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This research work investigated book exhibition as a marketing strategy for improving library services in three academic libraries. A descriptive research design was used for the study. The area of the study was North–East Nigeria. The total population for this study was 5312 persons (68 librarians and 5244 library-users) in Modibbo Adamawa University of Technology, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University and Federal University Wukari. A multi-stage sampling technique was used to draw a sample size of 367 respondents which constituted the sample. Six research questions guided the study. Three instruments were used for data collection, namely: a structured questionnaire, an interview, and an observation checklist. The instruments were validated by research experts in the field of Library and Information Science. A total number of 367 copies of the questionnaire were distributed to the sampled respondents. A total of 314 copies of each of the questionnaire and observation checklist were correctly filled and returned. This number represented 97% of the number given out to the respondents used for this study. In analyzing the data gathered using the instruments; frequency table and mean score were used for the questionnaire and observation checklist, while the data from the interview were presented in prose narrative form. The findings revealed that book exhibition on “architecture and arts” and “promotion of library to users” are occasions in which books are being exhibited. The component of book exhibition which had the highest mean score was “to establish assessment and success criteria” while “celebrating and reflecting upon achievement” was not to a great extent a component of book exhibition. It was also found out that the benefits of book exhibition include: creating and enhancing the image of the library and enabling library research by the users. “Limited number of collections”, “inadequate display space for book exhibition”, “lack of appropriate infrastructure” and “limited opportunities for training of library attendants”, are some of the problems that hinder effective book exhibition. The study recommended that the managers of Nigerian academic libraries should operate separate budgets to make book exhibition a regular feature in their libraries. Libraries should also create awareness for their collections by linking book exhibition to their collections and services.
Background of the Study
Libraries are the important centres or institutions which market information services to their users. A library is a public institution or establishment charged with the care of collection of books, the duty of making them accessible to those who require the use of them, and the task of converting every person in its neighbourhood into a habitual library goer and reader of books (Kumar, 2004; Chaudhary, 2008). Conceptually, academic libraries all over the world are seen as those libraries established in institutions of higher learning be it universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, or other similar or related institutions (Edom, 2013). These libraries are established primarily to support and enhance the full realisation of the educational goals of parent institutions as well as the educational objectives of the students. A service is the provision of work, accommodations or ministrations desired by a customer. In the context of this study, a library is a place entrusted with such services as the acquisition, organisation, preservation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information.
Such library services as those listed above are offered to users through effective marketing processes and extension services such as library visits, ceremonies (like University Anniversaries, Alumni Home-Comings, Founders’ Day Celebrations, and so on), indexing and abstracting services to enable users identify and locate materials relevant to their work; internet services to enable users access information, book exhibition to attracting the attention of potential library user, user-education for users who lack the knowledge of how to use the library, consultancy services, current awareness services, and document delivery services for users. It is a known fact that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has made the document delivery services very simple and reliable - from searching and holding, to delivery for users (Igwe and Onah, 2013). All these services can best be made available to those who need them if they are provided within the framework of ‘marketing’ in the library. Bearing in mind that the library is concerned primarily with books, it is obvious that the major attention of libraries is on books (both physical and online books). But, what is a book?
A book is bounded papers used for writing and also bounded document for reading. Oyesiku (2004) presented the definition of a book according to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 1964 standard, as a non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages, exclusive of the cover pages, published, and made available to the public. It is a set of pages that have been fastened together inside cover to be written or read. While the above definition seems to lay greater emphasis on physical book, it is important to note also that an on-line book is an e-book that is available online through the internet, whether or not distributed free.Since books provide in-depth information on a topic, and because those who need these books may either not knows that the books are available, or that they are accessible, it is the duty of every library which knows its responsibilities to draw the attention of the public to the books it has in stock. There are so many strategies for doing this. These include, as already hinted earlier: television adverts, display of new arrivals, billboards, handbills, and online adverts, email alerts, book exhibition, and so on. However, the particular strategy that is of interest here is book exhibition.
The term ‘book exhibition’ is very encompassing: it is inclusive of both large scale book exhibition as well as small displays. A key definition is given by Dean (1996) who defines book exhibition as the overall creation which presents objects and information to a public audience. Examples of books that are being exhibited are commercials book,technical manuals, poems, instructional book, e-book and biographies. Although book exhibitions are traditionally associated with museum or art galleries, all book exhibitions, regardless of where they are located, are underpinned by the same elements: information, people, objects and space (Velarde, 2001). Thus, book exhibition in a library or elsewhere is museum as long as its aim is to present a collection to the audience.
The importance of book exhibition lies in its ability to enhance the library’s relationships with current customers, conduct market research, obtain contact names for the library’s e-mail list, open new markets or territories, gain media exposure, check out the competition, brandingand provide education to the visitors, no doubt, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play an important role in the success of book exhibition. It enables worldwide access to primary and secondary sources of data. It offers technical equipment, communication options and environments to reflect on the data acquired (emails, websites, blogs, wikis, virtual learning environments or platforms). It also provides tools to record and organize various kinds or combinations of data, such as digital images, videos, written and oral texts, art, music, animations, as well as environments where this data can be presented and shared.
The general purpose of book exhibition is to promote, to inform, and/or to persuade users about the existence of books such that they would want to buy them. Book exhibition is described as a creative arrangement of visual elements designed to convey a specific message. It can be online or physical. Online book exhibition is considered in this study as an important part of the book exhibition program because of its ability to reach a broader audience and provide alternative ways to access collections. The onsite physical exhibit, however, is given equal, if not greater, importance in that during a time when intense focus is creating web-based collections, it is especially important to keep the physical library in sight and promote its use in order to maintain a balance and prevent future neglect. After all, it is the physical library that acts as steward to the infinite materials that exist online, without which, the digital book exhibition would be impossible. It can be of various scales, and can last for various durations (Schaeffer, 1991).
However, some inherent problems with book exhibition should be discussed. The great issues that librarians are usually faced with are increased competition, users’ awareness and pressure on pricing. Under this circumstances librarians usually have the challenges of coming up with effective and unique strategy to assist their libraries survive. Book exhibition in most cases involved considerable marketing investment by participating libraries .Given the increasingly competitive environment in which most libraries operate in, and the budgetary constraints they find themselves, the need to ensure that libraries objectives are met became critical (Stiuma, 2012). Librarians are constantly looking for the cheapest methods to promote their products and services. Thus, effectiveness of book exhibition as a marketing strategy to the libraries objectives of libraries remains attractive. This study, however, focuses on physical book exhibition, and the process involved in marketing books.
The term ‘Marketing’ comprises all human activities directed at satisfying wants and needs through an exchange process (Kotler, 1995). It has to do with finding out what people want and need, and then responding to those needs. Kolter (2013) opines that the key to achieving organisational goals consists in determining the needs and wants of target market, and delivering the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors. This concept of marketing rests on four pillars, namely: target market, users needs, coordinated marketing, and profitability. The first pillar (Target Market) emphasises the need to focus, explicitly, on the selection of the market(s) to be served by the organization. The second pillar (Users Needs) draws attention to the fact that it is quite difficult to assess the nature of needs and wants which users would like. This is why this aspect or pillar of the marketing process is of great importance. Co-ordinated Marketing, as the third pillar that sustains the marketing process, lays emphasis on the need to ensure that functions are well spelt out for specific marketing staff to ensure effective marketing. Finally the fourth pillar of marketing (Profitability) is the goal of marketing (Kolter, 2004). The major goal of marketing is to increase market share by increasing sales. Thus, in the marketing of library services, the primary aim is to attract a larger community of users who can make use of information. This goal can be better achieved if clientele who evoke higher sales and profit potential are selected, and if higher value-needs of such users are targeted.
Marketing in the library setting is, therefore, a process of carefully designing materials in terms of the needs and desires of library users, and using effective techniques to motivate, inform, and serve library clienteles both present and potential (Nwegbu, 2005). In the researcher’s view point, marketing, in the library context is more than presenting books in a nice arrangement, printing flyers, hosting an event but it is rather satisfying the ever changing users needs. Yet, achieving these contents and aims of marketing as they relate to the library, require some specific strategies. But, first, what is strategy?
A strategy, in the views of Barker as cited in the Babaita (2002), is a pattern or plan that integrates an organisation’s major goals, policies and action sequences, into a cohesive whole. For instance well formulated strategies helps marshal and allocate library resources into a unique and viable posture based upon its relative internal competencies and short comings, anticipated changes in the environment, and contingent moves by intelligent opponents. The foregone analysis suggests that marketing strategy means selecting various techniques in proper proportion and balance. These techniques are indeed meant to be based on marketing objectives which, themselves, give direction for the formulation of marketing strategies and marketing plan. Effective marketing requires that certain strategies be devised. The first step to take for marketing of library services is to identify the current users and their needs. The second step is to prepare a marketing plan for generating additional resources. This involves activities such as advertising; sales promotions, good public relations, online search bases, introduction of consultancy services, and so on. The current trend in the highly competitive environment was that users did not want more choices but wanted exactly what they wanted, when, where, and how they wanted it. The changing nature of marketing to suit customer needs and expectations had thus led marketers to looking into the most effective ways of establishing and maintaining customer’s relation.
Advertising is any paid form of non–personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor. Its purpose is to inform, persuade and remind a buyer of a particular product or services (Kolter, Kent and Jonathan 2003). Sales promotions are used to induce trial or repurchase where advertising had created awareness and favourable attitudes but fail to stimulate action (Batra, Myers, and Aaker, 2005). Online searching platforms, on the other hand, are meant to be used to encourage the marketing of information. According to Khan (2010), it has added advantages of fast response, gaining of time, powerful retrieval capacities such as multiple file searching and scanning many files simultaneously, and so on. Academic library users make use of book exhibition for a variety of reasons. Some make use of book exhibition for education purposes, specifically those preparing for examinations, undergoing formal education and professional development, research and related needs. Students specifically take advantage of book exhibition as an avenue to search for particular subjects that are of general interest to them. Perhaps academic library users also exploit book exhibition for recreation and entertainment, and yet some portion of it for meeting their public relation or solving personal information problems.
Statement of the Problem
All types of libraries have important roles to play in the community in which they are established. Some of these roles include: information services, research services, recreational services, custodial services, and consultancy services. Despite these important services libraries render, evidence available show that some members of the communities where libraries are situated do not avail themselves the services of these libraries. For this reason, it is the norm that libraries are expected to make use of some marketing strategies to draw the attention of these members of the communities where they are established to the services they are rendering. The purpose of such strategies, therefore, is to enable libraries promote their services to the public. This means, on the other hand, that if libraries do not market their services using appropriate strategies, the members of their communities will not maximize these services, they will not learn from these services, and the libraries themselves would be almost redundant to the greater percentage of the members of the communities where they are established. Thus, common sense dictates that in an environment of increased users options, there is the need to advertise what libraries offer. This is based on the simple experience that in the retail world, the most wonderful product available will not reach its readers if no one knows of its existence. Thus, it is no longer enough for libraries to be available. Librarians must know what users want and let them know that their needs can be met through the libraries.
There are several marketing strategies that can be employed to draw the attention of the public to the services available in libraries in North-East Nigeria. Some of them are: consultancy services, selective dissemination of information, internet connectivity, book exhibition, and advertising. The pieces of information available to this researcher show that most of these marketing strategies are becoming more and more expensive. For this reason, it is important that librarians look out for cheaper means of letting the potential library-users know the books they have in stock. One of such effective and cheaper, and yet, uncommon marketing strategy is book exhibition.
It is not in doubt that most library-users no longer go to the libraries to access information. They prefer to make use of the internet which is not yet very available to the greater percentage of the people in the North-East. This makes it important that libraries make use of book exhibition as a strategy to draw the attention of library-users to new and useful materials which are available in academic libraries. Despite its importance and relative cheapness, evidence show that there is little or no research on the very important role of book exhibition in the realization of the above objective. The above details are the reasons this study focuses on the of use book exhibition as a reliable and effective marketing strategy for the good of potential library-users in North-East Nigeria.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the use of book exhibition as a marketing strategy for library services in academic libraries in North-East Nigeria. More specifically, it intends to:
- Identify the facilities for book exhibition available in the academic libraries in North-East Nigeria.
- Determine the occasions on which book exhibition is carried out in academic libraries in North-East Nigeria.
- Determine the components of book exhibition in academic libraries in North-East Nigeria.
- Determine how librarians in North-East Nigeria perceive the benefits of book exhibition for the promotion of library services.
- Ascertain the constraints to effective book exhibition among academic libraries in North-East Nigeria.
- Proffer strategies for effective book exhibition among academic libraries in North-East Nigeria.
The following research questions shall guide the study
- What facilities for book exhibition are available in the academic libraries in North-East Nigeria?
- On what occasions are book exhibition are being carried out in academic libraries in North-East Nigeria?
- What are the components of book exhibition in academic libraries in North-East-Nigeria?
- What are the perceptions of librarians in the North East of Nigeria on the benefits of book exhibition for the promotion of library services?
- What are the constraints to effective book exhibition among academic libraries in North-East Nigeria?
- What are the strategies for effective book exhibition among academic libraries in North-East Nigeria?
Significance of the Study
It is expected that this study would have both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, several supposition and suggestions have been made on how book exhibition is a marketing strategy which is relevant for improving library services in academic libraries in North East Nigeria – especially, Federal Universities in North-East Nigeria. In this regard, it is hoped that the theories adopted for this study, namely, Product and Quality theory (by Rajan and Jayachanndran), Evolving Firm Strategy (by Peterson) and Mechanistic Perspective and Organic Perspective Theories (by Farjoun)will be significant, because the theories provide insight on how book exhibition can be used to improve library services. More specifically, Product and Quality theory is particularly important since it sees price as an indicator of product and quality during book exhibition. Evolving theory is important because it looks at the value of users to the libraries; and a Mechanistic Perspective and Organic Perspective theory is also important as it encourages adaptation of new strategies. The finding of this study will therefore add credence to the tenets of these theories.
The practical significance of this study is that the results of this study will be useful to each of the following group of people: academic librarians, students, individuals, in the private and public sectors. It is expected that the results of this study will make librarians in North-East Nigeria to be a good knowledge manger and skill manager. Equipped with this, these librarians will realize where they need to readjust and where to improve upon, especially getting re-skilled, and acquiring the professional competencies required so that they situate themselves to become and remain relevant in the consolidating global knowledge economy.
Besides, library services are products. These products constitute an integral part of the activities in any educational environment. The implementation of the recommendations that will be made in this study is expected to re-invigorate the commitment of academic librarians to information service delivery to the public through book exhibition services. Individuals as well as the private and the public sector would also benefit from the results of this study. This is because the results of the study will help them in economic gain, this is realizable when individual, informed and motivated by the findings of this work, rise to their responsibilities and avail themselves of patronage via effective advertisement and marketing.
The results of this study will be useful to marketing policy formulation bodies like the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) and the Senate of the universities and other tertiary institutions. This is because the results will enable them draw up polices in the libraries and reposition libraries and departments of library and information science in Nigeria and particularly in the North-East, to face up to the challenges of providing book exhibition to the larger society.
It is also expected that the results of this study will contribute to national development. This is against the background that book exhibition services as a marketing strategy can draw attention to certain issues (and means of gain), that have previously not been given attention. These gains range from knowledge acquisition, enhanced library service delivery, economic profitability, and so on, depending on the nature and needs of the clientele in the sector. The results will also contribute to individual and sectoral development. Individual and sectoral development gained through book exhibition services will translate to national development. Besides, this study is expected to increase the literature on marketing services in Nigeria.
Scope of the Study
The study was carried out only in three federal university libraries in North-East, Nigeria. The reason for selecting the three (3) federal universities from the six (6) universities in the area of the study is that they have abundance of material for book exhibition judging by the size of their stock, and because it was easy to gain access to the libraries understudy; whereas the researcher was not able to gain access to the other libraries because of the volatilesecurity situation in those states. The study is limited to investigating book exhibition as a marketing strategy for library services in academic libraries in North–East Nigeria. The study does not claim to look at book exhibition in all forms of libraries in Nigeria, nor does it claim to investigate book exhibition in all the academic libraries in the whole of Nigeria.
Besides, the focus of the study covers only issues dealing with: the facilities required for book exhibition, the occasions to which book exhibition is carried out, the components of book exhibition, knowledge of librarians in the North-East Nigeria about the marketing benefit of book exhibition and possible constraints to effective book exhibition and possible strategies to these constraints. The respondents are delimited to librarians and library users of the three University libraries under study.
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