The study examined the Disaster Preparedness of Libraries with reference to Imo State University, Owerri (IMSU). The study was an attempt to know the Disaster Preparedness of Imo State University, Owerri Library. The researcher explored five purposes and five research questions. Survey design was adopted using a population of 33 staff which comprises the professional, para-professional and suppose staff of the Imo State University library. The instrument use in collecting data was the questionnaire. The data collected for the study was analyzed using frequencies and percentages. The result showed that the library is mostly affected by natural disaster and the areas mostly affected include the personnel unit, circulation section, technical section and the serials section. She also discovered that the factors militating against disaster preparedness includes, inadequate planning at all levels, inadequate coordination and networking, inadequate fund, absence of permanent library staff, inadequate trained personnel etc. the researcher however recommended that disaster preparedness needs serious and concerted effort with a multi layered cooperation between all the stake holders and that the library should ensure that they always organize a training section for all their staff so that they can be prepared to face disaster at all times.
The following areas were treated in this chapter: background to the study, statement of the problem, scope of the study, purpose of the study, significance of the study and research questions.
Background to the Study
A library is an organized collection of books, serials, periodicals, manuscript for the purpose of reading, viewing, listening, study or reference. It is also seen as a room, set of rooms or building where books are organized for reading or borrowing. The Harold Librarians Glossary (2000) defines a library as a collection of books and other literary materials kept for reading, study and consultation or it is a room set apart for keeping and using of a collection of books. Eberhart (2010) sees it as,
a collection of resources on a variety of formats that are organized by information professionals or other experts who provide convenient physical, digital, bibliography or intellectual access and offer targeted services and programs with the mission of educating, informing or entertaining a variety of audience and the goals of stimulating individual learning and advancing society as a whole (p.1)
Library, be it public, national, special, school or academic is prone to disaster.Disaster can be defined as an unexpected natural or man-made catastrophic or substantial extent, causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life or sometimes permanent change to the natural environment. It can also be defined as an event in which the timing is unexpected and the consequences seriously disruptive. Eden and Matthew (1996)defined disaster as an incident which threatens human safety and damages or threatens to damage a library or archive building, collections, equipments and systems . Disasters come in different forms. It could be natural or artificial no wonder Akussah and Fosu (2001) grouped disaster into natural and artificial or man-made.
Natural disasters are happenings which man has little or no control over and they include earthquake, storm, hurricane, flood etc. Artificial or man-made on the other hand are disasters that come in different forms they include fire outbreak, water spillage, arson, and so on. Some are also seen as physical disaster, for instance book theft and mutilation. Any of these disastrous occurrences can affect both the community and the library organization. In the case of the library it frustrates their effort in the preservation and conservation of their information materials.
In a country like Nigeria and an eastern state like Imo state, one rarely experiences natural disaster however, they are un-predictable and their occurrence are difficult to control, bearing in mind that library resources are valuable and indispensible for the societal growth. There is need to be prepared for un-predictable occurrences or disaster. This therefore calls for the term disaster preparedness.
Disaster preparedness can be seen as the precautionary measure taken in the face of potential disaster. Dictionary of Library and Information Science (2004) defines disaster preparedness a as step taken by a library or archive to prepare for serious damage to facilities, collections or personnel in the event of a major occurrence such as flood, fire or earthquake etc. Disaster preparedness also refers to measures taken to prepare for and reduce the effects of disaster, that is, to predict and where possible, prevent disaster, mitigate their impact on vulnerable populations and respond to and effectively cope with their consequences. The essence of disaster preparedness is to prevent and control disasters that may occur. In the library it means the readiness of the library towards unforeseen disaster. Kurilecz (2006) asserts that disaster preparedness should be a major effort which should therefore be made and logistics put in place to serve as preparedness measures.
It is necessary for a library to come up with a reaction contingency plan/disaster plan for the purpose of reacting to an emergency situation or occurrence, the purpose of such reactions is to preserve and conserve the library materials and to take action to remove the threats towards the library materials. This is the basis for this study.
Statement of the Problem
The perception that disaster preparedness is not a major concern in academic libraries is compounded by the fact that many library and information science departments in universities do not offer courses on the topic. Furthermore, many disasters that occur in academic libraries in Nigeria are not properly documented and quite a number of cases go unreported. Planning in advance is the key to survival for a person, a family, a community or an institution such as a library, and since disasters are not location specific, the impetus for this research was borne to investigate into the disaster preparedness level of libraries in Nigeria.
Scope of the Study
This study is on disaster preparedness. It is limited to Imo State University, Owerri library.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to find out the disaster preparedness in Imo State University, Owerri library. Specifically it aims to:
- find out the disaster occurrences in Imo state university, Owerri library.
- ascertain the damages caused by the occurrence
- find out the areas that are mostly affected by the disaster
- ascertain the level disaster preparedness of the university library studied
- determine the factors militating against disaster preparedness in the university library
Significance of the study
Disaster preparedness is a very crucial matter that academic libraries should not take for granted else, they will be caught unawares in the event of disaster. The study will be significant to academic libraries in Nigeria, students, educators, researchers and lecturers. It will also contribute to the literature on disaster preparedness.
The findings of the study will stimulate heads of academic libraries in Nigeria to come up with a disaster plan schedule and strategy that will enable their staff to be disaster conscious. Furthermore, the study will assist institutions in Nigeria to provide basic disaster kits for disaster preparedness and training of staff on basic management skills.
The study will be a contribution to the literature on disaster preparedness generally and on academic discourse for those interested in disaster preparedness issues.
The study will also be of great value to students, educators, researchers and even the lecturers who are searching on disaster or disaster preparedness to library collections
The following questions are posed to guide the study:
- What are the disaster occurrences in Imo State University, Owerri library?
- What are the damages caused by the occurrence?
- What are the areas that were mostly affected by the disaster?
- What is the level of disaster preparedness of the university library under study?
- What are the factors militating against disaster preparedness in the university library?
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