Challenges of Academic Libraries in the 21st Century – Experience of Nigeria Libraries



1.1 Background of the study

In recent years, libraries have witnessed significant changes in recent years. This change, which is brought about by information and communication technologies, has impacted on the mode of providing information services. The traditional methods of information dissemination have given way to electronic means of communication. While the developments and application of ICT in library operations have improved and facilitated the dissemination of information and access, it has equally provided new roles in information provision, dissemination and transfer. The librarian no longer plays a passive role, rather he assumes an active role. He is no longer a custodian of books but the gate way to a myriad of information sources. While providing books was a standalone function for libraries throughout the last few centuries, their offerings have evolved with the digital age to meet the changing needs of their patrons.

The 21st century is the millennium of information. It is also seen as the era of the explosion of information output and information sources. It is known as the beginning of the knowledge age. Academic libraries in Nigeria are not divorced from this technology revolution. As information providers, they are constantly under pressure to provide relevant sources of information to their immediate communities. Technology enables change and technology enforces change. Thus, librarians, staff and patrons must make a number of adjustments as a result of any library automation project, whether it is an original implementation or a migration.This means that academic libraries are compelled to incorporate digital sources in order to remain at the fore of information provision and dissemination. Nowadays, students and faculty have developed a greater preference for electronic information than manually driven systems. The increased availability of digital information has caused students to find alternative means of study and research with the aid of laptops and cell phones. Digital technology has reduced the importance and usage of libraries in developing countries.

The acquisition of information online using PC‘s such as laptops and palmtops and even phones is proving to be detrimental to academic libraries in terms of patronage. Patrons no longer depend on the academic library as an essential part of their learning and research, rather they are beginning to see the library as one of those facilities a university or college should have. Thus, libraries must, of a necessity, strive to retain their patrons and be at the peak of providing information sources that suit the demands of present day information seekers. There is a need therefore to ensure that the academic library continues to soar high in information generation, provision and dissemination. Thus, it is against this background that the research aims to examine the challenges of academic libraries in the 21st century using Nigeria Libraries and suggest to 21st century library professionals useful tips that could improve library services.

1.2 Statement of the problem

In the 21st century academic library, the emergence of ICT has redefined the library‘s role. Print materials are no longer sufficient to store information. CDROM databases, electronic document delivery, automated cataloguing, circulation systems and online information retrieval (OPAC) have become the order of the day. Most researchers admit that the advent of the internet, digitization and the ability to access library and research materials from remote locations have also created dramatic changes by the end of the 20th century.

Nigerian academic libraries in the 21st century are gradually changing to fit into their clients‘ information seeking patterns. The situation has brought about the establishment of digital libraries to compliment traditional ones. This is evidenced in the attempt to digitize library resources to cater for the information needs of new generation users, that is, the 21st century library users who exhibit much dexterity in using new sources and new technologies. However, in the bid to meet up with this fast changing track, librarians have faced a lot of challenges, such as lack of time to use social media, a lack of privacy and identity theft, too many social media tools to learn, a lack of technology literacy, poor internet speed, insufficient funding for Therefore, it is upon this premise that this study seeks to examine the challenges of academic libraries in the 21st century: the experience of Nigeria Libraries.

1.3 Objective of the study

The main focus of this study is the challenges of academic libraries in the 21st century. experience of Nigeria Libraries. Specifically, the study seeks:

  1. To examine if there are changing roles of academic libraries in the new millennium.
  2. To investigate emerging trends in information provision which can be employed by 21st century librarians to reposition the academic library for effective service delivery
  3. To determine possible challenges that hinder effective service deliveryin the millennium.
  4. To offer strategies to enhance effective service delivery in the millennium.

1.4 Research Questions

The research is guided by the following research question:

  1. Are therechanging role of academic libraries in the new millennium?
  2. What are emerging trends in information provision which can be employed by 21st century librarians to reposition the academic library for effective service delivery?
  3. What are the possible challenges that hinder effective service deliveryin the millennium?
  4. What are the strategies for enhancing effective service delivery in the millennium?

1.5. Significance of the study

The study will be relevant to academic institutions, administrators, library committees, librarians, users and researchers. In specific terms, the findings will be significant to academic institutions’ administration in the area of policy formulation by providing a road map for curbing the challenges that hinder the effective delivery of library services.

Findings from the study will also assist them in identifying their lapses and hence improving their services by attracting, satisfying, and retaining users in the library. The findings will also be useful to users by creating awareness of the various services available in the library. Users will get an improvement in the services offered as a result of the recommendations of this study. The research will also contribute to the existing body of knowledge about library services and build on the knowledge of the changing role of academic libraries and their challenges in the new millennium. Finally, it will serve as a reference material for other researchers who wish to undergo research in a related field.

1.6       Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders on the  the challenges of academic libraries in the 21st century: experience of Nigeria Libraries. The study is however limited to selected libraries in AkwaIbom State.

1.7  Limitation of the Study

The following poses to be constraint to the study:

Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)

Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8 Definition of terms

Library: A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order to meet the user’s needs on a daily basis.

21st Century: The 21st century is the millennium of information. It is also seen as the era of explosion of information output and information sources. It is known as the beginning of knowledge age.



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