Use of CD-ROM Databases in Nigerian Academic Libraries

Article excerpt

This study is aimed at examining the impact of and constraints to the use of CD-ROM databases in Nigerian academic libraries. The questionnaire was sent to ten academic libraries in Nigeria identified from a preliminary studies on their CD-ROM database collections and use. The results of the study revealed that high cost of subscriptions to CD-ROM databases was ranked first as the major constraint. Introduction of CD-ROM has led to an increase in the use of journal collections in the reference library and an increase in the status of libraries. AGRIS and CAB Abstracts are the most commonly used bibliographic database on CD-ROM.

The advent of CD-ROM technology in the early 1980s has been a blessing to libraries and information centers in developing countries. The significant change associated with CD-ROM is the shift toward end user searching, leading to big increases in the total number of searches carried out (Lanier 1992). The use of CD-ROMs in developing countries has been reported (Siddiqui 1992; Kiondo 1997; and Addo 1992).

Awogbami (1992) reported the diffusion of CD-ROMs into Nigerian academic and agricultural libraries. Mosuro (1996), Ogunleye (1997), and Idowu and Mabawonku (1999) reported achievements in the use of CD-ROM databases. Formson (1998) reported that CD-ROM technology has greatly enhanced in-service training, and helped a great deal in self-tuition.

Impact of CD-ROM on Nigerian Academic Libraries

CD-ROM has enabled libraries that could not have access to information online to search in-house CD-ROM versions of international online databases. Lack of information infrastructure--such as adequate telecommunication facilities for data transmission and skilled manpower plus expenses associated with online searching--have hampered the use of online information services in developing countries (Eres 1981; and Subramarayam 1983).

The massive storage capacity of CD-ROM databases has enabled libraries to access instantly, easily, and conveniently a substantial amount of relatively current and retrospective information at a fixed or predictable cost. The use of CD-ROM saves space as it can hold roughly 100 million words, or the full-text of three hundred books each containing five hundred pages, or the entire contents of two filling cabinets. Conversely, CD-ROM can endure harsh climatic conditions: finger prints, extreme climatic conditions, and dust have no effect on CD-ROM (Ritzleer 1989).

As a result of introduction of CD-ROM, libraries have reported an increase in the use of journal collections, interlibrary loan services, and microfiche collections (Salanje 1995). The University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria has subscribed to TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) that has 130 journal titles on CD. Aboluwarin (1996) reported an increase in library use when CD-ROM was introduced. Following the implementation of a CD-ROM workstation in the library, the status of the Kenneth Dike library increased rapidly (Mosuro 1996). The introduction of CD-ROM has made staff more knowledgeable about a variety of operating systems, hardware configurations, software packages, and interface designs.

Constraints to CD-ROM Use in Nigerian Academic Libraries

Some of the problems associated with the use of CD-ROM databases in Nigerian academic libraries are discussed below.

Nonrelevance

The most glaring deficiency of CD-ROM products is their inadequacy from the Nigerian perspective. Their coverage and scope have a Western bias. Though this is understandable since, by virtue of their environment and their immediate market, they have to develop systems tailored to the needs of their immediate users. While it may be argued that this is not a major issue in science and technology since the users of science and technology information are generally interested in information of a universal nature, it must also be borne in mind that only the application of relevant technology, which takes into consideration the unique or peculiar socioeconomic and cultural context of the country, can lead to meaningful, appropriate, and sustainable development. …