ICT and Collection Management in Public Libraries: A Survey of South-South Zone of Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Information is a major economic resource for individuals, corporations, and institutions. Like other major resources, information offers the greatest possibilities to those who know how to use it. The daily growth of information, according to Utor (1999), brings about problems of location, acquisition, organization, and funds. The problems are made more frustrating when users find it difficult to locate and use information they consider useful.

The application of ICT has resulted in the globalization of knowledge resources. Libraries in less developed countries may not have ICT available to them. In the midst of a global information revolution, many libraries still use methods that date back to a much earlier era. The extent of ICT application in South-South Nigeria is still largely unknown.

The geo-political regions of Nigeria are North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-South, South-East, and South-West. This research covers the South-South, a region made up six states: Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and River.

UNESCO (2000) defines ICT as the techniques used in information handling and processing. ICT has changed library and information services globally. Digital media has revolutionised information source and advances in ICT has dramatically changed information provision. The process of collection management has become very challenging and complex. As observed by Friend (2000:55), basic collection management activities include analysis of user needs, inter-and intra-library communication, policy development, budgeting and allocation of resources, contract negotiations, macro-evaluations of collection, micro-evaluation for selection, relegation, preservation or withdrawal of stock, and system evaluation.

According to Singh (2004:127), this set of activities will continue to evolve with new ICT products and services. Gone is the era in which housing a large collection that spans linear miles was a matter of great pride for a library. At that time, libraries were able to meet most user requirements with the resources they owned. Today, physical location is less important as long as the information is accessible.

Libraries need a global access policy for information. According to Singh (2004:127), policy is formulated with an organization's mission statement and strategic plan in mind. Collection management policy should be linked very closely to the general and specific programs of the organization and be informed by the information needs of users.

Developing countries, including Nigeria, are being encouraged to invest in ICT. Thoiune (2003), cited by Ogbomo and Ogbomo (2008), indicates that many initiatives have been taken at the international level to support Africa 's efforts to develop communication infrastructure, and these efforts are designed to enable African countries to find faster ways to achieve sustainable development.

Nwalo (2000:34) asserts that many libraries in developing countries are gradually converting from manual to computerised routines. The benefits of ICT in a library system are self evident and overwhelming. Okolo (2002: 43) observes that the library needs ICT in order to give efficient services to its users. Not only is the speed of its operation high, the volume of its output is correspondingly large. When ICT is used the library, there is economy of labour and operating cost. The accelerated adoption and use of ICT means that bibliographic databases, full-text documents, and digital library collections are always available to users (Chisenga, 2004).

David (1998:18) notes that, "the use of electronic services ... helps ... with an ever expanding base of knowledge and a steadily eroding base of resources." Olorunsola (1997) asserts that, "the use of information technologies ... has had a far-reaching effect ... [in] ... that provision of information can be made more effective and efficient with the use of electronic information resources. …