information and communication technology (ict) and ...

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Dec 3, 2012 - hard and flash diskettes. icr Defined. Information and .... and online tutorials. Innovator/Builder/Manager: Designs the library's website page and.




AtllALJLLJ, Blessing. rn.u. ASiVl, LLiV. r iYLA.

University Librarian

& NKWEKE, Gift N. B.Sc, PGD.

Electronic Library Manager

The Library, Rivers State University of Science & Technology,

Nkplu-Oruowurukwo, Port Harcourt.





ABSTRACT The paper is (I review of 1he importance ofiCT in modern library operation and 1he skill required of present-day librarians. The paper found the needfor librarians particularly. university libraries to deploy IeI' in their operations and library service delivery. The needs also include the training of the users for maximum utilization of the ICT facilities in the library. Based on these findings: the paper thus recommends, among others, self development/or librarians and all library workers/or them to remain relevant

INTRODUCTION Libraries, worldwide, since the last two decades, have undergone significant metamorphosis - from a purely traditional modeled manual service delivery system to a more dynamic technologically driven system. In Nigeria, this change has become more manifest only in the new millennium. Like a cyclone, the technology-driven environment has enveloped the library and is taking it to unprecedented heights in knowledge acquisition, management, and communication. Even, the vocabulary of librarianship is changing: 'dissemination' is being replaced by 'communication', 'repository' by 'database', 'literature' by 'knowledge', 'search' by 'navigation', etc. This reflects current approach to packaging and the tools used for managing knowledge. Knowledge itself has become more ubiquitous than was ever imagined twenty years ago. The use of information and communication technologies in libraries has tremendously increased because it provide enhanced user satisfaction cost effectiveness, faster and simpler programmes the rapid responses and easier operational procedures. Generally the use of ICT in libraries includes online access to library collection, the use of bibliographic databases, online literature searching and the use of personal computers. Libraries: A Changing Concept Libraries had, up till now, always served as a tangible structure where books, journals, magazines, and all types of documents are kept and retrieved for study. Both the librarian and client must be physically present in the library in order to exchange information. Librarians were custodians of knowledge. They were experts in the retrieval of knowledge. No library client could make any meaningful search of library resources without approaching the librarian. This could be the 'Reference' Librarian, the 'Circulations Services' Librarian, the 'Documents' Librarian, or the 'Subject' Librarian. But, all that has changed with the application of the dynamic ICT. (Akintunde, 2004). The 'custodian status of the librarian has also melted, 2

giving way to a liberalised access to information without borders. However, contrary to fears of librarians in the early stages of the introduction of ICT, the librarian continues to be relevant, and, needed to manage the maze of data and drive the new technology forward. The librarian of today must be multi-skilled in the management of text, voice, and graphics in completely new media of storage and access. He must be flexible enough to update his skills with the ever-changing technology. For instance, storage devices have undergone several changes in the last ten years - from magnetic tapes, to low memory hard disks, to 5 1/ 4 floppy diskettes, to 31/2 floppy diskettes, compact disks (e.g. Compact disk read only memory - CD-ROM) to higher capacity hard disks, remote servers, and, now Universal Serial Bus (USB) hard and flash diskettes.

icr Defined Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate and to create, disseminate, store and manage information (Islam and Islam 2006). Information technology has been defined as the application of computers and other technology to the acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information" (American Library Association 1983). This definition implies that ICT is restricted to system dependent upon a micro­ electronics based combination of computing and communication technology. In other words, computers provide the processing, storage and retrieval capabilities while telecommunication provides the capabilities for the transfer and or communication of data from one work workstation to another. Information and communication technology is a term which encompasses the notion of the application of technologies in information handling, generation, storage, processing, retrieval and dissemination (Marghaani, 1987). In an increasing competitive environment the concern of managers of library and information services must be only with the survival of the library and information services, but also with their development within a clear and coherent framework of policy. In libraries, information network has the potential for relieving human kind of many of its burdens. Networking refers to a broad system of computers, terminal video display units, telephones and so on, which are used for data communication services. Therefore to network in the library parlance involves the interconnection of computer terminals. The heart of information networking connectivity or social media visibility is the issue of telecommunication linking together libraries, librarians, users in Local Area

Network (LAN) or Wide Areas Network (WAN). They endeavor to eliminate many of the repetitive and boring tasks related to the processing and communication of information. The volume and rate of the generation of information as well as the demand for it, has made its conservation and storage and manipulation by electronic means imperative in an information conscious society. Advances in modem technology have naturally led to the de-emphazing of the traditional method of attaining various information processing and transfer objectives, hence the introduction of computer and other modem information technologies in the libraries.

Who is a Librarian? A librarian is a person who works professionally in a library, and is usually trained in librarianship (known either as library science or library and information science). Traditionally, a librarian is associated with collections of books, as demonstrated by the etymology of the word "librarian" (Latin fiber, 'book'). A Librarian is that personal trained in librarianship or a person in charge of a library. This definition shows that a librarian is that person who has acquired some professional training (often in a university) equipping him with the knowledge and skill of organizing knowledge and administering a library, (Ahiauzu, 2009) The role of a librarian is continuously evolving to meet social and technological needs. However, a modem librarian may deal with information in many formats, including books, magazines, newspapers, audio recordings (both musical and spoken-word), video recordings, maps, manuscripts, photographs and other graphic material, bibliographic databases, web searching, and digital resources. A librarian may provide other information services, including computer provision and training, coordination of public programs, basic literacy education, and equipment for people with disabilities, and help with finding and using community resources. Traditional Role of Librarians Custodian: Selects, organizes. Guide: Assists users in searching and critically evaluating relevant information sources. Public Relations Officer: Maintains good relationships with management, clients, other libraries, and outside organizations.


Role of 21 st Century Library Is there a need for Librarians and libraries in the electronic age? Considering the fact that there are many information sources now available via the web, our answer to this is a resounding YES. Romos, 2007 asserts that libraries and librarians are becoming more and more important but there is a need to change. This is because the information world is undergoing transition; • From a library-centered to an information-centered entity. • From a paper-based environment to a predominantly digital interface, i.e. using search engines, online databases, data mining and so on. • From the library as an institution to library as an information provider with IT skilled specialist functioning in an automated environment. • 21 st Century library operation visualizes a very different library service that operates according to expectations oftoday's library user. In this vision, the library makes information available wherever and whenever the user requires it. Realizing this vision requires change across the wide range of systems, process and attitudes. Role of Librarians in 21 st Century Information Broker for both print and electronic media: Identifies, retrieves, organizes, repackages and provides electronic access to digital information sources. Change agents, i.e. Technology application: Collaborate services to design and evaluate system that would facilitate e-access. Facilitator: Makes access easier. For example, provides network access, purchases software and e-journal. Educator: Train clients on internet use tools, search engines, online databases and catalogues, electronic journals, use of web-bases instruction and online tutorials. Innovator/Builder/Manager: Designs the library's website page and searches and evaluates information resources to be linked to the site, creates an awareness of library services on the web; in some instances manages the organizational website. Collaborator: Expanded area of collaboration, not just with fellow librarians but with IT people, the community, and all relevant stakeholders. Policy Maker: Develops or participate in the development of an information policy for an organization, ensuring total or selective access to all information resources.


The Availability of Information and Communication Technologies in the Libraries Some people may question the need for libraries to make use of an advanced technology for information processing and house keeping operations. The real question is not whether this technology should be used but whether or not this technology is appropriate. When we speak of appropriate technology we usually imply that there is a wide range of available technologies to choose from, and the choice of a technology which suits a particular circumstance would be the appropriate technology.

Information technology is at the core of competitive strategies of any successful organization such as libraries. It can be utilized to functional restructure the value chain of an organization by combining and rearranging certain activities and processes. Introducing information technologies into libraries system, the libraries in Nigeria with special reference to the two stated case studies noted that the acceptance of the users of this system is paramount and this is often related to such parameters as convenience, comprehension and cost thus at these libraries information technology as a new system is more convenient than the old system though it is capital intensive. The information technologies found in libraries today can be group into the following: Computer Media: The central processing unit (CPU) of the computer has definite amount of data capacity. Additional storage media such as magnetic disk, audiotapes and others, enhanced its performance. Telecommunication: It facilitates the transfer or communication of data and information. However, only limited applications of these technologies appear to have taken are modified from the old ones. They include CD~ROM searching, networking, internets. CD- Rom Search: The compact disc-read only memory is an information technology with great potential for academic libraries. Its' potential lies in storage capacity and portability.


ICT and Librarians' Function in the Library Library housekeeping function in academic libraries can be grouped into 5 main sections namely; Acquisition: This section is concerned with the selection and acquisition of the generic book by purchase, gift or exchanges. Most of the tasks of the unit is repetitive and routine but, with the use of lCT such activities are handled with greater ease. Cataloguing: One of the most important library operations is cataloguing. It is traditionally, the most time consuming technical operation in the library, and often regarded as the engine-house of a library System. Circulation: The use of lCT in the circulation section eliminates some of the repetitive nature of manual work such as charging and discharging, writing over dues, recording of statistics. Serial: This section handles publication issued in successive part at regular or irregular intervals. Maintaining this operation in a manual environment can be cumbersome, but different in a fully automated system with lCT. The following activities such as subscription control, information storage and retrieval which entail selective dissemination of information (SDl) are enhanced. Reference: Reference work can be described as that phase of library activities in which assistance is given to users in tracing answers to their enquires through the use of initially unidentified sources. It is generally believed that the primary purpose of reference service is to provide the resource needed by library users. The Library as ICT Tool However, much as lCT has impacted on the library, the library has also become a tool for the incremental growth of lCT. The library had always served as a tool. The traditional library was a tool for further and adult education. The library served as a social centre where didactic stories were told and culture was concretised. Traditions and cultural mores were promoted and passed on to the next generation. The library was a socializing agent for young adults and school leavers who found public libraries situational while reading for their examinations. Reading was highly promoted for life-long purposes. 7

National libraries served as custodians of the intellectual properties of nations. Anthropological and ethnological details were preserved in many national libraries. Such libraries have been used as centres for research in tracing and resolving genealogies and family history. Many land and other socio-cultural property documents in national libraries have served as tools for judges in resolving disputes between communities. The library therefore serves as a tool for the development of intellectual capabilities, as well as the promotion of cultural, and social integration. As a tool, the effectiveness of the library is dependent on the investment made into it by its proprietors -private organizations, governments, and communities. It is also dependent on the awareness that the library's public has of the resources available. I'C'I' Development for Libraries Information and Communications Technology (lCT) as a terminology has overtaken Information Technology (IT) because of its appropriateness, and utilitarianism. Whereas IT was used to describe the new technology in the mid-80s up to mid-90s, focusing on the computer, ICT since the beginning of this decade is a new concept that emphasizes the use of technology for development, as in e-governance and e-commerce. Information and Communications Technology emphasizes the uses of the computer and other technologies such as telephone to process, transport, and transfer voice and other mega data singularly or mixed with least interference or distortion of content.

Information and Communications Technology development is therefore an attempt to improve on the various modules of the technology towards higher level of convergence, in order to respond more effectively to the needs to communicate data or information. However, ICT development goes beyond the improvement of technology and providing necessary infrastructure. It includes the adaptation of ICT by librarians and other users in effectively and efficiently delivering services to clients. It also involves the training of clients in the effective utilisation of ICT resources. Thus, librarians and clients require training from time to time on current ICT technology and resources. Such training involves research in every module of ICT with an expected outcome of improving the communication process. The training and research must be systematic and designed to be an integral part of ICT services. ICT development therefore encompasses both the human and



material components to achieve desired effect on library service delivery. It results in better adaptation and deployment of the technology. Libraries as Tools for leT Development Libraries as tools for ICT development therefore raise a number of critical issues. One of these is the role of the library in appropriating lCT in its operations. Another is the causative effect of the library's use of lCT. The library uses ICT in several ways, and as such the librarian needs to keep abreast with the modem technologies to handle these activities as identified below: 1. Management of Library Administration

') Processing oflibrary materials

3. Developing on-line resources 4. Accessing on-line resources 5. Developing off-line resources 6. Accessing off-line resources 7. Providing service to clients These activities require appropriate software as well as equipment. In the recent past, an increasing number of libraries in Nigeria have bought off-the­ shelf software for cataloguing, circulation and, even for complete management of the library.

In accessing online resources, browsing and navigation skills are developed. Browsing is a general survey of sites and resources that are on-line - usually internet or intranet resources. Navigation is a more systematic assessment of on-line resources. In the process of developing both on-line and off-line resources, librarians learn to create and manage personal and subject web sites. This is a skill that is continuously required from librarians in the digital age. In the process of developing this skill, exposure to the different software and application packages for developing web sites are acquired. The ability of librarians to acquire these skills and deploy them in their jobs saves a lot of money for the institution because there would be no need to hire and pay a consultant to do the tasks. Furthermore, it is a human capacity building approach for the library. The skills can be transferred to other libraries and departments through cooperative approaches and training. In other words, the entire library system gets better equipped in lCT in the process. The University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt library is a leading light in the use of ICT to deliver services to clients. The library's 9

use of JCT - computers, development and up loading of materials on the Intranet, attract curiosity by lecturers and students. It stimulates the development of tailored-made software The Curator for all library operations ranging from Acquisition, Cataloguing, Circulation, Reference, and Security. The librarians In RSUST now play a leadership role in navigating for literature on the web and have been adequately trained in the use of Microsoft Power Point for making presentations. They have also acquired adequate skills in digitisation. After in-house training, they can now take digital photographs and scan documents for the World Wide Web (WWW.COM).

ChaIlenges for Librarians in Nigeria Some of the challenges librarians in Nigeria must face include: 1. The orientation that ICT IS A MUST component of the library. 2. Accepting that ICT knowledge can no longer be divorced from the profile of the librarian is no longer debatable. 3. Training and Retraining in the use of computers and other lCT resources 4. Training and retraining users in the adaptation, exploration, exploitation and maximization of ICT teaching and learning. S. Consider and implement leadership and organizational change to meet up with present challenges Since these issues go beyond library budgets, heads of libraries may have to focus more on internally generated fund raising and project management in order to be effective and efficient in delivering services (Nyerembe, 2001). Librarians will have to be more proactive in utilising ICT. Waiting for sponsorship before embarking on self-development will have to be re­ considered. The good thing about ICT is that most of the resources also have "how tos" available online, so that the individual is never left blank about procedures for use.

Major Problems and Recommendations 1. Administrative barriers


Some Administrators, policy makers, and government executives are not fully aware of the importance of ICT. Moreover, such library administrators have failed to make its importance clear. Lack of knowledge of technological developments has created a significant barrier to the development and desired presence of ICT facilities in libraries. The reluctance of library personnel to accept new technologies hinders the development of ICT-based libraries. 2. Lack of shared initiatives 3. Lack of skilled manpower 4. Lack of financial support 5. Lack of infrastructure 6. Lack of ICT resources 7. Absence of local resources 8. Difficulty in having-term planning 9. Psychological barriers 10. Lack of ICT Training Programmes 11. Lack of Networks 12. Lack of E-Resources Selection Policy

Recommendations 1. IC'T Training, A Must for Librarians: Well-trained and skilled personnel are essential ingredients for implementing ICT in libraries. Steps should be taken to develop properly trained and competent people for this purpose. 2. Libraries need funds to initiate the implementation of ICT. There is the need for librarian to embark on ways on raising funds to support parent institutions. 3. The government's administrative complexity should be reduced to help create awareness of the importance of ICT in libraries. The Library heads should seek to work harmoniously with the chief Executives of their Institutions so as to attract funds to the library. 4.Establsihment of at least one Library School in Rivers State: establishment of Library and Information Science departments in Institutions of higher learning in Rivers State, considering the heightened



and application of lC'I' tools now prevailing in the State, will help bring up future reT librarians that can compete favorably anywhere in the world. 8. Networking is one of the most effective ways of serving users' needs comprehensively. Networked access to databases would help disseminate newly-published information to library users. 9. Professional organizations such as the Nigerian Library Association (NLA) and library administrators should organize short-term training programmes for library professionals in computer applications in library and information services, on-line information retrieval, data processing. electronic publishing, and also software applications such as Microsoft Office, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, have really done very well in this regard. Over 89% of Library staff in that University are computer literate, an initiative of the Vice chancellor Prof B.B Fakea, and the University Librarian Dr. (Dame) B. Ahiauzu, and the cooperation of all the RSUST library staff 10. A comprehensive collection development policy for e-resources should be maintained by the libraries in order to follow a set of standard practices for acquisition and management of electronic information resources. There should be specific budget for new resources and the sustenance of existing ones.

Conclusion Libraries, from the foregoing, have imbibed a new paradigm of service. There has been a shift from being manual document lists and archivists, to be "a-click-away" managers of knowledge. The librarian has also shifted from being the "all-knowing" custodian of knowledge to "all guide" by the side. This is because he guides clients on how to navigate effectively through He creates portals for his clients because of the mesh of data now readily available but quite meshy. The library today is a technologically-driven one that uses the principles of traditional library services to organize knowledge and communicate same to clients in the global community. The library today is no longer a fixed structure of stones and blocks. It is a mesh of wires and cables transporting data from one remote server to the other. Libraries today therefore necessarily have to move away from the


traditional buildings without necessarily destroying the structures. The architecture for library buildings must take into consideration the provision of access points for computer networks, telecommunications facilities, and on-line resources. Libraries in Nigeria should be a part of this global phenomenon as our poverty even makes linkage to, and use of leT more essential. In the 21 sl century, we are witnessing an information revolution. Information needs to be delivered in a timely and preferred manner. Technology for generating and sharing information is useless, if there's no way to locate, filter, organize and access it. Traditionally librarians arc in the forefront of information dissemination and they will continue to be there, but via IT driven means. In that way, librarians will be relevant in the 21 st century.




I. Ahiauzu, B. (2009). Use of Library A practical Approach, 2 ed Springfield Publishers. 2. Ahiauzu, B, Akobo, D.I & Igben, M.J. (2007). Fundamentals of Library Practice. Davidstone Pubishers. 3. Atata, J. W. A. (2008). Reference Library Service and its clientele Agipea. Global Service. 4. Hawkins, R. 1. (2004). Ten Lessons for JCT and Education in the Developing; World. Washington, World Bank Institute. 5. Levey, L. A. (2000). "Wired for lnfonnation: Putting the Internet to Good Use in Africa". 6. Nkweke G. N. & Ordua, G. (2012). Office Communication and Computer Application 7. Nyerembe, M. P. (2001). "Information and Communication Technologies and the University of Dar es Salaam Library: Some Logistical and Managerial Challenges". University of Dar I;!S Salaam Library Journal, Vol. 3, Nos. I & 2, pp. 1 -12. 8. Islam, S. & Islam, N. (2006). "ICT, in Libraries: A New Dimensi. .n in Librarianship". Asian Journals of Information Technology 5(8): ~09­ 817. 9. Akintunde, S. A.: "Libraries as Tools for ICT Development", 10."Who is a Librarian": (Accessed 28111/2012) l Lt'Impacr of ICT on Libraries".­ on-libraries 12. 13.


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