Quality Assurance and the Implication for the Management of University Libraries in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Quality assurance is a way of measuring, improving, and maintaining the quality of any human activity that has a value. It may be academic, sports performance, business, or economy. Quality assurance is a means of ensuring that the best practices are encouraged in a social system. Kisailowska (2002) noted that quality assurance principles are a certain form of naming and ordering the actions that are necessary for assuring the quality, for instance of teaching, that later is internally measured and evaluated at a given university, and also externally, during an accreditation process. As a result of this, quality assurance principles are to be used as indicators to ensure compliance. It is noteworthy that quality assurance principles regulate both the external and internal activities of an educational institution.

Monash University (2005) observes that the library, in assuring quality, should be committed to best practices in service provision and resource management, while still ensuring financial and administrative accountability. Nwamarah (2002) observes that the effective management of Nigerian universities depends, to a large extent, on how university managers (including University Librarians) have used available human and material resources. The library needs adequate manpower and facilities to be functional. Peer group assessment is adopted as a means of evaluating compliance to any standard and before quality is assured, there is usually a standard.

Assuring quality means:

* pointing to and naming the elements that are decisive to the evaluation of an educational process or other assessable elements;

* defining the procedures for acting, appointing person and working out the documents necessary for the correct execution of tasks relating to a given entity;

* setting quality indicators; and

* analyzing quality on a regular basis with the use of appropriate tools.

Assuring quality in libraries mean that there must be a striking balance between when should be or what ought to be and what is on ground in the libraries. It is important that a standard be used as a yardstick for development and that minimum standard prescribed for libraries should be closely followed.

Quality Assurance in Nigerian University Libraries

In every organization, the need for quality in the operation of the system is given priority. Factors in library quality assurance include:

* a library that should give its clienteles the expected minimum services expected in the 21 st century context,

* a growing library, i.e., a library that strives to meet the minimum standard as stipulated by the supervisory agency of that establishment (National Universities Commission in this instance).

Library Services

In the 21st century, library services have shifted from the traditional and routine activities o a more lively, dynamic, and challenging system. More practical and user--friendly services much as Current Awareness Services (CAS), Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI), Literature Searching (LS), Indexing and Abstracting (A and A), and functional ICT services, among others, should be given priority. Reference service for undergraduates often involves not only answering specific questions, but also personalized instruction in identifying and locating materials (ALA 2006). Reference service introduces a wide variety of resources in the library system and beyond, connecting undergraduates to specialized library and other campus support services. User education should improve students' ability to use the library. Instruction may be offered as part of course work, workshops, in network-based instruction, in term-paper clinics, and through point-of-use aids in the library.

Minimum Standards

Monash University (2005) describes a quality review that all staff took part in. The review entailed a detailed Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOTs) analysis of the system. …