The study was conducted to investigate the utilization of Internet services by librarians in federal university libraries in north western states of Nigeria. In the study, six research questions and six hypotheses were formulated and tested. One hundred and seventy-seven (177) respondents were issued copies of the questionnaires out of which, one hundred and fifty-five (155) completed copies were retrieved and used for the study. The data collected for the study were analysed using frequency tables and percentages while the hypotheses were tested using one way ANOVA to compare the mean scores of the respondents from the three university libraries studied. The findings of the study showed that the federal university libraries in the Northwest states provided basically the same Internet services to their users. The Internet is used for searching information for research and other purposes. Utilization of Internet services in the libraries was constrained by factors such as poor funding, high cost of connectivity, lack of adequate power supply, etc. The study recommended among other things, that there is the need for owners/stakeholders of the universities for the provision of Internet services, that to maximize the benefits of Internet use in the libraries, steps should be taken to ensure training and re-training of academic librarians to enable them stay abreast of developments in information work in this Internet era. Also, alternative sources of power supply should be explored to address the current problem of poor power supply from the national electricity grid.
1.1 Background to the Study
The Internet, which is a major tool of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) innovation, is a global system that interconnects governments, academic institutions, corporations, the public and private computer networks. It is a global electronic network connecting millions of computers (Srivasta & Singh, 2007). The Internet is not only a „network of networks‟, but it also serves as a storehouse of information on virtually all fields and topics in the world of knowledge. It is a repository or trough of large amounts of online information resources. As Usman (2007) posited, the Internet is an interconnection of computer networks to one another in order to access and share information that are stored online. The online network provides access to a great wealth of information resources that are stored on the millions of networks that are linked together around the world.
The provision of information and the access to services in modern academic libraries have been greatly influenced by the invention of the Internet and this has in turn also affected the modern academic librarian, the resources of his library, the services he provides and the users of his library‟s services.
The introduction of the Internet into library operations has helped to improve education delivery in our educational institutions, and as Ekoko & Ekoko (2004) explained, the Internet represents a medium for locating and retrieving data and reference materials, researching information, displaying projects, delivering in-service
programmes, posting news, participating in continuing education and talking with colleagues.
Some of the uses of the Internet in libraries according to Tiamiyu (1999), include its use for inter library information requests (e-mails), document delivery (by file attachment facility), current awareness services (through bulletin boards and lists) and database searching (of online or remote databases).
There were several unsuccessful efforts made in the past to connect Nigerian university libraries to the Internet. Nok (2006) for example, reported that the World Bank in 1989 provided funds to thirty (30) of Nigeria‟s federal universities for the acquisition of books, journals and equipment (including computers) in order to encourage them (the universities) to introduce information and communication technologies (internet connection included) in their institutions, but no significance progress was made.
Agbonlahor, Bamitale and Okike (2002) also reported that in 1995, the Nigerian National Universities Commission (NUC) had embarked on a project aimed at linking all federal universities through an electronic network named NuNet (Nigerian Universities Network) with the goal of establishing interconnectivity among the universities; this according to them had to be halted due to logistic problems.
Another attempt at Internet connection for Nigeria‟s university libraries was directly related to the Virtual Library Project introduced in the country‟s higher educational institutions. The idea for setting up the National Virtual Library Project was initiated in the year 2002 by the Federal Ministry of Education. The project was conceived in three phases; Phase One was to set up virtual libraries for universities, Phase
Two was for polytechnics and Colleges of Education and Phase Three is for primary and secondary schools through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). Phase One commenced with eleven universities and their activities were coordinated by the National Universities Commission (Lawal and Ani, 2007; in Ashiru, 2008).
This study examined the utilization of Internet services for information services by three Federal University libraries in North western, Nigeria. These universities are namely: The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University, Kano and Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The acquisition and utilization of Internet facilities for information services provision has become widespread in libraries and information centres all over the world. In Nigeria, the deployment of Internet for the provision of information services became more prominent in the 1990s (Chiware, 2007). Studies however show that not many researches have been carried out to address specifically the issue of Internet use by librarians for information service delivery in Nigeria‟s university libraries (Oloruntoba and Bolarinwa, 2007). A study conducted by Gbaje (2007) found out that even though many academic libraries in Nigeria provide Internet access, and some have even uploaded their websites on the Internet, they are yet to move their services online and provide remote access to digital resources. Jagboro (2003) in a previous study at Obafemi Awolowo University found that the level of utilization of the Internet by post graduate students was low, this low utilization of the Internet was found to be due to two factors; the low level of connectivity and the high cost of cyber café facilities. Okon (2010) in a more recent study on „Internet access and use‟ discovered that there exist a poor level of
use of electronic journals and online data bases which are essential for learning and research.
The problems associated with the effective utilization of the Internet in university libraries in Nigeria include but not limited to the following: low level of connectivity (Jagboro, 2003), inability to move services online to provide remote access to digital resources (Gbaje, 2007), poor level of use of electronic journals and online data bases (Okon, 2010), low bandwidth and limited computer terminals (Jagboro, 2003), low level of Internet search skills by academic librarians.
It is with this backdrop that the present study was conducted to find out the extent of utilization of the Internet by academic librarians in federal university libraries in Northwest states of Nigeria and the impact that its (Internet‟s) use is having on information services provision in these libraries.
1.3 Research Questions
The study attempted to provide answers to the following research questions:
1. Which are the most often used Internet services in the university libraries in Northwest States of Nigeria?
2. For what specific purposes are librarians in the universities using Internet services?
3. What is the extent of utilization of Internet services for information services delivery by the university libraries?
4. What Internet services are more preferred and used by users in the university libraries?
5. To what extent have the university libraries under study been able to satisfy their users with the information services they provide using the Internet?
6. What factors (if any) militate against effective use of Internet for information services delivery or provision by the university libraries in northwest states of Nigeria?
1.4 Research Hypotheses