PRESERVATION AND SECURITY OF INFORMATION RESOURCES IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES IN NIGER STATE, NIGERIA
This study was on Methods to Preservation and Security of Information Resources in Academic Libraries in Niger State, Nigeria. Five research questions and five corresponding objectives were framed for the study. A case study design was adopted for the research. Purposive sampling technique was used to select 35 respondents from a population of 297 staff in all the twelve academic libraries in Niger State. Semi structured interview guides were used to collect data from respondents, while field notes guide were used to record data in respect of participants‟ observation. The data collected using individual interview guides and the field notes guides, which were properly completed, were presented and subjected to qualitative analysis. The steps followed in doing the analysis were documentation, conceptualization, coding and categorization, examining relationships and displaying data; and authenticating conclusions. The findings revealed that the common methods of preservation of information resources in academic libraries in Niger State included repairs, binding and environmental control, whereas digitization and migration were not adopted. It also showed that periodic random checks on users and staff, scheduled patrols, and checking of users IDs, were all in use. Further, antivirus software and passwords were installed on computers of five libraries, while surveillance cameras were functional in only Federal University of Technology Minna Library. Book theft, mutilation of information resources, non return of borrowed library materials, impersonation, and computer virus attacks were the prevalent threats in all the academic libraries in Niger State. The findings also showed that there were policies guiding the operations of the academic libraries in Niger State, but they do not have insurance covers. In respect of effectiveness of the methods in use, the findings showed that repairs, binding, environmental control, regular patrols, and identity cards verifications were effective in all the academic libraries, while computer virus protection / internet security
was effective in four libraries and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in only Federal University of Technology Minna Library. It was concluded that although academic libraries in Niger State have adopted good methods for preserving and securing their information resources, and the fact that they paid more emphasis on printed materials, with less use of digital preservation methods and electronic security systems, it is obvious that the libraries are yet to embrace the opportunities offered by technological advancement for such activities. In view of the findings, the research recommended that libraries should endeavour to have written policies on all aspects of preservation and security of information resources, upgrade and maintain facilities such as binderies, air conditioning systems, fire prevention equipment etc including the adoption of digital preservation methods, while efforts should be made to reduce the incidence and effects of mutilation, book theft and non-return of borrowed materials through periodic repairs, enhanced security and adequate punishment for erring users, respectively. This research also recommended improvement of the manual methods of safeguarding library materials and adoption of electronic security system, while the antivirus software and CCTV cameras should be regularly updated and upgraded respectively, in order for them to be effective.
1.1 Background to the Study
Academic libraries refer to those libraries established in tertiary institutions to support and strengthen the academic programmes of such tertiary institutions of learning. These include libraries of universities, colleges of education, polytechnics, and other post-secondary education institutions. Lawal and Opeola (2012) defined an academic library as any library that caters for the needs of those engaged in academic pursuits in higher institutions like the universities, colleges of education, colleges of technologies and polytechnics.
The services provided by an academic library depend to a large extent on the quality and quantity of its collections and staff. For effective service delivery, it is necessary to equip the libraries with adequate information resources comprising of print and non-print information resources for the users. Ideally, academic libraries are expected to support their parent institutions in achieving their educational objectives. Thus, the main functions of academic libraries are acquisition, preservation and dissemination of information to users. The development of library services is generally correlated to the development of educational programmes. This view is supported by Krashen (2011) who maintained that it is not out of place to say that the establishment of school or college libraries has a positive correlation with educational quality at school or college levels. Academic libraries have not only become instruments for national development but are today regarded as centres for academic research. They contain far more information than any person could imagine. The roles of academic libraries cannot be over-emphasized. This is why the quality of education received in any institution of higher learning is measured by the resources in its library and the extent of use of those resources by the students and
faculty members. Francis, Lance, and Lietzau (2010) stressed that the size of a collection is used as an indicator of academic quality. They further emphasized that it has been empirically demonstrated that there is a strong correlation between the size of university libraries collections and excellence of universities.
Information Resources are basically sources through which information can be gotten so as to meet the information needs of users. They are channels through which ideas, opinions, or feelings are stored or preserved. Information resources found in libraries can be classified into print, non-print, electronic and digital information resources. Print information resources include books, serials, encyclopaedia, dictionaries, handbooks, almanacs, and directories. Non print information resources are items such as compact disk, audiovisuals, tapes, slides, microfilms, and microfiche, etc. Thus, academic libraries primarily build their collections to meet the information needs of the users. The users, according to Edegbo (2011), are therefore equipped with intellectual and physical skills that they require to be innovative and self-reliant members of the society.
The collections in academic libraries should include all types of information resources in order to satisfy the information needs of faculty members. And for easy access to users, there is need for proper organization and management of the information resources. For instance, Ekwelem, Ukwoma and Okafor (2011) argued that the university library as an example of academic library is the principal instrument of any university in the conservation of recorded knowledge. The library has to collect materials, published and unpublished, print and non-print, in some depth and in almost all fields of knowledge, not necessarily in those offered in the university. A lawyer for instance, spends hours in a library studying cases to prepare for a case in court and doctors use medical libraries to obtain information in order to treat illness. Libraries have long stored information materials
that enable ideas, knowledge and experiences to be passed on from generation to generation.
Electronic information resources are those information resources and services that users access electronically via a computing network from inside the library or remotely to the library Hargreaves (2011). Tammaro (2006) notes that electronic resources include websites, online databases, e-journals, e-books, CD-ROMs, audio visuals, multimedia, etc. As revealed by Gohain and Saikia (2013), electronic services are email based services, the libraries‟ online public access catalogue, web portals, gateways, and the internet.
Preservation and security of information resources and services are integral library operations that can make libraries to remain perpetually useful. Walker (2013) defined preservation as „all managerial, technical and financial considerations applied to retard deterioration and extend the useful life of materials to ensure their continued availability. Bessy, Abalaka, Dauda and Okikiri (2014) on the other hand defined preservation as activities which include all the managerial and financial considerations, including storage and accommodation provisions, staffing levels, policies, techniques, and methods involved in preserving library and archival materials and the information contained in them.
Ogunniyi and Adejubee, (2014) had indicated that for decades librarians have tended to mix up preservation with conservation and all efforts have concentrated on the curative treatment of single documents. Conservation and restoration are the most central activities of preservation; they are concerned with the physical maintenance and repair of documentary materials. According to Olatokun (2008) conservation is a field of knowledge concerned with the coordination and planning for the practical application of the techniques of binding, restoration, paper chemistry, and other material technology, as well as other knowledge pertinent to the preservation of archival resources. Conservation can be further characterized as both preventive and remedial. Preventive conservation consists of indirect
action to retard (slow) deterioration and prevent damage by creating conditions optimal for the preservation of materials while remedial conservation consists mainly of direct action carried out on documents in order to retard further deterioration.
Conservation is also seen as a specific term, referring to the physical treatment of individual items, usually after some damages must have occurred. Olatokun (2008) is of the view that preservation is an umbrella term for many policies and options for conservation treatments. Every institution that has a collection of enduring value should have a preservation plan for it. Schur and Harris (2006) put forward a model for assessing possible preservation and conservation of library materials. These include:
i. Minimal or small programme level.
ii. Middle programme level.
iii. Optimal or full scale programme level.
Minimal or small level programme refers to the measures that are taken to improve the physical handling of materials when they are circulated amongst the users. It is this minimal level that Abioye (2008) referred to as “every-day book care” which consists of:
a) Cleaning the library and the book stock.
b) Shelving and careful removal of books from the shelves and replacing them.
c) Careful use of books during reading.
d) Photocopying; and
e) Minor repairs which do not need special tools or expensive materials.
The middle level programme refers to all elements under the minimal level plus preventive conservation. This includes environmental control and provision of a moderate stable temperature, humidity and control of exposure to light and pollutants. At this stage, the air conditions are very important because they are the best means of stabilizing temperature and humidity. It also helps to filter out particulates and chemical pollutants such as dirt,
dust, smoke etc. In areas where electricity facilities for cooling are not constant or available, the use of windows is highly recommended to ensure good air-circulation.
Optimal or full scale programme embraces both minimal and the middle levels and includes direct intervention. This level gives much attention to preservation by substitution or reformation which involves reproduction or stabilizing the media to preserve the information contents. This can be achieved by microfilming, photocopying, de-acidification, lamination, binding and digitization.
Methods of preservation and security of library information resources are age long strategies that can be traced as far back as 539BC in Egypt when the library books were chain-locked to prevent them from theft (Maidabino, 2010). Similarly, Walker (2013) revealed that in the Assyro Babilonian civilisation, Assurbenipal‟s library at Nineyah had used catalogues as part of an internal method of bibliographic control and a form of security while during the Greek civilisation papyrus rolls at Alexandria were stamped with the library‟s ownership stamp as well as copying documents – to enable the libraries retain the originals while they lent out the copies to library patrons. This practice was also adopted by Roman libraries during their own period of civilisation, and during the middle ages until between the 9th and 12th centuries (i.e. the Post- Carolingian Age), when monastic libraries demanded real security commitments in the form of deposits from their patrons before books could be lent out. The author also reported that during the medieval period, some cathedral libraries such as Hereford Cathedral and Wimborne Minster in Dorset, England; and university libraries such as Oxford and Cambridge adopted the process of chaining their books alongside the cataloguing of books; whist copying had declined as a result of the invention of the printing press. Other methods included preserving the physical existence of the documents by treating papyrus rolls with cedar oils
or naturally made insecticides, after which the rolls were subsequently stored in earthen vessels or chests of cypress wood.
Anunobi and Okoye (2008) have also indicated that Nigerian academic libraries are faced with hybrid challenges of managing resources, one of which is the issue of security of library collection. They are of the opinion that book theft is a major security issue in the libraries; with special collections being the most targeted materials and that some library staff take materials from the library without checking them out.
Academic libraries acquire and process into retrievable form and make available the information contents to the academic community and the public for their teaching and research work, however, in fulfilling these functions they face pressures due to overuse and other abuses from users. With the colossal amount being spent on academic libraries, it is expected that adequate planning be put in place to preserve the resources in them from deterioration and destruction. Vellani (2010) summarily opines that: “early libraries were very conscious of security of their libraries as evidenced from the various security methods employed”. While some of these security methods continued to be adopted in present day libraries, others have been modernised, with technological advancement opening new frontiers for preservation and security of information resources and services in the numerous academic libraries. Yet incidences of theft and mutilation of information resources and services continue to pose great challenges to the sustainable development of academic libraries in Nigeria. This explains why from the earliest time to the present, librarians have been concerned about how to protect their information resources from theft and damages.
Niger State has twelve tertiary institutions made up of federal and state owned institutions which consist of universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and monotechnics. Niger State College of Education, Minna was the first higher institution
established as an Advanced Teachers College by the defunct North-western state government. According to the Niger State College of Education Students‟ Hand Book (2008), the College was sited in Minna in 1975. The aim was to encourage the spirit of enquiry and creativity in teachers and to provide teachers with the intellectual and professional background adequate for their assignment and make them adaptable to changing situation. Other higher institutions include the State and Federal Polytechnics which aimed at giving training and impacting the necessary skills for the production of technicians, technologists, engineers and other skilled personnel who shall be enterprising. There is also Fati Lami Abubakar College of Legal and General Studies whose aim is to train and produce middle cadre manpower for the State ministries of Justice, Information and Education. The State University, which was established by the Niger State University Law of 2005, commenced academic activities during the 2005/2006 session. The Federal University of Technology Minna came into being on the 1st of February 1983. Both universities are centres of excellence in the sciences and humanities which produce globally competitive enterprising graduates with the requisite knowledge, skills and entrepreneurial competences, using higher quality facilities. School of Nursing, School of Midwifery and Health and Technology were established for the production of medical personnel needed in the State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Academic libraries in Niger State, like those in other parts of the country, were established primarily to meet the information needs of their parent institutions through the collection and preservation of information resources to support teaching, research and dissemination of knowledge. For information resources to serve the purposes for which they are collected, they need to be preserved and secured in such a way that their life spans are prolonged so as to sustain their utilization by the academic communities. Preliminary
observation of some tertiary institutions‟ libraries in Niger State by the researcher revealed that some of their resources had either been stolen or were mutilated, and were subjected to treatments that could reduce their life spans. The ugly situation of some tertiary institutions‟ libraries suggested that there might have been some lapses in their preservation and security activities. However, the scope of previous research on this very important subject matter in Niger State was limited to few methods and few academic libraries only. For instance, the work of Garba (2008) covered Federal University of Technology Minna Library, Federal College of Education, Kontagora Library and Niger State Polytechnic, Zungeru, Library. On their part, Oyedun, Sani and Odoakang (2014) had surveyed the Federal University of Technology Minna Library and the Niger State College of Education Minna Library.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that there existed some information gaps in respect of the status of preservation and security of information resources in majority of the academic libraries in Niger State. One wonders what could be the preservation and security situation in those libraries that have never been surveyed, or even the general prevailing methods / systems adopted across the State for preservation of information resources in all the academic libraries? The answer to these questions constitute gap in knowledge which this research attempted to fill, in order to improve on the methods / systems of preservation and security of information resources in the academic libraries in Niger State, Nigeria.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions were framed so as to achieve the study objectives.
1. Are there policies for preservation and security of information resources in academic libraries in Niger State?
2. What methods of preservation of information resources are adopted in academic libraries in Niger State?
3. What methods of security of information resources are adopted in academic libraries in Niger State?
4. What security threats to information resources are prevalent in academic libraries in Niger State?
5. How effective are the methods adopted for the preservation and security of information resources in academic libraries in Niger state?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study included the following:
1. To determine the preservation and security policies in academic libraries in Niger State.
2. To examine the methods adopted by academic libraries in Niger State to preserve their information resources
3. To examine the methods adopted for security of information resources in academic libraries in Niger State.
4. To identify the security threats to information resources in academic libraries in Niger State.
5. To determine the effectiveness of the methods of preservation and security of information resources adopted by academic libraries in Niger State.
1.5 Significance of the Study
Preservation and security of information resource in academic libraries has become a difficult task as a result of man-made and natural disasters, or due to poor methods of preservation and security of library information resources. The crimes committed by users of these resources, have deprived many others from fully achieving their information needs. The result of this study therefore would contribute to knowledge by establishing key
aspects of methods to preservation and security of information resources. The findings would highlight the comparative effectiveness of preservation and security of library materials, among academic libraries in Niger State. This would serve to challenge and encourage the libraries, and the management to develop and ensure the implementation of preservation and security policies, which could lead to positive changes in attitudes and therefore methods of staff and users for better and sustainable preservation and security of information resources.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study covered all the twelve tertiary institutions in Niger State, and the library staff, comprising the Professional and Para-professional staff, as the subject of the study. The case study covered the main methods adopted for preservation and security of information resources by the twelve academic libraries, the responsibility of which lies with the library staff only. Therefore, users of the information resources were excluded from the individual interviews conducted.
1.7 Basic Assumptions
The following assumptions were made for the study.
i. Securing and protecting information resources could help academic libraries to provide effective service in response to the information needs of the university community.
ii. Libraries with well-preserved information resources could achieve longevity, accessibility and effective provision of services to users.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are defined in the context of this study to enhance their understanding and use.
i. Professional Staff – These are trained librarians that have relevant degrees in librarianship or any other degree in other fields and are working in academic libraries.
ii. Para-professional Staff – These are library support staff that have diploma in library science or similar certificates and work in academic libraries.
iii. Tertiary Institutions – These institutions include universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education, mono-technics and all other post secondary school institutions of higher learning.