UTILIZATION OF INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION FOR EFFECTIVE REFERENCE SERVICES IN SELECTED FEDERAL UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN SOUTH EAST NIGERIA
The work is designed to examine the utilization of interpersonal communication for effective reference services in selected federal university libraries in South East Nigeria. The study was guided by six research questions in line with the objective of the study is to identify nature of reference services provided by the federal university libraries in South East Nigeria, to determine the extent of use of interpersonal communication in reference service, to determine the extent to which interpersonal communication contributes to effective reference service, to identify hindrances to effective utilization of interpersonal in reference service and strategies for overcoming hindrances to effective utilization of interpersonal communication in reference service. The design adopted for this study is descriptive survey research design. The total population for this study was three hundred and forty six (346) reference staff (paraprofessional and professional) and students respectively. Data was collected using questionnaire and oral interview. A total number of three hundred and forty six copies of questionnaire were distributed to the respondents who comprised entire reference staff (paraprofessional and professional) and postgraduate and undergraduate students of the selected federal university libraries under study. Three hundred and thirty (336) of the questionnaires were correctly filled and returned and were used for this study. Data collected were analyzed using percentage and mean scores. Result shows that interpersonal communication is utilized to a great extent in the federal university libraries and that it contributes to effective reference services by making exchange of message easier, enables librarians ascertain users information needs and facilitates accurate and objective information provision. Result reveals that there are hindrances to effective utilization of interpersonal communication in reference services including stereotype and inferiority complex of reference staff and users, users’ inability to frame queries correctly, lack of passion of staff for reference service and frustration due to poor working condition. From the findings of this study, strategies that can be used to overcome hindrances to effective utilization of interpersonal communication in reference service show that the reference staff and users should listen carefully during reference service, reference questions should be framed objectively and accurately, the reference staff and users should be patient enough during reference service while stereotype and interiority complex should be avoided during reference service. The study recommended that the reference staff and users should listen attentively to each other while reference transaction is going on to ensure effective reference services. The study also recommended that user education program aimed at teaching the users how to frame reference questions should be considered to enable librarians provide accurate and objective information that will meet the users information needs while reference staff should be well educated to be able to communicate effectively with users of different academic and social background.