Use of Library Statistics to Support Library and Advisory Services at the National Library of Nigeria
Salawu, Bashiru Akanni, African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science
Statistical information plays an important role in any field of human endeavour. This is one reason why the United Nations and its several agencies such as the UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme collate and publish global statistics on various socio-economic activities in order to assist nations to assess their progress relative to other nations or earlier periods and inform the design and implementation of policies to improve their socioeconomic conditions. Similarly, it is imperative for every establishment, institution and sector to keep and use statistical records of its operations. In the words of Attah (2003), statistics is a very useful and indispensable tool for research and development for sustainable progress.
Statistical records are basic to the growth and development of each and every library. Library statistics are needed in order to be able to ascertain the level of the different resources and services that a library provides and how the resources and services are being used by different classes of patrons. Statistics is also needed for assessing the level of performances of different library operations, for example, how much time it takes for ordered materials to arrive, how many books are catalogued per period by each cataloguer, how much waiting time patrons have to endure at the circulation desk, etc. These and other statistics are needed in order to be able to assess the extent to which libraries are meeting institutional goals and national or global library standards.
Library development implies the evolvement of the library as an institution or agency from a less developed state in terms of institutional resources, size, services and sophistication to a more advanced and highly organised state with continuously improving effectiveness and efficiency in serving the information needs of communities.
Statistics, as a subject of study or discipline, is concerned, according to Attah (2002), with the scientific methods of collecting, organising, summarising, presenting and analysing data, as well as drawing valid conclusion and making reasonable decisions on the basis of such analysis. Statistics, as output, represents data that has been summarised as specific quantitative facts in tables or charts. Library statistics show the strength and weaknesses of a library in terms of resources, equipment, staffing, finance, use of collections, degree of patronage, services, etc, which, in turn facilitate effective management of libraries and enhancement of their services. Besides, library statistics are equally useful for segmenting users for current awareness services and selective dissemination information. Library data and statistics generated from the records and surveys of the information needs and service preferences of users enable the library to provide them with latest available and relevant information in the appropriate formats, such as lists of newly acquired books or journal issues, content pages of latest journals, abstracts of publications, or complete full text publications (Obilade, 2003).
This paper explores the processes, outputs and impact of the compilation, publication and use of library statistics for decision making and national library system development in the National Library of Nigeria (NLN). It shows how the NLN has been able to plan for and fulfill its statutory responsibilities with the aid of the library statistics that it collects and published annually.
National Library of Nigeria (NLN)
The National Library of Nigeria (NLN) was established by National Library Act (No.6) of 1964 which provided for a governing Board, i.e. National Library Board. The Act was later superseded by Decree No 29 of 1970 which established NLN as a full fledged parastatal, the apex library, and the nation's bibliographic control agency under the Ministry of Education. Since then, the institution has undergone some internal reorganisation and restructuring to enhance its activities. …