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Library Philosophy and Practice 2011

ISSN 1522-0222

Recognition of Library Terms and Concepts by Undergraduate Students

Lydia Ola Adedibu
University of Ilorin Library,
P. O Box 5051,
Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria

Isaac Olugbenga Ajala

University Library

Ladoke Akintola University of Technology,

P.M. B. 4000,

Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria

Introduction

Library term or concept is a technical language used by librarian to describe resources and services (Cana et.al, 2005). Nearly all professionals have the terms they used in performing their professional duties. The terms may be a great problem for others who are not in that profession as it may create a communication gap for them

The collections in the library are mainly for users, and if there is breakdown in the communication or lack of understanding between librarians and library users the users will not be able to use the library collections effectively and efficiently. The users may even be confused with the library terms and this may create a great barrier for them most especially if they are not familiar with the terms. That is why Dowling (2003) stated that it is interesting to note that specialized library terms have developed to express specific meanings not directly captured by more general wording.

With the new technology which has gained great support of users now, it has even added more terms or jargons to the problems of users Cana, et al (2005) lamented that professionals in academic today are faced with ever increasing number of technological advancements and few feel the effects of these changes more than library professionals. There must be mutual understanding between librarians and library users for any meaningful understanding to take place. To have good understanding, it is the librarian who must translate these terms to the library users. This study is to access the library users’ recognition of library terms and concepts used in the library.

Literature Review

The library users mainly lecturers, students and others who use library resources (materials) and services are faced with the problem of library terms, concepts and jargons commonly used by librarians to describe such library resources and services. This may lead to an obstacle in internal communication, public service and user access to information (Hutcherson, 2004).  Jargon, technical language is a shorthand means of labeling frequently used concepts and terms. The librarian must decode or interpret the jargon used for users’ understanding.

Library term, concept or jargon is capable of creating barriers for users who are unfamiliar with it however it is interesting to note that specific library terms have been developed to convey definite meanings (Dowling, 2003). The issue of technological terminology in librarianship lies between the academic fields of linguistics and rhetoric/communication (Coffey and Lawson, 2002). Professionals in academic today are faced with an ever increasing number of technological advancements, and few experience the effects of these changes. Duncan and Fichter (2004) assessed clientele’s recognition unawareness of library preference for use of jargon, hands-on usability testing, reference service testing and task-based testing. The study concluded that users were not familiar with library jargons such as ‘database’ or ‘interlibrary loan’ and abbreviations associated with e-journals.

According to the law of disuse, Torres (1994) is of the opinion that the more often new learning is recurring; the better the learning skill, a skill that is not practised and knowledge that is not used are forgotten. The learner’s recognition of terms used in the library may be ascribed to the law of cognitive exercise which is concerned with the practice of a learning skill. He stressed further that in library use and patronage, when students are not exposed to the use of available materials and other services offered by the library, awareness of terms is likely to be affected.

Chaudhry and Choo (2001) exclusively focused on the clients’ recognition of concepts used by librarians during reference interviews as a result of their research based on understanding of library jargons in the information seeking process. They were of the opinion that participants were able to define technical terms correctly three-quarters of the time. However, 65% of the participants studied faced difficulty in defining at least one technical term. Naismith and Stein (1989) evaluated student recognition of terms used in reference interviews and library handouts by using a 20-item multiple-choice test. In their findings, they discovered that a large number of the questions posed to the students were missed. They stated further that communication gap existed between librarians and customers as problems arise whenever uncommon or rare terms are used to communicate with users who were not familiar with such specialised use of terms. Also, Hutcherson (2004) reported that generally used terms such as plagiarism, reference services, research, copyright, and synonyms have high levels of recognition whereas library or computer-specific terms such as Boolean logic, bibliography, truncation, precision, and descriptor do not. 

Coffey and Lawson (2002) queried if at all librarians could be held answerable for ensuring that others, including fellow librarians, understood the concepts being used.

Spivey (2000) solicited the use of implanted explanations to offset the uncertainty caused by short descriptions and nouns, library acronyms, and vendor supplied descriptions.

Klein (2001) asserted that the finest way to boost the usability of library resources and services is to simplify access and avoid library jargon whenever possible.

Boron and Strout-Dapaz (2001) expressed the various adjustments that international students make in adjusting to an unfamiliar library environment. They make a number of suggestions, including providing handouts and using plain communication during instructional sessions.

Objectives

The objective of this study is to determine students’ level of recognition of library terms, and concepts  for 24 commonly used terms in the library.

  1. to find out the extent of how  library terms, and concepts affects the use of library resources.
  2. to make recommendations on how to improve the understanding of library terms,  and concepts.

Methodology

One set of questionnaires with 18 multiple choice questions were administered to 2,500 undergraduate students with 2,145 correctly completed and returned for analysis. Out of these, 106 were not used because of incomplete answers, and were disregarded. Therefore, 2,039 questionnaires were subject to analysis, a response rate of 81.56%. One-way Analysis of variance, ANOVA was used for the study. The questions were administered in March, 2009 through the help of Library officers and library Assistants. The data analysis was conducted with the aid of Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Z ratio, F-ratio, multiple regression and correlation analyses were used to test the formulated hypotheses.

Research Instrument

The research instrument for this study involved the use of structured questionnaire

called “Student Recognition of library terms and concepts by Librarians: A case-study of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso.” The questions deals with age, gender, faculty/department, level of study, library visits, familiarity with library before entering the university, purpose of library visits, type of library materials consulted, problems in library use, awareness of library terms, identification of 24-library terms most recognized, or least recognized this consist of : Biography, Copyright, Cross reference, Abstract, Edition, Circulation, Accession number, Bibliography, Call number/classification number, Reference, Microfilm, Acquisitions, Reference service, Illustrations, Library holdings, Gazetteers, Revised edition, Catalogue cards, Documents, Inter-library loan, Serials, OPAC, Table of contents and Reserve collections. Also, correct definitions of 20 library terms which involves the following: Abstract, Accession number, Bibliography, Biography, Call Number/Classification Number, Circulation, Copyright, Cross reference, Index, Interlibrary loan, Library holdings, OPAC, References service, Reserve connection, Table of contents list, Microfilm, Serials publications, Catalogue cards, an illustration and Glossary

Hypotheses of the study

The following hypotheses in the null form were tested in the study.

Hypothesis 1: Age of respondents does not have significant influence on the understanding (awareness) of library terms, and concepts

Hypothesis 2:  Gender of respondents does not have significant effect on library terms, and concepts

Hypothesis 3: Use of library and visitation to library do not have significant influences in the awareness of library terms, and concepts

Hypothesis 4 Student educational level and familiarity with library before university do not have significant influences in the awareness of library terms.

Research Findings

As indicated in Table I, of the 2039 respondents, 1332(65.3%) were male and 697 (34.2%) female, with 10 (0.5%) no response. This indicates that the male response have higher proportion over the female. This could be due to the number of student intakes.

The age of respondents shows that 463 (22.7%) were between ages 16-19 with the mean age of 16.6 and standard deviation of 9.6, 1551 (76.1%) were in the age bracket 20-40 with the mean age of 11.0 and standard deviation of 0.0, while ages 41-60 and 61 and above were 5 each (0.2%) whereas 15 or (0.7%) did not indicate their age as shown in Table II.

Table I

1 

Table II

2

Table III

One- way ANOVA: Marks Obtained in Question 17

3

Source: Field Survey, 2009.

The hypotheses were tested for question 17 using Analysis of variance, ANOVA. The results are shown in Table III above. The age of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 9.783. The gender of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 4.760.

The use of library was also highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 5.125. The visitation to library was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 7.824. The level of study of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 3.516. The familiarity with library before entering the university was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 2.745.

Table IV

One-way ANOVA: Marks Obtained in Question 18

4

Source: Field Survey, 2009.

The hypotheses were for questions 18 were also tested using Analysis of variance, ANOVA and the results are shown in Table IV above. The age of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 5.898. The gender of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 6.067. The use of library was also highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 6.028. The visitation to library was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 9.443. The level of study of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of .5.873. The familiarity with library before entering the university was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 5.073.

Table V 

One-way ANOVA: Question 17 and 18 Total Marks

5

Source: Field Survey, 2009.

The hypotheses were tested using Analysis of variance, ANOVA. The results are shown in Tables V above. The age of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 7.057. The gender of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 5.743. The use of library was also highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 3.236. The visitation to library was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 6.429. The level of study of respondents was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 5.779.

The familiarity with library before entering the university was highly significant (P<0.01 or 99% confidence interval) with an F value of 4.606.

The results presented in these tables show that all the hypothesized variables, (age, gender, use of library, visitation to library, educational level and familiarity with library before the university admission) were all statistically significant (P<0.01) in influencing the extent of awareness of the student respondents in the library terms, concepts and jargons. Therefore the stated null hypotheses are hereby rejected.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The study attempts to ascertain the ability of the undergraduate students of LAUTECH to recognize library terms, and concepts. The hypotheses were tested using Analysis of Variance, ANOVA.

The age of the respondents was highly significant. The variables tested; age, gender, use of library, visitation to library, educational level and familiarity with library before admission into the university were all significantly positive (P<0.01) thus influencing the extent of awareness of the respondents to the library terms, concepts and jargons. The following recommendations were offered:

  1. The librarian should always try to define terms, concepts and jargons used for the first time.
  2. The librarian should request for feedbacks from students either monthly, quarterly or bi-annually.
  3. The librarian should remember to give handouts on library terms, concepts and jargons to new students while teaching the use of library course, these should be available both in prints and electronics.
  4. The librarian should remember to give clarifications to students on the use of unidentified terms.
  5. The librarian should try to make access and retrieval of library resources more time efficient and user friendly by using the language that users understand.

References

Baron, S., & Strout-Dapaz, A. (2001). Communicating with and Empowering International Students with a Library Skills Set. Reference Services Review 29: 314–26.

Chaudhry, A. S., & Choo, M (2001). Understanding of library jargon in the information seeking process. Journal of Information Science, 27, (5), 343-349.

Coffey, D., & Lawson, K. (2002). Managing Meaning: Language and Technology in Academic Libraries. College and Research Libraries 63 (2), 151–62.

Dowling, T. (2003). Usability and Accessibility. Library Technology Reports 39: 48–58. EBSCO database (consulted January 2005): http://www.ebsco.com

Duncan, V., & Fichter, D.M. (2004). What Words and Where? Applying Usability Testing Techniques to Name a New Live Reference Service. Journal of the Medical Library Association 32 (2): 218–25.

Hutcherson, N. B. (2004). Library jargon: Student recognition of terms and concepts commonly used by librarians in the Classroom College & Research libraries 65 (4) , 349-354

Kamhi-Stein, Lia D. and Stein, Alan Paul (1998). Teaching Information Competency as a Third Language: A New Model for Library Instruction. Reference & User Services Quarterly 38: 173–79

Klein, L. R. (2001). The Web Is Not Your Library. Library Journal Net Connect winter: 36–37.

Naismith, R., & Stein, J. (1989). ‘Library Jargon: Student Comprehension of Technical Language Used by Librarians’, College and Research Libraries 50 (5): 543–52.

Spivey, M. A. (2000). The Vocabulary of Library Home Pages: An Influence on Diverse and Remote-Users. Information Technology & Libraries 19 Sept.: 151–56.

Torres, P.T. (1994) Learning Excellence: A Master Course in Learning How to Learn. Manila: Training Systems Associates, Inc.

APPENDIX

QUESTIONNAIRE

Dear students,

This questionnaire is for the purpose of a research titled, “Student recognition of library terms and concepts used by librarians: a case of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso”. You are requested to kindly complete the questionnaire by ticking (√) where applicable and commenting where necessary. We solicit for your maximum co-operation through response. The information given will be used strictly for research purpose and will be treated in confidence.

Thanks you for your co-operation

Mrs. L.O. Adedidu Mr. I.O. Ajala

1. Age: 16-19 [  ] 20-40 [  ] 41-60 [  ] 61 above [  ]

2. Gender: Male [  ]  Female [  ]

3. Faculty.. Department ..

4. Level:  100L [  ]  200L [  ] 300L [  ] 400L [  ] 500L [  ]

5. Did you take ‘use of library’ course? YES [  ] NO [  ]

6. Are your able to gain anything from the course YES [  ] NO [  ]

7. How often do you visit library?  Always [ ] Often [ ] Sometimes [ ] Rarely [  ] Never [ ] 

8. Are you familiar with library before coming to the University? YES [  ] NO [  ]

9. If YES to question 8, which type of library? Special library [ ] Academic library [ ]

Public library [  ]

10. Purpose of visiting library? Research [  ] Study [  ] Leisure [  ] Others [  ]

11. Which sections of collection do you often use? Environment [  ] Basic Medical Science [  ] Agriculture [  ] Engineering [  ] Science [  ]

12. Types of materials used. Books [  ] Journals [  ] A/V Materials [  ] OPAC [  ] Newspaper [  ]

13. Do you have problems in using materials in the Library YES [  ] NO [  ] if YES, which one, OPAC [  ]  Catalogues [  ]

14. How do you learn the use of catalogue and OPAC? (Online Public Access Catalogue)  Use of library course [  ] Observations [  ] Librarian’s help [  ] Through reading [  ] Others [  ]

15. Are you aware of library’s terms used in the Library? YES [  ] NO [  ]

16. How do you come to know the terms used in library? Lectures/Librarians [  ] Classmate/friends [  ] Use of library course [  ] Others [  ]

17. Which of these terms do you recognize by indicating Most Recognized (MR) Least Recognized (LR)? 

Biography [  ] Copyright [  ] Cross reference [  ]  Abstract [  ]  Edition [  ]  Circulation [  ]  Accession number [  ] Bibliography [  ]  Call number/classification number [ ] Reference [ ] Microfilm [ ] Acquisitions [  ] Reference service [  ] Illustrations [  ] Library holdings [  ] Gazetteers [  ] Revised edition [  ] Catalogue cards [  ] Documents [  ] Inter library loan [  ] Serials [  ]  OPAC [  ]  Table of contents [  ] Reserve collections [  ]

Kindly tick (  ) for the correct answers where applicable.

    1. A summary of the major points of an argument or theory

(A) [  ] Biography (B) [  ] Abstract (C) [  ] Reference (D) [  ] Illustration

    1.  The number given to a volume in the order of its acquisitions

(A) [  ] ISSN (B) [  ] Invoice number (C) [  ] Accession number (D) [  ] Accession record 

    1. A list of books, references or sources and writing of one author or about one subject used in writing a research work. (A) [  ] Biography  (B) [  ] Bibliography (C) [  ] Autobiography  (D) [  ] None of these 
    2. A description of someone’s life usually published in form of a book, essay, or in some other form, such as film. (A) [  ] Bibliography  (B) [  ] Biography (C) [  ] Autobiography  (D) [  ] None of the above
    3. The combination of code representing the subject and author which enable one to locate needed materials is

(A) [  ] Accession number (B) [  ] Invoice Number (C) [  ] ISBN (D) [  ] Call Number/Classification Number

    1. The section in the library where one returns and borrows books.

(A) [  ] Reference section (B) [  ] Circulation (C) [  ] Catalogue service (D) [  ] Acquisition service 

    1.  A legal provision granting exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute a work (A) [  ] Certification  (B)  [  ] License  (C) [  ] Copyright (D) [  ] Patent
    2. A reference that directs the users from terms or names to others related terms or names  (A) [  ] See reference (B) [  ] Explanatory reference  (C) [  ] Cross reference  (D) [  ] Patent
    3. The part of a book where you find the list of all topics, names and terms used arranged alphabetically

(A) [  ] Glossary (B) [  ] Appendix (C) [  ] Index (D) [  ] Text

    1. A transaction involving the lending of library by one library to another

(A) [  ] Referral (B) [  ] Library cooperation (C) [  ] Interlibrary loan (D) [  ] None of these

    1. Library holdings are  (A) [ ] Books in VC office (B) [  ] Books and non books materials in the library (C) [  ] Deans collection (D) [  ] None of the above
    2. A machine-readable catalogue file interrogated online by the user through a Visual Display Unit (VDU)

(A) [  ] Internet (B) [  ] Networking (C) [  ] OPAC (D) [  ] Online Database

    1. References service (A) [  ] Service librarian provided on request  (B) [  ] Librarian provide answer to queries (C) [  ] Person to person service by librarian  (D) [  ] None of the above
    2. Reserve connection is (A) [  ] to be borrowed for two weeks  (B) [  ] to be borrowed for few hours within the library  (C) [  ] None of the above
    3. A list of the part of a book or document organized in the order in which the parts appears (A) [  ] Bibliography list  (B) [  ] Reference list (C) [  ] Table of contents list  (D) [  ] Index list
    4. A single film about the size of a postcard is called  (A)  [  ] Microfishe  (B) [  ] Microfilm   (C) [  ] Aperture cared (D) Microcard
    5. Serials publications are know as (A) [  ] Government publications (B) [  ] National library collections (C) [  ] Theses collections (D) Journals, magazines etc.
    6. Catalogue cards are (A) [  ] Main source for searching (B) [  ] Index to library collections  (C) [  ] Key to library collections  (D) [  ] All of the above
    7. An illustration is a visualization in such as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form [  ] Yes [  ] No
    8. The part of a book where you find the lists of all topics, names, and terms used which are arranged alphabetically  (A) [  ] Index (B) [  ] appendix (C) [  ] Glossary  (D) [  ] Body or Text

19. Other comments and suggestions

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