaching- learning activities. Provision of information resources makes possible in-house reading as well as lending for use away from the confines of the library building. In addition, the university library selects and subscribes to key databases, a task beyond the competence and economic scope of individual users. It makes them available, providing appropriate guidance as to their usage. Moreover, through linkages with other libraries near and far, the university library engages in cooperative acquisition of vital information resources, thus saving cost and enhancing its financial ability to purchase more with the funds available.
Infrastructural resources constitute another major type of library resources which contributes to the framework upon which the university library renders services to its users. Infrastructural resources include library buildings and different types of library equipment all of which are critical to effective service delivery in a university library. The essence of library buildings lies in the fact that they provide different spaces required for different specific purposes pertinent to the functionality of the library. In actuality, library buildings provide spaces for offices, work rooms, shelving, exhibition, lending, storage and toilets. Another type of infrastructural resources consists of different types of library equipment such as library shelves for display and storage of books and journals, reading tables and chairs, and computer hardware for offices and library use. Furthermore, other library equipment include photocopying machines for reproduction of texts, bindery equipment with which documents downloaded, photocopied or torn are bound for convenient storage and longer usage; laminating machines with which various hard copies of documents are laminated and thereby preserved, and standby electric generators that provide alternative sources of electric power supply to the library to enhance steady availability of electricity.
Financial resources or simply funding are another critical type of library resources without which it is unimaginable how a library would survive. Funds enable the library to acquire books and journals, provide and maintain buildings and other types of infrastructure, hire and train staff and also do many other things that enhance the library’s goals. This underscores the importance of financial resources to the effective provision of library resources through which the university library renders effective services. Without financial resources, therefore, many if not all of the library’s plans and programmes cannot be implemented.
Human resources form the fourth major component of library resources. Human resources, or simply the staff, is so invaluable in a university library that without it all the other library resources cannot be combined optimally for the library to attain its goals. To fulfill their role, university libraries need to ensure that the library personnel, carefully trained for their functions and guided by the university’s programmes, select varieties of information resources from the vast array of sources in the world. These librarians’ duties also extend to acquiring and organizing the materials selected to ensure that every information resource in stock, as well as the records relating to it, is properly placed in a systematic location so that the university’s students, lecturers and other staff can find and use it quickly and conveniently, when needed. Moreover, the library personnel preserve the information resources through various ways, such as binding and proper storage. This, coupled with the provision of adequate spaces for consultation of the information resources and adequate security measures adopted to reduce harmful behaviours, like theft and mutilation of information resources, helps to increase the life- spans of the information resources and access to them by larger numbers of users.
Current library resource provisions in Nigerian universities reveal inadequacies concerning all types of library resources. Book and journal collections in both print and electronic versions are small, and worn out and reading spaces are congested with students endlessly scrambling for information resources scattered on the shelves and reading tables with few library staff to give the users attention. Other inadequacies observed include delays in completion and maintenance of library infrastructural resources and shortage of library staff (Ejiko, 1980; Bozimo, 1993; Raseroka, 1999; Agboola, 2000; Choudhury, 2003; Sani and Tiamiyu, 2005; Ogunsola and Okusoga, 2006; Akintunde, 2006; and Sharma, 2009).
The university libraries’ collections are dominated by imported information resources, especially from Europe, to the detriment of locally produced information resources (Ejiko, 1980). The foreign- sourced information materials cost much more to acquire due to the high exchange rate involved. An overwhelming majority of academics in Nigerian universities have urgent need for library materials which are not immediately available and academics find library materials unsuitable for research and much more unsuitable for teaching (Bozimo, 1993). Library buildings are the most heavily used facilities in any university campus without corresponding plans by the universities for libraries to accommodate increases in student intakes, and approval for increased reading space takes long to secure; equipping the library is usually shelved by university hierarchy in budgetary planning while rising cost deepens problems of obtaining university commitment to sustained funding of library materials (Raseroka, 1999). Of concern also is the fact that university library buildings are constructed without regard to standard (Ifidon, 1999). All these problems prompted Agboola (2000) to conclude, and rightly also, that there is a depressing absence of growth, especially in qualitative terms concerning funding, stock, physical facilities and ICT application. Consequently, there is the need to determine the influence behind this situation so as to find ways of improving it, thus helping the university libraries to assume their rightful place in enhancing the core functions of their universities.
The implication of all the foregoing is that university libraries need to converge their resources properly such that the resources can interact optimally with themselves, thereby generating the desired services for users. The university libraries achieve this through their management which, according to Griffins (1999), is one critical factor influencing the provision of resources in university libraries. As defined by Drucker (2001), management is the guidance, leadership and direction of a group’s efforts towards organizational objectives. Management functions exercised through a set of activities are directed at the organization’s human, information, financial and physical resources with the aim of attaining the organization’s goals efficiently and effectively. Management consists of various activities, elements or functions which include planning, organization, staffing, evaluation and control. Others are coordination and motivation, directing and leading, and communication (Connor 1978; Koontz and O’ Donnell, 2002; and Ifidon and Ifidon, 2007). These functions, activities, elements or variables of management are known as managerial variables, which are the elements by which management works. Without managerial variables management would be stale and ineffective because managerial variables represent the media for management operations; management works through them. Managerial variables include planning, organization, evaluation, control and coordination. The others include directing, motivation, leadership and supervision.
Planning is a process of setting goals for the university library. It also involves the determination of the activities to be performed within a specified period and the funding implications of each. In the view of Hartzell (2006), planning is a systematic effort to organize the future performance of human beings, money or goods and services within some identified constraints of time span. Planning has some parts that constitute it and there are five major component parts: formulation of vision; mission statements; goals and objectives; environmental scanning strategy, and policy statements (Aina, 2004).
Once the planning function is completed the next major function is organization which follows logically from it and involves the provision of the activities that have to be performed towards achieving the goals and objectives articulated in the plan. In libraries, the activities are usually arranged into departments or units that complement one another by their operation, while the structures of authority, power, accountability and responsibility within the library are clearly defined. This enables each staff to know his schedules of duty, superiors, colleagues and subordinates and how to relate to each one in the performance of his duties; in terms of collaboration, reporting or supervision. Evaluation, another element of management, operationally means appraisal or assessment of functions or outputs, based on the library’s goals. Evaluation is aimed at assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of a library in reaching its goals and objectives. Hartzell (2006) identified three major types of evaluation: outcome (impact); process (performance), and input (administrative). Evaluation helps to determine the quality of outputs, extent of attainment of set goals and any factors hampering performance.
The control function, which logically results from evaluation, is intricately linked with it, and includes all the activities the manager does to ensure that actual outputs conform to planned results. This enhances the attainment of set goals and objectives in conformity with the library’s vision. Control is the ultimate reason for carrying out an evaluation and constitutes a reliable way of ensuring the organization is continuously positioned for optimal performance in the light of its established goals (Donnelly, Gibson and Ivancevich, 1987).
It is very important to harmonise the different departments and functions of the library if the entire library must progress smoothly toward its goals of unleashing its resources for effective provision of services to the library users. This important activity is achieved by means of coordination, which is a management function that is closely linked to the managerial variable of organization. Coordination represents the process of integrating all the parts and functions of an organization in order to enhance smooth and mutual operation toward the attainment of organizational goals. (Hartzell, 2006). The different departments of a university library like acquisition, cataloguing, circulation and bindery, which make up the university library, perform different but interrelated functions none of which, alone, is sufficient to enable the organization achieve its set goals. The creation of departments helps to enhance specialisation and organized functioning for the common good of all the parts.
Another important management function is leadership, which is the function that enables the manager to persuade others to pursue the objectives of the organization enthusiastically. The leader triggers motivation in the staff and inspires them to release their potentials as they apply themselves to their tasks which he guides towards the organization’s goals. Leadership is a process by which a person exerts influence over other persons. Such influence, according to French and Raven (1967) as quoted by Donnelly, Gibson and Ivancevich, (1987), derives from five bases of power, namely, coercive power (power based upon fear); reward power (positive rewards for subordinates); legitimate power (power derived from the position of the supervisor); expert power (power of one with an expertise), and referent power (power resulting from admiration of the supervisor). One way of providing leadership is through supervision which concerns overseeing the staff to ensure that each of the members is carrying out the task assigned to him properly. Supervision involves direct observation of the situation on ground: number and quality of staff, staff performance, providing encouragement, sanctions, and appropriate recommendations to higher authorities (Ogunsaju, 1983).
Direction is yet another management function worthy of mention. It is the totality of actions of managers relating to instructions to subordinates in the methods and procedures and to the supervision of the work of subordinates to ensure that it is being performed properly. Although directing is generally associated with line supervisors, every manager undertakes it to some degree as he rises up within the organizational hierarchy, assuming other management functions. To be effective, a directive must be not only consistent with the overall goals of the organization but also reasonable and clear.
Clarity of directives relates to the need for effective communication in the work place. Communication is a flow of information that people use to pass messages from one person to another. The crucial place of communication lies in the fact that it is the basis of collaborative action which is the essence of organizational performance where different departments and officials have to perform different but interdependent tasks. When every staff has clear understanding of the expectations of his office, and other relevant information relating to the organization, this reduces ambiguity and the tendency to spread rumour. Proper communication enhances the quality of supervision in the university library because it promotes release of clear instructions and adequate flow of information up and down the hierarchy (Tyons and York, 1996).The present study is focused on the managerial variables of planning, organization and evaluation. This choice was guided by the realization that the three management functions are the core elements of management given the fact that each of the other functions like staffing, coordinating and control is intricately linked to planning, organization or evaluation (Connor, 1978).
Statement of the Problem
Despite the importance of library resources to the provision of effective library services in universities, it is observed that their quality and quantity leave much to be desired. The collections of books and journals are small, as compared to the teeming number of users; many of the volumes are obsolete and dilapidated due to long pressure of use. The situation is exacerbated by inadequacies associated with library buildings and equipment, and shortage of staff. This negates the universities’ mandate on teaching, learning and research, among others.