AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF LIBRARY RESOURCES AND SERVICES BY PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED POLYTECHNIC STUDENTS IN SOUTHEAST NIGERIA
This study investigates availability and utilization of library resources and services by physically challenged polytechnic students in southeast, Nigeria. The study answered seven research questions and tested six null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. A descriptive survey design was adopted for the research. The populations of the study were all the identified students with mobility, hearing and visual impairments and the professional librarians who were the service providers in the polytechnic libraries. The total number of professional librarians was 94 and that of the physically challenged students was 1984 from where a sample of 279 was taken. The whole professional librarians were used because the population was small. The researcher also used Focus Group Discussion (FGD) for data collection. Three separate groups of physically challenged students (mobility, visual, and hearing impaired) per institution were used for the FGD. Two sets of questionnaire for the librarians (AULRSQL) and physically challenged students (AULRSQPCS) were developed and validated alongside with the other instrument by 3 experts from University of Nigeria, Nsukka. They were trial tested using 15 librarians and 7 identified visual, 5 hearing and 8 mobility-impaired students from two polytechnics in south-south Nigeria. The reliability co-efficient of AULRSQL and AULRQPCS are 0.668 and 0.778 respectively indicating a high degree of internal consistency. They were obtained by using Cronbatch Alpha reliability method. The instruments were administered directly to the librarians, all the identified hearing and visually impaired students and to 10% of the mobility impaired students selected using proportionately stratified random sampling technique. However, 82 sets of the questionnaire for the librarians were returned in usable form, while 164 of the mobility impaired, 34 of the hearing impaired and 38 of the visually impaired were returned in useable form. The data from the AULRSQL and AULRSQPCS were analyzed using frequency tables, percentages, means and standard deviations. The real limit of numbers (means range) of the nominal value assigned to the scale point was used and decision was taken by comparing results with the real limit of numbers. ANOVA was used for testing the formulated hypotheses. Major findings include that general library materials are available (though some are outdated), paucity of specialized library resources for the mobility, hearing and visual impaired students, general lack of support resources in the library and a high extent of use of available resources and services. Problems of availability and utilization of library resources and services and the strategies to curb them were also identified. Recommendations, made include that more current general library materials be provided in polytechnic libraries, specialized resources and facilities for the 3 groups of physically challenged students be provided, and that officers in charge of physically challenged students be provided immediately. Others are urgent need for architectural modification of existing structures and the formulation of quantitative standards for academic libraries that serve physically challenged students in Nigeria. Suggestions for further studies were made.