Influence of Library Environments, Instructional Programs ... The issue of underutilization of academic

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  • Chinese Librarianship: an International Electronic Journal, 35. URL: www.iclc.us/cliej/cl35AI.pdf

    72

    Influence of Library Environments, Instructional Programs, and User-

    Librarian Collaborations on Library Use by Undergraduate Students in

    Nigeria

    Amusa Oyintola Isiaka

    Federal University of Agriculture

    Nigeria

    amusaoyintola@yahoo.com

    Iyoro Abiodun Olaide

    Ondo State University of Science and Technology

    Nigeria

    abiyoro@yahoo.com

    ABSTRACT: This study employed a survey method to investigate the

    influence of library environments, user education, and user-librarian

    collaborations on the use of academic libraries by undergraduate students in

    Nigeria. 2,676 students from six universities in the South-West Nigeria

    responded to the questionnaire. The findings revealed that the academic

    libraries are less used because of the availability of alternative information

    systems (such as the Internet, reading-rooms in residence halls and

    apartments), poor library environment, inadequate user education programs,

    and absence of formal user-librarian collaboration programs. It is

    recommended that the internal and external environment of the libraries be

    improved, that user education programs be extended to 2 semesters, and that

    user-librarian collaborations be institutionalised.

    I. Introduction

    Academic libraries in Nigerian tertiary institutions are being confronted with the challenges

    of underutilization and apathy. These libraries are faced with daunting tasks of making their

    users aware of the numerous resources available, and how to encourage their usage. Apathy

    to use of library resources and services may not be unconnected with the plethora of

    information available on the Internet, and other remotely accessible electronic resources,

    lecture notes, recommended textbooks, and other educational resources hitherto being

    consulted in academic libraries but now available on the Internet. Low reading culture among

    Nigerians and the undergraduate students as well is another factor that may account for

    unimpressive use of academic libraries. The majority of them would not use libraries unless

    they have compelling needs to do so. Other information facilities, such as bookshops, Internet

    cafe, and computer and relaxation centres, are competing for students’ attention.

    The issue of underutilization of academic libraries has been putting pressures on the library

    management to justify huge investment in them. Users have made their opinion known to the

    administration of academic institutions that academic libraries have lost relevance in today’s

    mailto:amusaoyintola@yahoo.com mailto:abiyoro@yahoo.com

  • Chinese Librarianship: an International Electronic Journal, 35. URL: www.iclc.us/cliej/cl35AI.pdf

    73

    IT-driven world as their roles can be taken over by the Internet, and local networking devices

    and systems. Consequently, some administrators of academic institutions have concluded that

    with the quantity of information resources on the Internet, there should be less funding for

    and development of academic libraries.

    What could change users’ perception of the academic library include, but not limited to, the

    library environment, library use instruction, and user-librarian collaboration.

    The academic library environment encompasses all the circumstances, people, things, and

    events around the library and can have potential effects, positive or negative, on the library

    usage. The design of a library can influence users’ behaviour and satisfaction in the same way

    that the physical environment and organization of a library can. Attitudes of library staff also

    count as they will make users comfortable or uncomfortable in using library services.

    Library instruction is to teach users necessary skills to make good use of library resources.

    This is necessary to promote full exploitation of library resources and to create awareness for

    subsequent use of the library resources. Also, it would be hard for users of academic libraries

    to gain knowledge of library use on their own. Therefore, provision of instruction on library

    use, which can most effectively be conducted by the library staff, is necessary. While relating

    library instruction programme to library environment, Marshall, Burns, and Briden (2007)

    stated thus:

    Library instruction programs conducted in the library have the benefit of

    introducing students to the library’s physical space as well as intangible

    services. Students can also be convinced that the library is a comfortable and

    friendly place to work and that can provide convenient help for all their

    information needs.

    User-librarian collaboration may also have influence on the use of academic libraries. It can

    also encourage the development of higher standards of library instructions. This collaboration

    is premised upon mutuality of expectation, ability, willingness, and satisfaction among the

    parties in the relationship. Academic libraries, through the reference librarian, can provide

    opportunities for the collaboration and welcome enquiries from users. User-librarian

    collaboration can take place during the library instruction sessions or when users seek

    information during the search process. Kulthau (1993) referred to this process as

    “Information Mediation Process”, which is

    a process where a particular question determines the establishment of

    dialogue between the user and the librarian. This is dependent upon the

    need to know, the will to learn, and the desire to understand.

    Brunton (2007) observed the relevance of information mediation process as follows:

    Information mediation process can facilitate information search process by

    enabling diagnosis of the problem as well building a framework for learning

    effective search strategies. It can also lead to increase levels of confidence

    and satisfaction on the part of users.

  • Chinese Librarianship: an International Electronic Journal, 35. URL: www.iclc.us/cliej/cl35AI.pdf

    74

    This study is to find out the relationship that may exist among library environment, library

    instruction, user-librarian collaboration, and the use of academic libraries by the

    undergraduate students in Nigerian Universities.

    II. Statement of the Problem

    The authors have observed the low patronage in the libraries where they work. And a large

    number of undergraduate students told them about their unwillingness to use the libraries.

    Many of them claimed that they had not set their foot in the libraries since the mandatory

    library registration was introduced.

    Quality and quantity of library collections could be reasons for students not using such a

    library. But the fact is that these libraries do provide access to vast arrays of resources and in

    large quantities.

    Other possible reasons for this low or non-use of libraries could be students’ unfamiliarity

    with the library instruction, unfavourable library environments, and absence of information

    mediation process.

    III. Objective of the Study

    The main objective of this study is to investigate the influence of library environment, library

    instruction, and user-librarian collaboration on the use of academic libraries by Nigerian

    undergraduate students. The specific objectives are as follows:

     characteristics of library use by undergraduate students,  perceived influence of library environment on the library use,  perceived influence of library instruction on the library use,  influence of user-librarian collaboration on the library use, and  impediments to effective user-librarian collaborations.

    IV. Research Questions

    Arising from the above objectives of the study, the following are the questions to be

    answered in the study:

     What are the demographic variables and library use characteristics of the respondents?

     What are the respondents perceived relevance of their library environment to their use of libraries?

     What is the perceived relevance of library instructions to their use of libraries?  What are their views on user-librarian collaboration activities in their libraries?  What are the variables that constitute impediments to effective user-librarian

    collaborations?

  • Chinese Librarianship: an International Electronic Journal, 35. URL: www.iclc.us/cliej/cl35AI.pdf

    75

    V. Literature Review

    This section of the study is broken into topical sub-sections, covering the variables in the

    study. Knowledge of the variables is crucial to the understanding of the roles they can play in

    the use of academic libraries in Nigeria.

    1. Library Environment

    Campbell and Shlecter (1979) conducted a study on the effects that the environment can have

    on the use of library. They scanned the total environment to see how it can influence user

    behaviour and satisfaction. Their study concluded that the design of a library can influence

    user behaviour and satisfaction. Most of the

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