Literacy Competence and Job Performance of Library Staff in Nigerian ... use digital technology, communications tools and networks to access, manage, ...
Overview of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy and Job Performance of Library Staff in Nigerian Universities
Oguche David MSC/EDUC/07701/08-09
LIBS 805: Seminar 1 (Postgraduate Seminar Paper)
Thesis Title: An Assessment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Competence and Job Performance of Library Staff in Nigerian University Libraries.
Abstract The paper discusses information and communication technology literacy(ICT) as the ability to use digital technology, communications tools and networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information in order to function in a knowledge society. The paper also highlights the competencies that can be expected of an ICT literate individual to include; familiarity with hardware, ability to identify ICTs, understanding basic features and uses of ICTs etc. some of the benefits of ICT literacy in library and information services discussed in this paper includes; the ability of library staff to independently operate and troubleshoot personal computers for use at work , use application software such as Ms Word, Ms Access, Ms Excel and other library software for performing their duties etc. Inadequate funding, poor ICT infrastructure, inadequate ICT literate personnel, gender difference, age etc. are some of the challenges of ICT literacy discussed in this paper. The paper also posits that job performance of a library staff in Nigeria University is the outcome of his or her ability and motivation and concludes that ICT literacy when acquired will improve the job performance of library staff. Regular in-house training, scholarship and linkage programs were some of the recommendation made.
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INTRODUCTION Information and Communication Technology (ICT), is a compound term, which represent three important concepts i.e. information, communication and technology. While Information may be viewed as anything that we come in contact with directly or indirectly which can add to our existing knowledge, Communication refers to the transfer or exchange of information from person to person or from one place to another. It is also the transfer of information, ideas, thoughts and messages through a channel that is understood by both the sender and the receiver. Technology on the other hand, is anything we use to enhance or facilitate doing what we normally do. It is a body of knowledge used to create tools, develop skills and extract or collect materials. Hence, technology refers to things like computer, telephone, cell phone, GSM handsets, television, etc. These Three autonomous concepts put together leads to a broader concept Information and Communication Technology (ICT). According to Meyer (1997:4), ICTs are the hardware, software, telecommunication technology, human skills and intellectual content that enables the study, design, development, implementation, support, management or use of intellectual expressions. ICTs are used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information. These technologies include radio, television, video, DVD, telephone (both fixed line and mobile phones), satellite systems, computer and network hardware and software, as well as the equipment and services associated with these technologies such as videoconferencing and electronic mail (email). ICTs have the capacity to influence and affect the performance of library staff when applied to library operations. In order to maximize the benefits of ICTs, library staff needs to be trained on how to use them.
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Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have revolutionized various aspects of library services from the simple clerical work to the selection, acquisition, storage, processing and dissemination of information. As a result of these advancements, there is need for library staff particularly in developing countries to acquire skills that will enable them to operate and cope with the trend. This was why Ugwuanyi (2009) stressed that the present day librarians are expected to be skilled in using computer, networking and the Internet to fulfill their professional obligations.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) LITERACY Libraries play a significant role in the achievement of university goals and this role becomes even more critical in adoption and integration of ICT to information service delivery. It has been discovered that knowledge of ICT usage improves capacity in every field of human endeavor including library and information science. Chemwa and Mburu (2007:1) noted that knowledge in ICT includes the training that an individual receives in order to use available ICT facilities and this knowledge is referred to as ICT literacy. According to Murray (2005:3), ICT literacy is the access, management, integration, evaluation, creation and communication of ICT knowledge to other people. From a different perspective, Wijaya and Sunrendro (2007:2) describe ICT literacy as the bridge between technical literacy and information literacy. They explained that in technical literacy, an individual learns basic skills in databases, word processing and data presentation; while information literacy is access, evaluation and use of information by means of technology. In the words of Zammit (2008), mere possession of ICT skills does not equate to ICT literacy rather, an
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individual’s proficiency in applying ICT as a solution to real life problems. is the true ICT literacy. The International Literacy Panel (2007:5) defines ICT literacy as the ability to use digital technology, communications tools and networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information in order to function in a knowledge society. This definition however, reflects the notion of ICT literacy as a continuum, which allows the measurement of various aspects of literacy, from daily-life skills to the transformative benefits of ICT proficiency, it also indicates five components of ICT literacy that represent a set of skills, proficiencies and knowledge presented in a sequence that suggests increasing cognitive complexity as ICT access, management, integration, evaluation and creation. Makhanu (2010:69) while quoting Pernia (2008:12) modified these components into seven by including definition and communication thus:
Components of ICT Literacy Use ICT tools to identify and represent an information need Knowing about and knowing how to collect and/or retrieve information in digital environments; also the ability to develop a search strategy to locate information within a database. Organize information into existing classification schemes Interpreting, summarizing, comparing and contrasting information using similar or different forms of multiple digital sources Reflecting to make judgments about the quality, relevance, usefulness, efficiency, authority, bias and time of the information. Generating new information and knowledge by adapting, applying, designing, inventing, or representing information in ICT environments Conveying information and knowledge to various individuals and/or Groups Page | 5
Source: Makhanu (2010:69) These components when combined make up ICT literacy and in this paper, they are operationalized to mean the ability to identify and use ICT facilities, level of knowledge of ICT and the application of the ICT to library and information services. Ferrigan (2007:20) noted that ICT literacy requires formal or informal training in basic skills such as the use of hardware and the application software. Pernia (2008:13) points out that the key competencies that can be expected of an ICT literate individual who have completed a foundational knowledge course on ICT should include: a) Familiarity with hardware like mobile phones, computers, Internet and other ICTs b) Ability to identify ICTs. c) Appreciation of actual and potential functions of these technologies in everyday life. d) Understanding basic features and uses of ICT (for instance, mobile phones; voice calls and SMS; computers: word processing, spreadsheet, database, information storage; Internet: web browsing, e-mail and instant messaging). From the above attributes, it can be said that the abilities to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, as well as to communicate and participate in networks via the Internet and Extranet are hallmarks of an ICT literate library staff. There is need therefore, for library staff in Nigeria universities to acquire knowledge and technical skills in the use of ICTs. This will make them proficient in the various applications of ICT to library and information work.
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BENEFITS OF ICT LITERACY IN LIBRARIES The benefits of ICT literacy in library and information service delivery cannot be overemphasized. Some of these benefits include the ability of the library staff in Nigerian university libraries to independently operate and troubleshoot personal computers in order to carry out his duties and functions effectively. They will also be able to use application software such as Ms Word, Ms Access, Ms Excel and other library software to perform their duties. Since most libraries in Nigerian universities are automating their services, ICT literacy will enable the library staff to be competent in the use of integrated library systems (ILS) such as Koha, VTLS Virtua, Tinlib etc. it will also help them to build and maintain digital collections using digital asset management software such as Dspace, Greenstone, Fedora, Eprints etc. ICT literacy can also help library staff in Nigerian university libraries to navigate and use the internet and its various features as a communication device to meet user information needs. This literacy skill can also enable them to access and use information from World Wide Web for official and personal purposes as the case may be. With ICT literacy, digitization of library materials will be achieved. Conversion of local content into digital resources (retrospective conversion) will also be easier. CHALLENGES OF ICT LITERACY IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become an important subject for all information providers because of its relevance and applications to tasks in libraries. Despite its acclaimed relevance and as tool to drive the 21st century digital libraries, there are still issues envisaged as set backs for Nigerian university libraries to cope with.
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According to Ochai (2000), Oketunji (2000) and Chisenga (2000), inadequate funding is a major obstacle to the acquisition and application of information technology facilities in academic libraries in Nigeria. Similarly, Alasa and Kelechukwu (1998) outlined some of the problems militating against adequate provision of ICT facilities and services in Nigerian academic libraries as follows; 1) Poor and inadequate telecommunication facilities; 2) Poor level of ICT literacy even within the academic community; 3) Poor computer facilities; 4) Poor level of awareness of internet facilities in the academic community; 5) Minimum involvement of academic institutions in network building and diffusion in Africa; Ignorance of decision or policy makers of the power of information network on the economic and industrial development of a nation. From the foregoing submissions, it is glaring that ICT literacy is a challenging task which goes beyond just training and development. According to Gbaje (2007) shortage of web technologies skilled librarians, poor information technology infrastructure and high cost of equipment has hindered the Nigerian academic libraries from providing online information services. This again is a further confirmation that ICT literacy is a capital intensive project which Nigerian university libraries should carefully plan before execution. In the opinion of Mohammed (2009), academic libraries in Nigeria are plagued by epileptic power supply among others in their efforts to connect their libraries to the internet. This has been a major challenge in most Nigerian universities. The serious nature of epileptic power supply in academic libraries was also captured by Okiy (2010) who stressed that computerization and digitization became unrealizable in an environment of epileptic power supply. He also stated
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that inadequate funding has remained one of the key challenges to meeting the needs of library users. This has led university libraries in Nigeria to seek funding from external sources. Age factor is one of the challenges of ICT literacy which should not be ignored. Age
differences regarding ICT use and skills may influence ICT literacy level. Linden and Adams (1999) stated that young people are more likely to be ICT users and more ICT literate than older age groups because older individuals are slower to respond to rapid change in technology and increased reliance on computers than younger individuals. It would not be out of place to mention low cognitive skill as another challenge of ICT literacy. This is so because a library staff with low cognitive ability level may lack the
opportunity to develop computer or ICT skills, or consciously opt not to become familiar with computers due to the perceived difficulty in learning about, and using, computer technology.
STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING ICT LITERACY IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
Strategies are usually the blueprint, master plan, measures, approach, scheme, plan of action and schedule adopted
by organizations, institutions, governments or
individuals in order to carryout any action for the purpose of accomplishing tasks. Salisu (2002) noted that the strategies to cope with challenges of ICTs and ICT literacy in Nigerian university libraries must start with education for librarianship. He stressed that the advocacy for continuing professional education (CPE) becomes inevitable, especially in core competencies of ICT. Similarly, Ademodi and Adepoju (2009) suggested that the following strategies be adopted; Page | 9
More attention and funds should be committed to training and procurement of ICT infrastructure in Nigerian university libraries.
Training should be aimed at the computerization of libraries
Library administrators should seek funds from the many foreign agencies and foundations who give financial assistance and equipment to libraries.
Finally, a policy should be put in place by National Universities Commission mandating all universities to automate their libraries within a specific period of time.
In addition to the above, it would not be out of place to introduce as a strategy, a general course on ICT literacy in all library schools in Nigeria. This will expose prospective librarians and library staff to ICTs. ICT LITERACY AND JOB PERFORMANCE IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES Job performance is the accomplishment of the task that makes up an individual’s job. In the context of this paper however, job performance is the effort exerted by library staff in Nigeria universities to accomplish the task or duties expected of them in order to achieve result. According to Kamali, Khan, Khan and Khan (2009), Performance can be regarded as almost any behavior, which is directed toward task or goal accomplishment. Performance is the product of ability multiplied by motivation; ability is the product of aptitude multiplied by training and resources; while motivation is the product of desire multiplied by commitment. This can be expressed as follows: Performance =
Ability X Motivation
Aptitude X Training X Resources
Desire X Commitment Page | 10
The multiplicative function in this formula suggests that aptitude, training, resources, desire and commitment are essential to performance. Good performance among employees in an organization has many implications such as high motivation among employees, outstanding ability, good organizational climate and infrastructure, excellent leadership that can sustain rapport and productivity and good relationship among staff. Relating the above analysis to this paper, it can be said that the job performance of a library staff in Nigeria university library is the outcome of his or her ability and motivation. This ability includes his or her inherent aptitude, ICT literacy acquired on the job and the available resources. Motivation in the context of this research entails the degree of commitment of library staff in terms of dedication, loyalty, punctuality and effort. It is important for the two variables of ability and motivation to be at equilibrium if the library staff is to perform well on the job. For example, a library staff that has 100% motivation and 75% ability required to perform a task can perform at an above-average rate. However, if the individuals have only 10% ability required no amount of motivation will enable such staff to perform satisfactorily.
CONCLUSSION From the above discussion, it can be summarized that ICT literacy encompasses the dimensions of technology brought about by such developments as computer, networks and internet as well as the ability of staff to use these technologies create value. This includes the use of computer and other communication tools such as e-mail, video conferencing, and the worldwide web (www) for the location of information and the subsequent dissemination of information to users.
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In order to meet up with the challenges of globalization and keep abreast with trends of modern information service delivery system, library staff in Nigerian university should be equipped with the requisite skill which is ICT literacy. This literacy when acquired will improve their job performance and the overall service delivery to users.
RECOMMENDATIONS The following recommendations can help to improve ICT literacy and enhance job performance in Nigerian university libraries. In order to boost the ICT competence of library staff in Nigerian universities, regular in-house training and workshops on ICT should be organized by the university libraries. This will help to improve their job performance and the overall service delivery of the library. The university libraries should procure more ICT facilities such as computers, internet and Modem to enable their staff access to practice the skill acquired form training workshops. Nigerian university libraries could also provide loan facilities for their staff to enable them purchase personal computers and other ICT facilities that will enhance their skills and performance. Access to these facilities will enhance their proficiency in the acquired skill. Motivation such as scholarships should also be given to outstanding library staff to improve on their proficiencies so that they can retrain other staff. Finally, the university libraries in Nigeria should engage in linkage programs both locally and abroad in order to strengthen the capacity of their staff on ICT.
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Ferrigan, C. (2007) Passing the ICT skills Test: 2 edition. London: Learning Matters Ltd.
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