UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) FOR REFERENCE SERVICES IN FEDERAL UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN NIGERIA
The purpose of this work was to examine the extent of utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in reference services in Federal university libraries in Nigeria. Six research questions and three null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. Descriptive survey was the research design adopted for the study. The population of the study comprised all the librarians and reference library users in all the federal university libraries in Nigeria. Simple random sampling was used to select two Federal university libraries from the six geo-political zones, making a total of twelve libraries that were used for the study. Four hundred and sixty-five (465) librarians from the federal university libraries and a total of twelve thousand six hundred and fifty two (12,652) users (Masters and Doctoral students) of the reference sections of the Federal university libraries as stated by the reference librarians made up the population. Stratified random sampling was used to sample two hundred and eighty-five (285) librarians while accidental sampling was used to sample one thousand, five hundred and sixty (1,560) library users for the study. Two structured questionnaires were used to collect data from librarians and library users. Observation and interview guides were also used to elicit information from reference librarians on utilization of ICT in reference services. Frequency, Mean scores and Standard deviation were used to analyze data from the questionnaire, while data from the observation and interview were analyzed qualitatively and the hypotheses were tested using analysis of variance (ANOVA) test statistics. Major findings showed that ICT facilities were available in federal university libraries, that the ICT facilities were utilized for reference services but that they were not utilized reference operations like inter – library loans, resource sharing, networking and chat services. The utilization of ICT facilities in reference services has made reference operations faster, easier and interesting. The constraints facing the utilization of ICT in reference services included poor funding, irregular power supply, lack of reference librarians and lack of ICT information policy in the country. The researcher also found out strategies that could be used to enhance the utilization of ICT in reference services: adequate funding, training and retraining of librarians through seminars, workshops and conferences. The National Universities Commission (NUC) should mandate all universities to automate their libraries within a stipulated period. There should be regular supply of power and maintenance of the ICT facilities.