Automation in Two Nigerian University Libraries

Article excerpt

Introduction

The use of computers in libraries and information centers has become commonplace. Many Nigerian university libraries, however, are still battling to find their feet in the use of computers in libraries.

Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to investigate automation procedures in two Nigerian university libraries and the problems encountered during automation.

Literature Review

Historical survey of automation in Nigerian libraries

According to Nok (2006), automation is the automatic, as opposed to human, operation of process, equipment, or system, or the techniques and equipment used to achieve this. In libraries, automation refers to functions such as circulation, cataloguing, or acquisitions. Nwalo (2003) posited that library automation involves the full application of computers in library routines hitherto manually performed. He goes further to state that Olanlokun and Salisu (1993) have cited Mathews (1980) as adducing the following criteria for automating library services:

1. It will help to improve the library services.

2. Automation of the library processes can enhance its reputation.

3. It can provide the Liberians with management information.

4. It can help the librarian in reporting on the various operations of the library.

5. Tasks can be completed more accurately and quickly with increased control.

6. Increased demands for services can be counter balanced with improved productivity especially with either static or declining budget resources.

7. It can facilitate co-operation between libraries.

8. It can provide the means to offer new improved services to patrons.

9. It may obviate the need to hire additional staff with increased demand for services.

Library automation was come a long way, over an often uncertain and unpredictable path, since the 1930s when a few libraries began to incorporate IBM equipment into the circulation procedures. The evolution of technology is defined by developments in science and technology that create new modes of application. The convergence of information technology and communication technology in libraries has led to technological, organizational, and social change (Shepherd, 2000). Rosenberg (1997) surveyed African libraries and reported that IT exploitation by universities for information organization and access has become prevalent. A number of studies have reported on the application of information technology in university libraries in Nigeria. They include that of Oduwole citing Awogbami (1992), Lawani, Azubike and Ibekwe (1992), Mosuro (1996), Idowu and Mabawonku (1999), Ogunleye (1997) Agboola (2000), and Ajala (2001) Nok (2006). All of these studies have agreed that serious application of information technology to library processes started in Nigerian university libraries in the early 1990s.

Individual efforts at library automation such as the one by the University of Lagos, University of Ibadan, and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in the mid 1970s and 1980s, failed largely because of lack of technical knowhow relating to software development and maintenance of hardware (Alabi 1987). Agboola (2000) states that the greatest impetus to library automation in Nigerian university libraries so far has come from a World Bank project. The World Bank gave automation in the university libraries as one of its conditions for support. As a result, the National University Commission (NUC) presented one microcomputer and a four-user local area network version of the TINLIB (The information Navigator) software to each of the 20 participating libraries in 1992. This was after an agreement had been reached between the NUC and the University Librarians that all Federal Universities (Ogunleye 1997) use common software.

Recent surveys carried out by Ogunleye (1997) and Idowu and Mabawonku (1999) showed that application of IT is gradually taking firm root in Nigerian university libraries. …