The ever growing collection of information resources that has come to be associated with academic libraries has made the organization of these collections in academic libraries a crucial need. The prevalence of the practice of cataloguing and classification in academic libraries has been ascribed to the need to fulfill this fundamental need. This study sets out to investigate the practice of cataloguing and classification as it pertains in three academic libraries in Ghana with the objectives of identifying the role of this practice, assessing the level of investment in the practice as well as reveal the nature of the practice. This comparative case study, guided by the Knowledge Management Process Model, engaged thirty-one respondents involved in the practice at both the policy and operational levels through a semi structured interview, as well as an examination of policy documents and websites hosting the respective online catalogues.

The study revealed among others that a predominantly online cataloguing practice is prevalent but with a relatively low investment in the practice. It was also apparent from the study that personnel of the cataloguing outfits were thoroughly aware of the role they played in the value chain of the academic library. It was again revealed that the myriad of challenges faced by the practice in the cases under review had financial connotations.

The study recommends among others, an upward adjustment in the financial allocation to this important practice with the view to mitigating the challenges faced by the practice. Again, it is proffered that the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries In Ghana bring these individual practices together to form a national practice while spearheading the drive towards the adoption of Resource Description and Access as a cataloguing standard.


            Background to the study

An academic library, in the opinion of Entsua-Mensah (2015), is a library attached to a higher education institution and mandated to serve the curricular needs of students, faculty members and staff of the parent institution (College or University). The primary objective of the academic library is to aid the teaching, learning and research activities of the institution. It develops its collection of resources based on the programmes offered in the institution. Academic libraries in Ghana are made up of University libraries, College libraries and Polytechnic libraries. Among the services provided by academic libraries are reference services, lending services, inter library lending and document delivery services, electronic support services, reprographic services and user education (Entsua-Mensah, 2015). All these services are geared towards aiding the user find the information required for their academic work.

Andaleeb and Simmonds (1998) opine that academic libraries are the largest and most comprehensive of all the types of libraries and as such tend to require relatively higher financial outlays coupled with the engagement of more human resources than the remaining kinds of libraries. Owing to their core mandate of serving the curricular needs of higher education institutions, the collections of academic libraries tend to be very extensive in terms of varieties and quantities so as to enable the library provide relevant and adequate publications on all subjects and courses taught in the institution.

To this end, organizing the vast collection of academic libraries does not become only a want but rather an acute need. There is the need to organize the collection of the library to not only give

access to the collection but also facilitate the retrieval of same to the users who require them (Rowley & Farrow, 2000).

Gorman (1998) (cited in Cabonero and Dolendo, 2013) identified technical services as tasks carried out in libraries with the primary concern of processing library materials in order to facilitate access to them. These services while not known to users and clients are usually integral to the overall service provided by the library. Montoya (1999) opines that the impact of technical services in academic libraries has been felt more in recent times with the advent of Information Communication Technology serving as both a threat and an incentive to their core mandate of facilitating access to information resources. Gorman (2004) opines that the practice of cataloguing and classification is constituted by all activities geared at logically congregating bibliographic data of information resources and collocating these resources into retrievable and usable records and is the one practice that permits the library to pursue its central missions of service and free and open access to all recorded knowledge and information. The practice includes but not limited to descriptive cataloguing, subject cataloguing, classification and authority control.

Academic libraries and other types of libraries that seek to organize their information resources do so mainly with the practice of Cataloguing and Classification (Rowley & Farrow, 2000). Cataloguing and Classification are the two main tools for organizing knowledge and information resources in librarianship. Much as the practice of cataloguing and classification can be carried out in every type of library irrespective of size, it goes without saying that it is a crucial practice in academic libraries as a result of the magnitude of the collection and operations in these libraries. The total absence of a Cataloguing and Classification unit in an academic library in Ghana is therefore unthinkable.

                   Brief Background of Sam Jonah Library, University of Cape Coast

The University of Cape Coast, formerly the University College of Cape Coast, was established in 1962. It was founded to basically train teachers for the second cycle schools and teacher training colleges in the country. The college was also mandated to provide opportunities for Ghanaians aspiring for tertiary education as well as help churn out the trained and competent workforce that was needed to drive the Ghanaian economy.

The University of Cape Coast like every accredited tertiary institution is mandated to have an academic library. The University of Cape Coast library, recently named ‘The Sam Jonah Library’, is one of the largest academic libraries in Ghana. The collection is housed in a magnificent five-storey library complex situated right in the centre of the university campus. The library has the capacity for holding seven hundred and fifty thousand (750000) volumes of books excluding pamphlets and journals. It is also equipped to seat more than two thousand (2000) users at a time. It is the most frequently used facility in the University with approximately one thousand (1000) visits per day. It is a hybrid library with approximately over two hundred and sixty thousand (260000) hard copies and a substantial number of e-books and databases to be accessed via the internet. The University of Cape Coast Library system comprises College Libraries, Departmental Libraries and Hall libraries of the University (University of Cape Coast Library Guide, 2012).

The Cataloguing Section of the Sam Jonah Library is the outfit responsible for cataloguing and classification in the library. It is staffed with a mixture of professional librarians and para- professional librarians.

Brief Background of Balme Library, University of Ghana

The University of Ghana (UG), Legon, is the oldest and largest of all Ghanaian tertiary institutions. Founded in  1948  as  the  University  College  of  the  Gold  Coast,  it  was originally an affiliate college of the University of London. It gained full university status in  1961, and now has nearly 40,000 full time students. Its original emphasis on the liberal arts, social sciences, basic science,  agriculture,  and  medicine,  has  been  expanded  to provide  more technology-based and vocational courses as well as postgraduate training (University of Ghana, 2014).

Established in 1948, the Balme Library is the main library of the University of Ghana. In addition to the Balme Library, there are other libraries in the various Schools, Institutes, 7 Departments, Halls of Residence and the Accra City Campus,  altogether  forming  the University of Ghana Library System. The Library provides excellent facilities and products which include the 24-Hour reading room, Research Commons (RC), Knowledge Commons (KC), Ghana-Korea Information Access Centre, printing and binding services, reprographic services  and  a  networked  environment  with  computers. The  collection  of  the  library, which consists of both electronic  and  print  resources, provides essential background reading for the courses taught. The Library is dynamic and continues to adapt to changing technologies and patron information needs (University of Ghana, 2014).

The Balme Library’s Cataloguing section is mandated with all tasks concerning the cataloguing and classification of the collection of the library.

                   Brief history of Osagyefo Library, University of Education, Winneba.

The University of Education, Winneba (UEW) was established in September, 1992 as a University College under PNDC Law 322. On 14th May, 2004 the University of Education Act, Act 672 was enacted to upgrade the status of the University College of Education of Winneba to the status of a full University.

The University College of Education of Winneba brought together seven diploma awarding colleges located in different towns under one umbrella institution. These Colleges were The Advanced Teacher Training College, The Specialist Training College and The National Academy of Music, all located at Winneba; The School of Ghana Languages, Ajumako; The College of Special Education, Akwapim-Mampong; The Advanced Technical Training College, Kumasi; and The St. Andrews Agricultural Training College, Mampong-Ashanti.

The three sites in Winneba now referred to as the Winneba campus is the seat of the Vice- Chancellor with satellite campuses at Kumasi, Mampong and Ajumako.

The University of Education, Winneba Libraries include Osagyefo Library (the main campus library), College of Technology Education Library-Kumasi Campus (Which stock mainly materials on technical and vocational education), College of Agriculture Education Library – Mampong Campus (stocks materials on agric and environmental studies education), College of Languages Education Library – Ajumako Campus (stocks materials on  language  education),  and 5 specialized branch and departmental libraries. The collection of the libraries includes books, journals and compact disks in electronic and hard copy forms (University of Education, Winneba, 2017).

Within the Osagyefo Library is the Cataloguing and Acquisition section which is tasked with the acquisition, cataloguing and classification of information resources in the library.

     Statement Of The Problem

The identification of the practice of cataloguing and consequently classification as a crucial activity in the operations of academic libraries is pervasive in library and information science literature (Reid, 2003; Taylor & Joudrey, 2008; Cabonero & Dolendo, 2013; Unegbu & Unuoha, 2013).

Sadly, this practice (Cataloguing and Classification) is one not too popular with users of the library, Para-professional staff and Professional staff of libraries. The erroneous impression of cataloguing and classification as nothing other than an old fashion routine among some Para- professionals and Professionals of the library has not helped the fortune of this crucial activity. Reid (2003) laid this issue to bare more plainly when he posited that the problem with cataloguing and classification is with its perception by non-professionals and ill-informed professionals. Most Professionals and Para-professionals though accept assignment to the cataloguing and classification section without objection; they may not choose the practice when offered a choice between the various activities and operations in academic libraries and would most probably choose cataloguing and classification as their last resort. This state of affairs according to Reid (2003) is as a result of the repetitive, routine and monotonous nature of the cataloguing work.

This lack of interest in cataloguing and classification contributed in large part to the consequent dearth in literature in cataloguing and classification research. Tanui (1997) opines that

cataloguing and classification research has lost its appeal and prevalence in Library Schools with many students and lecturers mistakenly thinking little of cataloguing and classification other than a washed-up necessary evil. Unegbu and Unuoha (2013) in referencing Spillane (1999) are blunt in their assertion when they pointed out a developing pattern in Library Schools where courses devoted to Cataloguing and Classification are being supplanted with courses with the words ‘information’ and ‘organization’ in them. Ocholla and Ocholla (2011) attribute the paucity of cataloguing and classification research to the shortage of qualified cataloguing lecturers and circumstances that preclude the total use and appreciation of technology in cataloguing and classification education.

This same dwindling interest in cataloguing research has been attributed to the ‘Library (L)’ and ‘Information (I)’ confrontation. Miller et al (2006) attribute the devaluation of cataloguing and classification and the consequent lack of research into the same area to the recent phenomenon that has seen more Library Schools joining the iSchool group.

Dadzie (2008) cited in Folashade (2014) agreed to the foregoing by asserting that the theory and practice of Classification happens to be one of the courses approved to be dropped by finalists in their training to be librarians. Nnadozie (2015) attributes the lack of interest in cataloguing and classification research to graduating students of library and information science perception of cataloguing and classification as difficult and their inferable below par performance in the course.

Folashade (2014) observes a surge in cataloguing and classification research in these contemporary times and attributes the surge to the advent and introduction of Information and Communication Technology in library operations. This surge in the quantum of research done on

cataloguing and classification was witnessed mainly in the United States of America and Europe which had hitherto more than held their own in the contribution towards cataloguing and classification research. In the context of the African continent, cataloguing and classification research saw very little interest until the advent of Information and Communication Technology and the subsequent library automation drive that followed (Folashade, 2014).

A review of current and relevant literature on the subject of cataloguing and classification in the context of the African continent leaves one in no doubt about the considerable effort of Nigerians towards filling the research gap existing in the area of cataloguing and classification.

The same cannot however be said in the Ghanaian context. Cataloguing and classification research before the advent of Information and Communication Technology was between non- existent and very little. This is evidenced by the existence of very little research on pre-ICT enhanced cataloguing. The library automation drive that followed the Information and Communication Technology revolution and evident in most public academic libraries in Ghana has not been able to change the fortunes of cataloguing and classification research for the better. Barring some notable research works on cataloguing and classification by Kisiedu, (1980); Alemna and Antwi (1984); Bello and Thompson, (2003); and Ahenkorah-Marfo and Borteye, (2010), research into the area has been largely neglected especially in these contemporary times. The research gap has been especially pronounced as a result of the lack of interest of graduate students to research into the area mainly because of its perceived technicality and difficulty. This is manifested by the paltry quantity of thesis, dissertations and long essays available on the area (Mutula & Tsvakai, 2002).

This study therefore sought to help fill the obvious gap identified in cataloguing and classification research in Ghana by inquiring into the evolution, practice, roles and challenges of cataloguing and classification as pertaining in some public academic libraries in Ghana.

     Purpose Of The Study

The purpose of the study was to comparatively investigate the practice of Cataloguing and Classification as it pertains in three publicly funded academic libraries specifically University of Ghana, University of Education, Winneba and University of Cape Coast libraries.

     Objectives Of The Study

Specifically, the study sought to:

  • To   comparatively   investigate   the   roles   and    functionalities of Cataloguing and Classification in academic libraries in Ghana.
  • To find out the nature of Cataloguing and Classification in relation to each other in these libraries.
  • To find out the level of investment in Cataloguing and Classification periodically in these libraries.
  • To   unearth   the   challenges   militating   against    the practice of Cataloguing and Classification in academic libraries in Ghana.
  • To make some recommendations on how the practice of Cataloguing and Classification can be improved in academic libraries.

     Research Questions

The study was guided by the following research questions.

  • What role does Cataloguing and Classification play in the operations of academic libraries in Ghana?
  • What is the nature of Cataloguing and Classification in these academic libraries?
  • What is the level of investment in Cataloguing and Classification over time in these academic libraries?
  • What are the factors hindering an elite Cataloguing and Classification practice in academic libraries in Ghana?
  • What recommendations can be suggested to improve the practice of Cataloguing and Classification in academic libraries in Ghana?

     Scope/Limitation Of The Study

Cataloguing and Classification is practiced in every academic library in Ghana be it public or private. A study into the practice of Cataloguing and Classification ideally should cover every academic library, both public and private for a conclusive and comprehensive study outcome but for limitations imposed by time and financial resources, the study was limited to three publicly funded academic libraries specifically Balme Library of University of Ghana, Osagyefo Library of University of Education, Winneba and Sam Jonah Library of University of Cape Coast.. Considering the number of public and private academic libraries in Ghana and the number studied in this research work, generalization must be done carefully especially taking into account the fact that the qualitative approach guided the research.

     Conceptual Framework

Punch (2005) defines conceptual framework as a representation, either graphically or in narrative form, of the main concepts or variables, and their presumed relationship with each other.

In all organizations and establishments that deal with the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge and information, the management of such knowledge and information becomes crucial. Thus, the process through which knowledge and information needs are identified through to when they are shared with the person requiring same tends to be of importance to such organizations. For the purpose of this study a slightly modified version of Choo’s (1998) process model on Information Management by Bouthillier and Shearer (2002) was adopted to anchor the study with the objective of bringing to light the position Cataloguing and Classification occupies in the value chain of the librarianship profession. Choo (1998) presents his model as a cycle in five basic steps comprising identification of information needs, information acquisition, information organization and storage, information distribution and information use. Bouthillier and Shearer’s model replicates Choo’s (1998) Information Management model by replacing the concept of information with the knowledge concept. The Knowledge Management process model is similarly cyclical and begins with the identification of knowledge needs, discovery of existing knowledge, acquisition of knowledge, storage and organization of knowledge, the sharing of knowledge and finally to the use and application of knowledge by users and clients (Bouthillier & Shearer, 2002).