Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Undergraduate Library Instruction in Nigerian Universities: A Case Study of Hezekiah Oluwasanmi Library, Obafemi Awolowo University, lle-Ife, Nigeria
Date of this Version
The effectiveness of a library as an instrument of education is determined by the success with which it is able to provide the user with the information he/she seeks. The philosophy of librarianship is based on the concept of service and the provision of relevant materials for users. Librarians have information dissemination as their predominant function. To this end professional librarians continue to struggle to collect and organize printed and other forms of recorded knowledge in order to satisfy both present and future users. The library can fulfill its function best by pursuing a policy of constant self-evaluation in order to be alert to the changing needs of its users. Selfevaluation or assessment of any library can produce worthwhile results, particularly, it can provide information which will assist the library administrators in their planning. The library obviously supports the school in the process of developing an inquiring mind (Ray, 1990). According to Braimoh et. al (1997) the consequences of the students inability to use the library will include among other things, a serious debasement of quality of university education, which may consequently have a negative effect on the job performance of the university products. A great deal of effort is being made to assist fresh undergraduates (the incoming new students) into the university in the use of library resources. The attempt which include introduction of user education is to build good library culture into the students right from the foundation of their university education (Akande, 2003). The need to define the pattern of use of the library and its materials as demonstrated by undergraduates especially the freshmen is very significant because it would tell the librarians a lot about the library as the students see it. Academic library use studies have evolved over the years. Various user researches have probed user attitudes as well as the characteristics of use, reasons for library visits, and factors related to the use of different types of library materials. A number of statistical studies point to various characteristics of the library habits of students. A study by Nicholson and Bartlett (1962) at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology Libraries showed that 71.9% of under-graduates use the library for class preparation. According to Barkey's study (1965) to determine the Broad pattern of student use of the library at Eastern Illinois University showed that 60% of the students did not borrow at all, a factor disturbing to the researcher. Jain (1966) studied the use of library materials exclusively, 19% used library materials while in the library. He also discovered that 29% checked out library materials for home use. While Lane (1966) study at the University of Delaware demonstrated that seniors use the library proportionately more than any other class. The collections of the library are accessible to students through catalogues created for them. Ola (2001) defines a catalogue as a list of book medium that constitutes a collection. Ojo-Ade and Jagboro (2000) state that subject catalogue is an invaluable key to the total library collection. It opens wide to the readers the resources of a library by subject irrespective of the authors, form or format, medium or language presentation. Catalogue use study is important in order to harvest a feed-back from the users (Egberongbe, 2000). Osagie (2003) highlighted reasons why users' education becomes imperative in tertiary institutions. These include rapid growth of published materials, change in methods of teaching and course content, lack of awareness of library services and facilities. Others include users ignorance coupled with the fact that students come from diverse background and culture. Palssan in Etim (2002) confirms that access to and interaction with the library system improves students learning skills and academic performance. Library instruction or user education aims to transmit knowledge, skills needed for the proper exploitation and utilization of knowledge as well as learning resources. In fact, user education is the second important role of the librarian in the development of academic institutions irrespective of level, size or specialization, (Ekere, 1992). Osinulu (2003) therefore suggests that failure of libraries to teach library users the necessary skills could amount to wasting of library resources as well as efforts and financial resources put into the acquisition, processing and dissemination of information. The average Nigerian does not have the reading habit and is not exposed to the library early enough in life. This is why fresh students in Nigerian universities have to be taught how to use the library, With the prevailing economic conditions in the country, books have become so expensive that they are beyond the reach of most Nigerian students. This is why most of the students have to solely depend on what libraries can offer. As if to compound the problem, many of the existing libraries in Nigeria cannot boast of enough staff or computerized systems to assist the clientele in retrieving materials as fast as possible. All these point to the fact that the Nigerian student must be able to use the catalogue if he/she is not to have a frustrating library experience.