STAFF NEEDS AND TRAINING PROGRAMMES OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF NIGERIA IN THE INFORMATION AGE

STAFF NEEDS AND TRAINING PROGRAMMES OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF NIGERIA IN THE INFORMATION AGE

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ABSTRACT

This study investigated the staff needs and training programmes of the National Library of Nigeria in the information age. Six research questions were formulated to guide the study. The questions sought answers to amongst other things, the categories of staff needed in the National Library of Nigeria in the information age, Qualifications of staff needed, Relevant skills/competences of staff needed, Training methods/programmes available to staff, Problems associated with staff training, and Strategies for enhancing staff needs and training programmes.

A descriptive survey design was used for the study. A sample of 193 comprising the professional and para- professional librarians in the National Library of Nigeria in the North Central Zone was used. A Questionnaire of 84 items was used for data collection. A total of 136 copies of the questionnaire were returned and analyzed using frequency tables, percentages and mean (x) values. In the final analysis, it was revealed from the study that the National Library of Nigeria needs  various categories of staff however, the most needed are the professionals and indexers  while the most needed skills/competences are information and communication technology (ICT), including  a strong service orientation with dedication to quality. In the area of training methods/programmes, Sandwich and Part-time training programmes are reportedly available to majority of the staff.  Inadequate training in ICT for both professional and para- professional librarians is among the major problems besetting staff training. Sponsorship for conferences, workshops and continuing education programmes leading to award of certificate amongst other strategies, was recommended towards enhancing the staff needs and training programmes of the National Library of Nigeria in the information age.

                                                           CHAPTER ONE

                                                          INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study.        

        National Libraries are usually the apex libraries of Nations. They are established and maintained by national resources, bearing responsibility for publishing a national bibliography and maintaining a national bibliographical information centre. They strive principally to collect and preserve the nation’s Literature, though they try to be as international in the range of their collections as possible.  Their importance springs from the quality, size, and range of their collections, which are comprehensive in scope, and from their attempts to maintain their comprehensiveness (Line and  Line, 2007). Naude, (1600-1653) also indicates that national libraries differ administratively from other forms of libraries in at least two ways: they have unlimited clientele, and National libraries tend to enjoy greater policy independence than most libraries, and they have a momentum that protects them from attack, major elimination of funds, interruption or extinction.

        The National Library of Nigeria is established and funded by the Federal Government and belongs to the group of statutory corporations commonly referred to as parastatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is not a department or section of a ministry, but a body set up by an Act of the national assembly to perform specialized functions under the aegis of a ministry called the parent or supervising ministry- the Federal ministry of Education.

As a parastatal, it falls within the executive arm of Government, under the control of the president of the Nation acting through the Federal Ministry of Education. It is by categorization a general reference library and indeed the apex library in the country. Woodney and Eka (2010) agreed that the National Library is mainly used as a reference library where individuals and libraries go in search of materials that are unavailable in other libraries. The National Library therefore, is a library of last resort for information seekers. Aje (1982) pointed out that the National Library of Nigeria sees its role as the library for Nigerian libraries, and the first port of call for all library services, whether in the formal education sector or for the public at large. He pointed out that the National Library does not compete with other libraries. It simply aims to excel over them, co-operate with them and help them.

            The primary objectives of the National Library of Nigeria like most National Libraries of the world, is the collection and preservation of the Nation’s cultural heritage for present and future generations. All the functions and activities of the National Library of Nigeria are therefore geared towards achieving this objective. The National Library is open to use by members of the public. However, users below the age of seventeen (17) years old are not allowed to use the National Library of Nigeria as a policy and largely because it does not have information materials that cater for the educational needs of this people who are presumed to be in their pre or post primary schools. While some users of the National Library of Nigeria are interested in getting information to meet their educational needs, others are interested in obtaining information capable of meeting their cultural, recreational or leisure needs. Furthermore there are other users who are only interested in obtaining International Standard Book or Serial Numbers (ISBN/ISSN) for their intended publications. These groups of users are authors and publishers or printers.

          The administrative structure of the National Library of Nigeria is made up of the federal ministry of education as the supervising ministry, the national library board which is responsible for policy making and the national library management which is responsible for the day to day running of the organization. It has seven departments, each headed by a director while there are state branch offices in twenty- four (24) states of the federation (facts about national library, 2006). In achieving the objectives for which it was established, the National Library Decree No. 29 of 1970 broadly outlines the following functions/roles of the National Library of Nigeria:

-           To assemble, maintain and extend a collection of books, periodicals, pamphlets, Newspapers, Maps, musical scores, films, and recordings as appropriate for a library of the highest standing.

-           To make arrangement as appropriate with respect to exchange of matter included in the collection, the preparation and publication of catalogues, indexes etc and the provision of assistance to other persons in the organization of libraries.

-           To make recommendations and give advice on library development of a state or to any local Government of authority;

-           And to be responsible for the development of the National bibliography of Nigeria and National bibliographic services.

The National Library’s role in the Nigerian environment is enormous. Decree 29 of 1970, section 2 (2b) makes it mandatory for the National Library of Nigeria to establish and maintain a branch of the National Library (NL) in each state of the Federation. The purpose of establishing the National Library branches in the states is to:

-           Provide vital support for the intellectual efforts of the people in all activities directed toward progress and National development in all spheres;

-           To ensure availability of a comprehensive collection fully accessible to a wide reading audience both within and outside Nigeria

-           To guarantee a free flow of information and knowledge between Nigeria and other countries for the benefit of the unfettered  natural exchange of communication and experience in a rapidly developing world, and one of increasing interdependence (Decree 29 of 1970)

Affirming the enormous responsibilities of the National Library of Nigeria, Aina (2004) posited that the National Library of Nigeria is also supposed to represent the country on all library matters at international conferences, provide leadership role, advice Government on library development and policy while supporting major research and development programmes in librarianship in the country.

The importance of the National Library of Nigeria in non-formal education and personal development of a citizen cannot be overemphasized. Aje (1982) is of the view that the first port of call would be the state library services (state library boards) while the National Library of Nigeria serves as the apex of this network of information superstructure. This means that individuals seeking to develop themselves by acquiring non-formal education through the use of public library resources would first of all need the services of the state library boards while the National Library which is the apex library would be used as a last resort to complement and provide resources and services where there is lack.

            Another important role of the National Library in the Nigerian environment is its role as a national depository of international agencies such as the United Nations and its organs. Furthermore, the National Library legal deposit law, Decree 29 of 1970 section 4 (1) 4 (3 a,b)  makes it mandatory for every author and publisher operating  in the country to deposit with the National Library, at his own expense specified number of copies of each book published ,  the law further stipulates that three (3) copies are to be deposited by private publishers, ten (10) copies by state and local governments and twenty-five (25)  copies by the Federal government. The implication of this role is that the National Library is the only place where a citizen can find the publications of Federal, State, Local government and individuals in one place thus facilitating research and accessibility while saving the user his or her valuable time.

            Yet another role the National Library is playing in the Nigerian society is ensuring that Nigerians have equitable access to its services and resources through the establishment of state branches of the National Library across the country. Today there are branches of the National Library in twenty-four (24) states of the federation. As the library of libraries, the National Library is there to complement the services of other libraries and provide where they are lacking. This will stimulate and boost the educational, social, cultural and information needs of Nigerians across the country.  It is also the view of the researcher that the National Library plays a significant role in the Nigerian society by ensuring the collection, preservation and transmission of the nation’s cultural heritage for future generations. This means that the nation’s cultural identity in all its ramifications is ensured continuity by successive generations.

             Indeed institutions and organizations are mere objects and are in themselves useless without people who will ensure the realization of the objectives for which they were established. The people are the employees who work in these organizations and the National Library as an organization is not an exception. In the Library, personnel, information materials, Users and building/environment are the components that interact to make up the system. In recent times, a new component information technology has been added, this has revolutionized and changed information dissemination pattern and of all these components, personnel are the principal and most important resources. They coordinate the entire system to achieve organizational objectives Ajala(2003:29). In the light of this development occasioned by the information age, the leadership role that the National library is expected to play as the apex library in the country can only be realized by having adequate number of employees and a sound training programme towards ensuring well trained personnel.

Apparently, the National library of Nigeria’s staff needs in the information age requires re-visitation for proper identification. Staff needs of an organization are simply the gaps between the number of personnel, their knowledge and skills the organization requires and those the organization have. This defines the staff needs of the organization. Thus, the National library of Nigeria being a very large organization with several state branches and expected to provide leadership in the library profession, need to identify its staff needs in the information age in the light of categories of staff needed, their qualification, the relevant skills and competencies required, training methods and programmes available, problems associated with staff training and strategies of enhancing staff needs and training so that the library can be properly equipped professionally to play its role adequately. Categories of staff  that the National library needs include: adequate and well trained librarians, information technologists, computer analysts, web designers, abstractors and indexers, library officers, library assistants, and other support staff like accounts officers and administrative staff. All these categories of personnel are necessary and they play a vital role in the realization of the library’s goals and objectives.

Librarians who are the core professional staff, apart from conferences and workshops, need to have postgraduate training at the level of masters and PhD degrees so as to be properly equipped professionally. In the information age, the skills and competencies required of the National library staff include: information and communications technology (ICT) skills,  software development, e-mail, networking, internet, cataloguing and classification techniques, public relations management skills, personnel management skills especially for heads of national library state branches, and library safety and security using the new information technologies. Oketunji in Okore (2005:88) also indicates that major competencies that librarians need include: skills to learn and use the ever changing technologies, communication and interpersonal skills, ability to market the library services and management skills. Nwachukwu, Asiegbu and Igwesi(2010 ) also agrees that in addition to professional skills ,the librarian of the future must be equipped with a wide range of personal and transferable skills in order to manage the changing environment which he works. They further stated that the contemporary librarian must change and adapt to the new electronic environment. Even though these skills are necessary for the staff of the National library, they can only acquire these skills through training using appropriate training methods and programmes.

            Training is a process of acquiring knowledge, skills and attitudes that are necessary for employee effectiveness and efficiency towards achieving organizational goals and objectives.  Staff training is important because it enhances efficiency and productivity. Yesufu cited in Ajidahun (2007) also agrees that training of personnel enhances productivity. According to him, “education and training are generally indicated as the most important direct means of upgrading the human intellect and skills for productive employment”. Productivity, which is enhanced by training, is not only limited to the establishment; the librarians and other staff of the library can also become more productive. Training programmes should also be directed towards improving efficiency and job performance Ojiambo and Stoner cited in Ajidahun (2007). Other advantages of training include reduction in cost, reduced turnover, human resources reserve, faster decision, continuity of effort, improvement in employee morale, availability for future personnel needs of the organization, improvement in health and safety, reduced supervision, personal growth and organizational stability Silver and Chandan cited in Ajidahuin (2007).

 There are several training methods that can be employed in libraries:  on-the- job training, In-house lecture/demonstration, Job rotation, Vessitube training, and Programme instruction, Computer-Assisted Instruction(CAI),Internship, Apprenticeship, Audio-visual method, Role playing, Business games, and case studies are some of the different training methods that can be employed, Keeling and Kallus cited in Onifade(2001) .Although there are several training methods that can be employed in libraries, the methods that  should be adopted by the National library should be the methods that will achieve the best results  in terms of cost – effectiveness and sustainability. Some of these training methods include:  on- the –job training, in- house lecture/demonstration, Orientation and Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) and job rotation are particularly useful training methods for both old and new employees. While on- the – job training enables both new and old staff acquire the necessary skills and attitudes, orientation programmes are designed to acquaint staff with the activities of the organization and it is usually for new employees. In the information age, computer- assisted instruction programme has become necessary to enable staff adapt to changing technology. According to Ozioko (2005) the basic building block of information technologies (IT) industries is the skilled and semi-skilled manpower with basic skills for operating computers, using elementary functions of standard software. It includes the ability to make use of computer networks, in particular the Internet; and access the resources available through them. This requirement is true for libraries using these technological tools in their service delivery. Training programmes also need to be relevant to the needs of libraries. Programmes such as in- service and continuing education training programmes leading to award of certificate are also desirable.

            Staff training is a venture when embarked upon will bring about acquisition of better skills and competencies on the part of employees and will ultimately lead to the overall effective performance of the organization. However, there are a number of problems usually associated with staff training in libraries: training is often haphazardly done and not well planned and coordinated, lacks employee needs analysis, lacks proper  funding, poor sponsorship, selection for training is not always objective while training programmes  may be inadequate and not sound enough. Any organization that toys with its staff training is perhaps putting at risks the realization of its goals and objectives .Thus, it is necessary to evolve new and better strategies to improve staff needs and training in libraries. Some of the strategies that can be employed include: employment of more librarians, adequate support for training in information and communication technology(ICT) for both  professional and para-professional staff, adequate professional training, adequate support for formal education training programmes leading to award of certificate, employment of ICT specialists, adequate training in cataloguing and classification and adequate funding.

The information age is an age in which the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools and equipments such as computers, internet, e-mails etc. in work places has brought a radical paradigm shift in services delivery - from the traditional approaches to service delivery to approaches offered by the new technology. It is an age where all sorts of transaction in every sphere of life can be processed and transmitted electronically on-line thereby modifying fundamentally, the way we work and live unlike the previous agricultural and mechanical revolution which focused on energy and matter, the information revolution is the “Third wave in human material revolution”( Daniel, in Ozioko 2005). According to Ozioko (2005) the information age has given the world a new understanding of time, space, distance and knowledge as well as a new definition of the world as we used to know and perceive it, by reducing the whole world to a global village where you do business of all sorts interactively and real time or on-line from whichever point you may be on the planet earth. Thus, in the information age, advances in information and communications technology (ICT) for libraries world wide has changed the scope, pace, range as well as the procedure of information service delivery, storage and retrieval. This climate of change has also affected the type of people needed to work in the library. The change has also created the need for Libraries to develop strategies that world help them cope with the challenge. 

It should be indicated that the National Library of Nigeria has decentralized its services delivery through the establishment of state branches. This has elicited the need for more staff especially the librarians who will be deployed to the state branches of the National library and who should also have relevant skills which will enable them to perform in accordance with the National Library’s expected culture of service excellence and professionalism world wide. Anecdotal records and personal experience have perhaps indicated the need for National Library of Nigeria to have adequate number of staff with relevant skills to be able to function effectively in the information age.  Omekwu cited in Ugoanochie (2009) states that the information professional has unlimited sources to assist his/her users. He called for necessary capacity building that will empower the Librarian to serve the users effectively in an electronic environment- an environment that places greater emphasis on external engagement through networking, teaching (information literacy), marketing and promotion, (Sayers, 2007). Smith, Aitken, and Idowu cited in Nwachukwu, Aseigbu and Igwesi (2010), also acknowledge that knowledge, skills and training of library personnel are vital for the successful implementation, application and use of computers and other ICT facilities in the library. Indeed, the information age has thrown up the challenge for libraries generally to show commitment towards training and retraining of staff, however, the National Library training policy (2008) emphasizes that the essence of training is for the sole good of the government. This seems to explain why many staff have not accessed training in the institution since training is at the whims and caprices of government but not a necessary staff benefit and need in the information age. Utor (2006) equally noted that the National Library of Nigeria has enormous wealth of experienced librarians. The library also has other facilities which if well harnessed could add to the quality of practitioners but argued that this has not been done. He urged more commitment to training and retraining of library personnel. These are some of the reasons this study has become necessary.   

            Literature available reveal that although staff training is considered important towards enhancing staff efficiency and productivity, many organizations do hardly identify their staff needs, training is often haphazardly while training programmes usually lacks adequacy. Thus, for the National Library of Nigeria to meet its expected roles and be able to assert itself adequately in the information age as the apex library it must have adequate number of staff and they must be adequately trained. This is because the National Library of Nigeria, like most National libraries of the world, is expected to provide leadership and excellence both in personnel, materials, tools and equipments and in service delivery and at the center of this is the personnel. A library can have an outstanding collection of print and electronic materials, access to a wealth of on-line resources, cutting edge automated systems and an award winning building but if it does not have adequate and well trained staff, the clientele using the library will not be served effectively and efficiently (Stueart and Moran, 2002). Perhaps, the lack of adequate personnel and dearth of relevant skills amongst staff will result in over utilization of staff and poor service delivery. There is need for adequate staff, training and retraining in the National Library of Nigeria to enhance effective service delivery and for the library to be able to align itself with the standard of National Libraries world-wide.

Statement of the Problem

The National Library of Nigeria like other National Libraries in the world is the apex library in the country. The status of the library has placed enormous responsibilities on its shoulders: it is expected to provide leadership in library and information service delivery in the country; it is expected to provide excellence and professionalism both in terms of materials, personnel and services and above all, it is to provide services in all the states of the Federation (Decree 29 of 1970).

The enormous expectations placed on the National Library of Nigeria from the public have further increased in the information age. In the information age, users expect the National Library of Nigeria to have cutting edge technology tools and equipments and adequate number of staff who are properly trained with relevant skills that can navigate through the advances offered by the  information age towards effective service delivery.

Even though the National library of Nigeria has made great efforts towards its staff needs and training, these efforts are largely inadequate in relation to its enviable position as the library of libraries. Many of its staff seems to have remained for several years perhaps without training thereby lacking relevant skills while there appears to be dearth of personnel throughout its branches. Having adequate staff and a sound training programme is important in any organization because: It enhances the provision of effective and efficient service delivery, It enhances acquisition of relevant skills and competencies amongst employees; Users’ satisfaction is ensured through timely, efficient and effective service; There is absence of over-utilization of staff; Staff is properly equipped to meet contemporary challenges in work places (changing technology etc.). On the contrary, lack of adequate staff and a sound training programme in any organization will result in: Poor service delivery, absence of relevant skills and competencies amongst staff; failure to meet users’ satisfaction; staff are over-utilized, and staff are poorly equipped being unable to meet contemporary challenges in work places.

Unfortunately, in the National Library of Nigeria, there appears to be a preponderance of inadequate personnel both at the headquarters and in the state branches. Personal observations and anecdotal records also suggest that there is lack of a sound training programme while the staff seems to lack relevant skills and competencies to function effectively in the information age. Thus, there is the fear that the staff may be over utilized, there will be poor service delivery occasioned by poorly equipped personnel, the library may not be able to assert itself adequately as the apex library in the country and may also not compare favorably with the standard of other National Libraries in the world. If this unpalatable situation is allowed to persists, its efforts at meeting its statutory responsibilities will be hampered and this will not augur well for its continued relevance in the educational and socio-economic progress of the society. Therefore such a pressing question as this, need urgent inquiry: what are the staff needs and training programmes of the National Library of Nigeria in the information age?              

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to investigate the staff needs and training programmes of the National Library of Nigeria in the information age.  Specifically the study seeks the following.

i.          Determine the categories of staff needed in the National Library of Nigeria in the information age.

ii.         Determine the qualifications of staff needed in the National library of Nigeria in the information age.

iii.        Determine the relevant skills and competencies required of staff of National Library in the information age.

Iv         Determine the training methods/programmes available to staff of the National Library of Nigeria in the information age.

v.        Determine the problems associated with staff training in the National Library of Nigeria in the new information age.

vi.        Identify strategies for enhancing staff needs and training programmes of the    National Library of Nigeria in the new information age.

Research Questions

  The following research questions were formulated to guide the study.

i.       What are the categories of staff needed in the National Library of Nigeria in the information age?

ii.    What are the qualifications of staff needed in the National library of Nigeria in the information age?

iii.     What are the relevant skills and competencies required of staff of National library of Nigeria in the information age?

iv.     What are the training methods/ programmes to staff of the National Library of Nigeria in the information age?

v.      What are the problems associated with staff training in the National Library of    Nigeria in the information age?

vi.    What are the strategies for enhancing staff needs and training programmes of the National   

       Library of Nigeria in the information age?

Significance of the Study.




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