Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
Public Library Information Resources, Facilities, and Services: User Satisfaction with the Edo State Central Library, Benin-City, Nigeria
Basil Enemute Iwhiwhu
Patience Obotayire Okorodudu
In library and information science research, information can be seen as a consumable product that can only be consumed together with certain information delivery systems and/or services. The satisfaction of library users is a function of the quality of information product(s) received, the quality of information system and library services provided to access the information product. Therefore, satisfaction is a function of three main sourcesó quality of the information product, the information system and the services that make the information product available. These three levels of measure of satisfaction are defined by the information resources, facilities and services in this study. These sources of satisfaction, when properly harnessed may contribute to users' overall satisfaction. The accuracy, completeness, precision, and relevance of the information materials obtained from public library by a user are measures of the product performance.
The public library is established to provide materials, which communicate experience and ideas from one person to another and make them easily and freely available to all people. The public library is a local centre of information that makes all kinds of knowledge and information readily available to its users. It is established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some other form of community organizations. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services. It is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, disability, employment status and educational attainment (Aboyade, 1984).
People in all works of life use the public library resources, facilities and services. These users include pupils, students, teachers, scholars, scientists, business executives, government officials and even dropouts. Large numbers of people also turn to public libraries to satisfy their desire for knowledge or to obtain materials for some kind of leisure-time activities. A library may meet user's information needs by acquiring, organising and making available relevant information resources backed by appropriate facilities and delivered by means best known to them, which could be manual or through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). For any public library to perform well and meet the needs of the users on this modern time, it is necessary for the public library to embrace the use of information and communication technology. The role of ICT in the effective utilization of libraries has been stressed in literature, particularly in academic libraries. In a survey conducted by Ojo and Akande (2005), it was gathered that students use internet sources and e-mail more than other sources. Other electronic information resources used by students in the order of importance include CD-ROM, e-Journal, etc.
A lot of academic information can be received using electronic resources both inside and outside the library. This may be the reason why they are more popular compared to other resources. However, lack of computer and IT skills, time consuming, limited access to computer terminal and too much information retrieval, using electronic resources, often detracts from doing work (Ojo & Akande, 2005). These challenges among users may deter them from using electronic information sources. To this Omekwu (2001) stated that the success of online searching depends on the ability of the user or the information scientist to perform the search in the best possible way.
However, the performance of libraries has been hindered by:
i. Lack of infrastructure.
ii. Lack of adequate finance. Danuta (1996) asserted that finance is a major resource for organizational effectiveness and without it nothing meaningful will be achieved. It should be borne in mind right from the onset that computerization of library operations like acquisition and circulation control is an expensive venture, and a time consuming process. Also, Ikem and Ajala (2004) noted that the problem of funding is the major constraint of ICT application in libraries. According to them, the problem of funding is more than just acquiring the hard and software but updating and maintenance are very crucial in order to sustain it.
iii. Unavailability of local communication experts and computer communicating internally. Testing and installation of gadgets in a computer-based system, skilled and experienced personnel are needed on a permanent basis who can convert the existing manual bibliographic data into machine readable form.
iv. Installation and maintenance involve foreign currency limitations, bad telephone lines, and reluctance of telecommunication officers to license moderns. Moreover networks have their inherent problems which sometimes affect the decision of individual and organizations.
Public library exits to satisfy users. In this context, users' satisfaction refers to how users judge the services of public libraries. Indeed, it refers to whether users of public libraries get the desired information resources, facilities and services expected to be provided by the public libraries. Hence, in recent times, evaluating users' satisfaction with the information resources, facilities and services of public libraries has become a major concern and an integral part of library and information science practitioners (Ogunsola, 2004). This is because the ultimate aim of all libraries as a service oriented organization is to satisfy the needs of its clients. Thus, users' satisfaction with the information resources, facilities and services provided by libraries whether public or academic has become the melting pot of the present day librarianship and information science (Saliu, 2002).
In this regard, the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) set the minimum standards for information resources, facilities and services to be provided by public libraries (IFLA, 2001). The information resources include fiction books, non-fiction books, textbooks, newspaper/magazines, pictures and posters, records and tapes, audio and video, toys, CD-ROM and Braille materials. Facilities to be provided include reading tables adequate enough for users, sitting chairs, book shelves, library space, fans, lighting, ventilation, flooring, restaurant, location of exit point, notice board/bulletin, photocopiers, vehicle parking space, computers, carrels, periodical racks, circulation desks and other facilities that would make users comfortable for reading (IFLA, 2001). While the services include community information services, recreational activities, reference services, storytelling, reading competition, career information, customer care, adult literacy education, mobile library services, and services to prisoners, online internet search, among others (IFLA, 2001).
While these information resources, facilities and services are important in the public library services, the extent to which they satisfy users' information needs is fundamentally more important. This is because the ultimate goal of public libraries is to bring about higher users' satisfaction. Thus, it becomes pertinent to determine the extent to which users are satisfied with the information resources, facilities and services of public libraries. Public libraries generally serve a wide range of users, which include adult males and females, young adults, children, the visually impaired and other groups of people in the communities where they are located. Due to this fact, public libraries have vital roles to play in information dissemination at the grassroots to meet the information needs of each of these groups. The importance of public library in our society today is being underscored by a number of convergent trends which include, increase in school enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Thus, public libraries must be proactive, vibrant and abreast of the latest developments in information dissemination to maintain relevance and keep up with the multifarious needs and expectations of library users. It is therefore important that the public library should be able to provide the right materials to meet the information needs of users.
In a recent study, Anunobi (2003) observed that librarians are yet to make impact on students. The study revealed that the presence of school librarians who teach students on the use of library in secondary schools have not made much impact as shown by students' inability to use catalogues and indexes as library access points in their first year at universities. Awana (2007) maintained that the friendly disposition of staff, the willingness of library staff to assist users to get needed materials from within or through inter-library loan will encourage users to patronize the library and above all increase users' satisfaction with library services. Researchers are of the opinion that attitude of some library staff that bothered on hostility, rudeness and lazy approach to requests or enquiries have often put off some potential library users. Unomah (1986) in a survey of students utilization of academic libraries in Nigeria found that most often than not, some of the junior staff attitude towards users are discouraging in their services to the students. The negative attitude of some librarians towards information technology in library operations is not encouraging. Ifidon and Okoli (2002) noted that the nature of library staff is a factor that inhibits effective library services. They further stressed that most of the staff went through the traditional form of training in which some of them just refused to adjust to the new situation, but want the status quo to remain. Thorhauge (2003) is of the view that friendliness and helpfulness of library staff is one of the sixth criteria they proposed for the evaluation of academic libraries.
However, several studies in Nigeria (Ogunrombi, 1985; Oyegade, Nassarawa and Mokogwu, 2003; Iyiade and Oladipupo, 2004 and Onohwakpor, 2009) have noted that the Nigerian public library scene is yearning for improvement as their services suffer one form of neglect or the other due to lack of fund, inadequate infrastructure and unqualified manpower. This study, therefore, is on public library information resources, facilities and services: user's satisfaction with Edo state central library.
To adequately explain user's satisfaction with information resources, facilities and services, a conceptual model was developed in line with the Consumer Satisfaction Theory (CST) propounded by Cadotte, Woodruff & Jenkins (1987). According to the theory, before shopping, customers have some pre-purchase standard(s) in their minds that guide their purchasing activities. After purchasing a product (service), customers evaluate the performance of the product (service) against pre-purchase standards. When performance is greater than expectations (pre-purchase standard), satisfaction occurs. When performance is less than expectations (pre-purchase standard) dissatisfaction occurs. Thus, the extent to which a customer experiences satisfaction or dissatisfaction is related to the size and direction of product performance. In this study, information is investigated as a consumable product and library users are customers who are having a purchasing experience.
Accordingly, information searching and retrieval activities are viewed as purchasing experiences of library users. As with many consumables, information as a product is defined by two components: the information system/services that the customer utilizes to access and retrieve the information product (facilities and services) and the information product itself (resources). In other words, the information needs expectation from the public library by users represents the pre-purchase standard while the actual information products obtained from the public library represents the product/service consumption. Thus, when information resources obtained from a public library is lower than information need expectation, the users will be dissatisfied and vice visa. The library information resources are better utilized when relevant facilities such as reading tables, chairs, book shelves, ICTs among others are available. The availability of facilities enhances the ability of public libraries to render necessary services to users. Therefore, the integration of the three variables will bring about user's overall satisfaction.
The descriptive survey research via the ex post facto design was used in this study. Two hundred (200) respondents were selected using the availability sampling technique. Questionnaire and observation were the instruments used for data collection and the data were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequencies and mean. The point of decision was fixed at 2.0 since the questionnaire is a four point scale. Any item that attracted a mean of 2.0 and above was regarded as satisfied /agreed while any item that attracted a mean of less than 2.0 was regarded as dissatisfied/disagree.
Findings and Discussion
The response rate of the administered questionnaire is 196 (98%). The result showed that 123 (62.8%) respondents were males while 73 (37.2%) was females. The majority of the respondents (103, 52.6%) were between 21-24 years of age while 15.8% and 13.3% are between the ages of 15-20 years and 25-34 years respectively. Not surprisingly, only 12 (6.1%) of the respondents are under 15 years of age while 2.6% and 1.5% of the respondents are between 45-54 years and above 55 years of age respectively.
Also, significant is the fact that 144 (73.5%) respondents were single. This is expected as majority of the respondents are students. Furthermore, 128 (65.3%) of the respondents had secondary education while 60 (30.6%) had tertiary educational qualifications. Only 8 (4.1%) had primary education. Their employment status revealed that 124 (63.3%) respondents are students while 50 (25.5%) were civil servants. However, only 13 (6.6%) and 9 (4.6%) of the respondents were self-employed and retired respectively. These are shown graphically below.
Figure 1: Gender of Respondents
Figure 2: Age of Respondents
Figure 3: Marital Status of Respondents
Figure 4: Educational Qualification of Respondents
Figure 5: Employment Status of Respondents
Table 1: Level of Satisfaction of Users with the Information Resources n= 196
Table 1 shows the level of satisfaction of users with the information resources at the Edo state central library. The result revealed that users were not satisfied with the information resources. The first and second item on table 1 is on the level of satisfaction with fiction and non-fiction books and both of them had mean of 1.85 and 1.50 respectively indicating that users were not satisfied with them. The importance of fiction and non-fiction books has been noted in literature. Schoolrun (2011) observed that reading fiction and non-fiction books can significantly help with the development of children imaginative capacity and even impact on their future career choices. Non-fiction books can also be a great way to engage reluctant readers (Schoolrun, 2011). The implication of this is that children and adult users will not have access to this valuable resource and this will affect the lifelong learning capability of the user.
Other important information resources such as textbooks, journals, audio-visual materials, toys, among others had a mean of less than two (2) which indicate that users are not satisfied with them. Overall average of 1.73 for all the items indicated that users are not satisfied with the overall information resources at the Edo state central library. The importance of information resources in any library cannot be over-emphasized. Libraries whether public or academic are established to provide relevant and up to date information resources to its users. With the present scenario at the Edo state central library, it is obvious that the objective of meeting the information needs of users cannot be achieved. The above finding is in total agreement with Unomah (1986), Awana (2007) and Ezeala (2009) who separately noted that users are unsatisfied with information resources in the public libraries.
Table 2: Level of Satisfaction of Users with the Facilities in Edo state Central Library n=196
Table 2 showed that users are satisfied with the furniture at the Edo state central library. A mean of 3.01 and 3.02 for items one and two respectively confirmed this. The result also showed that users are satisfied with the library space, fans and air conditions, lightings and ventilations. Users are also satisfied with the flooring, catalogue and the restaurant facilities in the library. However, table 2 revealed that users are not satisfied with the photocopier facility, computers, carrels and periodicals with mean of 1.69, 1.46, 1.61 and 1.87 respectively. In spite of this, there is still an overall mean of 2.72, which indicated that users are satisfied with the facilities at the Edo state central library. The level of satisfaction as indicated by the users may be attributed to the fact that the Edo state central library was built within the last eight years and therefore commands some high level of modern facilities. The above findings are in consonance with Uddin, Quaddus, and Islam (2006) study in Bangladesh public libraries which indicated that 88.3% of the users were satisfied with the library environment. However, it is important to note that the poor state of photocopiers and other ICT facilities in the library have serious implications on the effective performance of the library system. Photocopiers facilitate easy access to copies of information resources while computers could assist or enhance easy location and retrieval of information resources especially when the information resources are entered into a database system in the computer.
Table 3: Level of Satisfaction of Users with the Services in Edo state Central Library n=196
Libraries are established to render different kinds of services to users. Thus, services are the main product of the library system. Table 3 shows the level of users' satisfaction with the services provided in the central library. The result revealed that the users in Edo state central library are only satisfied with three services provided in the library, which are hours of service, labelling services and bindery services with a mean of 2.87, 2.32 and 2.88 respectively. This finding supports Uddin, Quaddus & Islam (2006) study in Bangladesh public libraries which indicated that 53.33% of users were satisfied with hours of operation. However, users are not satisfied with the community information services, recreation services, reference services and storytelling services with mean of 1.48, 1.53, 1.50 and 1.37 respectively. Users are also not satisfied with the film show services, reading competition, customer care services among others services provided in the library. The overall average of 1.75 revealed that users are generally not satisfied with the services of Edo state central library. This finding is at variance with Fawowe (1989) who found out that users were satisfied with the services of public libraries. Services are important to users and librarians themselves. While users visit the library to gain access to such services in order to meet their information needs, libraries corporate existence is based on its ability to render services which are means to deliver their main products to users. In the absence of this, libraries corporate existence as a service oriented organization cannot be justified. Thus, it is important that Edo state central library re-strategize to justify its existence.
Table 4: Influence of Infrastructural Facilities on Users Satisfaction in Edo state Central Library n=196
Table 4 shows the extent to which available infrastructural facilities affect users' satisfaction. The result revealed that the available infrastructural facilities have effect on user's satisfaction. Item one and two in the table showed that users accent to the fact that the available furniture and toilet facilities in the library influence their satisfaction with mean of 2.99 and 2.46 respectively. Other facilities which influence users' satisfaction from table 4.4 include library space, restaurant, lightings and ventilations, parking space with mean of 2.89, 3.11, 2.97 and 3.61 respectively. However, the result further showed that the available ICT facilities, fans and air conditions in the library do not influence their satisfaction. The overall mean of 2.71 confirms that the available infrastructural facilities generally influence users' satisfaction in Edo state central library.
Table 5: The Influence of the Available Information Resources on Users Satisfaction n=196
Table 5 indicated the absence of relevant information resources at the Edo state central library. The result showed that fiction and non-fiction books, textbooks, reference books and audio visual information resources are not available in the library with mean 1.69, 1.58, 1.29, 1.68 and 1.32 respectively and this have negatively effect on the overall user's satisfaction. In the same vein, the journals/magazines and indexes/ abstract in the library are not suitable to their needs. These posted mean values of 1.65 and 1.32 respectively. The only information resource that was always available in the library, which enhances their satisfaction level, was the daily newspapers with mean of 3.31. However, the overall average of 1.67 as mean value showed that the available information resources in the Edo state central library is not adequate and this reduces the satisfaction level of users who patronise the library. The implication of this is that users who patronise the library do not have access to relevant information materials to meet their information needs. The above finding confirmed the result in table 1, which indicated that users are not satisfied with the information resources in the library. While facilities and services are important, without adequate stock of up to date and relevant information resources, the library cannot effectively achieve its paramount objective. From the above findings, it could be deduced that the widely known poor state of information resources and services in public libraries negatively influence users' satisfaction.
Table 6: challenges faced by users in Edo state central library n = 196
Table 6 identified the main challenges facing users at the Edo state central library. Poor attitude of the library staff is one of the challenges facing users with a mean of 2.58 in the library. This finding is supported by Awana (2007), Unomah (1986), Ifidon and Okoli (2002), who through separate studies found that library staff attitude affects users' satisfaction. Another challenge identified by the users is the poor information resources (mean value of 2.89), which implies that poor information resource is a major challenge facing users of the library. Under this scenario, it is obvious that the Edo state central library cannot meet the information needs of its users. However, infrastructural facilities with a mean value of 1.71 do not pose challenges to users.
On services of Edo state central library, the mean value of 3.19 means that there are poor services rendered by the library, which constitute challenges to users. Libraries are open to render services to users. With the poor services being rendered at the Edo state central library, it is obvious that one of the major obligations of libraries to its client cannot be effectively achieved. In like manner, poor ICT facilities with a mean of 3.55 also constitute a challenge to users of the Edo state central library. Another important constraint identified by the users is the location of the library with a mean value of 3.41 indicating that the location of the library is not conducive for learning. The Edo state central library is located along an ever busy Sapele road and also surrounded by residential and commercial buildings that generate a lot of noise, which could distract users in the library. Despite these challenges, ventilation, parking space and infrastructural facilities such as chairs and reading tables do not constitute any challenges to users of the Edo state central library. This implies that there are enough chairs and reading tables with spacious parking space and sufficient ventilations.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The main purpose of any library is to provide relevant and up- to-date materials with a view to satisfying the information needs of users. Based on the findings, it is clear that the library users are satisfied with some facilities but not satisfied with the information resources and services of the Edo state central library. This is as result of the poor state of information resources and inadequate services rendered by the library staff, coupled with their poor attitude to work. The unsatisfactory level of users has serious implications for the library and the users. The poor stocking of information resources and poor quality services makes it difficult for librarians to achieve the purpose for establishing the library. On the whole, the study revealed that information resources, facilities and services influence users' satisfaction.
In other for the library to meet the satisfaction level of users, the following recommendations were made; the state government should as a matter of urgency provide the necessary funds to stock the library with relevant information resources and ICT facilities for effective functioning of the Edo state central library; library staffs are expected to change their attitude to work and towards users and render the necessary assistance to facilitate user's search in order to satisfy their hunger for relevant information resources needed; In addition, the operations of the library should be automated to enhance library services provided by the library and the easy of location and retrieval of information resources by library users. The library may also improve in the efficiency of their services to users to increase their satisfaction level.
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