1.1 Background to the Study
The application of information technology in creation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information has provide users with easy access to information, provision of remote access to information, provision of up-to-date and unlimited access to information from different sources. Jenkins (1999) asserts that without access to information, there can be no exchange, use, collection or management of information.
Nwalo (2012) assert that, the World Wide Web and the Internet have created a new mode of universal access whereby information seekers, by mere click of the mouse on the computer or the button in other electronic devices can have access to a whole world of information. It is this greatest exponent of information revolution that is now the main source and means of retrieval in the world. Thus, Internet search engines are currently the most used means for searching the Web. However, the main problem is that the indexing techniques that employ often result in large number of search hits or result, many of which may not be relevant. In addition, many users are not skilled at searching techniques and so many find searching on the Web rather daunting. Search engines are different in speed, size, contents, ranking schemes and searching options. Some require quotes around phrases and others do not, some supports the use of Boolean operators in advanced searching. Therefore, it is imperative to know search engine of your choice in order to search effectively (Moahi, 2002).
The twentieth century was shaped by sweeping changes in communication technologies. The emergence and use of information technology is the century’s most significant development affecting scholarly communication. The application of computers to information processing has brought several products and services to the scenes. Consequently, the academic community has undergone tremendous changes during these years, assuming new dimensions influenced by technology-driven applications. Libraries have witnessed a great metamorphosis in recent years both in their collection development and in their service structures. Thus Libraries are using technology to improve the management of scholarly information to strengthen and speed access to scholarly information not held locally. Over the last several years a significant transformation has been noticed in collection development policies and practices. Print medium is increasingly giving way to the electronic form of materials (Sharma, 2009). Ani (2008) quoting Tsakonas and Papatheodorou (2006), states that “the transition from print to electronic medium apart from resulting in a growth of electronic information, has provided users with new tools and applications for information seeking and retrieval. Electronic resources are invaluable research tools that complement the print-based resources in a traditional library setting.
Commenting on the advantages of electronic resources, Dadzie (2007) writes that electronic resources are invaluable research tools that complement the print – based resources in a traditional library setting. Their advantages, according to her include: access to information that might be restricted to the user due to geographical location or finances, access to more current information, and provision of extensive links to additional resources related contents. This rapid emergence and development of electronic information technologies therefore makes it possible to envision radically different ways of organizing the collections and services the library has traditionally provided. While libraries approach a crisis point in financing collection development, these new technologies offer possible ways to mitigate costs and revolutionize ways to access information. Navjyoyi (2007) also finds that speedy publication and availability on the desktop are the key advantages that attract research scholars.
In recent time, there has been the need of EIRs in academic libraries to meet up with the objective of their parent institution. Electronic information resources are invaluable tools for study, learning and research Togia and Tsigilis (2009). For any academic library to thrive in this information age, the library irrespective of the size of its collection must embrace Information Communication Technology. Online dictionary of library and information science (2004) defines electronic information resources as materials consisting of data and/or computer program(s) encoded for reading and manipulation by a computer, such as a CD-Rom drive or remotely via network such as the internet by use of a peripheral device directly connected to the computer. Shim et al (2001) defined Electronic information resources as those resources that users access electronically via a computing network from inside the library or remote to the library. Electronic resource as defined by AACR2, (2002) is any work encoded and made available for access through the use of a computer which includes electronic data available by:
- Remote access: (electronic resources) refers to the use of electronic resources via computer networks.
- Direct access (fixed media): (electronic resources) refers to the use of electronic resources via carriers (e.g., discs/disks, cassettes, cartridges) designed to be inserted into a computerized device or its auxiliary equipment. The access to electronic information resources in academic libraries and among University students is rapidly increasing as a result of the massive adoption of information communication technology. Electronic Information Resources (EIRs) play vital roles in helping libraries in their quest to support the teaching and learning process at University level and to provide quality assistance to its users. As an emerging field, Information technology has been facilitated by providing electronic and internet resources for fulfilling the day to day academic and research requirements of the university students (Manoj Kumar, Gauri, and Bimal, 2011). Information technology has made a profound impact on availability and accessibility of electronic information resources and to provide a quick and comprehensive access to resources by using best possible tools and techniques is the ultimate aim of every library. The application of computers to information processing has brought several products and services to librarianship as a profession. Consequently, library services have undergone tremendous changes during these years, assuming new dimensions influenced by technology-driven applications. Libraries therefore have Information and Knowledge Management witnessed a great transformation in recent years both in their collection development and in their service structures. Thus Libraries are using technology to improve the acquisition and management of scholarly information to strengthen and speed access to scholarly information not held locally. Electronic information resources are important research tools that complement the print-based resources in a traditional library setting, EIRs are easily accessible in the remote areas and solve storage problems and control the flow of information (MuniraNasreen Ansari and Bushra, 2010). Electronic information resources provide access to information that might be restricted to the user because of distance (Sabouri, et al 2010). The emergence of electronic resources has cut the barrier to valuable information resources which until now were difficult to access especially by scholars in the developing nations of the world. Commenting on the advantages of electronic information resources to students, lecturers and researchers, Dadzie (2005) writes that electronic resources are invaluable research tools that complement the print–based resources that are available in a traditional library setting. Their advantages, according to her include: access to information that might be restricted to the user due to geographical location or finances, access to more current information, and provision of extensive links to additional resources related contents, they contain current information because they updated frequently, they offer advanced search capabilities, they offer flexibility in the storage of the results, and they enable access to information without the restrictions of time and location. This rapid emergence and development of electronic information technologies therefore makes it possible to envision radically different ways of organizing the collections and services of the library as traditionally provided.
Availability, accessibility and use of electronic information resources are indispensable to the teaching, research and community services activities of academic staff members in the Nigerian university system. The continued existence and relevance of academics in any university system depends on the ability to exploit available information resources either in print or electronic formats. Academics in Nigerian universities require information to function effectively (Nwalo, 2000; Chukwu, 2005; Oyedun, 2006; and Adetimirin, 2007). Information and its use are as old as man. Indeed, without information there cannot be communication. The technology embrace has led to the proliferation of electronically available information resources. Popoola (2008) expressed the view that the quality of teaching, research, and community service of social scientists in any university system depends on information sources and services. Popoola (2008) stated further that information availability, accessibility, and use are essential to the teaching, research, and service activities of social scientists in the Nigerian university system. Okiki (2011) stressed that information is the pivot on which the survival of any society rests. According to him, information remains the major ingredient in taking decision and also assists in reducing the degree of uncertainty. Electronic information resources available for use by academic staff includes: the CD-ROM databases, electronic mails, Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs) and Internet facilities. The Internet which is the most prominent of these sources has made possible, access to electronic books, electronic journals, various databases and search engines. All these resources constitute the electronic information resources. Apart from teaching and community services, academic staff members are expected to publish quality research output, communicate ideas within the profession, thereby contributing to the available knowledge base. Recent studies such as those of Popoola, 2007; 2008 and Okiki 2011 have shown that research productivity plays a major role in attaining success in the academia as it relates to promotion, tenure and salary of the academic staff. It has also been reported that the quality of research output by academics in any university system depends largely on quality and quantity of information resources at their disposal (Popoola, 2008). Thus, non-availability and usage of electronic information resources by lecturers in tertiary institution has great adverse effect not only to the lecturers but also to the educational system as a whole.
The university as an institution is generally regarded as a custodian of knowledge where students from different disciplines acquire knowledge and skills for self development. Acquisition of knowledge is necessary for greater understanding and participation in community affairs and to prepare one for future contribution to the society. The university could be regarded as a preparatory ground for creativity and independent thinking. According to Oketunji (2005), university contributes towards the solution of problems and to the gathering, analysis and interpretation of facts. Generally, therefore, the university environment is a place where transfer of knowledge and information takes place. The achievements of the goals of the universities depend to a great extent on the level of services and resources provided by the university library. The university Library, which is commonly referred to as the nerve centre of the university is primarily set up for the achievement of the university’s set goals and objectives by providing information materials and services which satisfies the information needs of the entire university community. In other words, apart from the fact that university libraries provide needed information sources and reading materials, they at the same time promote teaching, learning and research functions through other various means such as loan services, interlibrary lending services and selective dissemination of information.
The introduction of Information Communication Technology (ICT) facilities in the university libraries has tremendously enhanced information generation, access, storage and dissemination. Dissemination of timely and up to date information is made easier with the advent of these technologies which aid the transmission of electronic information resources. The increased awareness of the importance of information in human activities has also necessitated the need for provision of more diversified, easier and upgrading of the services to meet with the growing information needs of the users.
Electronic information resources, interchangeably used in this work with “electronic resources” are information materials in the library that can only be accessed electronically, with the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) facilities. Examples of the electronic information resources often consulted by students include: Internet, CD-ROM databases, online databases, Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs), electronic journals, electronic books and digitized materials. These resources are slowly replacing the use of print media as a result of their ability to provide one with timely and up-to-date information. In contemporary library practice, information needs of learners and knowledge seekers are met through a plethora of information sources especially with Electronic Information Resources (EIRs) dominating as a result of their ability to be accessed even remotely. University libraries specifically provide these resources to cater for the academic needs of the university community. Students, as part of the university community, are allowed unrestricted access to these resources. These resources give room for current and up-to-date information to be accessed easily, timely and remotely without compulsory face to face contact with the provider as in traditional librarianship.
Obviously, the basic aim of providing electronic information resources by university libraries in Nigeria is to ensure that students have access to first hand information characterized by being timely, up to date, easy to access and, even remotely. Electronic information resources available in a library play a prominent role in facilitating access to required information by the users in an easy and expeditious manner. According to Negahban and Talawar (2009) electronic information resources, in reality have become the backbones of many academic institutions. They serve as motivating factor to students as they provide them opportunity to transmit, acquire or download, process and disseminate information on any subject of interest. They can be used by any user through online access via networks or authentication methods at any time by comfortably sitting at home or office. They indeed play significant roles in academic libraries as they are mostly used for the promotion of academic excellence and research. Electronic Information Resources open up the possibility of searching multiple files at one time, a feat accomplished more easily than when using printed equivalents. Tella, Tella, Ayeni and Omoba (2007) emphasised that electronic information has many functions and benefits that are capable of positively influencing the academic performance of both students and researchers in the university as well as other higher educational institutions. However, it is imperative that the students should be familiar with the use and exploitation of the resources for a quicker and more effective usage.
The use of Electronic Information Resources (EIRs) is necessary for students mainly because they provide better, faster and easier access to information than information accessed through print media. Electronic information resources help to expand access, increase usability and effectiveness and establish new ways for students to use information to be more productive in their academic activities. They can be relied upon for timely information which upholds the quote: right information to the right user at the right time. Furthermore, use of electronic resources aid the students in keeping abreast with current developments in their respective subject fields, in contrast with print media which are not regularly updated.
Though the benefits derived from using ERs are no longer debatable, some factors such as students’ variables which in the context of this work include; level of information literacy skill, attitude towards electronic resources use, computer selfefficacy, gender, and accessibility could affect the use of electronic information resources. Undergraduate students are formally engaged in pursuing a course of study in a university with the aim of obtaining a degree certificate. The use of ERs by the students can greatly enhance their learning and general academic performance. Students’ use of ERs also requires that they be information literate.
Information Literacy means knowledge of one’s information concerns and needs, and the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, organize and effectively create, use and communicate information to address issues or problems at hand. It is a prerequisite for participating effectively in the Information Society. Lau (2006) defined information literacy as information competencies that involve the capacity to identify when information is needed, and the competence and skill to locate, evaluate and use information effectively. He further stated that information competencies are key factors in lifelong learning. Information literacy skill is a very relevant skill which enables one to conveniently and effectively navigate the vast information available as a result of information explosion presently being experienced. Generally, the information literacyskills programmes that take place in the university libraries ranges from library orientation to user education. To be information literate means acquiring the skills required to intelligently and systematically find, interpret, select, evaluate, organize, and use information for a specific purpose.
Information literacy, according to Amalahu, Oluwasina and Laoye (2009) includes library literacy, computer literacy, search literacy, and critical thinking skill. It is important in the use of electronic resources because of the proliferation of information presently experienced as a result of series of research and developmental activities taking place globally. The complexity of the use of electronic resources resulting from the need for one to be computer literate and also possess good searching and evaluation skills may pose a great challenge to their effective utilization by students if they lack these skills. Information literacy gives insight into interaction with the world of information. Fostering the development of information literacy among users enable them to become self-reliant, independent users. Information literate students become more thoughtful and versatile in seeking and using information in all formats. Besides, attitudes of individuals towards a particular medium or channel of delivery and communication of information can equally affect their use of that medium or channel. Attitude is the way an individual thinks and feels about somebody or something.
Seth and Parida (2006) cautioned that availability of information resources and services does not automatically translate to information accessibility and use. Accessibility refers to openness, convenience, ease of locating and proximity to information resources. Access to information is important because except an information source is made accessible to users, it cannot be used. Jimba and Atinmo (2000) maintain that accessibility is about being able to use what is available when it is required. Accessibility of information materials is one of the prerequisites of information utilization. Resources may be available in the library and even identified bibliographically as relevant to one’s subject of interest, but the user may not be able to lay hands on them because of accessibility problems. Ugah (2008) opined that the more accessible information sources are, the more likely they are to be used and readers tend to use information sources that require the least effort to access. Obviously accessibility constraints that could be experienced in the use of EIR include: inadequate provision of infrastructure, Internet connection problem, online database subscription problem, library electronic resources use policy and indifference behaviour of staff towards assisting users.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Electronic information resources have indeed become more important for the academic community in accessing up-to-date information at the right time and in the right form. They enable students to have access to first hand information characterized by being timely, current, easy to access and, even from remote places and also open up the possibility of searching multiple files at a time, a feat accomplished more easily than when using printed equivalents.
From researches and past literatures, many authors have tried to write about one aspect or another on the subject of Electronic information resources in academic library in Edo State. But not much has been carried out in the area of availability, accessibility and use of Electronic information resources by undergraduate in Edo State. Although, several studies have dealt on the benefits of Electronic information resources to students and library services. Almost nothing has been done on the aspect of accessibility and use of Electronic information resources by undergraduates students in Ambrose Alli University Based on this, this study aims to ascertain the availability and accessibility and use of electronic resources by undergraduates students in selected private institutions in Edo State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this study is to examine the accessibility and use of electronic resources by undergraduates students in Ambrose Alli University Edo State. The specific objectives are to:
- Find out how accessible electronic information resources are to undergraduate students.
- Identify where undergraduates students get access to electronic Resources.
- Determine the electronic information resources used by undergraduates students in Ambrose Alli University
- To identify the purpose of use of electronic resources by undergraduates students in Ambrose Alli University
- Find out problems encountered by undergraduates students in Ambrose Alli University
- Suggest possible ways of improving access to electronic information resources.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions formed the major basis upon which this study was carried out. They are:
- How accessible does electronic information resources to undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University?
- Where do undergraduate students get access to electronic Resources in Ambrose Alli University Edo State?
- What are electronic information resources used by undergraduates students in Ambrose Alli University?
- What are the purpose of use of electronic resources by undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University?
- What are the problems encountered by undergraduate students in accessing and using electronic resources in Ambrose Alli University?
- What are the possible ways of improving access to electronic information resources?
1.5 Scope of the Study
This research work is on the accessibility and use of electronic resources by undergraduates students in Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma. Other forms of tertiary institution will be excluded in the study. In addition, only undergraduate students will be respondents for the study.
- Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would be of benefit to undergraduate students, the library management and librarians in the universities and other academic libraries librarians working in the Electronic Resources (ERs) sections of libraries, the university management, educational planners and administrators, the general public, and researchers.
This study would sensitize undergraduate students on the need to acquire the relevant skills necessary for effective use of Electronic Resources. The outcome of this study is expected to bring about enhanced utilization of the libraries’ Electronic Resources by the undergraduate students thereby leading to improved academic performances and research output as well as the ability to favourably compete with counterparts from the developed parts of the world.
Library management and the librarians in universities and other academic libraries would find this study very relevant as it would reveal students’ limitations in using the Electronic Resources available in the libraries. This would enable library management to correct the problem areas thereby enhancing students’ use of the resources. Furthermore, the outcome of this study would present the library management and librarians with practical information on the relationship that exist between undergraduate students’ variables and their use of libraries’ Electronic Resources, thereby providing them with strategies to adopt which will positively enhance the students’ utilization of these resources for general academic purposes. It will equally widen the knowledge of the library management in the overall management of the libraries.
Findings of this study will also be beneficial to university managements by guiding them in the areas of budgeting and fund allocation to the university library. Other researchers especially in the field of Library and Information Science who will want to carry out further researches in this area of study will also find this study very relevant as it will contribute in solving the problem of dearth of literature in this area and also enhance discipline specific curriculum resources.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Electronic Resources: Electronic resources are materials consisting of data and/or computer program(s) encoded for reading and manipulation by a computer, such as a CD-Rom drive or remotely via network such as the internet by use of a peripheral device directly connected to the computer.
Resources: Resources refer to those available materials in the library for students which aimed at meeting the need of the students in the library.
Availability: Availability of information entails its provision and supply at the right quantity and time, while its utilisation refers to the practical and adequate use of resources and materials on information identified and acquired by user for the purpose as solving problem.
Accessibility: accessibility entails an adequate access information sources without restrictions or preventions for one reason or the other.
Students: This refers to a group of people attending school such as universities, polytechnics, etc, with a view to acquiring knowledge and skills needed to function in their immediate environment and society at large.
Tertiary: This refers to as the third stage, third level and post secondary education in the higher learning.
Institution: An institution is defined as a process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, belief and habits.