DIGITIZATION OF LOCAL COLLECTIONS AND ITS IMPACT ON SCHOLARSHIP IN THE LIBRARY

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DIGITIZATION OF LOCAL COLLECTIONS AND ITS IMPACT ON SCHOLARSHIP IN THE LIBRARY

 

ABSTRACT

This study investigated the digitalization of local collection and its impact on scholarship using the status of digitalization in some federal university libraries in South-Eastern Zone of Nigeria. Seven research questions guided the study. The research design adopted for this study is a descriptive survey. The total population for this study was three hundred and twenty-three (323) library staff, but sixty (60) rspondents that were directly involved in digitization were sampled. The major instruments for data collection are questionnaire and observation checklist. A total of sixty questionnaire were distributed to the respondents who comprised of the library staff from the university libraries under study. Fifty-five copies of the questionnaire were correctly filled and used for this study. Data were analyzed using percentage and mean scores. From the analysis, the findings revealed that improved library services, increased access, speedy retrieval of documents and effective preservation are the major impact of digitization of library local content collections. The result also shows that librarians have not yet acquired all the skills needed for digitization especially skills on creation and management of library website, database management skill, trouble-shooting, metadata creation of library local content collections, and web publishing. High cost of purchasing equipment, poor internet connectivity, preservation of digital resources, inadequate skilled personnel, lack of standards, and inadequate funding are some of the major problems militating against effective digitization project. Based on the findings, the study recommended alternative power supply, adequate funding, training of librarians to acquire digitization skills and proper selection of software packages as strategies for effective digitization. The study concluded that in order to remain relevant in the present digital environment, libraries especially in developing countries should make every effort to digitize their local content for preservation and easy access.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

The University library can be seen as the central nervous system of its parent institution as they are primarily established to provide information resources to back up academic programmes. It is the principal instrument of the university in the conservation of knowledge. Proper fulfillment of this role provides a sound basis for the transmission and advancement of knowledge. The University library therefore collects materials, published and unpublished, print and non-print, in some depth and globally in almost all fields of knowledge (Aguolu and Aguolu, 2002). Thus the main purpose of the university library is to support the objective of the university which is to promote teaching, learning and research. Globally, Libraries are digitizing information resources and making them available and accessible to end users via electronic media such as the World Wide Web (WWW), the Internet, and CD-ROM. The present revolution in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and digitization initiatives are now critical issues that libraries, especially in the academic environment can no longer afford to fold their hands if they must continue to remain relevant in this digital age. Nwalo (2003) noted that “Libraries in Africa including Nigeria are gradually but steadily converting from manual process to computer-based library routines.” This is as a result of the changing need of library users.

Obviously, the general library environment is gradually changing from analogue to digital and/or hybrid library, as a result of the present ICT revolution which has been the central driving force for digitization project. Hence, ICT is the gateway for library digitization; although these technologies have been in a very low supply in Nigerian universities and most African countries. The advent of ICTs and the present digitization projects are key developmental factors in the present day libraries especially in the academic environment. ICT according to Blurton (1999) is a diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information. Anaeme (2006) pointed out that the emergence of fast growth of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) and their application in libraries, especially academic libraries, has continued to revolutionize the pattern and scope of library services. In the same vein, Campbell (2006) observed that “numerous creative and useful services have evolved within academic libraries in digital age: providing quality learning spaces, creating metadata, offering virtual reference services, teaching information literacy, choosing resources and managing resources licenses, collecting and digitizing archival materials, and maintaining digital repositories.

Digitization is the process of converting the contents of a document from hardcopy into electronic or machine-readable form. It involves the selection of source materials of intellectual value, scanning them, and saving the scanned document into the computer to be accessed locally and remotely via the internet. According to Witten and Bridge (2003), digitization is “the process of taking traditional library materials that are in the form of books and papers and converting them to the electronic form where they can be stored and manipulated by a computer”. Fatoki (2005) defined digitization as “the conversion of analogue media to digital form”. In the same vein, Library and Archives, Canada in Akintude (2007) defined digitization as “the process of translating a piece of information such as sound recording, picture or video into bits”. Digitization therefore involves more than the conversion of analogue materials into digital format; it includes the organization of the digital content into a navigable format.

Generally, digitization has a lot of invaluable benefits such as increasing the visibility of libraries globally, improved services to an expanding number of users, enhanced access to current and vast amount of information from remote sites as users can easily access library local content collections from different parts of the world no matter the distance; flexibility in information search and retrieval; it ensures better preservation of library local content collections by reduced handling of the original analogue surrogate materials and alleviating the problems normally associated with the traditional library environment such as mutilation of information resources, theft, space constraints, scarcity or limited number of copies, limited hour of operation, and poor storage environment normally associated with manual preservation; it is a veritable information source for e-learning and it offers a platform for collaboration and interoperability of libraries globally.

Digitization has the potentials of making Africa global producers of indigenous information and preservation of our cultural heritage rather than being passive consumers of imported information. Hence, digitization paves way for the globalization of local content and the accessibility of global information resources locally. In Africa, there have been some digitization projects. Chisenga (2004) noted that while digital libraries and archives are being created around the world in order to preserve, store, catalogue, disseminate and share information resources, target scale digitization projects in Africa have not yet taken off, though there are notable efforts being made in some countries, but mainly in a small scale. Digitization enhances the visibility of a library globally as materials digitized can be easily accessed by other libraries and research institutions once there are compatible infrastructures such as relevant hardware, software, and internet connectivity. The immense importance of digitization is that it offers opportunities for collaboration among libraries worldwide. It enhances the visibility of a library globally as digitized materials can easily be accessed by other libraries and research institutions locally, nationally and internationally, once there is compatibility of infrastructures such as relevant hardware and software.

Digitization has recently become a very popular term in libraries as there has been a global need for nations to preserve their cultural heritage and make them accessible in order to contribute positively to the global information and knowledge economy. The concept of a library as a physical place where one can visit to access information has dramatically changed to services which provide organized access to the intellectual records, wherever it resides whether in physical places or in scattered digital information spaces paving way to the present model of hybrid libraries (Carr, 2001) Digital libraries emerged largely in the 1990s because of the revolution in the ICTs and the need for enhanced access and preservation of cultural heritage materials. The term digital library was first made popular by the NSF/DARPA/NASA Digital Libraries Initiative in 1994, (Eyitayo, 2007). Digital libraries according to the Digital Library Federation (DLF, 1998) are “organizations that provide the resource, including the specialized staff, to select, structure, offer intellectual access to interpret, distribute, preserve the integrity of, and ensure the persistence over time of collections of digital works so that they are readily and economically available for use by a defined community or set of communities”. Digital libraries offer a brighter future for academic, research institutions, and digital information professionals. They offer access to and opportunities for use of online primary resources. The main purpose of digital libraries is to organize, distribute, and preserve information resources in a digital form. Digital libraries have the potential of improving and promoting information-related activities (Ojedokun, 2000). Digital libraries therefore are libraries in electronic form, with no physical location and contain digital information that could be accessed from any part of the world via the internet. It solves the problem of time and space.

Digital collections usually comprise of local content and provide unlimited access to information materials that may not be readily accessible manually. Local content refers to what the community creates, owns or adapts in terms of knowledge (Ballantyne, 2002). Digital materials are stored, processed, accessed, and disseminated via digital devices and networks. Digital technologies offer a new preservation paradigm and the opportunity of preserving the original copy by providing access to the digital surrogate. With this new development, it has been universally recognized that digitization of libraries offer the opportunities of effective organization, storage, preservation, collaboration, interoperability, dissemination and greater access to information.

The National Digital Library Programme (NDLP) provides remote access to unique collections of Americana held by the Library of Congress through Americanmemory. During the 1990s, the programme digitized materials from a wide variety of original sources, including pictorial and textual materials, audio, video, maps, atlases and sheet music. It was noted that the emphasis of the programme has been on enhancing access (Arms, 2000). Libraries such as the University of Oregon and University of Tennessee in the United States of American have digitized their libraries and allow access to their digital content by other libraries and institutions worldwide. The Image Services Centre of the University of Oregon for instance, was established in July 2002 to promote preservation and facilitate access to fragile materials. (www.dartmouth.edu/collab/facilities/digitallibrary.html)

Several digitization initiatives have been going on in African countries in order to preserve and provide access to their local content on the Wide Area Network (WAN). It was on this platform that the Association of African Universities (AAU) funded the Database of African Theses and Dissertation (DATAD) project which aims at preserving African theses and dissertation in digital form and then providing electronic access to them. The project also aims at providing a database of citations and abstracts of the theses and dissertations and publishing them on the web; as well as providing CD-Rom services. Other digitization projects in Africa include the South African’s Bibliographic Network (SABINET), Ain Shams University Network (ASUNET) in Egypt, Digital Imaging Project in South Africa (DIPSA), African Virtual University (AVU) Library and so many others.

The digital revolution offers Nigeria and other African countries the unique opportunity of actively participating in the world latest developmental revolution. (Ogunsola, 2005). As noted by Ochai (2007), some of the digital initiatives in Nigeria include: The Nigerian University library consortium which created the capacity for libraries to negotiate for reduced license for EBSCO host. This database contains about 8,000 academic journals in all fields. Also, the Nigerian virtual library initiative by the Nigerian Universities Commission which aims at bringing electronic information to Nigerian universities. Some Nigerian university libraries such as the University of Jos (UNIJOS), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), University of Ibadan (UI), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, (UNIZIK), Awka, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), etc have started digitization projects. Apparently, most African University libraries are digitizing their local contents and are at different levels facing various challenges of uploading their local content and cultural heritage on the internet in order to make a positive impact on the Global Information Infrastructure (GII). The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) indicated that surveys have shown that Africa generates only 0.4% of the global content (UNECA, 1999). In Nigeria, digitization project is still in its rudimentary stage and abysmally low; to some libraries, it is still a mirage. The result of the research carried out by Usman (2007) revealed that Nigerian universities are lagging behind in the pace of digitization of their question papers, theses and dissertations, mainly because the average Nigerian university libraries have not yet embaced the idea of electronic library in the digital age. It is against this background that this study is being conducted to assess the digitalization of local collection and its impact on sholarship four federal universities in the South-Eastern Zone of Nigeria.

Statement of the Problem

Over the years, libraries have been faced with the problems of space, accessibility and preservation of information materials. Various efforts are being made by university libraries in Nigeria to digitize their local contents such as projects, theses, dissertations, inaugural lectures, etc. This is as a result of the invaluable importance of library digitization such as speedy access, effective preservation of library local content collections, collaboration, improved library services, etc. The library materials if not digitized will hinder the library visibility, quick access to information resources and effective preservation of library local content collections. Unfortunately, most of these digitization initiatives have been at various stages facing different challenges.

However, some Universities such as University of Jos (UNIJOS), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife, University of Ibadan (UI), University of Port-Harcourt (UNIPORT), have embraced this laudable project, but are at various stages facing various challenges. Some studies have been carried out on related areas such as Usman (2007), Ugwu and Ekere (2010), but none of these works have covered the present digitalization of local collection and its impact on sholarship in federal university libraries in south-eastern zone of Nigeria. Notwithstanding all the efforts being made by different Nigerian university libraries towards digitization projects, it appears that very little progress has been made. These perceived problems could be attributed to a number of challenges. Knowledge of these challenges is essential for any university, whether federal, state or private to be aware of in the course of digitizing library local content collections. This shows that there is still a gap which needs to be filled in order to achieve effective digitization projects in Nigerian university libraries. Hence, the need for this study which is designed to assess the present digitalization of local collection and its impact on scholarship projects among federal university libraries in South-Eastern Zone of Nigeria.

Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this study is to assess the digitalization of local collection and its impact on sholarship in federal university libraries in South-Eastern Zone of Nigeria. The specific objectives of this study are to:

Ascertain the impact of digitizing the collection of local collections library materials in federal University libraries in South-Eastern Zone of Nigeria.

Identify the facilities/resources employed in digitization of library materials.

Ascertain the extent of digitization skills possessed by the library staff?

Identify the type of resources being digitized in the libraries.

Ascertain the extent of digitization in federal University Libraries.

Identify the problems affecting the digitization of library local content collections.

Identify the strategies for enhancing digitization in the libraries

Research Questions

This research is being conducted to find answers to the following research questions:

What are the impact of digitizing library local collections?

What are the available facilities/resources employed in digitization of library local content collections?

What is the extent of digitization skills possessed by the library staff?

What types of resources do libraries digitize?

What is the extent of digitization of library local content collections in federal University Libraries?

What are the problems affecting the digitization of library local content collections?

What are the strategies for enhancing effective digitization project in university libraries in Nigeria?

Significance of the Study

The inherent values of digitization are the ability to preserve information resources and quick access to information in a digital format from local to remote areas for teaching, learning and research. In view of this, it is expected that the findings of this research work will be of benefit to the following groups of people: the library administrators, library system analysts and digital library management staff, the general library staff, library users and researchers. The findings of this study will help the library administration to adopt effective strategies that will help them enhance their digitization practices in libraries. On the other hand, the system analysts and the digital library management staff will also find this work useful. This is because, it is expected that the findings of this work will be useful in their programming, designs, and their formulation of strategies that could better enhance digitization.

Moreover, the findings of this study will be useful to the entire library staff as it will help to reveal to them the extent of digitization project in their libraries. In addition, the findings of this study will be of benefit to the library users as it will reveal to them the various library materials that are being digitized to enable them carry out effective learning and research. This work will be a vital source material to researchers especially in the area of digitization of Library local content collections as it will help in widening their horizon in the knowledge of digitization process in libraries as well as revealing to them the digitalization of local collection and its impact on scholarship in the various universities under study.

Scope of the Study

This research covers the following federal university libraries in the South-Eastern Zone of Nigeria: University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (UNIZIK), Michael Okpara University of Agriculturre, Umudike (MOUAU), and Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO). Furthermore, the study will be delimited to: purpose, facilities/resources employed in digitization; types of resources digitized, extent of digitization in libraries under study; problems and strategies for enhancing digitization.

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