Current and global trends in library and information services


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Current and global trends in library and information services

  1. 1. Current and Global Trends in Library and Information ServicesAbstract The advancement of ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) hasbrought a lot ofchanges not only on the library and information services but also onthe roles and expectations ofthe librarians and information professionals. As alibrarian you are expected to do more and more especially in this age of informationexplosion. There is a real danger that librarians and information professionalswill beleft behind if it still insists on the old role of the traditional librarians. So it isimportant thatthere is a new change in paradigm. As the saying goes, change orperish. This paper will attempt tounderstand what a successful, relevant and dynamiclibrarians and information professionals mustbe in this Information Age. It will alsofocus on the issues, trends and challenges in preparing new era librarians andinformation professionals. 1
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION National development effort is simply any activity that raises real incomes,therebyoffering new hopes of expanded opportunities for people, communities, andenterprises. As boththe global and national economies become more and moreknowledge-driven, specializedknowledge has become the indispensable asset forfurther economic development. Local businessesbenefit greatly in specific waysfrom libraries, including access to new ideas, knowledge andinformation.Inparticular, relocating businesses, start-up businesses, small businesses of allkinds and infrastructural provision are perceived as enjoying the greatest benefitsfrom library products and services. Indeed,existence of libraries has been cited as areason for a business’ decision to relocate to a particularcommunity and thestrategic locations of beneficial infrastructural facilities. Studies also found thatbusiness information resources were significantly morevaluable with expert help oflibrary staff. In other words, not only are information sourcesthemselves viewed asimportant resources for people seeking mission-oriented information,butprofessional services provided by librarians are believed by many to be criticalfactors in finding,accessing and utilizing information resources to the fullestextent, especially with regard toelectronic resources. Democracy and national development demands that the masses, the sourceof authority, should be well informed about all important matters. Although many 2
  3. 3. are receiving this instruction in schools, the work of schools cannot be completewithout the backing of libraries. Libraries are an indispensable companion toformal education. The librarymust give persons of all ages the chance to keepabreast with their times in all matters: By offering them, impartially, worksrepresenting conflicting points of view, it enables them to form their own opinionsand preserve that attitude ofconstructive criticism towards public affairs withoutwhich there is no freedom.UNESCO Bulletin for LibrariesXV,(1961), There will always be changes in the environment, and these changes willaffect librarians andinformation professionals: their role, job opportunities, self-image, motivation and even survival.Librarians therefore need to find a solution totimely repositioning and role claiming. We live in an Information society wherethe development of information technology andtelecommunication networks isaccompanied by a corresponding increase in knowledge, with a rapidly growingflow of information.This new information environment requires new skills in seeking, processing anddissemination of information. The base for a Librarian’s ability to understand anduse information is a qualitative, ongoing learning process.CURRENT AND GLOBAL TRENDS Before discussing on the current and global trend in library and informationservices let’s first look at some current trends discussed in most recent literature of 3
  4. 4. library and information management. These current trends somehow or rather willhave a bearing in shaping librarians andinformation services in the new era. Theyare summarized as follows:• Library functions in information and knowledge-based society• Knowledge-based economy – information and knowledge as drivers to boost theeconomy• Information management recognized as an important discipline• Information recognized as commodity (information brokerage, informationentrepreneurship, fee-based information)• Information recognized as power/strength/weapon• Information strongly link to decision-making, strategic management, competitiveadvantage, innovation, R&D• Knowledge management – leveraging organization• Globalization of information• Integrated and widespread ICT applications• Mushrooming of information systems – need for Information SystemManagement (ISM)• Growth of electronic / internet resources• Role of digital/electronic/virtual library• Librarians is designated as cyber librarians 4
  5. 5. • Librarians expanded & changes in digital environment• New breeds of information professionals: CIO, CKO, Information consultantsand analysts• Competency- based assessment/training• Leadership skills• Access role replace custodial role• Customer-focused/customer-centered, user oriented approach in provision ofservices• Strategic alliances, partnership and collaborations• Librarians need new management knowledge and skills• Specialized knowledge & skills in library and information management• Double degree (major-minor concept)• Trend to develop digital contents to facilitate access In addition to the professional skills mentioned above, the librarians andinformation professionals of thefuture must be equipped with a wide range ofpersonal and transferable skills in order to manage thechanging environment inwhich he or she works. The importance of transferable skills over informationtechnology skillsshould be highlighted here. Management and interpersonal skills willmake librarians more effectivemanagers of networked resources and services. As Hastings (1996)says "it is more 5
  6. 6. important that digital librarians possess particular personal qualities (whichareinnate) rather than specific technical expertise (which can be learned). This isnot to say that the way to avoid the electronic age is for libraryprofessionals tostick their heads in the sand. The information professional must change and adaptto the newelectronic information environment, he or she must learn about newtechnologies and be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of them. Librariansshould not feel threatened by computers and technical developments but shouldmove forward with the new technology and take a pivotal role withinorganizations. Information professionals within libraries are playing an increasingrole in dealing with information in electronic formats by creating Web pages topromote their services to external customers and choosing automated librarymanagement systems. Skills in information organization are more necessary in thisage of informationexplosion. Librarians and information professionals have a keyrole to play in this era. For example, librarians are well equipped to take intranetprojects through the various stages of design and maintenance as they understandtheir users and their organizations information needs and have the range of skills tomanage knowledge effectively. The role of the librarians in this context is to helpusers find the information they require then provide them with the tools to assessand use the resources for their individual needs. Creth (1996) suggests thatlibrarians achieve this by "actively seeking out users in a variety of settings" and 6
  7. 7. by making "full use of information and multimedia technology" by offeringinstruction in a variety of formats (including Web based instruction and onlinetutorials). New era librarians and information professionals should be able tomanage the Digital Information System as this encompass the overallcompetencies (knowledge, know-how, skills and attitudes) necessary to create,store, analyze, organize, retrieve and disseminate digital information (text, images,sounds) in digital libraries or any type of information. Traditionally, libraries were collections of books, manuscripts, journals, andother sources of recorded information. In the last 50 years, libraries haveincreasingly developed into a provider of information resources and services thatdo not even require a building. The terms digital library and virtual library are usedto refer to the vast collections of information to which people gain access remotely.Digital Libraries The world is going through an information technology revolution that hasdrastically changed many facets of the human life, from education, industry,economy, and politics to entertainments. In addition, the unprecedentedcapabilities of the information technology to process, store, refine and disseminatedata, information and knowledge in a variety of ways across geographicalboundaries had dramatically changed the ways in which governments, the publicand the private sectors and libraries operate all over the world. As Ajayi (2002) has 7
  8. 8. rightly put it, the emergence and convergence of information and communicationtechnologies (ICT) has therefore remained at the centre of global social-economictransformations. As pointed out by Ogunsola and Okusaga (2008) libraries are nowextending their traditional roles of facilitating self-education and individualenrichment by providing low-cost or free computer access to online resources. Thepotential of what can be achieved in information generation, acquisition,collection, processing, display and dissemination, was very exciting andintoxicating, and resulted in futuristic dreams. All these electronic developmentsform the basis of digital library which is equally termed virtual libraries. It is allthese technological developments which gradually give birth to what is now knownas digital library. At this juncture, one can ask what we mean by the term "digitallibrary". Digital library can be defined as one in which all the texts and spokenbooks are stored as digital files, which will take a long time to achieve. A digital orvirtual library is the online access provided by other facilities or it may mean awebsite which offers links to various sites with a large store of information in acatalogued or archived form. The term may refer to all material related to anysubject that is available on the Internet. A digital library generally is part of anetwork with linkages to other libraries.The advances in the fields of telecommunications, computer technology, andsatellite communications have revolutionized information delivery services in 8
  9. 9. advanced countries. As asserted by Akpan (2001), information can be deliveredacross countries into houses and offices instantly. It must be realized that thesharing, however, has been uneven across the globe. Countries with advancedtechnology are years ahead of countries with developing economies. Withindeveloping economies, some have moved further ahead than others. In Nigeria, theexpression "virtual library" or "digital library" is relatively new, being a little morethan a decade old. One of the writers who coined it is Nancy Schiller, who definedit in 1992 as "libraries in which computer and telecommunication technologiesmake access to a wide range of information resources possible".According to Irokwe (2001), a digital library is a library that harnesses digitaltechnologies as infrastructure to search, collect, organize, store and distributecultural, historical and scientific information whether it is text, visual images orsound. The virtual library or digital library can be regarded as a child of necessity,arising from need to use technologies in accessing the explosion of information forhuman survival and development. This requires that all operations of the library becomputerized.The Issue of Staff: The Right StaffStaffing and getting the right staff is a major issue in e library in Nigeria just as itwas in the developed world when they stepped into electronic library system. 9
  10. 10. Information professionals are now required to take on a wider variety of rolesrequiring a broader range of skills than ever before and far more than theirexposures at the Library Schools. A number of e-Lib projects have helped tosuccessfully highlight these issues in recent years, (Stephen Pinfield) 2001. Theseissues include how e library staff are obtained, trained and retained in order tocarry out this work. E-library projects in Nigeria are most likely to have problemsrecruiting and retaining staff with the right skills across the sector because theLibrary Schools do not offer relevant courses at the moment. Thought also needs tobe given to staffing structures which are currently biased in favour of traditionallibrary roles. There may be a need in many organisations to review thefundamental organisational structure to see whether it is best able to deliver thewide range of services required by e library.A virtual or digital library can therefore be defined as a collection of libraryresources in electronic/digital format at various locations, which can be accessedand used with great ease using computer information technologies for the purposeof teaching, study, research, learning, leisure, and decision-making. 10
  11. 11. Electronic Resources Taking Nigeria as an example, improving the quality of libraries in thehigher education system will improve the quality of the products of the system. Inrecent times and as attested to by the findings of a 2001 Nigerian Institute of Socialand Economic Research/World Bank report on the quality of Nigerian Universities,the competencies demonstrated by university graduates are "lowering at analarming rate". The poor state of academic libraries was implicated as a majorcause. The Nigerian virtual library project is a justifiable venture for bolsteringhigher education quality. In another sense, the virtual library will enable students,lecturers, and other scholars to profit more fully from electronic communicationsrevolution by having access to databases critical for their research and teaching.Within the higher education system in majority of African universities, libraries arefar from being up-to-date. Books, journals, abstracts and other collections are notcurrent. The typical setting is to have a few fairly recent titles and a fairly largecollection of old titles. There are gaps in sequence which could be critical forknowledge generation and dissemination. As a result of the above lapses, theimportance of virtual or digital libraries in African universities can never beoveremphasized. A digital library scheme will facilitate access to a vast collectionof books and journal, titles from as far as back in time as possible. A subscribinglibrary in Nigeria or any other African university will be several times richer and 11
  12. 12. current in its collection of books and journals than presently the case. Estimates bythe for 2001 showed that the installation and running costof a virtual academic library in a university is a mere .015% of the cost ofestablishing a "real" academic library and less than 2% of the operating cost. Allthe higher education institutions in Nigeria have physical libraries which requireabout 1 billion Naira in capital, recurrent, and maintenance cost annually. This typeof electronic library resources can be shared by all institutions at a fraction of thetotal cost required to support all the physical libraries within the higher educationsystem in the country (Ogunsola and Okusaga, 2008). Furthermore, it is projected that 1,000 electronic databases/resources areequivalent to 30,000 volumes of printed materials. These will require 2,650m2 ofshelf space alone. Thus, minimal resources can be mobilized for maximumadvantage in terms of library development in Nigeria and other developingcountries. In recent times, post-secondary educational institutions have been undertremendous pressure for change as a response to demising budget, need to reachstudents other than their traditional clientele, and adapt current development ininformation technology for their delivery of institution. As a result manyinstitutions of higher learning worldwide have turned towards electronicnetworking in academic services. The virtual or digital library also provides aplatform for sharing knowledge. It is not a one-way flow from resource-rich to 12
  13. 13. resource-poor countries. Instead, it has been set up for uniformity in theinterchange of ideas. Consequently while universities in Nigeria and otherdeveloping countries will take advantage of down loading materials from thedeveloped world, such universities will have the opportunity of uploading outputof research in the form of books, dissertation//theses and journals to the globalnetwork of virtual libraries.Also, differences in access to information technology and the ability to participatefully in global electronic information networks is in itself a measure of the unequaldistribution of power in todays increasingly connected global economy and polity.In Nigeria, for example, there are very few people with the advanced training thatenables them to contribute fully to new technology about electronic informationsystems. It is precisely because of this situation of inequality that Nigeria and otherdeveloping countries should be included in developing new knowledge in theseareas. It must also be realized that many of the print materials held in collections inNigerian Universities, particularly older historical manuscripts, are deterioratingrapidly. Some materials cannot even be consulted by researchers for fear ofaccelerating their decline. This is the trend in many other African countries. Manyresearch institutes and libraries, have suffered from deep funding cuts since 1980s,and collections of all kinds have not been adequately maintained. Preservation iscentral to maintaining the quality, longevity, integrity and accessibility of data. 13
  14. 14. Digitalization within the framework of the virtual library project can be used tocreate a high-quality copy of an item, thus protecting the original and ensuring thatthe information that it contains is both permanently preserved and made accessible.Although traditional channels of communication will remain important, the newinformation and communication technologies hold great potential for broadlydisseminating knowledge at low cost, and for reducing knowledge gaps withincountries and between industrial and developing countries. In a broad sense asrevealed by Ogunsola (2004) access to the right information at the right time givespeople greater control over their destinies.As a result of all these global technological changes, the purposes of highereducation have been transformed. According to Capron (2000), mail, telephone,TV and radio, books, newspapers and periodicals are the traditional ways by whichusers sent and received information. However, data communication systems havebeen evolving since the mid-1960s.It must be realized that Africas development hinges on effectively participating inthe information society, and this requires low-cost Internet access. Yet Africa hasthe most expensive Internet access in the world partly because its Internet traffictransits through Internet exchange points in the US or Europe. As a result, Africansmust pay "long-distance" charges, and data transfer speeds are slow. Thus, thedigital divide continues to widen. This is one of the constraints militating against 14
  15. 15. digital library development in our higher education institutions. As pointed out byRosenberg (2005), Africa has 13% of the worlds population but only 2% of theworlds telephone lines and 1% of Internet connectivity. It is also noted that upcountry or newer university libraries and (in multi-site libraries) branch librarieslag behind in Internet connectivity. Programmes that assume all libraries within aregion or countries that have the same needs and aspirations are unlikely tosucceed. Therefore as most African countries still do not have good access to theInternet; online resources like digital libraries or the Internet are not yet thesolutions to bridging the digital divide. Hence, one can confidently conclude thattraditional libraries are still alive and this will continue for a long time especially indeveloping countries. The paper acknowledges that the Internet will eventuallytake over in Africa as the means of providing access to digital academicinformation. As such, African governments are urged to continue to look at waysin which they can improve their national access to reliable and cost-efficient onlineaccess.In addition, to paid resources, there are millions of open access sources thatare available with no cost to most of us. It is estimated that more one million fulltext books are available in global market. Furthermore, numerous government documents, academic pages, andthousands peer reviewed open access journals are available via World Wide Web.One of the well-known examples is “Directory of Open Access Journal” provide 15
  16. 16. more than seven thousands academic journals. In addition, thousands of magazinesand newspapers from around glob are freely available via the internet.CURRENT AND GLOBAL TREND OF THE NEW ERA LIBRARIANS The new era librarian is a technology application leader who works withother members of theinformation management team to design and evaluate systemsfor information access that meet userneeds. Where required, the new era librarianprovides instruction and support so that end users canmake optimal use of theinformation resources available to them. The new era librarian is capable ofworking in the hybrid world of print and electronic media and providing the bestmix of informationresources in the most appropriate formats for the environment.The new era librarian plays a key role in developing information policy for theorganization ensuring that access to all information resources -- from internalrecords to external databases – is provided in the most strategically-Effective andcost-effective manner. The new era librarian also plays another important role inensuring that contractual, legal and ethical obligations regarding information useare met.The electronic information age provides new opportunities fororganizations toproduce as well as use information products. New era librarians,giventheirfamiliarity with the information marketplace, can be key contributors tothe development, marketingand use of information products. 16
  17. 17. New era librarians are knowledge-based practitioners who use research as afoundation for theirown professional practice and who support the conduct ofresearch through their professionalassociations. Research has shown that theprovision of appropriate information can lead to: betterinformeddecision-making;the ability to proceed to the next step in a project or task; improvedrelations with aclient; and the exploitation of new business opportunities. The right information atthe right time can also benefit the organization by saving the time of highly paidemployees,avoiding poor business decisions, and even direct loss of funds.In the information age, new era librarians are essential -- by responding with asense of urgency tocritical information needs they provide the information edge forthe knowledge-based organization.In order to fulfill this key information role, newera librarians require two main types ofcompetencies:Professionalcompetenciesrelate to the special librarians knowledge in the areas of informationresources, information access, technology, management and research and theability to use theseareas of knowledge as a basis for providing library andinformation services.Personal competencies represent a set of skills, attitudes andvalues that enable librarians to workefficiently; be good communicators; focus oncontinuing learning throughout their careers;demonstrate the value-added nature oftheir contributions; and survive in the new world of work. The following sectionshighlight the major professional and personal competencies of new eralibrarians: 17
  18. 18. Professional Competencies• has expert knowledge of the content of information resources, including theability to criticallyevaluate and filter them• has specialized subject knowledge appropriate to the business of the organizationor client• develops and manages convenient, accessible and cost-effective informationservices that arealigned with the strategic directions of the organization• provides excellent instruction and support for library and information serviceusers• assesses information needs and designs and markets value-added informationservices andproducts to meet identified needs• uses appropriate information technology to acquire, organize and disseminateinformation• uses appropriate business and management approaches to communicate theimportance ofinformation services to senior management• develops specialized information products for use inside or outside theorganization or byindividual clients• evaluates the outcomes of information use and conducts research related to thesolution ofinformation management problems• Continually improves information services in response to the changing needs 18
  19. 19. • is an effective member of the senior management team and a consultant to theorganization oninformation issuesPersonal Competencies• committed to service excellence• seeks out challenges and sees new opportunities both inside and outside thelibrary• sees the big picture• creates an environment of mutual respect and trust• has effective communications skills• Works well with others in a team• provides leadership• plans, prioritizes and focuses on what is critical• committed to lifelong learning and personal career planning• have personal business skills and creates new opportunities• recognizes the value of professional networking and solidarity• is flexible and positive in a time of continuing changeFrom the preceding section it would seem that there is an abundance of potentialroles for thelibrarian. To take up these roles will require careful and timelypreparation. Preparedness is a keyissue in repositioning ourselves for new roles.Preparedness includes content knowledge and relatedskills but, more importantly, 19
  20. 20. it includes survival skills. The following are a few suggestions thatcould also shapethe teaching approach, assessment methods, etc. Survival skills could includetheability to:• carry out environmental scanning and rapid decision-making• critically analyze the professional domain and where it is heading• employ time management to keep librarians from putting off preparing for newroles• manage change• work collaboratively (it is impossible to monitor new developments alone)• study independently• think creatively• assess ones strengths, weaknesses and progress in continuing learningWhen considering the roles that have been discussed and their requirements, itseems that, apartfrom survival skills, new era librarians should focus more onaffective skills and characteristicssuch as:• enthusiasm for life-long learning and new roles• will-power (because nothing will come easily)• assertiveness• creative thinking• self-confidence 20
  21. 21. • innovativenessConclusion Librarianship has undergone a radical change in recent years, which will becontinued in the future. As libraries have changed, so too, has the role of thelibrarian. Increasingly librarians have assumed the role of educator to teach theirusers how to find information both in the library and over electronic networks.Public librarians have expanded their roles by providing local communityinformation through publicly assessable computing systems. Some librarians areexperts on computers and software. Others are concerned with how computertechnologies can preserve the human cultural records of the past or assure thatlibrary collections on crumbling paper or in old computer files can still be used bypeople many centuries in the future. The work of librarians has moved outsidelibrary walls. Librarians have begun to work in the information industry assalespeople, designers of new information systems, researchers, and informationanalysts. They are also found in such fields as marketing and public relations andin such organizations as law firms, where staffs need rapid access to information.It must be realized that despite the changes in the roles and functions of librariesover the course of history their cultural role has not. Libraries remain responsiblefor acquiring or providing access to books, periodicals, and other media that meet 21
  22. 22. the educational, recreational, and informational needs of their users. They continueto keep the business, legal, historical, and religious record of a civilization. Theyare the place where a toddler can hear his or her first story and a scholar can carryout his or her research. New technologies are dramatically increasing theaccessibility of information, and librarians are adapting to the evolving needs ofusers that emerge from the adoption of these new technologies. Technologicaladvances have presented the opportunity of automating some aspects of traditionallibraries.By deciding to change to digital production, a traditional library would make itmuch easier to cooperate with other libraries around the world. The more that alibrary can communicate with others the more they will be able to learn what hasalready been done. One of the ways we waste time and money is to try to inventeverything ourselves. Whatever you are trying to do in developing your library,you can guarantee that somebody else has already done something similar. If weare working with traditional methods and the only means that we have of sendingmaterials to other institutions is by the post, then it is understandable that librariestend to concentrate on their own affairs and their own public. It takes weeks tocommunicate with other libraries then the efforts becomes too much and it is fasterto produce materials than to borrow it, if however, libraries can start to use theInternet to exchange information and materials, the exchange can happen in 22
  23. 23. seconds. The digital library offers more possibilities for enhanced scholarlycommunication. The Internet and related technologies such as electronic mailenable collaborative projects to be undertaken between geographically distantgroups. All developing nations can derive tremendous advantages from thistechnology for updating the knowledge of its researchers and scientists. The entireworld is going online. The agenda for global preparedness includes thedevelopment of telecommunications and Internet infrastructure.Technology is the backbone of digital library, and the centre piece of preparednessis the expansion of technology in Nigeria and other developing countries. 23
  24. 24. REFRENCESAina, L.O. (2004). Coping with the challenges of library and information servicesdelivery: The need for institutionalized professional development. Paper deliveredat the Nigerian Library Association 42nd National Conference and AGM at Akure,Nigeria June 20-25, 2004: 5.Ajayi, G.O. (2000). Challenges to Nigeria of globalization and the information age.Proceedings of workshop on National Information and CommunicationInfrastructures Policy Plans and Strategies. Abuja, Nigeria, March 28-30, 2000: 10.Akintunde S.A. (2004). Libraries as tools for ICT development. Paper delivered atthe Nigerian Library Association 42nd National Conference and AGM at Akure,Nigeria June 20-25, 2004: 10.Akpan, E.O. (2001). The virtual library. Blueprint on the National Virtual LibraryProject. Federal Ministry of Education, Lagos, Nigeria, Section C: 20.Capron, H.L. (2000). Computers: Tools for an information age. New Jersey:Prentice Hall. 24
  25. 25. Irokwe, O.P. (2001). A blueprint for implementing digital libraries in Nigerianuniversities. Blueprint on the National Virtual Library Project. Federal Ministry ofEducation, Lagos, Nigeria. Section C: 8Lancaster, F. W. (1997). Artificial Intelligence and Expert System Technologies:Prospects. In:Libraries for the New Millennium: Implications for Managers.London: Library AssociationPublishing, 19 - 37.Mulla, K.R. (2006). E-resources and services in engineering college libraries: Acase study. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship 7(1).Ogunsola, L.A. (2004). Nigerian university libraries and the challenges ofglobalization: The way forward. Electronic Journal of Academic and SpecialLibrarianship 5(2-3)Ogunsola, L.A., & Okusaga. T.O. (2008). Establishing virtual libraries in Africanuniversities: Problems and prospects. Ozean Journal of Social Sciences 1 (1). 2008:43-52.Olaosun, M.A. (2007). The librarian is dead, long live the librarian. A ValedictoryLecture by Michael Adebayo Olaosun at OAU Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Wednesday, 11April, 2007: 1-14.Osundina, O. (1973). The relationship between information science andlibrarianship: A viewpoint. Nigerian Libraries 9 (1&2): 47.Rosenberg, D. (2005). Towards the digital library in Africa: An investigation toestablish the current status of university libraries.Available: 25
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