Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
Academic libraries have a pivotal role in the transmission of information and knowledge in higher educational institutions. They are to facilitate the teaching, learning and research functions of their respective institutions. Academic libraries managers they are expected to acquire, preserve and disseminate information resources that would satisfy the needs of both present and future users (Maidabino 2010). Aside from theft, mutilation, hiding and other disruptive measures, borrowing privileges is an important means of giving access to library collections for personal, educational, and socio-economic advancement. Gelfand (2005) in Maidabino (2010), calls the library, "the only centralized location where new and emerging information technologies can be combined with knowledge resources in a user-focused, services-rich environment that supports today's social and educational patterns of learning, teaching and research." Library services can only be achieved through the availability of library collections. Anunobi and Okoye (2008) state that, "academic libraries are faced with hybrid challenges of managing resources and are challenged to acquire the necessary skills." One challenge is the issue of disruptive behaviour for print and non-print resources. Oyewusi and Oyeboade (2009) discuss the importance of access to collections in supporting the mission of the university. The researchers view the importance of good collections as a pointer to the need for safety and security for those collections.
The rate at which materials disappeared in the university libraries can not be overemphasized. According to Jato (2005), scandalous behaviours such as theft and mutilation, hiding library materials, refuse to return over due borrowed materials, drinking and eating in the library, among others have become a common occurrence in academic library,if this is not checked, it will lead to serious drought of information materials in the library . Most of the academic library in the developing nations including Nigeria, lack security measures which encourages users the opportunity to perform such immoral act. Aside this, library materials are not available in large quantity in some libraries . Moreso, most libraries do not have photocopy facilities for users in case of any need. In some case, when available, incessant change in power supply do not give room for users to make copies of urgent materials needed. This among others tempt the users to engage in such disruptive act.
According to Momodu (2002), academic libraries have been faced with varying degrees of criminal behavior in the use of their resources especially materials and to some extent manpower. The extent of this problem varies from one library to another. In some cases the dimension of the problem is so restricted that it seems non-existent, in some others the dimension is so immense that it causes for serious concern. The findings of a study conducted by Momodu (2002) on the delinquent readership in selected urban libraries in Nigeria, revealed that, every library has delinquent client problem and that there is no direct correlation between the type of library and the extent of the problem. The problem seems to be universal. A number of studies (Lorenzen, 1996; Momodu, 2002; Ajegbomogun, 2004) acknowledged that, some individual users of academic libraries display disruptive or criminal behavior within the library surroundings and this can cause security problems in the library. The problem may not necessarily be in form of mutilation or stealing of the collection alone but disruptive users may cause problem to the library staffs which can hindered their performance and other necessary duties or functions related to the library collections, as indicated by (Lorenzen, 1996).
One issues that need to be addressed as regard destructive behaviour in academic libraries is collection security. Ugah (2007), considers collection security violation as formidable obstacles to information access and use. Such acts are serious problems that can result in user dissatisfaction. He identifies major security issues in libraries to include: theft and mutilation; vandalism; damages and disaster; over borrowing or delinquent borrowers; and purposefully displacing arrangement of materials. According to Bello (1993), book theft is a major security issue in libraries, particularly in academic libraries, with special collections being the most targeted materials. A study conducted by Olorunsola (1987) on academic library security discovered a relationship between high rates of security problems and the growth of the university. Not all thefts are committed by clients. Some library staff take materials from the library without checking them out. This kind of theft, according to Lorenzen (1996), is one of the hardest to prevent, since library employees know how to defeat the security system. Ewing (1994) describes theft as only one type of collection security breach. Others include non-return of items by borrowers, vandalism, and stock destruction.
Bello (1998) conducted a study on theft and mutilation in technological university libraries in Nigeria, revealing that there is a lack of security in university libraries. Users resorted to delinquent behavior because demand outstripped the supply of library material. This results in competition for resources, which invariably tempts users to steal, mutilate, or engage in illegal borrowing. Mutilation is the defacement or damage of library materials. Mutilation of academic library collections has been reported by many researchers (Bello 1998; Lorenzen 1996). Mutilation or vandalism occurs when users knowingly tear, mark, or otherwise damage or destroy materials. Lorenzen (1996), observes that collection mutilation takes many forms, ranging from underlining and highlighting text, tearing and or removing pages, and tampering with the content. Lorenzen identifies several causes for theft and mutilation, including:
- Students' dissatisfaction or unfamiliarity with library services
- A lack of knowledge of replacement costs and time
- A lack of concern for the needs of others
- Few students think of library mutilation and theft as a crime.
Jato (2005) identifies the effect of delinquent behaviour on the users and the library. According to him, immoral behaviours among the users resulted to the following:
- It reduces the library stock
- It reduces the life span of the mutilated library materials
- It leads to extra cost, time, and personnel needed to replace the stolen and mutilated library materials
- It prevents serious from locating needed materials
- It damages the image of the library
- It can lead to low performance of students in examinations
- It leads to frustration among users