AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION RESOURCES IN NIGERIAN LAW LIBRARIES BY LAW STUDENTS
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The law library has distinctive and valuable contributions to make to the legal profession which is a highly book reading and book
consumption profession. It is the pivot on which legal research revolves. Expectation of users of the law library includes availability of legal
sources for teaching, learning and research. In trying to meet the expected provision, the library acquires legal sources of information,
organizes and disseminates same in print and non-print formats. Without well equipped law libraries, legal practitioners will surely perform
below standard in the classrooms, courts, judicial offices, bench and finally in society, since law is a very functional, dynamic and an
effective social engineering discipline. Law resources are undoubtedly the raw materials with which legal framework is made. They are to
the legal professionals what the stethoscope is to the doctors and laboratories to scientists. They point to what has been accepted and what
is acceptable. They are very crucial in the basic processes of researching the law. These sources are heavily utilized by law students,
lecturers and practicing lawyers. Stevenson (2012) therefore defined availability of information resources “as being able to be obtain, and
used”. These information resources could be in form of books, periodicals, abstracts, indexes, reference materials, audio-visuals,
information technologies (IT), and databases. Uhegbu (2013) aimed that, without available information, accessibility will be difficult and
its utilization impaired. Availability of relevant legal information resources affects how frequently law student’ use them. (Eason,
Richardson, and Yu, 2010). Wilson (2010) submitted that information use is the physical and mental acts humans employ to incorporate
found information into their knowledge base or knowledge structure. While stressing the importance of information for every profession,
Haruna and Mabawonku (2013), aimed that legal practitioners depend very much on relevant, precise and timely information for success
in their profession. The complexity of the legal profession naturally demands maximum information utilization for appropriate and effective
legal research. A law library is a library designed to assist law students, lawyers, judges and their law clerks, and anyone else who wishes to
determine the state of the law. Law libraries can be classified as a type of special library because of their focus on providing specialized
resources on the law, as well as their specialized and limited user base. Most law schools around the world have a law library, or in some
universities, at least a section of the university library devoted to law. Law libraries can also be found in courts, government departments,
private law firms, and barristers’ chambers
sources will improve the cross-fertilization of ideas that may lead to generation of new information. It is a common knowledge in Nigeria
today that books are in short supply. Virtually all professions – doctors, engineers, teachers and lawyers complain of lack of current and
adequate information in their fields. Among the various professions in the country, the legal profession is one which requires the use of
relevant, timely, and current information in the form of texts, that is, legal information resources to successfully carry out the legal research.
Generally, as noted by Fowler (2007), legal profession operates in an information intensive environment. Law library resources are essential
and integral part of the study and practice of law both students of law and practitioners usually spend a great deal of time in law libraries as
their laboratory. It has been correctly opined that there is no class of men, professional or otherwise as dependent upon books as the
lawyers. There is no library which so directly pertains to the interest which it is designed to serve as the law library. The lawyer’s books are
his tools without which he would be unable to provide for himself and his family (Gilbert, 1908-1913). Campbell et al (2014) also observed
that law books are lawyers’ tools of trade and a measure of their professional competence. A law library is ideally a collection of legal
materials wholly or mainly consisting of legal information organized for use of those seeking to qualify as, or who have qualified as, lawyers
and those enacting or administering law (Balogun, 2012). They are as critical as the knowledge and information foundation of legal
institutions. These institutions may be located in the judiciary, law faculties, research institutions, private chambers, the legislature or law
related institutions. The value of information so provided is predicated in the quality of available accessible resources. This refers to
accuracy, currency and completeness of answers given to the library user’s inquiry. Thus, the vast information resources in law libraries are
of vital importance in tackling the challenges and problems of legal studies and law development. The law librarian must therefore be
learned with an intimate knowledge of the collection in order to-effectively organize access, retrieve and efficiently disseminate information
available in the library resources. The information resources available in the law library are classified into two broad categories: the primary
sources and the secondary sources. The primary sources comprise original and authoritative statements of the law subdivided into:
legislations (law made by the parliaments) law reports, constitutions and regulations. The secondary sources on the other hand comprise
the commentaries, explanations, reviews or guides to the primary sources. They are textbooks, encyclopedias, journals and other
periodicals and research literature such as undergraduate projects and post graduate theses (Clinch, 2013). Availability and utilization of
law library resources therefore is premised upon adequacy (Ranganathan, 2014; Waples 2010). Standard law libraries render services like
orientation, current awareness, user education, registration of readers and general information. All these services aim at producing quality
library service to users thereby enhancing the effective utilization of the library resources. It is against this background that, the study
examines the availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian law libraries by law students.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Behind the success of every academic institution there is a functional and dynamic library that strongly supports the institution’s goals. No
law faculty can successfully train law graduates without having in place an efficient and a well managed library. Law libraries tend to have
common characteristics, stocks and similar approach to the acquisition, retrieval and dissemination of legal information. Sanni (2006)
emphasized the crucial role of the primary sources of information in the law student’s academic performance and advised all law students
against the practice of confining themselves to only secondary sources. He advised that the undergraduate law students should familiarize
themselves with the primary and secondary sources of information as well as the library catalogue. However, the effective utilization of
these resources by the undergraduate law students depends on the extent of their availability in the law libraries because; availability and
utilization are two sides of the same coin in libraries. Resources may be available in plenty in various formats via various channels. But are
they being utilized? Do the users really use the print and electronic resource and avail the information services being provided by the
libraries? Therefore, the study examines the availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian law libraries by law students.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian law libraries by law students.
Other specific objectives of the study include;
- To examine the information resources available for use in Nigerian libraries to law students.
- To examine the extent of availability and utilization of various information resources in Nigerian libraries by law students.
- To examine the impact of availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries on law students’ academic
- To understand the information seeking behavior of law students.
- To examine the relationship between availability, utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries and law students’ academic
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the information resources available for use in Nigerian libraries to law students?
- What is the extent of availability and utilization of various information resources in Nigerian libraries by law students?
- What is the impact of availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries on law students’ academic performance?
- What is the information seeking behavior of law students?
- What is the relationship between availability, utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries and law students’ academic
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant impact of availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries on law students’ academic
H1: There is a significant impact of availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries on law students’ academic
H0: There is no significant relationship between availability, utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries and law students’
H1: There is a significant relationship between availability, utilization of information resources in Nigerian libraries and law students’
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The availability, access to and provision of legal information is one of the key elements in transition from a closed dictatorship to a
democracy. A democratic nation relies on efficient and effective judicial system (Tuhumwire & Okello-Obura, 2010). The students aspiring to
enter into the law profession require primary information for academic and research purposes in the university. Law students’ information
requirements are imperative in view of the fact that they need to make effective use of the library and information resources and services,
which is relevant to their studies, in order to achieve their educational goals (Olorunfemi & Mostert, n.d., p.6). Igbeka (2012) corroborates
that information centers or libraries are the best agent to provide information sources and services. Law students require library
information sources and services to effectively cope with the workload of their academic work. Law students generally seek information on
how to pass examinations, conduct legal research- in order to write assignments- and write theses to enable them to graduate from
university (Oke-Samuel, 2008). The findings of the study will have its own implications on the library authorities, University management
and faculty members. The library will get to know the ground realities and will be able to plan and execute library routines to satisfy the
legal information needs of the students. The management will understand the utility of the University resource centre and audit whether
the amount spent is worth and what next can be done to improve the library resources and services. Thus, this study gains its own
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the availability and utilization of information resources in Nigerian law libraries by law students.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or
information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on
the time devoted for the research work.
AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION RESOURCES IN NIGERIAN LAW LIBRARIES BY LAW STUDENTS