Network Literacy Skills of Academic Librarians for Effective Services Delivery: The Case of University of Nigeria Library System

Article excerpt

Introduction

The use of Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) in the Library and Information Science profession has been widely reported. Ezeani and Ekere (2009); Ozioko R; Ezeani C; Omeje E (2009) Adebisi, O (2009) Ahiauzu B (2008) Armah, A. (2009). Ezeani and Ekere (2009) have further established that Librarians and information professionals presently operate within a professional climate that is characterized by change. Ezeani (2005) furthermore, has posited that in developing countries such as Nigeria, libraries have had their budgets steadily on the decline. As a result most Nigerian libraries have had to perform their services within a reduced purchasing power. Knowledge of the use of these new skills will ensure that services are rendered more creatively and ensure the effective discharge of duties even within a reduced budgetary allocation.

From the twentieth century need for computer literacy we have gradually migrated to a more advanced use of the Internet known as Network literacy. There has therefore, been a move over time from print literacy, to computer literacy and recently to network literacy. Network literacy therefore, is distinct from the forms of technological literacy present during the first generation of Internet communication. This is because it goes beyond the responsibility of knowing how to access information on the web, to critically reading web content and determining the credibility of online sources. This is often recognized as the critical literacy for the twenty-first century. Adrian (2007) has defined Network Literacy as the ability to participate as a peer within the emerging knowledge networks which are now the product of the Internet and to have a 'deep' understanding of the logics or protocols of these networks as we do of print. It therefore, requires an understanding of the means of participating on the web by writing and connecting to the public sphere. Librarians in the twenty -first century need to be abreast of these emerging skills in order to be able to deliver their services effectively. They need to be able to have an understanding of the ways in which people read, write, and participate actively in the distributed, collaborative environment of the Internet in its current form Benson and Reyman (2009). The Internet offers a uniquely rich resource for authentic inquiry and librarians must learn to orchestrate sophisticated strategies to become literate in this complex environment. This work therefore, seeks to examine the network literacy skills of librarians in the university of Nigeria, library system in recognition of the fact that these are critical skills needed for optimal service delivery within the 21st Century.

Research Questions

The following research questions formed the major basis upon which this study was hinged:

1. What is the level of proficiency of the use of the Internet by Librarians in The University of Nigeria, Library system?

2. What is the level of proficiency of the use of Web 2.0 tools by Librarians

3. What is the extent of use of Library 2.0 by Librarians

4. What are the factors that encumber the level of Network Literacy of librarians.

5. What strategies are proffered for improving the Network Literacy skills of Librarians in the University of Nigeria, Library system.

Scope

This work deals primarily with Network Literacy which according to Slavonien (2002) is one of the four important aspects of literacy needed to become effective life-long learners. In terms of content scope the work is delimited to the examination of the level of skills possessed by Librarians in the university of Nigeria library system with respect to the use of the Internet, the frequency of use of the Internet, the web browsers used for surfing the Internet. Other areas examined are the different uses of some web2.0 and library 2.0 tools which are seen as new Internet tools. …