Computer Anxiety as Predictor of Librarians' Perceived Ease of Use of Automated Library Systems in Nigerian University Libraries

Article excerpt

Introduction

In this age of globalization, the importance of information technologies cannot be over-emphasized. The university library occupies a significant position in every university. This is so because a good university library is one that effectively helps in galvanizing the university's human intellectual capacity by providing adequate and timely information in support of the teaching, learning and research activities of the university. Several library routines, therefore, need to be performed by librarians, in order for the library to be an effective information centre. Rowley (1998) identified the basic functions that might be expected in any library management system as ordering and acquisition, cataloguing, circulation control, serials control, management information, inter-library loans, community information, and Internet access.

The needs of library clienteles in the digital age are such that they cannot be met adequately with the use of the manual systems. This is because of drawbacks associated with manual systems such as delays, errors, as well as the physical and mental efforts required of library staff and users by such systems. While supporting this view, Akinyokun (2000) stated that the manual system of carrying out library tasks involves a considerable amount of paper work, and does not promote the effective and efficient performance of the librarians. This underscores the importance of automation in modern libraries.

Smith (1997), however, stipulated that the success or failure of an information technology (IT) IT application, such as an online public access catalogue (OPAC) system, often depends upon acceptance by the user. The IBM Dictionary of Computing (1993) defined usability as "the ability of a system, programme or device that enables it to be easily understood and conveniently applied by the user." Hackbarth, Grovers and Yi (2002) argued that IT users are likely not going to adopt or use a system if they perceive it to be difficult to use. Perceived ease of use cannot be separated from the quality of an IT application. In other words, it serves as a measure of IT quality and usability. If an automated library system is perceived by library staff as difficult to use, there is the tendency for them to detest using it, and vice versa. IT quality and usability are, therefore, variables likely to influence library staff's perception about the ease of use of an automated library system. In this connection, Szajna (1996) recalls the Technology Acceptance Model's prediction that external variables will definitely influence technology adoption indirectly via perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness.

Statement of the Problem

Most university libraries in Nigeria are either automated or in the process of doing so. This reflects the recognition by the universities of the importance of automated universities to their missions. However, the actual effective operational use of automated library systems in the libraries is a variable that also needs to be continually investigated within individual university libraries. It is one thing for a library to be automated, and another for the automated library system to be put to optimal use. If an automated library system is complex to use, satisfaction may not be derived by library staff from its use. As a result, they may avoid using it, which means that the objectives of system would not be achieved. The study therefore was conceived and designed to investigate the predictive effect of computer anxiety on perceived ease of use of automated library systems by library staff in Nigerian universities.

Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study was to investigate the relationship between computer anxiety as a potential determinant of library staff's perception of the ease of use of automated library systems in Nigerian universities. …