FUNDING OF NIGERIAN MEDICAL LIBRARIES (A CASE STUDY OF FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTRE (FMC) LIBRARY, OWERRI)

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Abstract

Purpose: This study was carried out to funding in Federal Medical Library services Owerri, Imo South-East Geo-political Zone of Nigeria.

Design/Methodology/Approach: A descriptive survey design was used for the study with a population of 1089 Undergraduate students. The instrument for data collection was structured questionnaire and observation checklist. Percentages, mean scores and frequency tables were used in analyzing the data.

Findings: The findings envisaged that lack of skills on the part of the staf , Lack of access to electronic resources, Lack of necessary technology for accessing on-line resources, and inadequacy of printers and photocopiers for users in the medical libraries among others are some of the issues militating against the effective provision of medical library services.

Implications: Suggested solutions to issues militating against the effective provision of medical library services in federal university teaching hospitals include informing users on the usefulness of library services, availability of regular, current and up-to-date information resources, teaching users how to access, evaluate and make use of information sources, training and retraining staf to acquire the necessary skills needed for efficient performance and providing adequate technology for accessing electronic resources among others.

Originality/Value: It was recommended that medical libraries as a matter of urgency should make plans to market the library services through posters, fliers, bookmarks etc thereby bringing to the knowledge of current and prospective users the services and resources available in the libraries. Secondly, sponsoring the library staff to workshops, conferences and trainings will help encourage them to acquire the necessary skills needed to perform effectively and efficiently in the health care environment and also to acquire the information materials their users may need.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

A library is an organized collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or digital access to material, and may be a physical building or room, or a virtual space, or both. Ifidon, (2012), citing (United Nations, 2003) stated that the role of libraries in learning is only the tip of an iceberg when compared to their overall uses for societal and national development, scholarship, serving as catalyst for economic development, fostering social inclusion and cohesions, promoting concepts of civic centres and community services, encouraging working relationships among democratic institution and advancement of cooperation and understanding. Libraries have an historic mission of fostering literacy and learning. Prior to the present era in Nigeria, the university library was the place of last resort for relevant and current academic materials (books, journals, proceedings etc). The relegation of these vital institutions in recent decades is indeed a matter of great concern because Libraries, learning and reading can and do change lives and do have a role to play in determining the future of our society. Libraries are vital to education, and research has shown that the current lower levels of proficiency in reading and learning are due to underfunding of libraries and their services.(Dibu,2012)

To Albert, (2007) libraries are the cornerstone of civil society, of the liberal democracy we have come to cherish. We must not allow them to crumble into disuse. He stressed that above all else, an academic library book collection should have both depth and breadth because it needs to address a wide range of subjects, and it needs a sufficient number to give those subjects the coverage it deserves. He however wondered why they are poorly funded. University libraries provide an absolutely fundamental service which affects the whole of the university and without which it would cease to function as a centre for teaching and research” Hence, the library is the university’s central organ, it follows that, it must be properly supported financially, adequate funding should be considered a basic necessity for the effective development of academic libraries. In this respect, it must be recognised that funds are needed for the materials and services which are provided for library users. Funds are also needed for the staff who will obtain and make available the library materials and maintain the services. The cost of all these will represent the level of funding required by the library. (Thompson, 1979).

The primary purpose of university libraries is to support teaching, learning, and research in ways consistent with, and supportive of, the institution’s mission and goals. In addition, library resources and services should be sufficient in quality, depth, diversity, and currency to support the institution’s curriculum. As a result of this, university libraries are often considered the most important resource center of an academic institution. However, university education in Nigeria is facing a critical challenge in meeting new demands of the 21st century, with its ever increasing population growth, inadequate library facilities, resources and insufficient funding. Adequate library resources and services, at the appropriate level for degrees offered should be made available to support the intellectual, cultural, and technical development of students enrolled in Nigerian universities. Since universities themselves vary considerably in the nature, range and scale of their activities, it is not surprising that their libraries too come in many different shapes and sizes. Along with the rest of the sector, however, all of them have experienced over the past decade a period of unprecedented change. They have transformed their operations as they have responded to the opportunities of the digital revolution, and further challenges lie ahead. Like the rest of the sector, however, academic libraries are now facing a renewed and intensified period of financial stringency.