1.1 Background Of The Study
The introduction of information communication technology (1CT) has a tremendous influence on every sphere of human endeavour. Many years ago, libraries used card catalogue, typewriters and manually assigned due dates. Library automation and up to date method of help libraries patrons to effectively used library resources is now streamlined because of computers and software.
Library automation and its attendant digital technologies present near opportunities and challenges to libraries to enhance their service. Some of the cultural functions of libraries are changing in the digital age and providing promising opportunities for the acquisition organization and bibliographic control of the available vast knowledge. However, automation is the reality of 21st century and any library that ignores its capability in transforming the information environment is at risk of losing ground libraries the repositories of human knowledge have been striving to improve their productivity through the use of computer (Fauty, 2004). The library is the heart of the educational enterprise and also the reservoir of knowledge communicated through information resources. Information is fast becoming a vital national resources that determines the director of any nation`. Therefore, librarians and document list must be conversant with development in information and its communication technologies for the organization and dissemination of information in order to increase knowledge and improve scholarship.
Significant improvement for recording information began to be realized with the advent of online batch processing systems. Automation of library activities began to take place in 1940s as libraries installed offline batch processing system, but very few of these systems were installed prior to the 1970. The few that were installed during these three decades used either key punch machines do produce machines readable cards or key-to-tape technology to produce machine readable tapes. The mid-1970s ushered in a major boom in automation, as a result of development in computer hardware and software that could support time-shared interactive online activities. As a result of this technological innovation, online real time systems (the earlier prototype developed by libraries) began to replace batch processing system over the past decade or two, online systems have involved simplistic single function systems that provided information from only one set of library function (e.g. circulation acquisition etc) to complex integrated system that deliver a well routed view within one system of the inter-relateness of all functions (Adesida and Fatuyi, 2011).
Integrated online system more closely represent the activities of the library, where one units processing of library may impact materials availability and the function of another, integrated System group a number of activities (e.g. Acquisition, serials control, circulation and course reserves, the public catalogue, bindery and inter-library loan) in one system using command and sharing common patron and items record base. Information and communication technology incorporated a range of technologies used to support communication and information. ICT include both network and application. Network includes fixed, wireless and satellite telecommunications, broadcasting networks. Well-known applications are the internet, database management systems and multimedia tools. By and large, the components of ICT include;
- Broadcasting technology
- Microelectronic /micrographic technology
- Reprographic technology
The proliferation and development in information and communication technologies (ITCs) have brought about unprecedented transformation in the way we communicate, receive and send messages to the near and distant destinations. It has also enabled us to transmit data in any forms concurrently such as text, radio, visual in what is referred as convergence technology or multimedia presentation.
The uses of computer is applicable to a wide range of operations in library services and its applications has brought maximum efficiency to services of libraries through increased reductions of misstates, increase in convenience a adequate statistical data keeping control interactive growths labour saving and easy exchange of documentation. The influence of the computer on library operations was explained further by Molholt (2007) thus-we no longer type cards, the system supplies them, patron do not need to copy down call numbers before going to the shelves, the online catalogues system prints them out, patron don’t sign for books, a light pen reads, their identification card and the system charges the book out of them university libraries are committed to the provision of up-to-date materials for the support of teaching, learning and research in their universities. Therefore university libraries must be automated to the level of being connected to the internet. By so doing the tremendous amount of information that can be acquired from the “electronic libraries” of the world will be actualized. The internet is largest reservoir of all type of information (research, scholarly publication of all fields) as well as other multimedia capabilities.
According to Okiy (2008), the application of computer technology to university libraries has transformed the pattern of information handling, provision of services and the perception in library cooperation world-wide. It is known fact that, computerization of library activities has been functioning effectively in developed societies since 1960s. in African continent however, Rosenbery (2005), from a survey of African libraries reported that the 40 libraries surveyed, majority of them (65%) are get to complete the process. Most libraries began with cataloguing, but have either finished that nor moved to other process. 13(21%) are yet to started while 9(15%) considered that they are fully automated.
In Nigeria, the first attempt to automate library operation was made in 1970s. Omoniwa (2011) reported a successful effort of first, the automation of serials records in 1972 and secondly circulation operations in 1976 at Ahmadu Bello university library. Abolaji (2010), wrote that significant and wide spread efforts at computerization of library services started in the 1960s. However, most notable research libraries in Nigeria have gone far in the computerization project. The successful and most comprehensive computerization program of an indigenous Nigeria library was that at the international Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) library Ibadan, which was accomplished in 1984.
There was an effort by academic libraries to catch up with their counterparts in the developed world and this can be seen in the way most university library automation in Nigeria started in the late. 1980s and its various stages of development. Such effort for automation at university level was made through the National universities commission (NUC), which introduced project aimed at computerizing services across the country. The pace has been very slow with none of the libraries fully automated. This development is discouraging particularly as the world has become a global village with avalanche of information to share but which may not be accessible without information technology, (Sokoya, 2004).
However according to Ani (2007), despite all these benefits, Nigerian universities are still at the crawling stage of automation of their library services. The present scenario of inadequate funding of our universities and their libraries by both the Federal and State Government, which are the proprietors of the institutions leave much to be desire. University funding has continued to dwindle since the mid-1980s along with the downturn in the economic fortunes of Nigeria. However, based on the fact that automation of library services has been in Nigeria since the last three decades, and it was expected from the onset, academic libraries would take the lead in the automation race because of their enormous potentials and challenges, experience and various researches have proved it otherwise.
Most academic and research libraries in Nigeria have not computerized any of their functions. The public card catalog and the visible index are still finding tools for books and journals. In most libraries, likewise, index and abstracts are complied manually. Library and information services in Nigeria have yet to transcend the traditional functions (Sharma, 2009).
According to Okore (2005), attempt by Nigerian libraries to automate their operations in the early 70s and 80s were unsuccessful. Only some foreign owned or sponsored libraries like IITA library. British Council Library, united state. Information services (USIS) library and few others recorded some success stories. However from the early 1990s, many university libraries have been automated for example, university of Ibadan library has been fully automated others whose full computerization are underway include university of Ilorin library, Ladoke, Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomosho, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, University of Nigeria, Nzukka, Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi, Bayero, University, Kano, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Federal University of Technology, Minna and Lagos State University (LASU) Lagos.
Automation has many impacts on academic libraries. One of the impacts of automation in the library is the high and increasing efficiency of operation in the library, this help to save staff time and it reduces work load. This increase efficiency has also helped to decrease delay, backlogs, error, staff dissatisfaction etc. The efficiency has effected all the operation of the library. The functions of the library which acquisition, organization, dissemination and maintenance are performed. Automation has led to the timely delivery of the above functions. It also makes them accurate, precise are relevant.
In the area of compilation of accession list, maintaining library statistic, charging and discharging of books, compiling over-due notices, keeping book on the reserved and maintaining library roster automation has helped to avoid repetition. The benefit of networking and interconnectivity is also associated with library automation.
Automation has many positive impacts on academic libraries so also it has negative impacts (challenges) on the libraries. There are clear signs that automation of libraries also have with its some inherent problems. For example a novice searching of a book in the library that is automated, many individual cannot afford to learn the skill to use them at the movement and without being a computer literate you cannot use the automate library effectively.
It is the desire of a modern library to apply and enjoy the benefits of emerging technologies in its library daily house keeping routines and future development. Development in emerging technologies have had a tremendous impact on all kinds libraries and information resources centers over the last two and half decades/. The concept of library automation in universities library in Edo State is not new, but the situation is still not leveled with developed nations.
Automating housekeeping operation is a major effort in the area of computer application to libraries (Singh, 2009). Therefore Ossaiugbah (2010) posited that “automated library denote a library in which the collection of library materials are primary on paper but in which the library procedures have be computerized. Automation in libraries cuts across housekeeping operations such as acquisition, circulation, serial control and cataloguing.
A library is a collection of information resources/materials organized for the education, informational and recreation needs of its users,. A library can be housed in a physical building or on the internet i.e. (virtual library). According to Tahir (1998) cited in Alin (2009) the term university library refers to a library that is established, maintained and administered by a university to meet the needs of its student and members of the academic community.
The central role of university libraries is to support the scholarship research and community service in their parent instructions with the materials require by their clientele that they select, acquire, process and organize (Adedibu, 2008). In a nutshell, the effectiveness of the library service to its users depends on the quality of the library catalogue, since catalogue provides access to the collections of the library.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
The automation of library service has brought a significant impact on library operations and services. With the help of Online Access Catalogue (OPAC), library users can access the library holdings electronically from distance. It also helps improve the services carried out within the library.
Despite all these benefits, the present scenario in most libraries reveal a slow pace of automation. Several factors have been found to be responsible for this such as poor funding, lack of ICT facilities and inadequate manpower. In view of this, this study was designed to investigate the challenges and prospects of automation in Ambrose Alli University Library and University of Benin Library.
1.3 Objectives Of Study
The aim of this study is to investigate the automation in university libraries: challenges and gains in some selected universities in Edo State. The specific objectives are:
- To determine the library operation that have been automated in Ambrose Alli University Library and University of Benin Library.
- To determine the extent to which automation of library operations has affected effective service delivery in Ambrose Alli University Library and University of Benin Library.
- To identify the gains/benefits of library automation in university libraries.
- To identify the challenges face by university libraries in their automations effort.
- To proffer possible solution to the identified problem.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are the research questions for the study;
- What are the library operation that have been automated in Ambrose Alli University Library and University of Benin Library.
- To what extent has library automation effective service delivery in Ambrose Alli University Library and University of Benin Library.
- What are the gains/benefits of library automation in university libraries.
- What are the challenges of face by university libraries in the their automation effort
- What are the possible solution to the identified problems
1.5 Scope Of Study
The study is limited to the automation of two university libraries (Ambrose Alli University Library and University of Benin Library) both in Edo State. The study will provide and investigate insight into automation of libraries, identifying the challenges and gains and the solution to the identified problem/challenges will also be examined.
1.6 Significance Of Study
The finding of this study, it is hoped will be relevant to libraries/librarians and library users.
To the libraries/librarians, the findings will inform them about the ample opportunities of automation in library operations. It will also inform library users that automation facilities easier and faster across to information in library collections.
Automation of library helps take some of the workload off of librarians and other staff members in the area of acquisition, cataloguing and circulation, which in turn allows them to better serve their patrons. Automated cataloguing standards, such as MARS (Machine Readable Cataloguing), allow for quicker cataloguing of library item. Not only does this allow the librarian more time to dedicate to improving customer service, but it also make sharing of materials from location to location much easier and much more affordable. It will also in a way prepare the collection to become sustainable with the ever-increasing shift to a technology based society, in terms of information dissemination, faired with the ever-decreasing amount of funding for libraries. Automation will help libraries who begin to struggle and are forced to lay off staff, switching to automated system allows libraries to add on features when they are available in the future, instead of having do to a complete overhaul of their collections and cataloguing method.
1.7 Operational Definition Of Terms
The following definition of key terms has been provided to reflect their use in the study
Library: A library is a collection of information resources/materials organized for the educational, informational and recreational needs of its users.
Automation: Automation refers to the use of machines and computers instead of people to do a job or task.
Library Automation: This is a process entails the automation functioning of a library without human contribution. A process of performing library functions or activities originally performed manually with the aid of machines (computers)
University Library: A library established and owned by a university to provide library and information materials for its teaching learning and research programmes.
Challenges: Talks about the problems, difficulties, is a demand for explanation or justification, a calling into question.
Gains: Talks about benefit obtain through effort.
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