1.1 Background to the study.
The pursuit for excellence in all aspects of a tertiary educational system made it imperative for institutions around the world to rise up to their responsibilities. The literature on library and information science/services indicates that Libraries started off as store houses, where books were more preserved than utilized and librarians acted like some form of custodians and their interaction with users were minimal, for example only in locating books and serving users, then there was a shift as a result of information communication technology. If a librarian is to deliver prompt and adequate services to the clients, he/she must adapt to the changing environment and the use of current innovations such as technologies to manage library routine activities. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) brought a lot of challenging issues to all facets of tertiary system and the library is not an exemption. The library as an institution is constantly evolving as a subsystem of the bigger institution it serves.
Interestingly, it is evident that development in the academic environment must be constantly monitored by library managers who in turn should realign their styles to meet new developments and challenges (Akintunde, 2004). But libraries and their educational environment must relate to the immediate transactional environment. The transactional environment is the one with which libraries must do business. They include the book trade, the educational system, research and development institutions, the scientists and scientific organizations, and cultural agencies. A third critical framework of relationship operates in the contextual environment. The contextual environment is defined to include the broader society of the library and the global environment.
Traditionally, according to Case (2000) a librarian is known as a person located in the library building carrying out the tasks like acquiring, organizing, preserving the printed documents besides helping the readers in locating the information needed by them. In the last decades of the twentieth century this picture has rapidly changed under the influence of advances in computer and communication fields. The paper collections have given place to networked, computer resident, user searchable collections like bibliographic databases, Online Public Access Catalogues (OPAC) obliterating the need for the user to visit the library building.
As Ali (2003) opined, with the digitization of ever increasing number of collections and advances made in computer/communication hardware and software seamless access to digitized information located in geographically diverse locations has become a reality. The walls of library are thus pulled down and a “Virtual Library” in Cyber Space came into being. The Virtual Library brought in its wake new flavors in the form of digitizing not only printed material but also pictures, maps, scenarios, paintings and sounds and presenting them all in a lively show in a theatre like environment. Where do librarians stand in this scenario and where their profession is headed is the nagging question faced by one and all in the profession.
Furthermore, Nwalo (2002) stated that librarians have been information providers for centuries. They now have the opportunity to use modern technology to provide faster, more complete, and more sophisticated service to the users. Databases and reference sources can be queried via the Internet and World Wide Web; remote library catalogs are available on desktops; newsgroups and mailing lists provide a wonderful opportunity to discuss mutual concerns quickly and electronic mail allows librarians to find out and contact those who might be able to help in solving the problems. Perhaps no innovation has impacted the library profession to such a great extent as the Internet, World Wide Web and networked resources. The interconnection of world through the use of Internet and Web has changed the fundamental roles, paradigms and culture of libraries, librarians and users once for all (Odusanya & Amusa, 2003).
Interestingly, recorded information is growing at an accelerating rate in increasing variety of formats such as texts, numeric, graphic, video, audio, images, etc. In addition, increasing arrays of computing and telecommunication technologies are emerging to create new options and opportunities for the development of information capture, storage, retrieval and delivery. The seamless access of information available anywhere on the globe has brought people so close that the phrase “Global Village” is coined to describe the scenario.
1.2 Statement of problem
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, library automation and the internet revolutionized information access and library operation around the world. The effect on academic institutions has been profound. It enables users to access library resources from sites hundreds or thousands of miles away. Library in academic institutions can now provide information access to off-campus faculty and students wherever they are located. To meet the ever increasing demands for information availability, academics libraries must now subscribe to electronic resources such as e-books, full text journals and on-line bibliographic database in addition to the print formats. Yet, some users are unable to tap into this in Nigeria.
Also, a sizeable number of users (almost 60%) are facing numerous problems while using the internet, such as lack of knowledge about the resources, lack of trained library staff and inadequate terminals. There are instances where users who have some knowledge about the use of ICT are faced with the challenges of not having access to internet service and at times inadequate electricity supply; lack of information retrieval skills for exploiting electronic resources make the level of usage of resources by students very low. It is against this background it becomes necessary to assess the Librarian use of internet information service rendering in selected polytechnics.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The primary focus of this study is to look at Librarians’ use of internet in information service rendering in selected Polytechnic libraries in Edo State. The sub objectives are to:
- Find out if internet is available in Polytechnic libraries in Edo State
- Examine if internet is used by librarians for service rendering in Edo state.
- Find out the services internet is used for in polytechnic libraries in Edo state.
- Find out the problems that affects internet usage in information service rendering in Polytechnic libraries in Edo State
1.4 Research questions
The following research questions arising from the objectives of this study shall be answered. These are:
- What is the level of internet service available in Polytechnic libraries in Edo State
- The purpose for which Librarians use the internet.
- To determine library services internet is used for in libraries.
- What are the problems that affect internet usage in information service rendering in Polytechnic libraries in Edo State
1.5 Scope of the study.
This study will be limited to investigating Librarian use of internet in information service rendering and increase in user’s patronage of libraries. All other libraries will be excluded from the study. Similarly, the study will investigate only librarians and users in selected polytechnics, all other categories of persons in the polytechnics will be excluded.
1.6 Significance of the study
This study is coming at a time when there is an increased consciousness on the part of Librarians and the users. It is however hoped that, the findings from this study will enable the Librarian and users to be able to develop ways to improve their knowledge about internet services. Furthermore, it is hoped that, government and proprietors of libraries would be able to develop various policies and programmes that will enable both the librarian and library users to optimize the services provided in the Polytechnic libraries.
1.7 Limitation of Study
This study should have covered the entire polytechnics in Nigeria in order to draw a holistic conclusion on the subject, but it is restricted to few selected polytechnics in Nigeria due to time and financial constraints.
1.8 Operational definition of terms
Internet: An international computer network connecting other networks and computer. It is also the large system of connected computers around the world which allows people to share information and communicate with each other using email, twitter, www etc.
Internet information service: This is information that can easily be accessed through computer aided networks and devices like phones, desktops computers, laptops etc.
Librarian: For this study, a Librarian is a person who is in charge or works in a Library and has a minimum of a B.Sc in Library and Information Science.
Library: A library is a collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or digital access to material, and may be a physical building or room, or a virtual space, or both.
Library Services: library services are the varied activities that is rendered to library users for effective and efficient patronage and given the required information for research work.
Library Users: These are individuals who make use of the various services provided in the Library.
Solicited Library Services: Solicited library services are those services that are mandatory and compulsory for any library to provide for its users. Services such as reference services, bibliographic services, current awareness services, reader services, information services, bindery services, indexing and abstracting services, document delivery services, inter library loan services, internet services, lending services, online public access catalogue (OPAC), photocopying services, research advisory services, referrer services.etc.
Unsolicited Library Services: Unsolicited library services are those services that are not mandatory and compulsory for library to provide for its user but it add more value to the mandatory library services. These services are Book talk, Display and Exhibition, TV show and radio services, Teleconferencing, Extension services such as film show, puppet shows, picture book time, story-telling etc.