- Background of the Study
Information explosion in the present information age has made it increasingly impossible for students in higher institutions of learning to learn everything they need to know in their field of study within a few years at school. To become independent, lifelong learners even after school, students need to be equipped with critical skills amongst which are information literacy skills. As the American Library Association Presidential Committee on Information Literacy explains, “Ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand.”
In recent years Information Literacy has become a global issue and many Information Literacy initiatives have been documented throughout the world particularly as it relates to higher education. According to the American Library Association, information literacy is the ability to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information”. Information Literacy is the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information. Information literacy skills empower people with the critical skills which should enable them to become independent lifelong learners. These skills enable people to apply their knowledge from the familiar environment to the unfamiliar and to ensure that people get a lifelong education, libraries should be made accessible and library services should be made available at all places, to all sections of the society.
Now, the information society is characterized by a constantly increasing volume of information as well as advancements in information and communication technologies and to say that information literacy is becoming increasingly important, is to state the obvious, because being able to effectively access and use library resources especially those of electronic nature requires information literacy (Arms, 2005). Libraries, according to Nwalo (2000), are primarily set up to acquire, organise and make accessible to users, needed information resources in the best possible format and within the quickest possible time. University libraries on their part have the responsibility of providing a wide range of resources to meet undergraduate students’ research needs, collect information for their assignments and term papers, prepare for examinations and broaden their general knowledge, thereby enabling them to become independent individuals and to be able to add their own quota to the society. In addition, undergraduate students may need these information resources to write articles and to collaborate with others elsewhere in the world and they can locate and access their needed e-resources in the university libraries, the reason it becomes necessary Nigerian university libraries have been shifting their preferences from print to electronic resources.
Electronic resources are increasingly available in university libraries, thereby making it possible for students to access and use current and relevant literature for studies and research. Over the last decade, a significant transformation has been noticed in collection development policies and practices. Print medium is quickly giving way to the electronic form of materials. In an electronic library (or e-library), resources are stored and made available in digital forms, and the services of the library are also made available electronically. These services are made available frequently over the Internet so that users can access electronic materials remotely. This refers to electronic services (or e-services) which most libraries are trying to embrace in the digital environment. As libraries embrace the digital environment, their most crucial role is not that of providing e-library resources, but of establishing services that facilitate access to available information.
E-library resources, as defined by Case et al. (2004), are information sources that are available and can be accessed electronically through such computer networked facilities as online library catalogues, the internet and the World Wide Web (WWW), CD-ROM databases, etcetera. The electronic resources could either be subscribed to or be digitized in-house. It is true that the library has long been perceived as a building with walls filled with books for reading, but as Issa (2003) notes, librarianship as a profession came into existence to preserve and make widely accessible the records of human experience, much of which have been captured in electronic form. The emergence of Information Technology (IT) has recreated the face of librarianship and has helped the profession to further its purpose. In fact, IT has permeated evenly into our daily activities and as Okerulu (2003) states, it has created limitless opportunities for open access to information.
These opportunities cannot be harnessed where there is lack of the requisite information literacy on the part of the users, the undergraduate students in this case, to do so. To a large extent, the use of e-library resources is influenced by the level of information literacy skills as well as other related skills possessed by the users. University undergraduates, being the major population that is been served by the university library require the necessary skills with which to use computers, the internet as well as other information-centric electronic devices. Where this is absent or inadequate, the availability of e-library resources will be of little or no impact on their academics and their use of the library. Beyond this, university undergraduates need to be encouraged by their lecturers to use e-resources for references to enable students to use and locate these resources. This may increase the number of students acquiring the necessary information retrieval skills. If students are not encouraged to use electronic resources by their lecturers, and if information skills training occur outside the curriculum, they will be less likely to make use of electronic resources for academic purposes. This calls for the university library to put in place more effective strategies in its sensitization and training of end-users.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
To excel academically, university undergraduates need information for a variety of academic-related activities and the library should have a vast collection of electronic resources that can meet any of these purposes. In the 21st century where information explosion has become more of a challenge than an advantage, information users are faced with challenge of using these resources effectively and responsibly. This is because, effective and responsible use of information requires information literacy and as such, where there is lack of the skills required to use e-library resources, the benefits cannot be harnessed. Dadzie (2008) stated that studies have shown that research effort on university undergraduates’ information literacy skills are lopsided towards lack and how to develop such skills. This has inevitably created a gap in knowledge as regards how the lack of information literacy skills and how it affects the effective use of e-library resources among undergraduate students. This study therefore aims to address this gap in knowledge.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The overall objective of this research is to study the influence of information literacy skills on the use of e-library resources by part-time undergraduate students in Ambrose Alli University. The specific objectives are to:
- ascertain the e-library resources that are available at the Ambrose Alli University library
- identify the level of information literacy skills possessed by part-time undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University
- investigate how part-time undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University acquire their information literacy skills
- find out the influence of part-time undergraduate students’ information literacy skills on their use of e-library resources
- find out the challenges part-time undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University encounter in accessing and using e-library resources.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the e-library resources that are available at the Ambrose Alli University library?
- What is the level of information literacy skills possessed by part-time undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University?
- How do part-time undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University acquire their information literacy skills?
- What are the effects of part-time undergraduate students’ information literacy skills on their use of e-library resources?
- To identify the challenges part-time undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University encounter in accessing and using e-library resources?
1.5 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is limited to part-time undergraduate students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. This study focuses on studying the influence of information literacy skills on the use of e-library resources by part-time university undergraduate students.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Information literacy is a set of skills required by a person to find, retrieve, analyze and use information. Information literacy is directly linked with lifelong learning, critical thinking, and learning to learn concepts of education. Information literate individuals improve the society’s quality of life in general and academically. Information literacy skills are of prime importance in order to achieve every body’s academic goals. Truly information literacy is the foundation of a literate society.
This study will be of benefit to library management, education policy makers, researchers as well as students. For library management, this study will serve as an eye-opener towards the need to provide up-to-date user education and information literacy skills training and development to students especially in the use of electronic resources as this will in the long run positively affect their use of the library’s electronic resources. Education policy makers will find the recommendations from the present study useful in the area of curriculum development towards ensuring that students are encouraged to develop information literacy skills that will be of benefit to them even beyond school. For researchers, this study will serve as a reference point for researchers carrying out similar or related research. Finally, this study will be of importance to students by highlighting in clear terms, the need for them to acquire and develop information literacy skill so as to have access to and make judicious use of the library’s electronic resources for their own benefit.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The problem of time constraints was a challenge as the time used to undertake the study was limited. As a result of other academic activities, limited time was made available for the study. One other form of limitation was in the area of finance as the research required substantial amount of funds to see it through to the end especially in the aspects of production of questionnaires to cover a substantial number of prospective respondents and for mobility during the period and for the purpose of the research.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Some technical terms used in the course of this research need clarification through definition for the purpose of good understanding of this work. These definitions are only limited to the context of this study.
Influence: The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Information Literacy: The ability of being able to identify information sources, access information, evaluate it, and use it effectively and efficiently.
Information Literacy Skills: The set of skills required to identify information sources, access information, evaluate it, and use it effectively, efficiently, and ethically.
E-Library: The electronic or online library where one can have access to books, journals, novels, articles, or any other information in electronic format.
E-Library Resources: A collection of information-bearing resources kin organized electronic form, available
Undergraduate Student: A university student who has not yet obtained a first degree.
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