Availability and Use of ICTs in Collection Management in University and Special Libraries in the Niger-Delta Region, Nigeria

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Introduction

This study investigates the availability and use of Information and communication technologies (ICTs) in collection management in university and special libraries in the Niger Delta Region, Nigeria. Meyer (1997:4) sees ICTs as "the hardware, software, telecommunication technology, human skills and intellectual content that enable the study, design, development, implementation, support, management or use of intellectual expressions. This includes data, knowledge and languages in all digital, print, audio and visual formats."

UNESCO (2000:12) defines ICTs as the "scientific, technological and engineering disciplines and management techniques used in information handling and processing." The use of ICTs provides quality services to users. Moreover, ICTs have revolutionized activities in all spheres of life, especially library and information services.

Faulkner (1998:4) asserts that the use of ICTs builds a strong and effective information system. For years, libraries used manual systems to gather, process, and disseminate information to users. The advent of ICTs, however, has changed this practice and made library and information services, as well as information access, much faster and easier.

Special libraries provide information for a parent organization that supports the library (Ashworth 1979:9). The parent organization could be a government department, private society or institution, a hospital, a public cooperation, a research association, an industrial company, and so on. Some prominent special libraries in Nigeria are those of the Higher Court of Justice and Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos, which were both launched in 1990. (Nnaji, 1986). Okiy (1998:93) cites a survey conducted in 1979 which revealed more than thirty-two special libraries in Nigeria. This picture has changed drastically with the proliferation of special libraries in various sectors of the Nigerian economy, including the banking industry, business and communication.

Academic libraries are libraries established in tertiary institutions. They include libraries in universities, colleges of education, and polytechnics. The emphasis in this research is on universities. The first university library was the library of the university college, Ibadan, established in 1948. There are presently 92 Nigerian universities, of which 27 are federal, 31 state, and 34 private.

Singh (2004:17) observes that collection development and collection management have been used almost synonymously, although there are differences in meaning. Collection development is the selection and acquisition of library materials, considering users' current needs and future requirements. Collection management is much more than collection building. It is managing the use, storage, and organization of the collection, and making it accessible to users. Branin (1994:25) notes that the paradigm of librarianship is clearly changing and the librarian's role is diversifying. Librarians at present are more concerned with collection management than collection development. They are acting increasingly as interpreters of information rather than selectors.

Daniel, Okentunji, Okojie, and Abdusalam (2003:83) observe that library automation has been a topical issue in Nigeria since the early seventies. The issue of ICTs has generated many seminars, workshops and articles. Nonetheless, only limited application of the technologies to libraries appears to have taken place. This was what informed the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Library Association when planning for the 40th Anniversary National Conference and Annual General Meeting, "Eko 2002," to commission a survey of ICTs in Nigerian libraries.

The advent of the Internet has brought awareness of the importance of global communication. People, organizations, and businesses are better informed and more connected to each other than ever before. Information that once took several processes and procedures to obtain is now readily available. …