Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
Information in the modern context is considered as a strategic resource parallel in importance to land, labour, capital, and entrepreneurship – the traditional economic resources which are vital inputs for national development at all levels. Without information, the very functioning of society would come to a standstill. One institution which plays a vital role in the collection, processing, storage and dissemination of information is the library. Libraries of all types serve as information providers and aim at satisfying the information needs of their clientele.
In the present era new information technologies are used to perform library functions. The librarian of today is seen as an information resource provider, a resource centre manager, a human gateway to electronic resources, and a walking encyclopedia of quick reference sources (Asamoah-Hassan, 2003). This transformation is due to the fact that the librarian is able to use sophisticated gadgets; he/she operates in a modern era where libraries are not limited by walls; and where, with the touch of a mouse, he/she can access necessary information from anywhere in the world.
Adeya (2002) in a United Nations Economic Commission (ECA) report, states that ICTs cover Internet service provision, telecommunications equipment and services, information technology equipment and services, media and broadcasting, libraries and documentation centres, commercial information providers, network-based information services, and other related information and communication activities. He simplified the definition by describing ICT as an 'electronic means of capturing, processing, storing and disseminating information'. Alemna and Sam (2006) quoting Bartlett (2002), state that 'ICT refers to systems for producing, storing, sending and retrieving digital files'. ICT can thus be described as a diverse set of technological tools and resources used for creating, storing, managing and communicating information electronically.
Generally, ICT is a tool that any sector can use to deliver its services. The ICT revolution has turned the whole planet into a 'Global Village' where communication among people has become independent of physical distance and time. ICTs, especially the Internet in which they all converge as a huge network, are transforming all human activities that depend on information, including library services. In this digital era therefore, the most appropriate technology used by libraries to enhance information provision is ICT.
In the library set-up, ICT has brought about considerable improvement in information provision. It has become cheaper to digitally store, process and access large amounts of information at greater speed. ICT has controlled the information explosion 'bomb' to such an extent that it is now possible to obtain information from any library anywhere in the world regardless of the geographical position of the user and the library. There is no need for any library to attempt to acquire all publications. This is because, with suitable computer software, telecommunication equipment, memory facilities and input-output devices, a researcher in a remote outpost of civilization would be able to search the comprehensive electronic databases in the advanced developed economies, and be able to obtain needed information in electronic or hard copy format (Effah, 2002).
ICT facilities and services available in libraries include computers, access to the Internet and its resources, Local Area Networks (LANs), Compact Disc-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) databases, online databases, Online Public Access Catalogues (OPACs), fax machines, photocopiers, Inter Library Lending and Document Delivery (ILL/DD) services, computer laboratories, scanners, printers, micro-fiche readers and telephones, among many others.