Agriculture is an important sector in the economy of all countries, developed or underdeveloped. In most developing countries like Nigeria, it is an important sector of the economy. Many countries, including Nigeria have realized the value of agriculture and are making attempt to sustain it by pragmatic agricultural policies. One of such policies in Nigeria is the establishment of specialized institutions otherwise known as research institutes, to carry out research in agriculture for socio-economic development of the country. These specialized institutions which enhance agricultural development largely rely on libraries and their information services. Consequently, recent empirical studies by librarians and information scientists are not only concerned with the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of 'hard' information to individuals and organizations for their use, but also concerned with the manner in which the information provided is put to use. They have also become concerned with the outcomes in terms of satisfaction the recipient of the information services has in carrying out their several functions (Tiamiyu, 1990).
Aina & Adedigba (1995) acknowledged the immense contributions of the agricultural research institutes in Nigeria towards agricultural production through the efforts of researchers who have researched into various areas of agriculture. In their study, it was revealed that the information sector has not contributed enough to the provision of information to agricultural information user populations. The government of Nigeria was blamed for their inadequacy in funding and staffing of the libraries. They recommended adequate funding and recruitment of special librarians with relevant subject background in agriculture, as advocated by Aina (1989). When this is done, librarians need to carry out assessment of their resources and services from time to time to ensure continual relevance to their parent organizations. It is, however, observed that assessment of library resources and services has not taken place for many years in most research libraries for reasons to be identified, among other things, by this study.
The Origin of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARIs)
The agricultural research institutes in Nigeria started during the period of colonial administration (1861 - 1950). They passed through the periods of internal self-government (1951-1960), and have continued to develop and grow during the post-independence era after 1st October 1960 till date.
There are fourteen agricultural research institutes in Nigeria, as observed by Idachaba (1987),and they grew out of different circumstances at different times with the objective of satisfying different needs. For instance, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Umuahia and National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) Shika, Zaria, started as regional research stations at Umudike and Samaru (Zaria) aimed at effectively addressing the agricultural problems of different regions of Nigeria. Forest Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN) and National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) Vom sprang up from the research units of different ministries; National Institute for Horticultural Research (NIHORT), Ibadan, was developed through the assistance of UNO agencies like FAO/UNDP to combat poor nutrition/low standard of living etc.
As a very important unit of the agricultural research institute, the institute's library is established at the inception of the organization. The need is to house the collection of information relevant to the institutes' research in various forms and effectively manage the increased information generated. Guidelines for the management of national agricultural research institutes (2005) itemized the reasons for establishment of the National Agricultural Research Institutes as follows:
* To generate new agricultural technologies that are appropriate for the improvement of goods and services;
* To modernize indigenous technologies for improved production in agriculture and related issues, and;
* To develop appropriate agricultural systems that will domesticate imported technologies to the Nigerian situation. …