Academic Libraries in Nigeria in the 21st Century
Abubakar, Bappah Magaji, Library Philosophy and Practice
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa that is geographically and well located on the West African coast. It has a great diversity in the area of its natural components that comprises of varied topography, climatic conditions as well as vegetational patterns. With a population of 140 million people, Nigeria is the largest country in Africa and accounts for 47 percent of West Africa's population (World Bank, 2010). In terms of land mars it covers an area of about 924, 000km and is bordered on the north by the Niger Republic, on the east by Chad and Cameroon, on the south by the Gulf of Guinea, and on the west by the Republic of Benin (Diso, 2005). Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural resources that spread across its 36 states as well as its Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Nigeria has a number of universities attached with academic libraries. At present there are about eighty nine (89) universities in Nigeria (Lawal, 2007). Also there are a number of polytechnics and colleges all attached with academic libraries. Nigeria's university system is been supervised by the National Universities Commission (NUC), a parastatal body under the Federal Ministry of Education; while the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) supervises polytechnics and colleges respectively.
Academic libraries are libraries attached to tertiary institutions such as universities, polytechnic institutions, colleges of education, colleges of agriculture, colleges of technology and also research institutes (Akporhonor, 2005). Singh and Kaur (2009) stressed that preservation and access to knowledge and information is the main mandate of academic libraries along side supporting the mission of their parent institutions which is teaching and research.
Academic libraries are at the forefront of providing information services to their respective communities which comprises of students, lecturers, and researchers in order to support their teaching, learning and research needs. Scholars have emphasized on the crucial role of academic libraries in research and scholarship in institutions of higher learning. Many a times academic libraries are referred to as the heart or nerve centres of institutions of higher learning where all academic activities revolved.
Paradigm Shift in Academic Library Services
With the advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), the role and position of libraries has dramatically changed. Etim (2004) cited in Okon (2005) observes that the rapid pace of development in the field of information technology and the advent of networked information services have prompted a comprehensive review of the Library and Information Sciences (LIS) profession. The global trend is now characterized with a fundamental shift from traditional information environment to an e-environment where emphasis is placed more on the acquisition of e-resources such as e-books, e-journals as well as online databases. However, traditional library and information services and functions are still relevant.
Today, the contemporary practice in academic library services in the 21st century is being propelled with an information explosion, and the inclusion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in all aspects of library services. Kumar (2009) notes that academic libraries are changing dramatically by adopting new means of technology in all activities of print to e-environment where a variety of manual method, are replaced by computerized system which provides opportunity for online accessibility.
Libraries are now expected to provide to users a range of information and communication technologies necessary for retrieving information quickly from both immediate and remote databases, as well as creating a need for library cooperation and consortium initiatives (Okiy, 2005)
The present-day academic library services in the 21st century is focusing more on the area of digital, virtual or libraries without borders all of which have transformed academic libraries and led to transition and transformation in the academic library environment. …