Information Technology, Quality Assurance, and Academic Library Management

Article excerpt

Introduction

Libraries and information centres play an essential role in meeting society's information needs. Information Technology (IT) in libraries is having a remarkable impact worldwide. It has become a phenomenon that is so pervasive that nearly all academic libraries in Nigeria have begun applying IT. Omekwu (2004) observes that:

   Information Technology has brought about varieties of form of
   libraries and mode of disseminating information. There are now
   available such libraries as Automated Library, Polymedia Libraries,
   Electronic Libraries, Virtual Libraries and Digital Libraries. Each
   of triese forms of IT induced Library System has its own specific
   features, requirements, service mode, and associated problems.

Nwalo (2000) observes the application of IT to library services has brought about tremendous improvement and makes possible more services. Mosuro (2000) reiterates the relevance of IT to library functions and services:

   Over the years, advances in the area of IT have offered Library and
   Information Centres more efficient ways of acquiring, organizing,
   storing and disseminating information. New Information Technologies
   are becoming an integral component of and have the potential of
   changing the status quo of libraries and librarianship.

Computers as well as other information technology have come to play prominent roles in information management. It is unthinkable that any academic library can function effectively without the appropriate use IT . Mohammed (2004) comments that,

   Electronic and computer technology have come in to remove most of
   the limitations of access and use of information resources and
   services. Instead of "written word", we now have "electronic word"
   existing as bits and bytes of computer memory.

Ramesh (2006) observes that new IT is changing the face of libraries because of the advent of the Internet. Virtual libraries can be a threat to the existence of the traditional libraries. He further identified such media as:

Multimedia services

* E-mail

* Voice mail

* Discussion group

* Bulletin board

* Chat sessions

* Online reference

* Web pages

Padmini and Kishore (2006), writing on professional challenges in the digital library environment in India, comment that IT is making its way vigorously into libraries and information centres there. More and more libraries are being computerized, and several information networks are developing at national and local levels. Examples of such Omekwu (2004) summarizes the phenomenal developments, saying that, the "hi-tech information system have invaded the traditional domain of the printed media."

The application of IT to libraries in Nigeria is yet to attain acceptable international standards. Ochogwu (2004) observes that many Nigerian libraries still use conventional tools that have become outmoded. Academic libraries have made the most progress. Many have automated their functions and services, while some are in different stages of automation. In these libraries, the pattern of information handling, provision of services, and participation in library cooperation has been transformed. As a result of that effort, this article focuses on IT and quality assurance in Nigerian academic libraries.

Quality Assurance and Academic Libraries

Quality products and services delivery are a essential in the competitive capitalistic economy. Manufacturers and service providers are deeply involved in producing quality products and services in order to control their share of the market. The demand for quality by consumers led to the establishment of standard organizations, locally and internationally. Quality standards have been introduced into manufacturing, healthcare, education, service, and governance in Nigeria. Most products produced locally or imported carry the stamp of certification. …