Stepping Up the Ladder to Meet User Needs: Innovative Library Services and Practices in a Nigerian University of Technology

By Emezie, Nkeiru A. | Library Philosophy and Practice, March 2018 | Go to article overview

Stepping Up the Ladder to Meet User Needs: Innovative Library Services and Practices in a Nigerian University of Technology


Emezie, Nkeiru A., Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

The 21st century has witnessed a turnaround in different spheres of life. Academic environment and libraries are not divorced from this paradigm. According to Deiss and Petrowski (2009), academic libraries are affected by three drivers of change: the poor economy and its negative impact on higher education; the changing needs of students; and rapidly evolving technologies. From the authors' statement, there is no musing that information and communication technologies have transformed library's nature and structure. Librarians are equally evolving to meet with changing roles. The 21st century has often been described as the era of electronic information (Emezie & Nwaohiri, 2009). Thus, dependence on electronic information has escalated more than ever before. Gone are the days patrons must be within the library walls to get access to information resources. The current electronic information landscape has opened up channels for anytime anywhere access. A very significant aspect of the current electronic dispensation is the techno savvy characteristic of present day patrons who live in an environment saturated with internet availability, massive growth of digital content and plethora of mobile devices. These developments have challenged libraries to reorder their modes of service delivery and remain vital to patron's needs.

Academic libraries are the fulcrum of educational activities in higher institutions hence, academic libraries provide support for teaching, learning and research. To achieve this, libraries collect, process, organize and provide information sources in various formats. More recently, libraries are creating environment that attune to present day needs. Kutu and Adesanya (2008) admit that the library is one of the most important units in a developing environment; it facilitates the information acquisition, organization, storage and dissemination of information for effective decision making and development of socio economic progress in a nation. Without mincing words, libraries have always been in the business of providing access to information. In the current networked environment, manual methods of service provision have metamorphosed into electronic modes of delivery. Interestingly, library's traditional confines have collapsed into borderless access where users can connect to resources from remote locations. With these trends, it is clearly visible that the goal post has changed in the technology era. Like the proverbial mountain going to Mohammed, todays libraries are taking their services to millennial patrons who now reside on the net. (Emezie & Nwaohiri, 2017).

Additionally, the library environment is changing from a noiseless zone to a user friendly and relaxing atmosphere. Atkinson (2001) remarks that the new library must be mainly a social gathering place, somewhat noisy, with plenty of coffee while Connor (2005) views that a commodious atmosphere with state of the art equipment draws patrons. This suggests that modern libraries are no longer reading places but learning spaces where people gather to participate in group discussions, trainings, and conferences. In today's libraries, patrons can watch television, play games and listen to music. Beyond the physical visits, social media are employed to enable communication and provide interactive services. These innovations are products of the networked environment. Consequently, academic libraries are stepping up the ladder to meet user expectations through innovative services and practices.

Conceptual framework

Innovation has been defined as the introduction into the organization of a new product, a new service, a new technology, or a new administrative practice; or a significant improvement to an existing product, service, technology, or administrative practice (Damapour, 1996). Johanessen, Olsen, & Lumpkin (2001) states that innovation means creating new products, creating new services, developing new production, new service methods, opening to new markets (creating new user/reader groups for libraries), finding new sources (sponsors, suppliers, etc. …

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