This study focused on ‘Enhancing the Quality of State Public Library Services through Public-Private Partnership Initiatives’. The study was aimed at finding out the types of public-private partnership in public libraries as well as identifying the benefits and challenges of public private partnership. The study has four purpose/research questions. Descriptive survey research design method was used to conduct the study.The population of the study consisted of all the professional librarians and para-professional staff of the public library studied. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistical analysis (mean). The results indicated among others, the objectives of practicing public-private partnership in public libraries is to render better and more efficient library services to users and in the most effective and efficient manner. Challenges of enhancing public private partnership in public library services were by setting up appropriate communication process and adequate monitoring by library management. It was suggested that government should be deeply involved in the funding of public libraries and should not depend on public-private partners alone for public library development as this will enhance the quality of library services rendered to users in public libraries in Nigeria.
Background to the study
Information is the main stay of every society, and no society, group or organization can function properly without information. Therefore, society cannot perform their duties effectively without the use of information.
Public library is defined as a gateway to all types of information, economic, social, political, technological or even religious. The basic philosophy of public library services is enunciated in the UNESCO public library manifesto (1994) which states: ‘’The public library as the local gateway to knowledge provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision making and cultural development of the individual and social groups.” Uchendu (2011) defines public library as a library that has been set up for the primary purpose of making information resources available to the general public irrespective of age, gender, race, colour or religious affiliation. Crozier (2010) describes the public library as an institution that is set up through the public fund that contributes to sustaining the quality of life in all aspects – educational, economic, industrial, scientific, and cultural, among others.
The features of public libraries as non-profit making institutions that provide services free of charge require continuous support in terms of funds and infrastructure so that they can satisfy the various needs of the users. It will make them be in a proper footing to meet the challenges of the future. Soludo (2007). Laments that developing countries including Nigeria if for whatever reasons fail to take advantage of the participation of the private sector in its economy are bound to trail behind others in all phases of development. Public sector collaboration in public library services will ensure proper formulation of public library policies, enhance services in work environment.
Public library services will benefit immensely from private sector investment in institutions and vice versa. Nwokocha (1998) and Edmonds (1986) decry the decay of public library infrastructure and the not-too-satisfactory services they render as a result of excessive public sector dominance of the institution. This can be reversed if there is a partnership between the public and private sector. Most libraries all over the world are usually owned and run by public institutions such as schools, hospitals, law establishments, universities, research institutes, ministries etc.
The major roles of such libraries lies on acquiring, processing, organizing, storing and disseminating library information for teaching, learning, research and public service. In of this, Osuagwu (2015) conceives that public library is a service – oriented institution with set objectives and goals to be achieved through its resources which it provides to the public in order to enable them solve their informational, educational and recreational needs.Edom (2012) defined library as a collection of information sources, resources and services, organized for use, and maintained by a public body, an institution, or a private individual.
Libraries in many institutions are over-stretched by funds and the demand of users for library services. The funding of library services and the high cost of technology are issues which must be addressed. Wrathall (1997), states that several projects have obtained funding from outside the public sector. The author further states that global internets are examples of private sector funding of information services in public libraries. It is a profit making venture by the company with no involvement of the public library other than free provision of space. While this may mean that the library gains kudos because it houses a high-tech development, it has little control over information provided. This explains the importance of private sectors in the provision of library services through the establishment of public-private partnership. Public-private partnership involves the joint contributory efforts of both the public institutional efforts and the private sector business librarians in providing library services and resources to clients. Clients in this case are the end users who may be students, lecturers, researchers and the entire public.
According to Uhegbu and Unagha (2007). “Public-private partnership is a situation where the public sector represented by the government collaborates with the private sector represented by private individuals, organized groups, associations or corporate bodies in the management, provision and delivery of services to the people”. It involves pooling resources, ideas, personnel and finance together to improve the services of public libraries. The services provided according to Igbeka (2008) may be photocopy, literature search, CD ROM, desktop publishing, web tutorial classes, virtual library, intelligence centre internet resources etc, fees are paid to the collaborator/partners by the user and shared on a pro rata basis. For instance, a business librarian who is interested in partnering with any library to render library services understudies the laws, rules and regulations establishing the institutional library. The librarian meets the administrators of the establishment to find out how he can fit in to offer enriched private input to library development(financial resources and service) for enhancing library services for the clients.
Statement of the Problem
Public library is a service oriented institution whose responsibility is to cater for information needs of all categories of clientele in a society or community. The characteristics of a public library as a non-profit making institution that provides services free of charge requires continuous support from both public and private sector so that it can satisfy the various public information needs of the users. Public-private sector collaboration in public library service will ensure proper formulation of public library policies, improve the services in work environment, facilitate the development of information of infrastructure, encourage quality and reliable information services, design, package, delivery and injection of needed funds for service expansion. Through partnerships, a public library can play a more essential role in its community, as these could help it meet its mission and goals, revitalize library and community service, help to meet the library and expands its services.
However, it should be stated here that the domination of public library system by the government often leads to poor funding and negligence. Poor funding makes it very hard if not impossible for public library to acquire the needed resources to enhance service delivery. Library services through its occasional donations and other sundry gestures can never make a public library provide quality services or meet the challenges of the 21st century which is now driven by the new information and communication technology order.
It is therefore, against this backdrop that this research is set out to examine how the absence of sustainable public-private sector participation could affect public library services in Nigeria as well as see how the quality of its services can be enhanced through public-private partnership initiatives, using the Imo State public library, Owerri as the case study.
Scope of the Study
This research work is set out to examine how public library services in Nigeria can be enhanced through public-private partnership initiatives. It will be limited to Imo state public libraries and focus on the effects of the absence of public private sector participation in public library as well as the benefits derived through public-private partnerships.
Purpose of the study The general specific purpose of the study is as follows:-
- Identify the areas where partnership should exist in Public Library services,
- ascertain the agencies involved in private partnership with public library,
- to find out the benefits of private partnership in public library services and
- identify the challenges of private partnership in public library services.
Significance of the study
This study will be beneficial to stakeholders in partnership collaborators which include future scholars, librarians, students of library and information science, library educators, researchers and those in both public and private sectors so that they will realize the vital roles of private partnership in public library development.The findings of the study will provide the needed information to boost efforts aimed at improving the user culture of the public library thereby enhancing library services to various categories of public users. The study will be profitable to business librarians, policy makers, researchers, and library educators, because through the findings of this study, they will learn how best to plan for successful public library collaboration. The findings of this study will be beneficial to public library directors how to prevent likely problems that could emerge in the process of execution and sustenance of library partnership. The findings of the study will enlighten the public sectors about the benefits that accrued in practicing public-private partnership in public libraries in delivering of project on based on the budget set out for it as well as transferring the risks to the private partners. The private sectors will also through the findings of this study understand that if the private partner goes bankrupt, solely the government has to deal with the consequences and try to find other expedients on how to keep delivering the services to the public. The findings of this study will be of immense help to public sectors in discovering other factors inhibiting the public-private partnership initiatives between public libraries and non governmental bodies as well as identify who to partner with.
Finally, the literature emanating from this study will be added advantage to the field of librarianship.
The following research questions are posed to guide the study:
- What are areas do public-private partnership exist in Imo State Public Library?
- What agenciesare involved in public-private partnership in ImoState public library?
- What are the benefits of Private partnership in Imo State public library?
- What are the challenges of private partnership in public library services?
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