1.1 Background of the Study
The library is an institution that has the responsibility to collect information-bearing materials, process and organize them in such a way as to grant fast and easy access, store the processed materials for future dissemination and reference purposes. The library as an institution is the back-bone of any university system in particular and tertiary institutions in general, as it aids in the core areas of teaching and research, as well as in curriculum development (Emojorho and Nwalo, 2009). Among the divisions of an academic library are the collection development, technical services, readers’ services, research collection and systems development divisions as well as the electronic library. The fact is, the routines in technical service affect all other services in the library and this can be felt especially where the technical services routines are not executed efficiently leading to a serious problem of not being able to easily locate and retrieve library materials. The services of the library will be inefficient to the extent that location and retrieval is difficult due to the collection in the library not been properly processed.
Technical services in libraries involve services, operations and techniques for recording, processing and preserving materials. Technical service is the activities and processes concerned with organizing and processing library materials for use. Furthermore, Vijayakumar and Vijayan (2011) notes that reprography, preservation services, technical processing including, cataloguing, processing of library materials and automation services, such as cataloguing and classification, online public access catalogue (OPAC), web-based cataloguing and library web management as being aspects of technical services. In a nutshell, technical services consist of activities that involve organizing, housing, maintaining and conserving collection and automating those activities. In some libraries though, acquisition services are also considered to be a technical service. Technical services operations revolve around two basic functions; organizing and maintenance of resources. These routines may have pervasive and wider implications in library operations, including library management and organization of library holdings in Nigerian university libraries.
Technical service is an important function which must be undertaken if the library is to perform its role in facilitating access to information in the library. The routine in technical services vary from library to library, usually based on the size and nature of the library. Generally, routine services like preservation of documents, file maintenance, cataloguing and classification, acquisition, collection management are the core processes in libraries which must be performed if the library is to provide any real services. However, in executing these routine functions various approaches are used; in the past, traditional methods were relied upon solely but today, the situation has changed as ICTs are now being adopted in technical services to enhance processing speed, access to resources of the library and improve the overall performance of the library.
While the use of traditional methods in carrying out routines in technical services division involves cataloguing books and other library materials as well as using the Library of Congress Classification Scheme and Subject Headings along with schedule to determine which subject area a book falls into and listing out the bibliographic details of the materials in catalogue cards, it further entails arranging these cards in a catalogue cabinet under author, title and subject to aid the library user to quickly locate and access information-bearing resources in the library’s collection. Furthermore, processing of library resources include listing the books that have been processed and keep such list for future references. Also, weeding which is one of the routines carried out in the Technical Services Division is done by searching through the shelves to locate books that have been damaged beyond repair or that are no longer of any relevance to the library users and listing them out for removal.
The demands of the present society require using ICTs to process and handle library resources (Emuakpor, 2002). Generally, the use of ICTs by university libraries will definitely improve services of the library and provide variety of information in all formats and impart in the students’ lifelong skills in using ICT devices, which can support Nigerian universities in achieving their goals. Today, the proliferation of information sources and services is affecting all disciplines and all walks of life including access to information in university libraries. Hence, there is the need to adopt ICT in information services in the university libraries. This is because ICT can enable access to information at the fingertips of students, with much ease and flexibility. Moreover, for some decades now, developments in information technology have brought many changes to library services in educational institutions and it has also improved access to information in the society. However, the proliferation of technology being witnessed today, and increase in the number of information resources in formats supported by ICT are calling for adoption of ICT in order to be able to provide faster access to such resources.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The overriding motivation for involvement of Nigerian university libraries in the use of Information and Communication Technology devices (ICT) such as computers, internet, cameras, scanners, telephones and networks in technical services is to serve as aids in providing more efficient services to library users as against the use of traditional methods and clearly understanding the fact that traditional methods cannot be done away with completely becomes necessary as they serve as backup support for the use of ICTs has become very necessary. However, studies have shown that the phase of adoption of ICT among the Nigerian university libraries is unsatisfactory and this is due to fact that there are many areas in technical services that are still being operated using traditional techniques. Whereas, if ICTs are adopted in these areas, will change the way in which work is performed, as well as provide fast and easy means of accessing information in the university libraries, library users will also be able to retrieve up to date information with greater efficiency and the library staff will also be able to execute their tasks effectively without much problems. It is also true that ICT application comes with its own constraints in certain aspects even in the ones which traditional methods are used to accomplish successfully. In view of the observed benefits and constraints facing use of ICTs, it has become necessary to carry out a study, to identify the areas of technical services which are utilizing ICT. It became equally necessary to determine the types of ICTs being adopted by university libraries for use in technical services division, with a view of assessing how the ICTs are applied in various routine jobs previously done traditionally in the library, a gap in knowledge which was evident in reviewed literature.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this research effort is to study the use of ICT in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State. The specific objectives are to:
- find out ICTs available for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State.
- find out the extent of use of ICTs in carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State.
- investigate the frequency of use of ICTs for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State.
- determine the underlying factors behind the use of ICTs for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State.
- identify the challenges and constraints facing the use of ICTs in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State.
- establish the effects of using ICTs for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State.
- Research Questions
To accomplish the research objectives of this study, the following are the research questions to focus on:
- What ICTs are available for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State?
- What is the extent of use of ICTs in carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State?
- What is the frequency of use of ICTs for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State?
- What are the underlying factors behind the use of ICTs for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State?
- What are the challenges and constraints facing the use of ICTs in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State?
- What are the effects of using ICTs for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Edo State?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The present research is aimed at studying the use of ICTs for carrying out routines in technical services division in university libraries in Nigeria. Professional and para-professional library staff of John Harris Library, University of Benin, Benin City, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa and Benson Idahosa University, Benin-City, Edo State are the focus of this research.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Against the backdrop of the limitations facing the use of traditional methods, the application and use of ICT to carry out routines in technical services division of libraries has brought about tremendous positive results on library services and satisfaction of library users’ information needs. The significance of this study is in the fact that it seeks to highlight, the extent and frequency of use of ICTs, benefits, challenges and constraints of using ICTs for technical services routines.
This study will be of immense benefit to library policy formulators, library management as well as other researchers carrying out similar or related studies. Policy formulators will find the recommendations from this study useful and be able to come up with policies that will favour the use of ICTs in the library. Library management will be guided as to the benefits of ICT application in the library general and the routines carried out in the technical services division as well as be able to take appropriate steps towards maximizing the benefits accruable from the use of ICT and doing everything possible to tackle the challenges they present. For researchers, this study will present useful data and figure and serve as a reference point for similar or related studies.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
In undertaking this research, the researcher encountered the problem of time constraints as the time used to undertake the study was limited. As a result of other academic activities, limited time was made available for the study. One other form of limitation was in the area of finance as the research required substantial amount of funds to see it through to the end especially in the aspects of production of questionnaires to cover a substantial number of prospective respondents and for mobility during the period and for the purpose of the research.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Information and Communications Technology: A combination of communication device or application, such as radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems, as well as the various services and applications associated with them in the collection, processing and dissemination of information.
Library Operations: Tasks and functions carried out in the library for proper organization and smooth running which include cataloguing, classification, etc.
Technical Services: Services rendered by libraries which include book recording, processing and preservation generally or cataloguing, classification, book finishing, book listing, binding, weeding, etc specifically.
University library: A building or room containing collections of books, periodicals, etc., for use or borrowing, established by a university to serve the information need of its students and faculty.
Use: To deploy or employ something as a means of accomplishing a purpose or achieving a result.