In this study the writer looked at identifying approaches and methodology for the continued progress of library studies and information management in the school of library and information science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. The objective of the study was to identify the necessary skills, approach, methodology and barriers to acquiring skills necessary for the continued progress of library studies and information management. Four research Questions guided the study and Descriptive survey was used as the research design. The population of the study consists of 185 library and information science undergraduates. Also, a total number of 100 LIS undergraduates were selected as a sample for the study using purposive and stratified random sampling technique. Questionnaire was used as instrument for data collection. In addition, the presentation of data was arranged around the questionnaire items which were designed from the research objectives postulated for the study. The data was analyzed using the simple mean method. Findings from the study revealed that the necessary skills needed for the continued progress of library science and information management includes Marketing and Teaching skills, Leadership and Human Resource Management skills, Communication skills, IT Related skills, Evaluating and Reporting Skills. In addition, the study further revealed that the approach and methodology that could be used to acquire these skills were; increasing student centered educational opportunities, developing concepts surrounding information technologies, adapting curricula to reflect more diverse professions, and helping students to develop new models and skills for engagements among others. Barriers such as the fact that the present curricula only prepare students for traditional library system, and the fact that core ICT courses are offered as elective. Strategies such as, revamping of present curricula that was compartmentalized among others was given as a means of overcoming these barriers.
Background to the Study
The educational development of any nation will determine the knowledge base of the nation which will in effect determine the growth of the industrial, political, economic, financial and every other aspects of the nation. The development of education may be said to be synonymous with the development of the library and library services within any given community. In other words, the role of the library in the development of a nation can never be over emphasized.
A library is a social institution charged with the duty of selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving and providing of information services to its users; as well as preserving the cultural heritage of the society. According to Aguolu (2002), a library is a collection of records of human culture in diverse formats and languages, preserved, organized and interpreted to meet broad and varying needs of individuals for information, knowledge, recreation and aesthetic enjoyment.
Library science (often termed library studies, librarianship or library and information science)according to Reitz (2004)is an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary field of study devoted to applying theory and technology to the creation, selection, organization, management, preservation, dissemination,and utilization of collections of information in all formats.
However, it seems today that the term Library and Information Science (LIS) is most often used where most librarians consider it as only a terminological variation, intended to emphasize the scientific and technical foundations of the subject and its relationship with information science. Library and information science can also be seen as an integration of the two fields, library science and information science, which were separate atone point.
According to Tumuhairwe (2013) library and information science is dedicated to understanding the nature of information, the interaction between information and communication technologies, the relationship between information and knowledge, the cognitive and affective aspects of knowledge acquisition, and the interface between people and information. It offers new knowledge, technological benefits, and professional expertise for every dimension of human affairs.This definition, entails that the field of library studies and information management is well equippedand that librarians are to be reckoned with in the information industry.
But,ongoing processes of globalization and liberalization have led to intense competition in every sphere of life especially in the information industry. Every industry is now metamorphosing to learning industry orinstitution, creating knowledge infrastructure for churning new ideas to ensure enhanced relevance by creating economic value out of new ideas. Learning industries encourage their employees to continuously upgrade their skills and competencies and have knowledge of state of the art technologies that are applicable to their work. Any large institution to-day has to survive, grow and prosper in a highly competitive, dynamic rapidly changing complex environment, where human obsolescence is as common as that of machines and where survival is only of the fittest.In essence, these competitions have diffused into higher institutions of learning. Where what one studies is used as a litmus for how successful he/she will be after graduation. The competition is so intense that every school in the higher institution sees their field as the best or most important. These beliefs are based on the status of that profession in the economic, political and social position in the society.
Suffice to say that the advent of ICT brought these competitions especially in the information industry. Several organizations in the information industry have adopted to the change brought by ICT. Also, higher institutions training students for these organizations have also adopted courses that will give these potential professionals the right skills to compete favorably in the job market. But the same cannot be said of the school of library and information science. The field of library and information science appears to be suffering retardation due to unskilled graduates being produced by LIS schools in Africa.Graduates of LIS lack the skills to compete favorably in the job market. According to Mammo (2007) some of the skills that seem to be lacking (or not practiced) by LIS professionals in Africa includes, leadership, human resources management, evaluating and reporting skills, communication skills, professional ethics, marketing of library services and teaching skills. These are in addition to the more obvious IT related skills such as gateway and portal development, web authoring, database development. Similarly, in this new society, instead of libraries becoming the leading institution in terms ofinformation management and provision; they are being relegated to the background.This development can only be ascribed to the pattern of educating professionals in the field of librarianship. In essence there is need to examine the approach and methodology by which potential LIS graduates are instructed.
Approach according to Merriam Webster online dictionary (2017) simply means to make advances in order to create a desired result. It means to take preliminary steps towards accomplishment or full knowledge or experience of something. This definition denotes a change of strategy towards educating LIS undergraduates. Also according to Meriam Webster dictionary, methodology simply means a body of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline: a particular procedure or set of procedures. Secondly, it could also mean procedures of inquiry in a particular field of study.
In essence, in order for the library profession to advance into the future, there is need to remain focused not only on changes to its marketable skills in the society but also to the methodologies we employ for continued development and the educational approaches of each practicing professional. According to Wolske(2013) these approach and methodology will assist in preparing LIS students for new role in rapidly changing job responsibilities; increasing student-centered educational opportunities through well-crafted service learning, practicum, internship, and alternative break opportunities; developing concepts surrounding information technology that not only help students understand today’s technology but to be able to assess, adapt, and utilize whatever emerges tomorrow; recruiting a more diverse student body and adapting curricula to reflect the more diverse populations served by libraries; and helping students develop new models and skills for engagement.
In other words, library schools are now expected to train modern information professionals who are adept at utilizing new technologies in value-added economy. The effective management of complex resources typified in modern day libraries requires a new breed of professionals who are committed to understanding the information age and helping people and organizations control information flow through the new technologies.
This is because present and future librarians are expected to explore and exploit the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for modern library practice. This way, they would have more access to a rich and diverse range of electronic library services that are presently dominating the world of information storage, processing, retrieval and dissemination. Kigongo-Bukenya cited by Issa (2012) aptly asserted that library and information professionals are now required to be “contingent”, i.e. their orientation, skills and techniques must be ‘the best fit’ to measure up to the ever-changing information society needs.
Thus, a successful library and information science course must review its philosophy and content continuously. This is with a view to responding to the changing realities of the workplace and to the changing roles and expectations of the information professional. Consequently, according to Kargbo cited by Issa (2012)the emergence of the library and information science school as a potent factor in shaping new philosophies and fostering new attitudes in the library profession has come to be identified as one of the most significant aspects of the evolution of librarianship in the 21st Century.
Currently, the library and information science practitioners are saddled with the task of providing leadership and expertise in the design, development and ethical management of knowledge-based information systems. This is with a view to meeting the information needs and obligations of patrons/institutions. Similarly, the globalization of information implies that access to information is no longer limited to what is available in the local collection. Consequently, the librarian is no longer the primary “gatekeeper” or guide to information.Therefore, there is need to maintain relevance by identifying approach and methodology for the continued study of library studies and information management.
Statement of the Problem
The pattern of LIS education in any country according to Issa (2012) is said to be shaped by a combination of circumstances, which according to some authors, include the nature of the country’s library service; the structure of tertiary education; the system of government; and the professional organizations which librarians themselves have formed. Thus, a basic consideration for the development of any profession is the system of educating its initiates into the field. Personnel, especially professionals, are the foundations for effective and efficient library and information services similar to other professions. Planning for the future supply of this cadre of staff and adequate utilization of the present manpower often depend on a thorough knowledge of the characteristics of the existing professionals. Hence, education for librarianship emanated out of a concern to develop an ideal profession to provide practitioners with appropriate working frameworks.
Not only is librarianship a labour-intensive service profession, effective library services demand a much skilled and efficient staff. Thus, central to library development is personnel with adequate education and training. However, unlike other professions such as Law, Medicine and Accountancy; librarianship has been a less popular calling especially among prospective undergraduates of Nigerian higher institutions such as the polytechnics and universities. This according to Issa (2012) is due largely to the low-level awareness of what it is and what it entails, particularly at the primary and post-primary school levels where students normally begin to fiddle with different career ambitions and because of low employment opportunities for LIS graduates.
The situation has been that more of LIS undergraduates got into the department only when they have failed to secure their preferred courses of choice. This can only make for a crop of uninterested, uninspired and reluctant workforce of the future who could be lacking in required commitment and diligence on the field of practice. Not only that, the lack of pre-requisite skill in IT and other areas,by LIS graduates leaves one to wonder where the profession of Library Studies and information management is heading to. On this ground this study aim at identifying approach and methodology for the continued progress of library studies and information management, using the library school at NnamdiAzikiwe University as a case study.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to identify the approach and methodology for the continued progress of library studies and information management, using NnamdiAzikiwe University as a case study. Specifically, the study intends to:
- Identify skills necessary for the continued progress of library studies and information management.
- Identify approach and methodology for acquiring skills necessary for the continued progress of library studies and information management.
- Identify barriers to acquiring skills necessary for the continued progress of library studies and information management.
- Identify strategies to overcoming these barriers.
Significance of the Study.
The findings of this study will be relevant to library and information science students, librarians, the school of library and information science and the University.
To both the prospective and undergraduate student of library and information science, the findings of this study will not only alert themto the necessary skills available to a library science student but it will also give them the methodology to acquire these skills. Also, this study will enable students of LIS to become highly employable as they now possess the necessary skill needed in information management and librarianship.Similarly, Information from this study, will enable LIS students tounderstand their relevance as information managers and work accordingly to fulfill that role and finally, the findings from this study will encourage potential LIS students to confidently enroll into Library schools with the knowledge that they can easily secure a job in any firm in the information industry.
To the librarians,findings from this study will bring to their understanding the skills that are necessary to function competitively in the information industry.Also, the result of this studywill not only produce librarians that are at the cutting edge of their field but will ensure that librarians are recognized as the experts that they are when it comes to information management. Also, from this study, librarians will understand how to better serve the ever changing needs of library patrons in this 21st century.
In the case of library schools, findings from this study will bring to their awareness the skills necessary for LIS students to excel in their profession after graduation. In the same vein, it will inform them on what approach and methodology to use in impacting these skills. Furthermore, from this study library schools will see the current trends in the information industry and as a result will drop all traditional courses that have no relevance to the current information industry while adding those courses that will yield the needed skill in LIS students. Finally, the findings from this study will enable library schools to produce competent and competitive LIS graduates who can be gainfully employed in any IT industry, anywhere in the world.
Finally, the findings from this study will be relevant to the university or higher institutions as a whole. Because competent librarians who can serve students through any medium most convenient for them will now be produced. This will of course boost academic performance of students as well as create a strong research and development output in the institution. Through this outcome, the university will become recognized as authentic information is readily available through librarians that are IT savvy and match any information industry step by step in providing cutting edge information services. And as their students and staff are excelling academically as a result of viable library services, the university is excelling thereby recognizing the importance of the library schools and as a result encouraging any approach and methodology they will ensure the continued progress of library studies and information management.
Scope of the Study
This study was delimited to the school of library and information science, in NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka.
This study is guided by the following research questions;
- What are the skills necessary for the continued progress of library studies and information management?
- What approach and methodology could be used to acquire these skills necessary for the continued progress of library studies and information management?
- What are the barriers to acquiring these skills necessary for the continued progress of library studies and information management?
What strategies could be used to overcome these barriers?