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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ICT SKILLS OF LIBRARIANS AND TASK PERFORMANCE IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN THE SOUTH-SOUTH GEO-POLITICAL ZONE OF NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Study
Information is the lifeblood of an individual or a nation and it is considered a vital resource in this era of technologically driven society. In this information age, the progress of an individual or a nation depends greatly on the reservoir of information available at his or her disposal Omekwu (2006).People need information to plan and carry out their decisions. To compete with other businesses, sell a product and make a profit, businesses need detailed information about assets, cash flow, consumer markets payrolls and many other business related subjects. According to Saleem, Shabana and Batcha (2013) information should be ranked as the fifth need of humanity in ranking after air, water, food and shelter.
In an academic institution like the university, information plays a crucial role for all stakeholders especially students, lecturers and researchers in the course of their studies, teaching and research work.Information can be found almost everywhere but the university library houses a great amount of information organised both in print and electronic formats needed by students, lecturers, administrators and researchers.
A university library is established, owned and operated by the university. The library exists to support learning, teaching, research and community services needs of the university. The success and achievements recorded by the university in terms of these parameters, portrays how the university library has been supportive to it, in the provision of all the essential information resources and services to the users. A university library is organized and structured into various divisions, sections and units with each performing functions that promote the overallwellbeing of the library. There is the administrative division that is saddled with the overall control of staff, funds and resources. It provides leadership and sets broad policies for the effective management and functioning of the library as well as providing support services and logistic support to aid the activities and functions of other sections and units of the library. The division oversees the day –to day running of the library. The Technical Services department consisting of the collection development , cataloguing and classification , bindery and Reprographic sections is the backbone of the library that work behind the scene to ensure that information resources and library materials are acquired, processed and released for circulation for the utilization by library clienteles. The Readers’ Services Department consisting of the circulation, reference, serials and special collections sections, deal directly with library patrons. This division houses sections that are the public services areas of the library concerned with facilitating the effective and efficient access and delivery of information and library materials to the clientele. They work together as a team to render different types of services on a regular basis for the library to serveher clientele.
We now live in a society where interaction between man and machine have become compulsory for organizational progress, success as well as the survival of man. In this current society known as the digital age, Information and Communication Technology( ICT) has played a major role in the affairs of men.Progress in ICT have made great changes in each and every field of human endeavour. The changes are evident all over the world, and its impacts being felt in every walk of life and in every field of knowledge. The field of library and information science (LIS) has also experienced this phenomenon. In the changing environment, every library has grown in terms of reading material, equipment, space, staff and users. There is also a corresponding increase in the performance of several library tasks. According to Babu, Vinayagamoorthy and Gopalakrishnan(2007), the library and information scenario has changed at such a dynamic pace; there is a paradigm shift from print media to web media; from ownership of documents to access to information; intermediary to end-user model of services; and from location of specific libraries to digital/virtual/hybrid libraries. Similarly, there is a change in the needs and interests of the users. Therefore, the role of library and information professionals has also changed drastically. To meet the current demand, library professionals must be able to perform various tasks to enable them match with the transformation in the technological environment. Krubu and Osawaru (2011) have noted that the introduction of various Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) trend has led to reorganization, changes in work patterns and demand for new skills, job retraining and reclassification positions. The introduction of ICT in librarianship has necessitated retooling and acquisition of the skills required to operate in the global information society. This research then intends to present the ICT skills oflibrarians working in university libraries in the south south geo- political zone of Nigeria and determine how such skills have been used to perform various tasks in the library.
According to (UNESCO,2017)the term Information and Communication Technology (ICT) pertains to the use of theinternet and computers in order to provide communication services to a wide consumer base. ICT is considered as the arrangement of informatics technology with other interconnected technologies, particularly communication technology.Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) refer to the convergence of audio-visual and computer networks through a single cabling or link systems. According to Rodriguez and Wilson, (2000), Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs) “refer to technologies people use to share, distribute, and gather information and to communicate through computers and computer networks/Internet; (including) e-mail - exchange of mails, text, graphic programmes, audio, video, Telnet, File Transfer Protocol (FTP), World Wide Web (WWW).For Okentunji (2000), Information Communication Technology facilitates access to electronic information which has become invaluable in complementing traditional library resources. From the researcher’s point of viewInformationandCommunicationTechnology(ICT) is the convergence between the computer and communication technologies used to communicate and to create, manage and distribute information.Such technologies include computers, the internet, telephone, television, radio and audio visual equipment.The current development requires Librarian to embrace the use of computers and other electronic devices in the performance of various tasks in the library. This will necessitate that librarians should possess in addition to academic and professional skills certain ICTskills to enable to be relevant and function properly in the digital environment.
According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), ICT skills can be defined as skills that enable an individual to use computers, software applications, databases and other technologies to achieve a wide variety of academic, work related and personal goals. Seenivasulu (2000) defines ICT skills as the overall competencies (knowledge, know-how, skills and attitudes) necessary to create, store, analyze, organize, retrieve and disseminate digital information (text, images, sounds) in digital libraries. For Babu(2007), ICT skills generally are the familiarity with mobile phones, computers, the Internet and other Information and Communication Technologies equipment; the ability to use ICT features and applications and the ability to use ICTs to work individually or in teams. In fact, it involves the awareness of technologies and application of their relevance, use of technology for information and knowledge encompassing skills or abilities to access, retrieve, store, manage, integrate, evaluate, create and communicate information and knowledge. It can also be expressed as the ability of operating computer systems to perform personal, job-related tasks, ability to use web browsers and conduct searches on the Internet to retrieve information as well as communicating with others by sending and receiving email. ICT skills can be acquired through training such as continuing education, workshops attendance, as well as continuous interaction with computer systems.Steven (2006) has listed the skills necessary for the academic librarian in the digital age. The skills include: word processing skills, spreadsheets skills, database skills, electronic presentation skills, web navigation skills, web site design skills, E- mail management skills, digital cameras, computer network knowledge application, file management and window explorer skills, downloading software, installing computer software, blackboard teaching skills, videoconferencing skills, computer related storage skills, scanner knowledge skills, deep web knowledge skills, copyright knowledge skills and computer security knowledge skills.
Singh and Pinki (2009) were of the opinion that librarians in this digital age should possess certain Information and communication technology (ICT)skills such as Hardware/ software and networking Skills, MS-Office suite , Presentation software skills such as( power point ), Library automation, Database creation, Internet ( e.g. E- Mail management),Intricacies of internet search tools, Intranet skill, Scanning techniques, Networking skills, On-line search Engines, On-line databases search, Desktop publishing, Content development , Digitization , Web based services , Virtual learning among others.
Furthermore, Loganathan, Sekar and Kagirao (2015) asserted that all Library and Information Science (LIS) professionals should have basic knowledge about computer operations such as; Knowledge of file, folder structure, file management Knowledge of computer network, Management of network, networking architecture, Printer setup, Printing with stand-alone and networked environment. They should possess the following skills namely word processing skills, Spread sheet skills, Database skills, Electronic presentation skills, Web navigation skills Web site design skills E-mail management skills, Digital cameras , Video conferencing, Scanner knowledge and Computer security knowledge . For the purpose of this study, the following skills namely word processing, web navigation, troubleshooting skills, electronic communication, internet searching skills, information retrieval, Powerpoint presentation and database management skills shall be adopted as the variables. These skills have been selected because they are the basic and most essential skills related to and needed by the librarian to enhance the performance of various tasks in the library.
Word Processing skills involve being able to create, save, and update documents, including PDF's, Word Documents, Powerpoint presentations and any additional documents that may be necessary. Web Navigationskills involve being able to understand the basics of the web, Website Addresses, Web Browsers, how to search for information using the World WideWeb; and how to recommend an online article or document to a user.Troubleshooting skills involves ones ability to find solution(s) to the computer system when a problem has occurred.
Electronic Communication Skills involve knowledge of use ofElectronic mails(Email), using a common email program (example: MS Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail), being able to compose, send, reply, forward messages,add attachments to a message,retrieve attachments from an email message,copy, paste and print message content. Internet searching skills consist of knowledge of setting up an Internet connection and being able to connect to the Internet,have a working knowledge of the World Wide Web and and how to search for the needed information. Other components include searching, installing and upgrading a Web browser,using a browser effectively, including bookmarks, history, toolbar, forward and back buttons,using search engines and directories to find information on the Web,download files and images from a Web page,understand and effectively navigate the hyperlink structure of the Web as well as being able to understand how to keep your information safe while using the Internet. Information retrieval skills entail having the competence to search for information as well as being able to filter the obtained information such that the information needed can meet the specific need.Power point presentation involves widespread use of presentation packages that are used in Microsoft power point software that generates slides for projection of course materials which transmits visually the content of what is given out to the listeners. Trouble shooting skills require the ability to diagnose a problem and then proffer solution to the problem thereby restoring the faulty system. Database management skills involve the ability to create a new database, enter data into an existing database ,Create functions and formulas for a database, Create a database report, use database functions (e.g. sort, query, mail merge) ,create a query of multiple databases, set primary keys as well as create forms for data entry.These are the skills the researcher intends to investigate to determine what is the relationship between the possession of these skills by librarians and the performance of various tasks in university libraries in the south south geo-political zones of Nigeria
Tasks performance, on the other hand can be defined as any learning activity that an individual performs to demonstrate his or her knowledge, understanding and proficiency of that activity.Task performance covers a person's contribution to organizational performance, refers to actions that are part of the formal reward system (i.e., technical core), and addresses the requirements as specified in job descriptions (Wi1liams and Karau, 1991). At a general level, task performance consists of activities that transform materials into the goods and services produced by the organization or to allow for efficient functioning of the organization (Motowidloet al., 1997). Thus, task performance covers the fulfillment of the requirements that are part of the contract between the employer and employee. Moreover, task performance in itself can be described as a multi –dimensional construct. Performance tasks yield a tangible result or product.