The purpose of the study was to investigate the availability and utilisation of library’s e-resources by undergraduates of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Abia State University, Uturu. The research design used was a descriptive survey. The study population consisted of 35,153 undergraduate students drawn from the two institutions under study. A sample size of 395 undergraduates was drawn using Yaro Yamanne’s statistical method. An observation checklist and a Likert-four point rating scale were used as data collection instruments. The rating scale was distributed using a stratified random sampling techniques to 395 undergraduate students, 225 MOUAU and 170 ABSU undergraduate students out of which a total of 355 copies of the rating scale was returned and used for analysis. Data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics of mean scores and standard deviation with the use of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20. The study found that the two libraries examined makes available varieties of e-resources and showed a strongly agreement response on the users’ level of awareness by the respondents. Furthermore, the study found out that the undergraduate students of the two institutions being examined makes use of the resources sometimes and in rare cases for the purposes of research, leisure, studying, project writing, doing assignments and in preparation for examinations. Consequently, the study also found out that the problems militating against the use of available electronic resources include; unawareness of the availability of related e-resources to their discipline/course of study, inadequate guide on how to use the resources, poor internet connection, inadequate ICT facilities, epileptic power supply, unconducive atmosphere, frequent breakdown of ICT facilities, virus attack, as well as inadequate trained personnel. The recommendations made to improve availability and use of electronic resources by undergraduates include: sustained public relations programme, purchase and building of power stations, increase in internet connectivity and bandwidth, provision of well ventilated reading rooms, user education, training and provision of well trained manpower were suggested for action.
This chapter provides the synopsis of the research work. It critically analyzed the problem statement, scope of the study, purpose of the study as well as the significance of the study.
- Background to the Study:
Research has shown that information gathering and use patterns in the traditional print setting have been explored into over the lifetime in different locations. To this end, the electronic environment in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Abia State University, Uturu presents a new and reasonably uncultivated area for such study. Recent researches conducted and literatures hold the view that the effects of increasing availability and utilisation of electronic resources are already noticeable in some institutions such as the libraries in some developed countries, industries and government agencies.
It is generally believed that the endeavor of any academic institution such as the university through its library is to support teaching, learning, research and community services/development in ways consistent with, and supportive of, the institution’s vision, mission, goals, aims and objectives (Nnadozie, 2016). To accomplish this assertion, some library resources and facilities are required to enhance their information services visibility and use by clienteles. These resources and services which are available in these academic libraries ought not only focus on one form or format but should be diversified as well as sufficient in quality, depth (coverage) and currency which to a large extent supports the institution’s curriculum. It is therefore right to affirm that the quality of library resources both print and electronic format in line with well established and enhanced pattern of library and information services in universities determines the quality of graduates produced and the extent of research and development. According to Aina (2014), libraries are considered to be agents of educational, social and economic development. As a result of this, libraries are often considered the most important resource center of any academic institution.
Consequently, UNESCO as quoted in IFLA publication (1979) earlier defined the library as any organized collection of printed books and periodicals of any other graphic and audio visual materials and the services of the staff to provide such materials as are required to meet the information, research, educational or recreational needs of its user. Going by this definition of a library, the questions then are “how many academic libraries in Nigeria fits into the definition of a library as defined by UNESCO?” “Can Nigerian academic libraries boast of adequate collection of books, periodicals and electronic resources to meet with the needs of library users?” “Can academic libraries in Nigeria especially Abia State meet the information, research, educational and recreational needs of Nigerian students and researchers? These are pertinent questions that need to be asked and answered in order to be acquainted with the current state of library resources in Nigeria especially in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Abia State University, Uturu libraries. However, it is relatively important to argue the words of Adelabu as cited in Nnadozie and Nnadozie (2008) who sees a library as a place where books and users interact together for the transmission of civilization and cultivation of human beings because the library has shifted from the mere collection of books also to incorporate non-books. To further understand a university library, Reitz (2004) in his words believed a university library to be a library system established, administered and funded by a university to meet the information, research and curriculum needs of its students (undergraduates and postgraduates), faculty, researchers and staff.
Although university libraries in Nigeria are in a better shape in terms of resources (both printed and electronic) compared to public libraries (Oyewusi & Oyeboade, 2009), it is comparatively important to ascertain the degree of the better shape. Looking at the essentiality of a university library, Fafunwa as cited in Nnadozie (2013) believed a purpose-built, well-equipped, information resource-rich and adequately staffed university library, as a pre-condition for approval of the parent institutions (institutions of higher learning) and accreditation of courses offered in them. However, librarians in university libraries are hard working people not being constrained with the limited and relatively some budget allocation to university libraries tries to put in place university libraries that users would access and use despite the few resources placed at their disposal. It is important to agree to the fact asserted by Onifade, Ogbuiyi and Omeluzor (2013) who believed that as our present libraries grow in size, they are faced with much expectation and become increasingly difficult to use. Library catalogues of the academic libraries are growing into giants and are approached with fear by students and faculties who prefer the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) or Machine-Readable Catalogues (MARC). It is often said that many libraries in Nigeria, India and other countries elsewhere are established without systematic efforts to study the requirements of users. The process of understanding users is neither simple nor one time activity (Sridha, 2002).
Today, the opportunity brought about by electronic information sources has exerted pressure on educational institutions and their libraries (Chimah & Nwokocha, 2015). This is evident with the issue of university education in Nigeria facing a critical challenge in meeting new information demands of the 21st century as a result of its ever increasing population growth, inadequate library facilities, resources and insufficient funding. Adequate electronic library resources and services, at the appropriate level for degrees offered ought to be made obtainable to sustain the intellectual, cultural, and technical development of students enrolled in Nigerian universities (Oyewusi & Oyeboade, 2009). In line with this, Aino (2006) opted that university libraries are expected to provide information materials in various format as well as provide wider access to information in form of electronic journals, books, full text journals, CD-ROM, databases and internet.
Consequently, libraries in a bid to catch up with the prerequisite of the provision of adequate information materials for users have witnessed a great transmutation in recent years both in their collection development and in their service structures which furthermore led to the establishment of an ICT/Electronic/Digital library within the library or as a division on its own. According to Ani, Ngulube and Onyancha (2015), access to information is vital for efficient research at universities. Thus libraries all over the world strives to make available a wide variety of electronic resources for use by the undergraduates through deployment of different technologies to further improve on the management of scholarly information, to strengthen and further provide speed access to this information resources not held locally (Chimah & Nwokocha, 2015). Evidence and observations have revealed the fact that print medium is increasingly giving way to the electronic form of materials (Sharma, 2009). Contrary to this assertion, Okezie (2015) and Onyenachi (2015) in their different papers argued the possibility of the total disappearance of print medium in libraries. Earlier on, Tsakonas and Papatheodorou (2006) observed that the evacuation from print to electronic medium apart from resulting in a growth of electronic information has and will further endow users with new tools and skills as well as the knowledge of the various applications for information seeking and retrieval. Mahapatra and Chakrabarti (1997) believed that the paper library has problems associated with it that needs to be set forth in order to provide a basis for a balanced view of the automated and electronic library. Electronic resources provide new platforms for information to aid in conducting research at universities (Ani, Ngulube & Onyancha, 2015).
To understand and further appreciate the essence of this study being the availability and utilization of e-resources by undergraduate students of some selected academic institutions, e-resources are defined as invaluable research paraphernalia that complement the print-based resources both in a traditional and modern institutions and organizations such as the library setting which can as well to a great extent exist unaccompanied (Dadzie, 2005). The advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has brought about the migration of information resources from print to electronic format. Information in electronic format is referred to simply as an electronic resource. Thus, an electronic resource is information that is accessible through ICT facilities such as computers, CD-ROMs, the Internet, and other digital networks (such as digital libraries). Basically, electronic resources are widely accessible through the Internet, a global information infrastructure, which allows electronic publishing (Ani, Ngulube & Onyancha, 2015). Digital libraries refers to a new way of carrying out the functions of libraries encompassing new types of electronic information resources, new approaches to acquisition especially more access to other libraries’ collections and sharing it. It also undertakes new methods of storage, preservation and intensive use of electronic systems and networks (Verma, 2004a).
The prologue of e-resources in academic libraries today has often been opportunistic, sometimes tentative, and somewhat disorganized (Nwosu, 2015). In recent times, universities in Africa have embarked on incorporation of technology in their operations known as computerization of services. This serves as a tool for upgrading and development, especially in a situation where attention is drawn to the academic contents and ways of digitizing and preserving their intellectual output. The effort by libraries to automate the intellectual print property of the institution is what is known as digitization of library services (Adeyinka, Adedeji, Ayen, & Omoba, 2008). According to Fabunmi, Paris and Fabunmi (2006), library digitization has become part of the work of librarians involving most libraries. Consequently, libraries in Nigeria universities are not left out in this trend of digitization. To this end, university libraries are fully involved in the automation process as they are the heart of the university community. This is because they house the academic contents and research output of the institutions.
The accomplishment and echelon of effectiveness of an automated library as an instrument of quality education is determined by the achievement with which the library is able to provide and satisfy user’s information needs electronically. The 21st century is seen as an era of information explosion and revolution. A university library aims at serving students and researchers at all levels, hence, librarians must be ready to acquire and make available necessary electronic databases and softwares for teaching and research for the university communities (Devi & Singh, 2004). University libraries must make sure that there is increase in the availability of electronic information resources thereby offering users a vast selection of information resources as this is essential for the educational development of the students especially the undergraduates and also ensure their well utilization. In agreement with this, Rathinasabapathy (2005) asserts in his study that the library is an important intellectual resource of the academic community, which helps them to fulfil the curriculum requirements and to promote studies and research. The library, however, includes the totality of human and organized material resources available in both book and non-book format for providing and obtaining needed information by its user community (Ahiauzu, 2002).
E-resources are vital apparatus and essential commodities needed by everyone both graduate and undergraduate. Due to the increase in creation and utilisation of information and a bid to gain comfort and quick response, people tends to use the electronic formats more than the previously used print. It is therefore important to observe that the major function of libraries, irrespective of type, is to provide the right materials (resources in all formats) to meet the information needs of its publics. Information explosion and information technology revolution leading to the emergence of digital information era has made several forms of library resources available for library clienteles. The availability of electronic information resources in libraries are for enhancing qualitative and quantitative academic research in tertiary institutions. The world (including university libraries) is fast becoming a hyped global village as a result of rapid development in e-resources. Virtually every university library is on the move to clutch up with this revolution or new wave of technology. E-resources have profoundly revolutionized university libraries, librarianship, information centers and information professionals as in other sectors of Nigerian economy in the last two decades.
Ani and Ahiauzu (2008) in their study reveals that the emergence of e-resources has tremendously transformed information handling and management in Nigerian academic environments, and university libraries in particular. These dramatic changes include the ways in which electronic information resources are provided and how they are being utilised in the University communities. Furthermore, The enormous impact of use of e-resources on university libraries compelled Onu and Uche (2008) to argue that the availability of e-resources should be declared an institutional priority with adequate funding and support. They maintained that the contemporary information works in libraries were no longer measured by range of information explosion alone but by revolution, empowered by e-resources adequately provided. Therefore, the application and use of e-resources enhances library activities and services and has provided a platform by which the information needs of undergraduates are adequately satisfied.
Additionally, the e-resources available in a library play prominent role in facilitating admittance to the required information by the user and in an expediency manner. Today, one need not go to the library to make use of print materials as the electronic resources can be made use of by any user using On-line or internet access via networks or authentication methods at anytime and anywhere. In a digital/electronic/ICT library, resources are stored and made available in digital forms and the services of the library are made available electronically. Rosenberg (2005) noted that these services are made available frequently over the Internet so that users can access electronic materials remotely. E-documents which is referred to as documents stored electronically are flexible, easy to copy, easy to revise, easy to rearrange, reformat and combine with other documents, many people can use the same database at the same time from anywhere with telecommunication connections and they are less bulky (Mahapatra and Chakabarti, 1997).
Electronic Resources as one of the emerging environment in libraries & Information communication has aided in the competitive services for fund, existence and patronage. All updated information is published in these e-resources. The familiarity and use of these electronic information resources in the libraries for rapid development is necessary and important (Dhanavandan, Esmail & Nagarajan, 2012).
The availability and use of these electronic resources can facilitate increase and ease processing and access of information to library users. However, despite the advantages of e-resources usage in university libraries, several literatures have noted that there are a number of generally recognised problems that hinder the effective utilization of the e-resources among students. Cyprian (2009) posits that students lack skills (competency) to search information materials in digital environment of academic libraries. These have greatly affected creativity and innovation in libraries. Some of these libraries have adequate digital resources which are greatly being under-utilized largely due to lack of information technology (IT) skills by students. Furthermore, absence of related infrastructure facilities in some of the university libraries in Nigeria is part of the challenges facing students when they want to access and utilize e-resources.
In the course of this research work, the researcher observes e-project, e-conference papers, e-journals, e-technical reports, e-reference materials, e-seminar papers, e-conference proceedings, e-zines, e-books, e-newsletters, e-grey documents, e-theses, e-dissertations, internet, databases such as The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL), Access to Global Research in Agriculture (AGORA), Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), Online Access to Research in Environment (OARE), Access to Research for Development and Innovation (ARDI), as the electronic resources which ought to be made available in libraries of the institutions studied for use by the undergraduates.
The aim of this study is to identify and critically ascertain the level of availability of electronic resources and the extent of its utilization for different purposes by undergraduate students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Abia State University, Uturu as well as the specific trends/perceptions that can be seen among librarians and undergraduate students of the institutions studied in relation to the print and the electronic environment. Furthermore, the study examines the pitfalls with the availability of these electronic resources as well as the challenges encumbering its effective and efficient utilization.
- Statement of the Problem:
From all intents and rationale, e-resources are the acclaimed engine room of modern day global development and sustainable growth. The infusion of e-resources into libraries regardless of the type and size enhances the delivery of services to the users of the libraries. E-resources are introduced in order to increase efficiency, quality and effectiveness of library resources and services. Besides these undisputable gains, e-resources have led to strong re-modulation of the library management system. In the era of accuracy and speed, e-resources have played a vital role.
There are different categories of users that make use of university libraries. Among these are the undergraduate students. However, it is observed that this category of students rarely visit the library. Therefore it is often difficult to appraise if the library is meeting their needs in terms of provision of electronic resources and services such as the databases, internet access for browsing and other ICT facilities as the aim of any good library is to satisfy all its users both in print and electronically which to a great extent justifies the existence of such library.
Undergraduates depend on the use of the internet and other electronic resources in most cases for easy access to information. This category of library users are faced with many challenges as it relates to information needs and means of solving it which they end up solving partially. They assume that the library especially the print library is not meant for them as a result of delays and difficulties in information search and retrieval as well as the nature of information resources available. Observations and interview with some undergraduate users of the library in the two institutions studied for a period of one (1) month showed negative attitude of these undergraduates towards the use of print materials. This they showcases through several behaviours like dissatisfaction, sleeping, shelf disorder as a result of waste of time and inadequate access and retrieval tool which are symptoms of low academic performance in institutions of higher learning. Such behaviours result to inefficiency and low utilization of library resources, which are factors that negate the actualization of the objectives of the library in supporting teaching, learning, research and community development.
It is generally expected that when library users visit the library they should be satisfied with the library and information services and consequently improve on their academic performance. On the other hand, when they are not provided with the required assistance and resources needed to solve their information problems, then the users will not be satisfied with the services received from the library and will ultimately not utilize the available resources be it electronic or print.
To this end, a number of studies have been conducted within and outside the library with a view to determining the impacts, challenges as well as proffering solutions to problems and challenges encountered in the development of electronic information resources and services. However, little or no efforts have been recorded in the identification of the availability and utilization of electronic resources by undergraduate students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Abia State University, Uturu. This is the gap which the researcher intends to identify and further fill.
Therefore, it is based on the ongoing assertion that this study shall focus and try to examine the availability of electronic resources and its proper utilization by undergraduate students (users) of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike and Abia State University, Uturu Libraries.
- Scope of the Study:
The scope of the study covers the availability and utilisation of electronic resources by undergraduate students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) and Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU) in terms of the types of e-resources available, usage skills and areas of operations and services carried out by the use of e-resources, the purpose and impact of the use of e-resources, factors affecting use of e-resources and how to improve availability and use of e-resources in the university libraries of MOUAU and ABSU. It focuses on the availability and usage of e-resources for learning and research work by undergraduate students of MOUAU and ABSU. The study shall cover the period from 2015 when the study started to its present day of effectiveness. The study shall focus on the ICT section of the libraries of the institutions studied and only on the undergraduate users of the libraries of the institutions studied. Finally, the research work shall be focused on how e-resources can create impact on the academic performance of undergraduates.
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