Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Public Library Information Resources, Facilities, and Services: User Satisfaction with the Edo State Central Library, Benin-City, Nigeria
Date of this Version
In library and information science research, information can be seen as a consumable product that can only be consumed together with certain information delivery systems and/or services. The satisfaction of library users is a function of the quality of information product(s) received, the quality of information system and library services provided to access the information product. Therefore, satisfaction is a function of three main sources— quality of the information product, the information system and the services that make the information product available. These three levels of measure of satisfaction are defined by the information resources, facilities and services in this study. These sources of satisfaction, when properly harnessed may contribute to users' overall satisfaction. The accuracy, completeness, precision, and relevance of the information materials obtained from public library by a user are measures of the product performance.
The public library is established to provide materials, which communicate experience and ideas from one person to another and make them easily and freely available to all people. The public library is a local centre of information that makes all kinds of knowledge and information readily available to its users. It is established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some other form of community organizations. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services. It is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, disability, employment status and educational attainment (Aboyade, 1984).
People in all works of life use the public library resources, facilities and services. These users include pupils, students, teachers, scholars, scientists, business executives, government officials and even dropouts. Large numbers of people also turn to public libraries to satisfy their desire for knowledge or to obtain materials for some kind of leisure-time activities. A library may meet user's information needs by acquiring, organising and making available relevant information resources backed by appropriate facilities and delivered by means best known to them, which could be manual or through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). For any public library to perform well and meet the needs of the users on this modern time, it is necessary for the public library to embrace the use of information and communication technology. The role of ICT in the effective utilization of libraries has been stressed in literature, particularly in academic libraries. In a survey conducted by Ojo and Akande (2005), it was gathered that students use internet sources and e-mail more than other sources. Other electronic information resources used by students in the order of importance include CD-ROM, e-Journal, etc.
A lot of academic information can be received using electronic resources both inside and outside the library. This may be the reason why they are more popular compared to other resources. However, lack of computer and IT skills, time consuming, limited access to computer terminal and too much information retrieval, using electronic resources, often detracts from doing work (Ojo & Akande, 2005). These challenges among users may deter them from using electronic information sources. To this Omekwu (2001) stated that the success of online searching depends on the ability of the user or the information scientist to perform the search in the best possible way.
However, the performance of libraries has been hindered by:
i. Lack of infrastructure.
ii. Lack of adequate finance. Danuta (1996) asserted that finance is a major resource for organizational effectiveness and without it nothing meaningful will be achieved. It should be borne in mind right from the onset that computerization of library operations like acquisition and circulation control is an expensive venture, and a time consuming process. Also, Ikem and Ajala (2004) noted that the problem of funding is the major constraint of ICT application in libraries. According to them, the problem of funding is more than just acquiring the hard and software but updating and maintenance are very crucial in order to sustain it.
iii. Unavailability of local communication experts and computer communicating internally. Testing and installation of gadgets in a computer-based system, skilled and experienced personnel are needed on a permanent basis who can convert the existing manual bibliographic data into machine readable form.
iv. Installation and maintenance involve foreign currency limitations, bad telephone lines, and reluctance of telecommunication officers to license moderns. Moreover networks have their inherent problems which sometimes affect the decision of individual and organizations.
Public library exits to satisfy users. In this context, users' satisfaction refers to how users judge the services of public libraries. Indeed, it refers to whether users of public libraries get the desired information resources, facilities and services expected to be provided by the public libraries. Hence, in recent times, evaluating users' satisfaction with the information resources, facilities and services of public libraries has become a major concern and an integral part of library and information science practitioners (Ogunsola, 2004). This is because the ultimate aim of all libraries as a service oriented organization is to satisfy the needs of its clients. Thus, users' satisfaction with the information resources, facilities and services provided by libraries whether public or academic has become the melting pot of the present day librarianship and information science (Saliu, 2002).
In this regard, the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) set the minimum standards for information resources, facilities and services to be provided by public libraries (IFLA, 2001). The information resources include fiction books, non-fiction books, textbooks, newspaper/magazines, pictures and posters, records and tapes, audio and video, toys, CD-ROM and Braille materials. Facilities to be provided include reading tables adequate enough for users, sitting chairs, book shelves, library space, fans, lighting, ventilation, flooring, restaurant, location of exit point, notice board/bulletin, photocopiers, vehicle parking space, computers, carrels, periodical racks, circulation desks and other facilities that would make users comfortable for reading (IFLA, 2001). While the services include community information services, recreational activities, reference services, storytelling, reading competition, career information, customer care, adult literacy education, mobile library services, and services to prisoners, online internet search, among others (IFLA, 2001).
While these information resources, facilities and services are important in the public library services, the extent to which they satisfy users' information needs is fundamentally more important. This is because the ultimate goal of public libraries is to bring about higher users' satisfaction. Thus, it becomes pertinent to determine the extent to which users are satisfied with the information resources, facilities and services of public libraries. Public libraries generally serve a wide range of users, which include adult males and females, young adults, children, the visually impaired and other groups of people in the communities where they are located. Due to this fact, public libraries have vital roles to play in information dissemination at the grassroots to meet the information needs of each of these groups. The importance of public library in our society today is being underscored by a number of convergent trends which include, increase in school enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Thus, public libraries must be proactive, vibrant and abreast of the latest developments in information dissemination to maintain relevance and keep up with the multifarious needs and expectations of library users. It is therefore important that the public library should be able to provide the right materials to meet the information needs of users.
In a recent study, Anunobi (2003) observed that librarians are yet to make impact on students. The study revealed that the presence of school librarians who teach students on the use of library in secondary schools have not made much impact as shown by students' inability to use catalogues and indexes as library access points in their first year at universities. Awana (2007) maintained that the friendly disposition of staff, the willingness of library staff to assist users to get needed materials from within or through inter-library loan will encourage users to patronize the library and above all increase users' satisfaction with library services. Researchers are of the opinion that attitude of some library staff that bothered on hostility, rudeness and lazy approach to requests or enquiries have often put off some potential library users. Unomah (1986) in a survey of students utilization of academic libraries in Nigeria found that most often than not, some of the junior staff attitude towards users are discouraging in their services to the students. The negative attitude of some librarians towards information technology in library operations is not encouraging. Ifidon and Okoli (2002) noted that the nature of library staff is a factor that inhibits effective library services. They further stressed that most of the staff went through the traditional form of training in which some of them just refused to adjust to the new situation, but want the status quo to remain. Thorhauge (2003) is of the view that friendliness and helpfulness of library staff is one of the sixth criteria they proposed for the evaluation of academic libraries.
However, several studies in Nigeria (Ogunrombi, 1985; Oyegade, Nassarawa and Mokogwu, 2003; Iyiade and Oladipupo, 2004 and Onohwakpor, 2009) have noted that the Nigerian public library scene is yearning for improvement as their services suffer one form of neglect or the other due to lack of fund, inadequate infrastructure and unqualified manpower. This study, therefore, is on public library information resources, facilities and services: user's satisfaction with Edo state central library.
To adequately explain user's satisfaction with information resources, facilities and services, a conceptual model was developed in line with the Consumer Satisfaction Theory (CST) propounded by Cadotte, Woodruff & Jenkins (1987). According to the theory, before shopping, customers have some pre-purchase standard(s) in their minds that guide their purchasing activities. After purchasing a product (service), customers evaluate the performance of the product (service) against pre-purchase standards. When performance is greater than expectations (pre-purchase standard), satisfaction occurs. When performance is less than expectations (pre-purchase standard) dissatisfaction occurs. Thus, the extent to which a customer experiences satisfaction or dissatisfaction is related to the size and direction of product performance. In this study, information is investigated as a consumable product and library users are customers who are having a purchasing experience.
Accordingly, information searching and retrieval activities are viewed as purchasing experiences of library users. As with many consumables, information as a product is defined by two components: the information system/services that the customer utilizes to access and retrieve the information product (facilities and services) and the information product itself (resources). In other words, the information needs expectation from the public library by users represents the pre-purchase standard while the actual information products obtained from the public library represents the product/service consumption. Thus, when information resources obtained from a public library is lower than information need expectation, the users will be dissatisfied and vice visa. The library information resources are better utilized when relevant facilities such as reading tables, chairs, book shelves, ICTs among others are available. The availability of facilities enhances the ability of public libraries to render necessary services to users. Therefore, the integration of the three variables will bring about user's overall satisfaction.