AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF LIBRARY INFORMATION SERVICES BY RESEARCHERS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES IN FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-SOUTH NIGERIA
Library information services are library processes and activities aimed at disseminating desirable information to the library users. For researchers to effectively conduct researches using the libraries, there is need for the libraries to provide adequate information services in terms of availability and utilization of these services. This study, therefore, investigated the availability and utilization of library information services by researchers in the social sciences in the federal university libraries in the South-South Zone of Nigeria. Seven research questions relating to availability and utilization of these services were formulated to guide the study. The study employed descriptive research design. The population of the study consisted of five hundred and forty-six researchers who were lecturers and postgraduate students. Census method was used to include the entire population which was considered manageable. Three experts validated the instrument which was found reliable with an overall average reliability coefficient of 0.88. Four federal universities in South South zone were studied, namely the Universities of Benin, Calabar, Port-Harcourt and Uyo. Eight library information services were studied: lending, reference, inter-library loan, current awareness, selective dissemination of information, photocopying, information communication technology (ICT), and literature search services. Data collection was by means of questionnaire, observation checklist and consultation of documents. The questionnaire was self designed questionnaire titled “Availability and Utilization of Library Services Questionnaire AULSQ”. The mean was used to answer the research questions, whereas the hypotheses were tested using regression analysis at the probability level of 0.05. Some findings were made which include: that the most available services were the photocopying, lending, reference and ICT based services. The most utilized library and information services by the social sciences researchers in the universities in South South Nigeria were photocopying, lending, ICT and reference services. Researchers in the social sciences in the universities depend much on photocopying, lending, ICT and reference services. ICT service was non existent in university of Port-Harcourt but had high utilization and dependence on the other universities. Literature search and inter library lending services were non existent at the University of Benin. Also, there was a significant relationship between availability and utilization of library services. There was also a significant relationship between the demographic variables of the researchers and their utilization of library services. The study also revealed that there is no significant difference between the utilization of library services between the universities that have ICT based library services and those that do not. Arising from the findings the researcher recommended the following: The government should make funds available to universities to procure facilities for their libraries. The researchers including academic and non-teaching staff of the universities should avail themselves of the opportunity to utilize the services in their libraries. University authorities should sponsor library staff for in-service training locally and overseas to up-date their professional knowledge. Inter library lending services should be encouraged among the universities. Regular workshops should be organized for library users on the services available in the university libraries. There should be application of ICTs in library services in the universities to encourage researchers to accomplish their research endeavours.