UTILIZATION OF LIBRARY-BASED WEBSITES FOR RESEARCH BY LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS IN SELECTED FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

UTILIZATION OF LIBRARY-BASED WEBSITES FOR RESEARCH BY LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS IN SELECTED FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

This study examined the utilization of library-based websites for research by library and information science postgraduate students in selected federal Universities in south east Nigeria. Six research questions were formulated to guide the study. A descriptive survey design was used and the entire Population of 372 were used for the study. Therefore, there was no sampling. The instruments for data collection were questionnaires.The data obtained were organized and analysed using simple descriptive statistic which includes; Simple percentages, mean scores and frequency tables. The result showed that the level of awareness of some Library-based websites byPostgraduate students in conduct of research were low. Also, the result showed that students make use of social network sites more as against academic purpose. The problems associated with utilization of library-based websites are computer incompetency among some of the postgraduate students in using web facilities, lack of steady power supply, lack of appropriate funding, lack of provision of IT facilities. The strategies for enhancing utilization of library-based websites includes provision of adequate power supply, provision of adequate funding, arranging for seminar and workshop to teach students on how to browse and search for information on the web. The researcher recommended that there should be a lay down policy that will mandate departments to organize workshops and seminar where students will learn the act of websites usage. Also, the researcher recommended that websites utilization should be added to the school curriculum to mandate and equip researchers and students on the need to be aware of these websites.

CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study                       

The word "university" is derived from the Latin word “universitas which roughly means "community of teachers and scholars. In modern usage the word has come to mean "An institution of higher education offering tuition in mainly non-vocational subjects and typically having the power to confer degrees. According to Aronowitz (2000), it is an institution of higher education and research which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects and provides both undergraduate and postgraduate education. Gutek (2008) has it that universities are institutions of higher education that offer programs beyond the high school level. The author further explains that universities provide necessary training for individuals wishing to enter into professional careers as they also strive to develop students’ creativity, insight and analytical skills. Newman ( as cited in Boulton & Coin, 2008) defined university as a place where inquiry is pushed forward, discoveries verified and perfected, and error exposed, by collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge. He also said that university is a place for communication and circulation of thought, by means of personal intercourse. The university could therefore be seen as an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic degrees; specifically one made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelor's degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools each of which may confer master's and doctoral degrees.

Although universities differ in size and structure, their administrative functions are nearly the same with the presence of board of trustees; chancellor, vice-chancellor and deans of various divisions all working together to achieve a common goal. Universities have unique mission which is to contribute to the development and sustenance of the society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. Also, (Peretomode, 2008) highlights the purposes of university education to include the following:

·        The acquisition, development and incubation of the proper value orientation for the survival of individuals and society;

·        The development of the intellectual capacities of individuals and society

·        The acquisition of both physical and intellectual skills to enable individuals to develop into useful member of the community;

·        The acquisition of an objective view of local and external environment;

·        The promotion and encouragement of scholarship and research; and

·        The making of optimum contribution of graduates to national unity and development. He further stressed that university education at its completion of the programme include;

·        Teaching people to think further, broader and deeper than they have been so far brought up to do;

·        Give each student a training of mind to enable him think more critically that him or her could understand and be in a position to cope with all major aspects and questions of human existence both personal and social;

·        Provide an ethical education- a man who is not just a thinking creature but one who knows the difference between right and wrong.

The universities are generally divided into a number of faculties, colleges, departments and schools based on discipline. A discipline is an area of specialization or a focused study in one academic field or profession. It incorporates expertise, people, projects, communities, challenges, studies, inquiry, and research that are strongly associated with a particular academic area of study or area of professional practice.  

Library and Information Science (LIS) is one of the disciplines studied in the universities. (LIS) as a profession is concerned with the knowledge and skill, by which the records of human communication are collected, organised and utilised. LIS is an umbrella term that encompasses library science, librarianship, information science, information work. It is the study and practice of professional methods in the use and exploitation of information, whether from an institutional base or not, for the benefit of users (Bates & Maack, 2010).  Rubin (2010) in his work “foundation of library and information science” defined LIS as a discipline oriented toward providing access to vast amounts of accumulated knowledge and information. LIS schools have undergone a continuous process of adaptation mirroring the development of the profession and discipline by encouraging future professionals to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for successful professional practice and scholarly work. They award both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in an attempt to produce experts in the various fields of interest.

According to Wisegeek (2001) a postgraduate student is a person who has already earned a four years undergraduate degree, commonly called a bachelor degree, and then went further to pursue postgraduate education. For instance, a postgraduate student may enrol in an educational programme that ends with a master degree or and even pursue a doctoral degree. In such cases, such educational programmes require a person to earn a bachelor’s degree prior to enrolment and meet other admission requirements. For the purpose of this study, postgraduate student shall be viewed as all postgraduate diploma, masters and doctoral students that have been offered admission by the schools of postgraduate studies of UNN and NAU. Training of Postgraduate students is one of the most important functions of any University (Siddle, 2001). He states that this involves training successive generations of students and researchers who are capable of innovative and pragmatic research across the spectrum from fundamental, through user inspired, to applied research in a variety of educational research and development, commercial and industrial contexts. Postgraduate Studies on the other hand involves learning and studying for higher degrees, professional or academic certificates, or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree generally is required, and it is normally considered to be part of higher education. Although the organization and structure of postgraduate education varies in different countries, as well as in different institutions within countries, the objective of postgraduate studies are similar all around the world, hence the main significance of the postgraduate degrees is that it license the holder to teach or lecture in an academic environment especially above ordinary level (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, 2002).  It is worthy to note that the major preoccupation of a postgraduate student is research and development. Through research the postgraduate students learn to establish or confirm concrete facts, reaffirm the results of previous works, support theorems or develop new theories, draw inference or solve new or existing problems from systematic examination of circumstances and events following a definite pattern (Anderson, Day, & Mclaughlin, 2006). This agrees with the opinion of Alabi (2004) who noted that postgraduate education is essential or has become a

Knowledge based process. This knowledge as a process includes knowledge acquisition, knowledge incubation, knowledge application and knowledge amplification and knowledge dissemination. It is self evident that information is a key resources, which permeate the postgraduates teaching, learning and research as well as publishing. Creswell, (2008) maintains that a research project is a genre that requires one to spend time investigating and evaluating sources with the websites to offer interpretations of the texts and not unconscious regurgitations of those sources. The goal of a research paper is not only to inform the reader what others have to say about a topic, but also to draw on what others have to say about a topic and engage the sources in order to thoughtfully offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand. This is accomplished through reference to different information sources like journals, newspapers textbooks, gray literature, etc of which web resources is paramount especially in this technological era.

The rapid advancement in information technologies has revolutionized information dissemination, sources and retrieval with the help of websites, within the global communication networks provided by the websites.  A website is a collection of related web pages containing images, video or other digital assets. A website is posed on a least one web server, accessible via a network such as the internet or a private local area network an internet address known as a Uniform Resource locator. Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia (2011) defines web content as the textual visual or aural content that is encountered as part of the user experience on websites. It may include among other things: such as text, images, sounds, video and animations.   The development of library web sites started in the 1990s. As soon as Mosaic, the world’s first web browser, was released in 1993 academic health science libraries began developing websites (Brower, 2004). Similarly, Vaughan (2001) also describes the development of the library web site at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) Libraries, which became operational in 1996. Today, very few university libraries are without a presence on the web. The World Wide Web provides a flexible network of networks ‘where institutions, businesses associations and individuals create their own “websites” on the basis of which everybody with access can produce their own “home page” made of a variable collage of text and images’ (Castells, 1996).  The library-base websites represent an important component in the user experience. The library websites represent the "face" of the library. It showcases its print and electronic resources and it promotes services to students and faculty such as circulation, reserves, reference, library instruction, library events, and interlibrary loan. The library website also represents a virtual space where information is collected, organized, and presented. When developing this virtual space, it is important to reflect the needs of the user (Manzari, 2006). Users must be able to locate the necessary information with ease. The library website should not only provide information but also be a learning tool (House, 2007). The websites has become one of the primary means of information and communication, a space for expressing both private and professional interests, and at the same time a huge marketplace and economic foster etc. University of Southern California (USC 2007). It has become a key platform for news and entertainment, e-commerce, research, communication and collaboration. Within universities in Nigeria, there is evidence of changes brought by internet websites which has become a point of first resort for information on practically anything. Several hundreds of millions web pages, bibliographical databases, and full-text databases are now available on the websites of which library and information science is fully involved (Prasher, 2003). As the needs and expectations of library users’ change in the digital environment, libraries tried finding out the best ways to satisfy their user communities by developing library based website with collections and services to meet their demands. Ryan (2003) and Welch (2005) posit that since 1990s, most libraries have been offering services via internet websites. Research findings also have it that almost all the libraries are offering web-based services in one way or the other.

Library-based websites are websites designed for libraries, and as such they showcase to the whole world through the websites information and wealth of knowledge repository in the library in an e-platform. It is one of the facilities through which information and knowledge can be stored, arranged and transmitted back to it users quickly, timely and accurately. (Adegbija & Daramola, 2007). These websites are the gateway of libraries and information centres to enter the electronic information era and provide information generated by different organizations, institutions, research centres and individuals all over the world (Ezomo, 2006). A comprehensive resourceful library website is one showing some characteristics designed to provide access to the following:

·        Orientation of the library resources, services and facilities;

·        Access to online databases and e-journals subscribed by the library;

·        Link to other open source databases and institutional repositories available in different subjects;

·         Access to a world of information from e-books, e-theses, e-dissertations, e-prints and web-based reference sources, etc;

·        Computerized library housekeeping operations; and other resources and services Houghton, (2000). As people who carry out research, the postgraduate students need information in varying degrees to satisfy their information needs. The library-based websites offer uniquely rich resource for authentic inquiry and the postgraduate students must learn to utilize it in the course of their research writing. The use of library based websites have made it possible for people to access multifarious information sources scattered in every part of the world with little or no delay and less stress. The utilization of library-based website by the post graduate student should ordinarily be limitless as it has reduced to the barest minimum the stress and strain they pass through in their bid to source for and retrieve information for their research works. Although library-based website promises new ways to promote information access, reactions to it have been mixed. Some have embraced it with unbridled enthusiasm while others have held it at arm's length with a healthy skepticism. Yet the growing influence of the platform has caused many researchers to acknowledge that they need library-based website to satisfy their research information needs. 

This work therefore, seeks to assess the utilization of library-based websites for research by library and information science postgraduate students in federal universities in south-east zone of Nigeria in recognition of the fact that these are critical sources needed to thrive in academics holistically especially in the digital age.

Statement of the Problem

Information is so important that it has been recognised as the third most basic need of man after food and shelter. Some scholars have described information as the life-blood of organization ( Opara, 2003; Moli, 2009)

             Nevertheless, literature has revealed that library-based websites host information in electronic format which includes e- journals, e- books, e-thesis, e- conference proceedings, e- technical reports, e- reference documents. Among several benefits of electronics information is that access to remote information are made possible within the shortest possible time, Again, e-resources are more easily updated than the print resources.  In view of the potential advantages and benefits of e- resources over the print in modern electronic information environment, postgraduate students rely mainly on printed information rather than electronic resources for information which have reduced the quality of their research work in this modern age and have resulted in postgraduate students missing the benefits that are associated with using e- resources available in library-based websites. Though literature is replete with evidence of availability of web-based information, it is not clear if postgraduate students harness these resources in the conduct of their studies. It therefore becomes necessary that this study be conducted to determine the extent of awareness of postgraduate students on these resources and subsequent utilization with particular reference to the conduct of researches.

Purpose of the Study   

The general purpose of this study was to examine the utilization of library-based websites for research by library and information science postgraduate students in selected federal Universities in south east Nigeria. Specifically this study intends to:

i.        Find out postgraduate students awareness of library-based websites for research

ii.     Ascertain the extent the library-based websites are utilized for research by postgraduate students.

iii.   Establish the relevance of library-based websites to postgraduate students’ research.

iv.   Inquire the attitude of library and information science postgraduate students use of library-based websites for research

v.       Determine the problems associated with the use of library-based websites for research by library and information science postgraduate students

vi.   Proffer strategies for enhancing the utilization of library-base websites for research by postgraduate students. 

Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

1.      What are the Postgraduate students awareness of library-based websites for research?

2.      To what extents have postgraduate students’ utilized library-based websites for research?

3.      To What extent are library-based websites relevant to postgraduate students’ research work?

4.      What are the attitudes of library and information scien


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