Background of the Study
Law libraries are cornerstones of legal education, research and practice all over the world. They are special libraries and serve the information needs of law students and law teachers, legal practitioners, paralegals and general public. Law libraries generally are found in universities, law schools, law research institutes, courts of all kinds, legislative houses, ministry of justice and private law firms.
The importance of law libraries (university law libraries inclusive) can be better understood from the stand point of lawyers who equate its importance to a laboratory. Just as a laboratory is important to laboratory scientists, so also is a law library to lawyers (Milles, 2004; Dada, 2011). Thus, the success of any lawyer or a law student depends on the access and utilisation of a large collection of legal information resources. Gilbert (1908) succinctly explains that there is no class of men, professional or otherwise as dependent upon books as the lawyer and that the lawyer’s books are his tools without which he would be unable to provide for himself and his family. These assertions have a strong bearing on the study and practice of law. Whether as a law student, law teacher or legal practitioner, a lawyer engages in finding, interpreting and applying the law to solve societal problems. The law is embedded in legal information resources which the lawyer must have access to in order to do his job.
Legal information resources are made up of local and foreign primary and secondary sources of law. Ryesky (2007) explains that constitutions, statutes, judicial opinions and administrative regulations are considered primary authorities while pronouncements of private parties or entities such as journal articles, treatises, restatements and model codes are secondary legal authorities. Legal information resources generally consist of parliamentary publications such as Acts, laws, by-laws, constitutions; courts decisions in form of law reports; and legal texts such as text books, journals, reviews, reference sources, case books and non-legal texts. The multi-disciplinary nature of law makes the law library collection enormous. Moreover, advances in information and communication technologies have greatly impacted on law and its information resources. Thus, among the collections of law libraries are included digital resources such as Easy law, Digital Rules of Courts and Legalpedia and well established legal databases such as LexisNexis, Westlaw, Law Pavilion and Bloomberg. Other free online legal resources and legal sites exist that the law libraries organise for access.
The law library services are geared toward the provision of the right kinds of information needed for legal education, research and practice. The services are divided into two broad parts- readers’ services and technical services. The technical services include acquisition, cataloguing and classification. Cataloguing and classification, also known as organisation of information materials, are the back bones of any law library services. Acquisition department takes charge of collecting enough of the legal information resources both in print and digital formats. Acquisition service follows the normal acquisition processes existing in other types libraries. On the other hand, organisation of law information materials provides intellectual access to the law collection but differs so much from that of other subjects. Levor (2006) and Ryesky (2007) concur that an academic law library is different in its content, organisation and use from other types of academic libraries. Kenyon (1963) explains that the organisation of law is different from that of other subjects due to the nature of legal materials and the method of supplementation by pocket parts, loose-leaf pages, semi-loose-leaf supplements, replacement volumes, advance sheets and other devices.
Organisation of information materials has both theoretical and practical underpinnings in library and information science and practice (Hjorland, 2008; White, 2011). It is an aspect of a broader term, knowledge organisation (KO). White (2011) acknowledges that terms such as classification, documentation and information organisation are used to mean KO in library and information science. KO is about activities such as document description, indexing and classification performed in libraries, databases and archives (Hjorland, 2008). According to Hjorland, these activities are concerned with the nature and quality of such knowledge organising processes (KOP) as well as the knowledge organising systems (KOS) used to organise documents, document representations and concepts. They are performed by librarians, archivists, subject specialists as well as by computer algorithms.
Organisation of information materials is a process of making the information already acquired in the library available to users so that it will be easy to retrieve for use when needed (Aina, 2004). Knowledge organising processes (KOP) are employed in libraries to describe, categorise and identify information resources are known as cataloguing and classification in Library and Information Science (LIS) theory and practice. Cataloguing is a process by which information materials are identified by their attributes- authors, titles, editors, editions, imprint (place of publication, publishers, and date of publication), pagination, dimension, series and subjects. Classification on the other hand is the process of assigning class numbers (class marks or call numbers) to the identified subjects. However, Cataloguing is a general term among library professionals used to cover both cataloguing and classification activities. Esse (2013) also alludes to this when she said that the activities of cataloguers in the cataloguing work environment are cataloguing and classification. Thus, a cataloguer performs both cataloguing and classification work. For the purpose of this study, cataloguing is used as a general term to cover cataloguing and classification.
These processes produce bibliographic data that assist both the library users and the librarians in retrieving appropriate resources with ease and on time too. Dunshire (2006) explains the cardinal function of a bibliographic metadata, i.e., cataloguing records, as assisting people and machines to find, identify, select and obtain relevant information. This function is particularly crucial to libraries of all types around the world. Thus, as far back as 1942, Hicks stated that “a law library is not merely a collection of books. It is a collection of legal literatures properly housed and organised for service” (cited in Jegede, 2007:17). Nwalo (2001) deliberating on the essence of library organisation maintains that a building filled with books and other information resources is not necessarily a library unless those books and resources have been organised for access and made available for use.
Thus, organisation of collections available in a law library facilitates easy access and retrieval of the information sources (Amusa and Iyoro, 2011) which enables law students have access to relevant materials that will help them accomplish their educational objectives (Olorunfemi, Mostert and Ocholla, 2012). Cohen also concurs to the need to organise legal information resources stating that “one of the primary professional obligations of law librarians is to assure their readers access to the literature of the law” (cited in Butler, 2006:336). Hence, the overall goal of law library is to provide access to its priceless collections to its clientele in order to satisfy their information needs. Cohen concludes that “law librarians must assure their readers access to the materials they collect and administer… Without both physical access to the books and bibliographic access to the information within them, our readers cannot be adequately served” (Butler, 2006: 337).
Tools and resources used for cataloguing and classification are referred to as KOS (Hjorland, 2008). A resource according to Miller (2011) is any object or collection of objects that is of interest to the information providers and the users and that can be described in some ways. He identifies two types of resource as physical or analogue resources and digital resources. Though his definition fits more of information resources like print and digital information resources found in libraries, museum and archives, it can also be applied to cataloguing resources which are also of interest and necessity to cataloguers and which are also of benefit to users indirectly. The users of the library benefit when cataloguers use the cataloguing resources effectively in cataloguing work. This enables access to information resources in the libraries. Furthermore, a resource can be seen as something that one uses to achieve an objective. Thus, cataloguing resources are used to achieve the purpose of information retrieval in libraries.
Tools, on the other hand, are equipment used in a profession. Every profession has its tool of trade. Thus, cataloguing tools are equipment used by cataloguers for the purpose of information retrieval. They are used in cataloguing and classification activities, and also in encoding bibliographic information into the library catalogues. According to Manaf, Nadzar and Ibrahim (2009:13) cataloguing tools are “authoritative rules, codes, guidelines that are acceptable and used by the communities of practice, and regarded as essential to attain accuracy and consistency in the creation of a catalogue record”. Nampeya (2009:17) also defines cataloguing tools and resources as, “any device or document (print-based or electronic) that assists in the creation of an original bibliographic record or in the verification of bibliographic information in existing records”. Cataloguing tools and resources can also be viewed as reference sources and equipment used for bibliographic description, subject classification and for encoding bibliographic information into library catalogues. For the purpose of this study, cataloguing tools and cataloguing resources are used to mean one and the same.
Cataloguing tools and resources are in the form of codes, rules, subject headings and classification schemes. Anglo-American Cataloguing Rule 2 (AACR2) was developed in 1978 but before then many other codes and rules were created by people like Anthony Panizzi, Charles Coffin Jewett and Charles Ammi Cutter. Other codes were developed by American Library Association, Library Association of the United Kingdom and Library of Congress. Esse (2013:8) observes that “AACR2 is the standard rule for document description (cataloguing) for printed materials” while Nwalo (2009) says that it is the most popular code. Today, the AARC2 is being replaced by a more robust code that is friendlier to the digital information environment. This code is called Resource Description and Access (RDA). Cerbo (2011:4) states that RDA is a new cataloguing standard designed to improve “flexibility in rules for dealing with the changing landscape of resource description and access”. RDA was initially envisioned as a third edition of AACR and was accordingly called AACR3 but in an effort to emphasize the break from the past, it was renamed RDA (Coyle and Hillmann, 2007).
Subject heading lists are another important tools use for subject cataloguing and providing subject access to the items being catalogued. Subject cataloguing enables a user of the library to retrieve information resources on a given subject that the authors might not be known to him. In subject cataloguing it is important to “ensure uniformity and consistency” (Aina, 2004:150). According to Aina it is the basic principle in cataloguing that ensures that cataloguers all over the world assign the same subject(s) to the same document. The only principle that can produce uniformity and consistency is a controlled vocabulary. Subject headings are examples of controlled vocabulary used in most university libraries around the world. The two most popular subject headings being utilised in the library are the Sears List of Subject Headings and Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) (Nwalo, 2012).
Classification schemes are the tools used in assigning class notation (number) or call number to a document. According to Amusa and Iyoro (2011), the most popular classification schemes are Bernard Classification Scheme (BCS), BLISS Bibliographic Classification (BC), Colon Classification (CC), Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), Library of Congress Classification (LC) and Universal Decimal Classification (UDC). These classification schemes are general schemes used in school, academic and public libraries and other information centers all over the world. Special libraries by their nature (special user needs and special information materials) tend to employ special schemes in classifying information resources. Some of the popular special schemes used in special libraries are National Library of Medicine by National Library of Medicine (NLM), Oxford Decimal Classification (ODC- for special libraries generally) and Moys Classification and Thesaurus for Legal Materials (MCT) developed by Elizabeth Moys in 1968.
Other cataloguing tools are online resources which aid the cataloguer in his/her job. Some of these are: MARC formats, Dublin core; integrated library systems (Alice for Window, Millennium, GLASS, KOHA, among others.); social media such as MARCit, collaborative tagging, LibrayThing, among others; and online catalogues (Library of Congress Online Catalogue, WorldCat, and Adelaide University Online Catalogue). Reference materials such as Black Law Dictionary and other dictionaries, national bibliographies, union catalogues; and typewriters, computers, catalogue cards, pen, pencils and rulers are also part of the cataloguing tools and resources.
The concept of utilisation is a common phenomenon in library services. This means the act of using something, the manner in which something is used, or the state of being used. Use as an activity has been the most valid measure of any item of worth to a library or information system. Utilisation of cataloguing tools and resources in libraries is very crucial to the work activities of the cataloguer. From the definitions of cataloguing tools and resources, it can be deduced that the use of cataloguing tools and resources and cataloguing job activities are inseparable.
According to Nwalo (2001), the classification schemes used in Nigeria for the arrangement of books on the shelves are traditional ones. Academic libraries mostly use LC while the public libraries tend to use DDC. Nwalo, however, observes that the three popular schemes which are used in teaching and learning cataloguing in the library schools in Nigeria are the DDC, LC and UDC. Therefore one can reasonably conclude that special classification schemes like MCT and NLM are not utilised in the library schools. Thus, efficient use of these resources in the work place cannot be guaranteed.
The concept of availability is another phenomenon which is associated with use. It is impossible to use what is not available. Hence, for cataloguers to perform optimally cataloguing tools and resources must be readily available and the cataloguers must possess the necessary competencies to use them. It has been observed that cataloguing tools and resources are not always available in libraries, even in library schools. Nwalo (2001) laments the dearth of these resources in the library schools. Some law librarians have also complained about lack of cataloguing tools and resources in their libraries. In fact, at the recent Workshop organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, law librarians were photocopying the current edition of Moys Classification and Thesaurus for Legal Materials. Aderinto and Obadare (2009) confirm high cost and obsolete cataloguing materials as major challenges facing cataloguers. Notwithstanding that cataloguing tools and resources are usually very expensive, they should be made available for use in the libraries for effective organisation of knowledge.
A cataloguer is a librarian who performs the task of cataloguing and classification for the sole purpose of providing easy access to materials available in the library. Sung (2013) states that the minimum qualification for a cataloguing librarian is Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Masters in Library Science (MLS). However, Aderinto and Obadare (2009:138) describe cataloguing staff as comprising professional librarians, Para-professionals (library officers), library assistants, data entry clerk or typists and clerical staff. They further explained that the professional staffs are cataloguers who spend most of working hours on cataloguing the library materials in the collection from the scratch most especially the original cataloguing. They are responsible for the intellectual analysis of the materials before users could retrieve them. The library assistants usually engage in copy cataloguing, making bibliographic entering, preparing catalogue cards, labelling book spines and filing them in the catalogue cabinets and shelf list catalogues.
In these days of digital technology, the library assistants use computers to input cataloguing data which will be accessible from online public access catalogues (OPAC). For the purpose of this study, cataloguers include librarians and lawyers with PhD, MLS, MILS, LLB, LLM; library officers, and library assistants that work in cataloguing departments in university law libraries in Southern Nigeria. A good number of law cataloguers have dual qualifications in law and librarianship.
A Job is a task, an economic role for which a person is paid. It is also defined “as a group of homogeneous tasks related by similarity of functions www.businessdictionary.com/definition/job.htm). When performed by an employer in an exchange for pay, it consists of duties, responsibilities, and tasks that are defined and specified which and can be accomplished, quantified, measured, and rated. Cataloguers’ job in university law libraries include identifying legal and non legal information sources, assigning appropriate headings and class marks to them. This will provide access tools that aid retrieval and use of the resources to law students, teachers and other students and staffs who are interested in law information materials.
Job performance on the other hand, can be viewed as “scalable actions, behaviour and outcomes that employees engage in or bring about that are linked with and contribute to organisational goals” (Viswesvaran and Ones, 2000:216). Saka and Haruna (2013:10) see it as “the ability to carry out statutory functions which are based on the field of specialisation or areas of development as well as an organisation’s objectives”. For the purposes of this research, job performance can be viewed as the quantity and quality of work done by employees and set of abilities that contribute to the organisational goals. Job performance can be high or low depending on some variables inherent in the work environments, including competencies of the employees.
The competencies required of a cataloguer to perform cataloguing job optimally are basically professional knowledge. Sung (2013) succinctly explains it saying that no competence is more important in cataloguing than professional knowledge. These include theoretical background as well as technical skills for cataloguing. According to Sung, knowledge of cataloguing tools is a must-have and the cataloguer must keep abreast of the latest changes and updates since cataloguing tools and rules change regularly to reflect or accommodate changes or new developments. It can be deduced from the literature that in the whole gamut of job performance, personnel competence is very central. Without a certain level of competence (knowledge and skills), the law cataloguer will not be able to produce qualitative and quantitative bibliographic records nor provide timely access to legal information to law students and teachers.
The primary responsibilities of a cataloguer are to prepare bibliographic records and provide efficient access and retrieval tools for users. Cataloguers have constantly described this task as tortuous, brain tasking, boring, time-consuming and expensive. Omekwu (2007:65) supports this claim when he asserts that “the journey of the book and other information resources do not just jump to the shelves, it follows a delineated process that is both technical and intellectual”. Thus, for the job performance of the cataloguer to be effective and efficient, certain competencies in terms of knowledge and skills in the application of the rules and use of appropriate schemes, subject headings and ICT technologies are expected.
A cataloguer’s job activities involve firstly; identifying and describing the information items based on the information provided in the items such as the authors, titles, editions, imprint, collation, ISBN/ISSN. The cataloguer uses the cataloguing codes or rules to arrange the bibliographic information according to internationally accepted standards. This aspect is commonly done by support staff- paraprofessionals and even library assistants with the supervision of the cataloguer. Secondly, he assigns subjects to the items using standard subject heading lists. This aspect is the most difficult and requires cataloguer’s judgements to be able to provide and not misdirect access to the items. Sung (2013) concurs to this by saying that in assigning subject headings, many issues arise causing uncertainty and ambiguity. Sung also notes that these issues are not easily dealt with and thus require good judgement.
The third aspect is the assigning of class marks or call numbers to the items using classification scheme chosen by the library. Levy (1995) categorises cataloguers’ work into two distinctive activities-descriptive cataloguing and subject cataloguing. According to Levi, descriptive cataloguing is concerned with creating catalogue records for items by describing their characteristics. Subject cataloguing on the other hand, is concerned with classifying the subject matter, the intellectual content of an item and it is the subject cataloguer who assigns an item to a class within a classification scheme which in turn determines a place on the shelf.
From the above discourse concerning cataloguers’ job activities, it is obvious that cataloguers cannot perform these activities without the use of cataloguing tools and resources. Sung cited above says that knowledge of the tools is a must have. Miksa (2008) opines that just as a carpenter cannot build a house without his tools, so also a cataloguer cannot catalogue without using cataloguing tools and resources. However, a survey by Modeste and Dina (2007) on the use of Moys Classification Scheme in the Caribbean did not establish whether the use or none use of MCT affected law cataloguers’ job performance.
In this study, demographic variables such as subject background, law cataloguing experience and continuous professional development of law cataloguers were examined in relation to cataloguers’ utilisation of cataloguing tools and resources and cataloguers’ job performance in university law libraries in Southern Nigeria. Subject background or subject degree in the context of this work means having background or subject degree in law; law cataloguing experience means having experience in cataloguing of law materials by having worked for a long time with law information materials; and continuous professional development has to do with training and retraining through either formal education or attendance to specific training, mentoring, conferences and workshops.
Subject degree has been discussed in literature to influence cataloguers’ job performance. According to Levor (2006), providing bibliographic access to scholarly research in general relies heavily on subject matter expertise and familiarity with specialised resources. As bibliographers, librarians must possess sufficient levels of these qualifications to organise and manage information and to guide researchers to ample and appropriate information. Boydston and Leysen (2006:7) concur by using “describing chemistry department photographs” as an example. The writers conclude that a cataloguer with knowledge of chemistry can provide accurate and detailed subject access by supplying the correct names of scientific apparatuses and processes.
Subject knowledge of law is particularly required by a law cataloguer to be able to assign appropriate subject headings and classification symbols to law materials. Raju’s (2014) study found that subject knowledge requirement emanates largely from law libraries. Mayer and Terrill’s (2005) survey on subject degree reveals a positive relationship with job performance in reference, bibliographic instruction, cataloguing, collection development, distance education and electronic resources. Also, Gede and Lawanson (2011) found a significant relationship between educational background and job performance. However, no study has proved whether having a law degree improves law cataloguers’ use of cataloguing tools and resources and thus their job performance or not.
Another important factor in cataloguing job performance is professional experience. Generally, the longer the year an employee is engaged on a particular job, the more experience (knowledge and skills) he/she acquires. Thus, experience of employee is a measure for skill levels. An employee is expected to improve his/her skill level depending on the length of time employed with the organisation. This may invariably increase productivity and job performance. Hence, “employers frequently employ persons with previous work experience to fit for the knowledge and skill that contribute to performance” (Sallah, Yaakub and Dzulkifi, 2011:33). Law cataloguing is a complex technique which requires a combination of general cataloguing principles, intellectual skills and experience with legal publications (Keyon, 1963). Having experienced cataloguers in the law libraries will be tantamount to opting for a high job performance. Gede and Lawanson (2011) found a significant relationship between experience and job performance of employees. Modesta and Dina (2007) also found a positive relationship between experience of law cataloguers and their use of Moys Classification and Thesaurus for Legal Materials in the Caribbean law libraries.
Continuous professional development/training has long been recognised by all professions to impact on the work force performance. Quite a number of literatures in the LIS have alluded to the poor training in cataloguing and classification in the library schools globally (Li, 2005; Nwalo, 2009). The general notion is that such training cannot equip entry level cataloguers to perform optimally. Hence, there is need for continuous professional development for law cataloguers in university libraries in Nigeria. Moreover, new cataloguing tools and resources are emerging especially as it relates to digital environment and so continuous professional development will be needed. Morrow, cited in Adebayo (2013:16) reported that “in many library schools, cataloguing courses are essentially traditional and do not cover new trends and issues in the organisation of knowledge and information”. Adeboye also discovered that graduates of the library schools surveyed lacked required skills for various cataloguing positions in libraries, especially in an electronic or automated environment. Continuous professional education will impact on the knowledge and skills of cataloguers to efficiently use cataloguing tools and resources thereby improving their job performance. Saka and Haruna (2013) posit a high correlation between training programme and job performance.
Despite the established importance of the use of cataloguing tools and resources to cataloguers’ job performance, it has been observed that cataloguers generally and law cataloguers specifically experience some challenges while using cataloguing tools and resources. For instance, using MCT to classify legal information resources presents some challenges. Jegede (2010) observes that the MCT is very suitable and easy to classify the common law legal materials than to classify civil law materials. Common law countries include England, Australia and U.S.A among others. Africa and Asian countries are mostly civil law countries. The challenge stems from the fact that the Scheme has an obvious English-speaking common law bias (Moys, 2001). Dada (2010) also concurs that “Moys designed her scheme for the classification of materials on Common Law” (p.10). Experience has also shown that law cataloguers find it difficult to use the Tables in MCT. Another challenge posed by using MCT is lack of frequency in updating the scheme. This in particular contributed to the University of British Columbia (UBC) decision to abandon it in 2006 (Abaee cited in DeCaen, 2008).
Barman (2011) further observes that the cost of purchasing DDC is very high and as such many libraries in India and other developing countries cannot afford to have their own set of DDC. Another challenge of using cataloguing tools and resources is lack of awareness of the tools (Miksa, 2008). For instance, most law cataloguers are not aware that Library of Congress Subject Heading List could be used to assign controlled vocabulary to law materials. They use Thesaurus attached to MCT as subject heading list. This may not be elaborate enough to take care of law subjects which are robust and constantly emerging.
Furthermore, Manaf, Nadzar and Ibrahim’s (2009) study revealed that the cataloguers encountered various problems with the tools which most of them attributed to a lack of training to adequately prepare them for cataloguing requirements. In addition, the majority of libraries had cataloguing backlogs which were attributed to various factors such as a lack of professionally trained staff in cataloguing and a lack of cataloguing tools and resources.
To be able to overcome most of the challenges discussed above, it has been suggested that university libraries should provide financial resources to acquire the right cataloguing tools and resources. Another widely suggestion made towards improving the use of cataloguing tools and resources is training and retraining of cataloguing staffs (Nampaye, 2009). Bello and Mansor, (2012) opines that the quality and quantity of education cataloguers received in LIS programmes is observed to be insufficient, hence, the need for continuous professional development. El-Sherbini and Klim (1997) recommend that library schools must now also relate their teaching of cataloguing and classification to the emergent technology.
A correlation study is a scientific investigation of the associations between variables. This research design is used to identify the extent to which values for two or more factors are related. According to Akinsola (2005), correlation studies are used to quantify the magnitude of the relationship between variables being studied. In this type of research, a statistical measure called the coefficient of correlation is computed to identify the extent to which the values of the two variables or factors are related or changed in an identifiable pattern. In this study therefore, the researcher is set to establish a relationship (if any) between the law cataloguers’ use of cataloguing tools and resources and their job performance in federal and state university law libraries in Southern Nigeria.
University law libraries in United States of America are called the law school libraries or college of law libraries. This is because law is studied as a graduate course, thus, one system of legal education is practiced. The law school library is not under the control of the university librarian (Milles, 2004). In the United Kingdom, two tier systems of legal education and training (university and law school) exist, thus, separating the academic from the vocational stages (Onoloja, n.d). Most of the law school libraries in US and UK are autonomous and are being manned by the directors who are professors of law and also hold library qualifications.
In Nigeria, like the United Kingdom, two tier systems of legal education and training (university and law school) exist. The university law libraries exist in the universities with law faculties while the law school libraries exist in the six law schools. Some of the university law libraries have separate structures from the university libraries like the Lagos State University and University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, while some are located within the university libraries. However, not minding their locations, they are under the university libraries. This explains the many agitations for the autonomy of the law library from the university library even outside Nigeria (Milles, 2004). Elements of such agitations still exist in Nigeria among the law faculties who have questioned the university law libraries under the control of the university libraries. Orman in Milles, notes the argument by law librarians: “the domination of the law library functions by the university librarian operates to impair the service of the law library….it results in delays caused by centralised ordering, receipt and cataloguing of law library materials in the general library” (p.388).
Consequently, the Council of Legal Education (CLE) through the National University Commission (NUC) mandates that universities have their law libraries in the law faculties or a distinct sections in the university libraries to house law libraries collections and reading sections for law students and teachers and that lawyer librarians head the university law libraries. A lawyer librarian is a librarian who having obtained a law degree goes further to obtain a master’s degree in LIS. There are librarians who also have obtained law degree to qualify as lawyer librarians. It is expected that a lawyer librarian will be in a better position to handle acquisition and organisation of legal information materials having been well acquainted with the complexity of legal information resources and the user behaviour of lawyers who use the materials. To ensure adequate collection of legal information resources in the universities, the CLE mandates the law faculties to make available large collection of legal information resources from different local and foreign sources for the purposes of accreditation (NUC, 2007).
Academic law libraries development started after the country’s independence. However, the classification of law books came later just like their counterparts in other countries (Jegede, 2007; Tuyo, 2011; Solon, 2006). The major reasons for delay in law classification are the absence of suitable classification scheme for law and a long debate over author arrangement against subject classification by law librarians (Milles, 2004). Though the Library of Congress Classification Scheme existed since 1920, class K Law was not developed until 1968. This led to the establishment of so many in-house classification schemes for law. Consequently, Elizabeth Moys developed MCT to fill the void created by absence of suitable classification scheme for law.
The first faculty of law in Nigeria was established in 1961 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka followed by University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Lagos in 1961, 1962 and 1965 respectively. Other law faculties were established from the 1970s in the federal, state and private universities. A total of forty-four (44) accredited law faculties presently exist in the federal, state and private universities in Nigeria (Fapohunda, 2014). These universities started classifying their law resources using either DDC or LC. Today, all the universities classify their law resources using MCT.
The Southern Nigeria comprises the South West, South East and South South with seventeen states. There are thirty-one (31) federal, state and private, accredited law faculties in Southern Nigeria (Fapohunda, 2014). Though the Lagos High Court and the Ministry of Justice libraries existed since 1900 in the Southern Nigeria. Cataloguing and classification of law resources were not practiced in the law libraries until the establishment of academic law libraries in the universities. The major reason given was absence of suitable classification scheme for law. Today, experience has shown that most of the courts and private law libraries in the Southern Nigeria do not catalogue their law materials.
University of Lagos was among the first generation university having been established in 1965. Elizabeth Moys became the first university librarian of the University of Lagos. So, it can be reasonably assumed that the university started classifying its law resources using the draft copy of MCT. The insistence of the Council of Legal Education to evaluating a well organised law collection being managed by lawyer librarians for granting or withholding accreditation to law faculty has added impetus to a proper maintenance of law collection. Subsequently, most of the university law libraries in Southern Nigeria have complied with the mandate of the Council of Legal Education to have librarians with law degree to manage the law libraries. Studies have also shown that most of the university law libraries in Southern Nigeria use MCT to classify their law materials (Azigba, 1995; Popoola, Udoh and Aderibigbe (2001); Orbih and Aina, (2014).
However, it is not clear if these university law libraries make effective use of MCT and other essential cataloguing tools and resources, such as cataloguing rules and codes, subject heading list among others, to catalogue and classify their law resources. It seems as if they are not using adequate and appropriate cataloguing tools and resources and this may be the reason for their poor performance in cataloguing.