DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES IN PLATEAU STATE

DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES IN PLATEAU STATE

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ABSTRACT

This study was designed to determine disaster management in academic libraries in Plateau State. The study was guided by five research questions covering the types of disasters that have affected these libraries and the extent of damages. It also looked at the disaster management plan, whether there is any in place and who the members of the disaster management committee are. The research design was descriptive survey with a population of 60 librarians and 84 library officers from 21 academic libraries in Plateau State. No sampling was done because the population was small and manageable. The instruments for data collection were questionnaire and interview schedule. The questionnaire was designed in line with four point rating scale. One hundred and forty four (144) copies of the questionnaire were administered of which one hundred and twenty eight (128) were correctly filled and returned showing 88.9% response rate. Data was analysed using mean and standard deviation. The findings of the study revealed that the major disasters that have affected academic libraries in Plateau State were pests, fire, roof leakage and data alteration (these disasters can cause great damages to the library collections, building and personnel). The study also showed that not all libraries were prepared for disaster management (with only a few accepted to have a written disaster management plan).  Furthermore, the findings showed that the libraries have the following as some of the problems militating against disaster management: lack of fire alarms, lack of training of staff on disaster management, lack of budgetary allocation for disaster management and lack of fire fighters. The following recommendations were made to remedy the problems: cordial relationship between library management and library staff, having a disaster management plan in place, regular training of staff, seminars and workshops on disaster management, proper electrical installations in the library, proper foundation of library building and approval by town planning authority. They added that regular updating of disaster plan; insuring the library personnel, building and collections and budgetary allocation for disaster management would also serve as remedies.


CHAPTER  ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Academic libraries are those libraries located in higher institutions of learning such as universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and research institutions. Academic libraries have an important role in the transmission of information and knowledge in higher educational institutions as they facilitate the teaching, learning and research functions of their respective institutions. They are referred to as the heart or nerve centers of institutions of higher learning where all academic activities revolved. The users of these academic libraries are students, lecturers, and the whole academic community (Aina, 2005).  Aina emphasizes that in a university system, the quality of library services rendered by a university library is an important factor in the ranking of universities. This expression is acceptable by Ndagana (2000) who expressed that academic libraries are mainly established for research, teaching, and study purposes.  Ndagana emphasized further that these academic libraries try as much as possible to develop their holdings in all areas in which courses are offered by their various institutions.

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The history of academic libraries in Nigeria as Oyedum (2005) traced it to the development of higher education. Oyedum said the first institution of higher learning in Nigeria was the Yaba higher college opened in 1934 to provide vocational and professional training for secondary school teachers, medical, agricultural, veterinary and forestry assistants as well as in engineering for subordinate positions based on government workforce and private enterprise requirements. It had a total stock of 20,000 volumes by 1948. In that same year the volumes were taken over by the university college Ibadan when it was established. With time academic libraries began to increase following the development of higher institutions of learning in Nigeria, where the collections also increase especially with the introduction of information technology. Here some academic libraries have been connected to the internet so as to make available current relevant materials to their communities.

Edoka (2000), listed the following as functions of academic libraries: To provide information materials required for the academic programmes of the parent institution; to provide research information resources in consonance with the needs of faculty and students; to provide information resources for recreation and for personal self-development of users and to provide study accommodation in a useful variety of locations. Others include providing protection and security for these materials; to co-operate with other libraries at appropriate levels for improved information services and to provide specialized information service to appropriate segment of the wider community.

Academic libraries make available to its users a variety of library collections. Oyedum (2005) expressed that it is generally believed that, it is not the library building, qualification or experience of library staff that makes the library important rather it is the quality of its collection that a user uses in judging the adequacy of any library. Thus, collection of a library is the most important needs of the users. That is why the need for well-developed academic programs depends on the strength of its library collections. One cannot expect an excellent academic program in any educational institution without the support of a well-equipped library.

The services of the academic library are shared to the different components such as circulation unit, reference unit, serials unit, documents unit, acquisition unit, cataloguing unit etc for easy dissemination of information. These units function to serve the needs of the library users (students, lecturers and non-teaching staff). Each unit is very important to the success of the academic library as they all aimed at satisfying the needs of users by safeguarding the collections from harm such as threats of disaster.

 Hence disaster can occur or happen when least expected, it sometimes comes unannounced. Disaster is define differently by different authors, according to Alegbeleye (1993) disasters are unexpected events which put people and materials at risk, damage buildings, destroy information and communication infrastructures, disrupt services and render documentary materials inaccessible to users. They are sudden adverse or unfortunate extreme incidents which cause great damage to human beings, materials as well as plants and animals. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2004) defines disaster as unexpected event such as a very bad accident, flood or fire that kills many people or causes serious damage. Disasters occur rapidly, instantaneously and indiscriminately (Khan, 2008). He also observed that these events which occur aggravate natural environmental processes to cause disasters to human society, such as sudden tectonic movements leading to earthquake and volcanic eruptions, continued dry conditions leading to prolonged droughts, floods, atmospheric disturbances, collision of celestial bodies, etc.

 Khan (2008) further expressed that disasters have always co-existed with civilizations which through technological advancement, developed initiatives resulting in the creation of many infrastructure and permanent assets.  This means that all aspects of man’s endeavor are affected by disaster. In this study, disaster is seen as an occurrence causing widespread destruction and distress to lives and properties. It is an emergency situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate attention. Various literature consulted revealed that academic libraries have been faced with varying degrees of threats such as disaster which calls for serious concern of the academic librarians. The extent of this problem varies from one library to another. In some cases the dimension of the problem is so severe, while in others it is mild depending on the area the library is situated.

Disaster could be natural or man-made. The natural disasters are those natural events in the environment that occur without man’s influence or intervention  such as flood, hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, fire, drought, typhoon, tsunami, mudslide, extreme cold or heat wave.  While  man-made disasters are those caused or influenced by man, causing  financial losses, risks, hazards and suffering such as, war, water from broken pipes, leaking roofs, explosives, liquid chemical spills, building deficiencies, terrorism, pests, insects, data alteration, viruses injection, tempering with password, server destructions etc.

Natural disasters from various studies are experienced mostly by countries outside Nigeria just as Onwuka (2012) said:

            God decided to distribute resources to the nations of the world. He gave earthquake and               tsunami to Indonesia, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, China and some other nations.  To Japan, China, Haiti, Italy and other countries He gave earthquake. Then He gave hurricane and tropical storm to the United States and Central America. To Ethiopia, Somalia and some others in the Sahel region, God gave drought. Then when it was time for extreme cold, He gave it to the Antarctica, Russia and Greenland, Canada and Alaska (USA), while extreme heat was given to the Middle East, Mali and Sudan. When it was Nigeria’s turn, He gave the nation a great climate, enough rainfall, moderate sunshine, no earthquake, no hurricane, no tsunami, no mudslide, no volcano, no drought. (p.17)

             Fire has done a great damage to academic libraries and information centers all over the world. Fire has wreaked havoc in such Nigeria libraries as Forestry Research Institute Library in 1988, National Library of Nigeria in 1990 and more recently the University of Jos Library in 2013. Likewise flood, Ngulube and Magaji (2006) noted that Cape Town in South Africa experienced flooding which hit rural communities in Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. University of Ibadan was destroyed by flood in 1980, 1995 and more recently in 2011 (Onwubiko, 2012). 

In recent times terrorism has become an issue and a major threat to libraries and other information centers. For instance the September 11, 2001 terrorists bombing of the World Trade Centre, where three libraries were damaged, and the Pentagon libraries destroyed records, books and other documentary materials (Buchanan, 2002). In Nigeria terrorists who named themselves “Boko Haram” (meaning western education is forbidden) are greatly causing havoc to the whole country especially in the extreme North where library users hardly visit the libraries in recent times. For these problems to be solved there is need to find out ways of preventing those which are preventable and managing or controlling those that are not preventable.

The consequences of disaster to academic library are disastrous as it may affect the entire library collections and services. This might bring: the complete close up of the libraries; damage to library materials and buildings; reduction in the volume of library materials such as books, journals, magazines, computers etc.; unsatisfactory library services and frustration to users. Therefore, there is the need for disaster management in the academic libraries. 

Disaster management is generally defined as the actions taken by an organization in response to unforeseen or unexpected events that adversely affect the environment and people in the area surrounding that organization. For example fire, flooding, earthquakes, wars etc. Disaster management focuses on ways to prevent disaster from happening or reduce the consequences when it happens (McMillan,1998).He pointed out that it encompasses all aspects of planning for and responding to disasters, including hazard analysis, vulnerability reduction (preparedness), prevention, mitigation, response, recovery and rehabilitation. Disaster management assists in determining the likelihood of hazards and lessening the consequences of risks to library materials as it looks at the precautions of disasters which can be prevented or minimized.  Lyall (1995) observed that disaster management is a continuous and integrated multi-sectional, multi-disciplinary process of planning and implementing the measures aimed at preventing or reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating the severity or consequences of disasters, preparedness, rapid and effective response and recovery to disasters.

Ahenkorah- Marfo and Borteye (2010) citing Akussah and Fosu, stressed that disaster management aims at: protecting people, libraries and materials, avoiding a disaster by being pro-active, reducing the possibility and the effects of a disaster if it happens, and expediting response and recovery efforts in an organized and systematic manner. They further explained that disaster management in libraries became an issue as a result of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) report about the annex of the Balme Library of the University of Ghana which was destroyed by fire. With the above views therefore, disaster management is no longer a choice, but mandatory for all including academic libraries, individuals and organizations. The fullest provision for library maintenance is regarded as the primary and most vital need in the equipment of an academic institution.

Disaster management in the view of Haigh (2012) has four phases (disaster management lifecycle) such as mitigation; preparedness; response; and recovery. Mitigation is the first phase of disaster management which aimed to minimize the effects of disaster in academic libraries, archives and all information centers. Mitigation is the action to reduce the consequences of a disaster impact such as injuries and loss of life and properties, since it may not be possible to prevent all disasters. This phase is also known as pre-disaster mitigation. At this phase focus is on meeting the basic needs of the people until more permanent and sustainable solutions can be found.

 Preparedness focuses on the efforts put in place to prevent the occurrence of a disaster and how to fight or control the impact when it happens. In other words it involved activities as planning (developing a disaster management plan) and training the library community to respond to and recover from a disaster. These measures can be described as readiness to deal with disasters which can be enhanced by having response mechanisms and procedures, rehearsals, developing long-term and short-term strategies, public education and building early warning systems (Haigh, 2012).The response phase is the implementation of the action plans when disaster occurs in order to reduce or ameliorate the negative impact of a disaster. This could be in form of search and rescue operations aiming at salvaging lives, properties and the entire environment.

Recovery is the fourth phase of disaster management and is the restoration of all aspects of the disaster’s impact on a community and the return of the local economy to some sense of normalcy, including saving lives, meeting humanitarian needs (food, shelter, clothing, public health and safety), and supporting the morale of the affected population (Rosenberg, 2013). This phase can be broken into two periods, the short-term and the long-term. The short-term lasts from six months to one year and it involves delivering immediate services to businesses. While the long-term can range up to decades, requires thoughtful strategic planning and action to address more serious or permanent impacts of a disaster.

Onwubiko (2012) mentioned that there was no emergency body until 1990 when National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) came into being by the National Emergency Relief Agency (NERA) decree in 1990.  Onwubiko said that by implication, there was no disaster management before 1990. He mentioned that by 1993 the Federal Government then expanded the scope of disaster management through decree 119 which raised the status of NERA to an independent body under the presidency with the responsibility for formulating general policies and guidelines relating to management of disasters in Nigeria. This has added strength to academic libraries consider disaster management is a major concern for everyone in the academic library so that all academic collections would survive and be available to users when required. Kingori and Otike (2007) opined that disaster management is important because of the value of the material, physical and human resources which can be affected by them.

Academic libraries must be prepared for all types of disasters, whether natural or man- made, that may occur in their libraries, as the effect of not being prepared may lead to loss of materials , loss of life, or, ultimately, the loss of the library building.  They must also be able to response to disaster when it happens, be able to recover from it and lastly be able to prevent those which are preventable by being security conscious. Plumbe ( as cited in Asuzu, 2000) backed it up by saying that the best protection a library can give to its collections is to have a concrete building such that the library building is solidly designed to secure the collections as well as to provide readers easy access to library collections. He stated further that security can take precedence over accessibility because security provides some guarantee to the continued availability of library materials, since without any security measures; nothing will be left in the libraries.

Academic libraries in Plateau State exist within their respective institutions (federal, state, religious organization and privates) to serve their various academic needs. They have a pivotal role in the transmission of information and knowledge in their higher educational institutions in order to facilitate the teaching, learning and research functions of their respective institutions. Therefore disaster management in these libraries should be granted with all seriousness as they are functioning under disastrous conditions because of the crisis that engulfed the state from 2001 to date. The flooding that swept some parts of the state in 2012 and the recent fire that engulfed university of Jos library on the 27th March 2013. And also with the threats that come from Boko Haram which destroyed Gombe State University Administrative block, bombing of Christian worshippers in a chapel in Bayero University, Kano. In Jos campus of Plateau State Polytechnic, someone was caught with substances suspected to be explosive devices.  Thousands of lives have been lost, there has also been extensive damage to properties, and the development prospects of the state have been set back. Jos, the state capital and a major northern city is the epicenter of much of the insecurity in Plateau State. \This does not go well for the security of the population as Government organizations, places of worships, markets, social gatherings and schools are the places mostly targeted. It is because of this that Plateau State was selected for this study.

Statement of the Problem

            Academic libraries are referred to as the heart or nerve centers of the institutions. Materials in the academic libraries are vulnerable to disaster of various kinds, such as fire, flood, pests destructions, windstorm, computer viruses etc.  They usually leave in their trail very unpleasant experiences.  Effective disaster preparedness in these academic libraries is necessary. The disaster management preparedness would safeguard the institutions from losing their library materials, as the effect of not having disaster management measures in academic libraries would cause them to lose their materials when disaster strikes.

            The academic libraries in Plateau State appear to be facing many problems such as disasters especially attacks from these rebellious Boko Haram insurgents whereby their valuable materials are at risk if necessary steps are not taken. When  disaster or threats of disasters in the libraries are not manage properly, there is that tendency of losing library materials, personnel and the entire library buildings, and making the higher institutions’ effort of stocking their libraries with resources that support their academic programmes ineffective. There is no any empirical study on disaster management in academic libraries in Plateau state. Thus, the problem of the study is: determine disaster management in academic libraries in Plateau state.

Purpose of the  Study

The pupose of this study is to determine  disaster  management in academic libraries in Plateau State. Specifically, the study is set to achieving the following:

(1)    To identify the nature of disasters that have affected academic libraries in Plateau State.

(2)    To determine the extent of damage from disasters in academic libraries in Plateau State.

(3)    To ascertain the disaster management plan academic libraries  used

(4)    To find out the problems militating against disaster management in academic libraries in Plateau State.

(5)    To determine the strategies that can be adopted by academic libraries in Plateau State to help in disaster management.

Research  Questions                                                                                                                         

The following research questions are formulated to guide this study:

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