CURRENT AWARENESS SERVICES AND SATISFACTION OF INFORMATION NEEDS OF RESEARCHERS ON RESEARCH ACTIVITIES AT THE FEDERAL COLLEGE OF FORESTRY TECHNOLOGY, IBADAN

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CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.0              INTRODUCTION

A modern society is characterized by an increasing need for specialized institutions in various fields of activity for the performance of their day-to-day functions as well as research and consultancy work. These institutions require speedy access to qualitative published information.

Library and information services are a key element in libraries since the ancient times. Their vital role is increasingly becoming a measure of the library’s contribution to the transformation and development of a society and the nation at large. The use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) has caused a transformation in the users’ perception from what is being hosted in the library to how and when services are rendered to fulfill their requests.

Consequently, libraries are becoming less important for the materials they collect, house or stores. Instead, their importance is being measured in respect to the fulfillment of the users’ requests or needs. The movement of materials from publishers and hosting them for "just in case" some users will need them is being replaced by delivering materials from publishers “just in time” to answer the user’s needs.

However, this transformation has brought a challenge in the field of library and information services of dealing with the ever-increasing complexity of information, differentiating useful information from mis-information, and upholding the rising needs and expectations of the users.

One of the major functions of a library is to scrutinize publications immediately after receipt, make a selection of publications pertinent to the programme of the organization and bring individual item to the attention of the users to whom it concerns. This is generally known as ‘current awareness’ service. Encyclopedia Americana (1976) defines current awareness services as the purpose of informing the users about information in their libraries. Current awareness service is referred to as dissemination of information that will keep clarities, well informed and up to date in their field of interest as well as their related subjects or disciplines. Current awareness service includes the selective dissemination of information, publication of current contents, and publication of list of new arrivals, information retrieval and online services.

The objective of current awareness service is to make available current information to those who need it, usually for current researcher and to sustain the interest of the library user in the services rendered by the library to make them lively and active readers for their benefits. Provision of information on recently required materials benefits all the users in several ways such as providing maximum exposure and utilization of the library information resources. Research tends to be associated more with the advanced form of investigation. For instance, it is common to hear of research at the post graduate and even post doctorate level mainly, than that of the under graduate. Research is been carried out in addition to new information to personal store-house of knowledge of others, it is to enable man relate with his environment more effectively.

This study will discuss the available technological opportunities that can be used by the library information services in addressing such challenges particularly at the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan.

1.1       HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE FEDERAL COLLEGE OF FORESTRY TECHNOLOGY IBADAN.

While the special library movement dates from the rise of business and technical libraries and the development of the concept of specialized information service in the twentieth century, prototypes of these special libraries could be found in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Professional association and government department libraries which served as on-the-spot working collections were most directly related to today’s special libraries. Legal and medical collections predominated, because in both professions a considerable body of literature had developed and professional training and practice dictated its use.

Early legal collections for state and federal government and collections in medical societies and hospitals date from the eighteenth century and continued to develop through the nineteenth century. During this time, a few early company and trade association libraries also appeared concerned with scientific, legal or statistical literature. These latter libraries, however, were virtually unnoticed until later reports dated the establishment of their collection. Other early special libraries have a less direct relationship to the modern special library. Scientific and historical society libraries with specialized subject were also established in this period, but they usually operate as leisure-time libraries for their members.

It is on this backdrop that the historical background of the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan (with a type of special library) is apt and without which this study will be incomplete. The Federal College of Forestry Technology started in Nigeria, West Africa on the 1st of May, 1941, at the then Forest School, Ibadan, which has now, been redesigned to be the Federal College of Forestry Technology.

Prior to this date, there was no formal training for indigenous forest staffs in Nigeria. The forest officers who were mainly British had on the job practical base training for the forest guards in their charge. The training consisted of elementary botany and identification of useful timber species, simple survey, forest law, forest protection and siluiculture, especially, nursery techniques.

The expansion of the forest estate in the country coupled with the increased number of timber exploitation necessitated the creation of an intermediate cadre between the forest office and the vocation level staff. Prior to the establishment of the forest school, the training of technical staff started in 1939 with the attachment of a professional forest officer to the teaching staff school of agriculture at Samaru, Zaria in Kaduna State. Four trainees passed out in 1940 after which the course was discontinued.

When the Federal College of Forestry was opened in 1941, it was mainly aimed at training forest assistants, although, a selected number of forest rangers received some lectures with the first set of trainees. The Federal College of Forestry technology Ibadan remained the only higher institution for the production of forestry technical man power in West Africa until the early sixties. Since its establishment, the school had trained and is still training students and helping researchers from other African countries, notably among the countries are, Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Uganda and Kenya.

Forestry technical education started in Nigeria with the establishment of a school of forestry by the Federal government in Zaria, Kaduna State in 1939. In the same year, the school was moved to moor plantation, Ibadan, Oyo State from where it was finally moved to its present site at forest hill, Jericho, Ibadan in 1941. As at 1941, the Federal School of Forestry was the only higher institution of forestry education in the African sub-region until the early sixties.

For every year until recently, the trainees were candidates sponsored by various state government agencies or foreign countries and as such at the beginning; many trainees were serving officers with sponsoring agencies.

From 1939 – 1956, the only course that was offered by the college was a one calendar year forest assistants’ programme. This was changed to an eighteen months course between 1956 and 1961. From 1961 to present, the programme has been a two level programmes, now designated as the National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) programmes, student run each level for two academic years.

1.2       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Provision of such services as current awareness services and selective dissemination of information (SDI) are faced with such challenges as lack of requisite library information resources in the library which affects the satisfaction needs of its users and researchers.

Users and researchers are not always aware of the arrival of new library materials and this is due to lack of adequate current awareness services in the institution by the library and Lack of internet facilities (i.e. e-library) to cater for the growing needs of users and researchers through prompt and up to date current awareness services.

1.3       OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The objectives of this study include among other things

                                I.            Identifying the level of current awareness service at the library of the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan.

                              II.            Identifying the level of the satisfaction of information needs of researchers at the library of the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan.

                            III.            Identifying how the use of the traditional methods helps the library in their current awareness services.

                            IV.            Highlighting the constraints (if any) involved in the use of information and communication technology as one of the tools in their current awareness services.

                              V.            Determine the success attained through the use of current awareness service at the library of the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan.

1.4       RESEARCH QUESTIONS

This study tends to answer the following questions

                                I.            What are the levels of current awareness service at the library of the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan?

                              II.            What are the levels of the satisfaction of the information needs of researchers at the library of the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan?

                            III.            How does the use of traditional method help the library’s current awareness service?

                            IV.            What are the constraints involved in the use of information and communication technology as a tool for the library’s current awareness service?

                              V.            What are the successes attained through the use of current awareness service as a tool in satisfying the information needs of researchers?

1.5       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The significance of this study is to improve the level in which current awareness service and dissemination of information to users of the library at the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan and to also improve the academic standard of the students of the institution by making adequate use of the available library materials through the provision of current awareness services by the institution’s library.

This study will also assist in increasing the research efforts of researchers both within and outside the institution. More so, it will shed more light on areas needing to be looked into.

1.6       SCOPE AND LIMITATION

This study covers the development of the satisfaction of the information needs of researchers at the library of the Federal College of Forestry Technology, Ibadan. It will be limited to the satisfaction of the information needs of researchers at the college alone, other areas of satisfaction of the information needs of users or researchers that have nothing to do with current awareness service will be excluded in the course of this study.

1.7       OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS

  • LIBRARY:  

A library can be defined as a building where selection, acquisition, organization, processing, evaluating, retrieval and dissemination of information to the community of users are carried out.

  • LIBRARY RESOURCES:

These are materials that are used to help achieve reading and research goals, especially books and equipments that are found in the library.

  • LIBRARY SERVICES:         

These are provision of information services to the library users in order to satisfy the information needs of users, and it includes current awareness services, Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) among others.

  • CURRENT AWARENESS:

It makes available of what is being done in a specific field of endeavor through documents such as notes, abstracts, clippings, etc.

  • SELECTIVE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION:

SDI refers to tools and resources used to keep a user informed of new resources on specified topics.

 

  • INFORMATION NEEDS:

This is an individual or group desire to locate and obtain information to satisfy their conscious or unconscious need.


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