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IMSU e-library is Now Enriched with 39 e-resources - Ag Librarian

Updated on June, 26th, 2015

The Imo State University e-library has experienced a quantum leap from the backwaters into the future, with the recent equipping of the complex with 39 e-resources and links to some major ready-to-use foreign academic journals.

This was disclosed by the Univeristy's Acting Librarian, Dr Mrs Chidi Nwosu in an exclusive interview with IMSU GAZETTE in Owerri; noting that this fit would increase the University's ranking on the global webometric ranking of universities.

Dr Mrs Nwosu also disclosed about the incoming of a brand new library complex at the University's Lake Nwaebere main campus, speaking further on the inter-campus wide link-up on the cloud, due to campus-wide Wi-Fi system, which has certainly taken the University to new heights.

Said the Acting Librarian: "Upon assuming office, the new administration of Prof. Ukachukwu A. Awuzie decided to give a face lift to the University Library. I am sure that was based on his understanding of the Library as the hub of academic life in the University. He put the procedure in motion to get the University Council to approve the renovation. The contract was awarded, and the entire work took about eight months. As you can see, the whole place is wearing a new look now."

She noted that there were difficulties; but said they were what she would refer to as 'good problems,' as the breaking down of the library complex, in order to rebuild has brought about a new edifice, which is equipped with some of the latest e-resources as can be seen in any modern university.

On the benefits of the library upgrade to the entire University community, especially to the students, the Acting Librarian stated that it has enhanced the beauty of the building and the University landscape.

"The ambience of the place is quite inviting right now. I am sure the students will like it; and those who love to be around good environment would be happy that the University Library and its surrounding environment are now wearing a new. This will encourage them to always come to use the Library," she stated.

She commended the efforts of the Imo State Government, especially under Governor Rochas Okorocha, whom she described as the biggest supporter of the University since its establishment in 1992.

"The University is a parastatal of the State Government, and it is funded by the Government. The Government gives subvention to the University, but the day-to-day running of the University is the prerogative of the University Management.

When the government advances money to the University in form of subvention, the management looks at critical areas in the University to deploy this money. In its wisdom at the time, management thought that the Library should have priority, and that was why management invested so much money in the renovation of the Library," Dr Mrs Nwosu stated.

The Acting Librarian however, informed that there remains another big challenge to the University, despite the e-library upgrade; which she said, is the completion of the new gigantic Library complex, to accommodate more users.

According to her, the current Library has become too small, given the increased student population in the University, which has necessitated the erecting of a new bigger Library; equipped with more seating and reading capacity.

She equally spoke on increasing the staffing of the Library. "Our major challenge is under-staffing; we are grossly under-staffed and as such, we are unable to render some of the services we are supposed to render. For instance, we are supposed to extend our services period to much later in the day, but because of paucity of staff, we don't. You can't expect a staff that started work in the morning around 8: 00 am to stay beyond 4: 00 pm. It will not be realistic. But, if we had had the full complement of staff, you could organize a shift periods for them. I must assure you that the Vice Chancellor is on top of the matter, we have already told him and he has expressed his understanding of the need for more staff in the Library."

Recently, the IMSU GAZETTE team sat down with the Acting Librarian, Dr (Mrs.) Chidi Nwosu, in an interview. And she spoke on inter-campus wide link-up on the cloud, expected improved webometric ranking of the University due to campus-wide Wi-Fi system, low Library usage statistics, among other transformations that have taken place at the Library, with a new Library complex coming up soon Excerpts:

Please may we meet you?
I am Dr (Mrs.) Chidi Nwosu, the acting Librarian of the University.

Can you give us a brief on the recent renovations that have taken place in the Library?

Upon assumption of office the new administration under the leadership of Prof. U. A. Awuzie, decided to give a face lift to the Library. I am sure that was based on his understanding of the Library as the hub of academic life in the University. He put the procedure in motion to get the University Council to approve the renovation. The contract was awarded, and the entire work took about eight months. The renovation work involved changing the old asbestos ceiling with modern PVC; tiling the floor; changing window louvre blades with almaco windows, and changing unsightly wooden doors with superior doors. As you can see, the whole place is wearing a new look now.

What were the major difficulties you encountered during this process?

There were difficulties, yes; but 'theywere what I would refer to as 'good problems. If you are breaking down in order to rebuild, there is no problem. To rebuild, there is no problem. Sometimes, if you must get something better, you may have to dismantle the old thing. During that period, our students could not use the Library resources because the renovation work was going on. Some staff also had difficulties getting where to stay because either the floor of their offices or their roofs were being retouched. Like I earlier said, we were able to cope because we knew that something better was coming out of that.

What are the benefits of the renovation to the University community, especially to the students?

The benefits are self-evident. As you are approaching the University Library, you must be impressed with the enhanced beauty of the building and the environment. The ambience of the place is quite inviting right now. I am sure the students will like it; and those who love to be around good environment would be happy that the University Library and its surrounding environment are now wearing a new. This will encourage them to always come to use the Library.

Can you explain the role of the State Government and the University Management in the renovation of the Library?

The University is a parastatal of the State Government, and it is funded by the Government. The Government gives subvention to the University, but the day-to-day running of the University is the prerogative of the University Management. When the government advances money to the University in form of subvention, the management looks at critical areas in the University to deploy this money. In its wisdom at the time, management thought that the Library should have priority, and that was why management invested so much money in the renovation of the Library.

Now that the Library has been renovated, what would you consider to be your next major challenge?

We haven't reached our Eldorado, we are still going up! If you look through this window you will see a construction site. In a few months time, you will see a gigantic Library complex standing on that place that used to be a playground for students. The foundation work is already going on there. This current Library complex is becoming too small for us, as our books stock is growing. I consider it a challenge; we are coping anyway. Our major challenge is under-staffing; we are grossly under-staffed and as such, we are unable to render some of the services we are supposed to render. For instance, we are supposed to extend our services period to much later in the day, but because of paucity of staff, we don't. You can't expect a staff that started work in the morning around 8: 00 am to stay beyond 4: 00 pm. It will not be realistic. But, if we had had the full complement of staff, you could organize a shift periods for them. I must assure you that the Vice Chancellor is on top of the matter, we have already told him and he has expressed his understanding of the need for more staff in the Library.

Talking about the E-Library, can you give us an insight on its benefits to staff and students?

E-Library, Virtual Library, Digital Library; all these are concepts that capture the idea of the "library without walls." The world has become a global entity, so much so that we should be able to be part of what is happening in any place in the world and benefit from it. With the E-Library operational now, our staff and students are able to queue into developments in the world in terms of books and other learning resources. We are just a click away from the Library of Congress and MIT Library; we have up to thirty-nine (39) e-resources in our KOHA system. With this, students are able to queue into whatever information they want with just a click. The presence of E-Library in our University has helped to make access to information wider. It has increased access to information and knowledge for our staff and students.

Have you met all your goals for this project? Are you satisfied with where things are? Do you have any regret(s)?

No, we have not met all our goals. You see, the University system is coordinated by a national body called the National Universities Commission (NUC), and it requires every department to have a Library and an E-Library component of that Library. Right now, our departmental libraries, where they exist do not have all the e-resources that we require. Working with the ICT Director of the University, we are trying to extend this E-Library project to all the departments in the University. Satisfaction? Yes, I am happy where we are, but like I said earlier, we have not reached where we want to get to. I don't have regrets at all because we didn't have anything before but now, we have a lot to boast of and we are still aspiring to get more. We have no regrets whatsoever; we have both free access e-resources and subscription-based ones.

What advice or encouragement do you have for students, especially in terms of the E-Library services?

They should avail themselves of the opportunity of the e-library to increase their knowledge. The essence of University education is to acquire knowledge in its very broad terms and you don't just stay in the classroom and get all that is required of you. Beyond going to classes and reading their textbooks, they can always avail themselves of the e-resources in the e-library to acquire further knowledge and information from authors and people around the world. Let them come all the time; there is no registration and the library is open to all students. While they come, we expect them to be reasonable; there should be some sort of decorum. We don't allow them to come in with flash drives to copy downloaded information to guard against virus infections. They should heed to little instructions like that. As well, it would be good for them to give us feedback on the difficulties they have accessing resources. Let them also complain to their HODs that their departments are not well positioned on our web platforms. That would help us, as well as the ICT to improve on the services we render to them. ICT is user-driven, and without their feedback, we may not achieve all our goals!

Now that the Library is no longer just a Library, but a Library system where Faculty and Departmental Libraries now see each other on the cloud; what is your impression about this transformation?

We have moved from the concept of "a library" to the paradigm of the Library understood as a system of libraries. And it is a great innovation! With the campus-wide WiFi, we now have a situation where we intend to make sure that you can connect to any departmental library through the main library portal so the content in the various departmental repositories will be visible on the cloud. We therefore encourage all departments to send us their journals, abstracts and repositories of their research content. This will improve our webometric ranking and make us more visible and respected worldwide. So, the concept of "library system" is a welcome development and we should embrace it and take advantage of all the benefits from this new arrangement.

How adequate are the resources in the Libraries?

Adequacy is a relative term. I keep saying that we have an eye on something beyond where we are now. I cannot say we are not making progress. In recent times we have been taking delivery of library books worth over N36 million. I will give tribute to TETfund intervention programme. The TETfund Library intervention programme has been very helpful. Annually, it makes funds available to Libraries for the purchase of books, journals and other Library resources. In the present dispensation, courtesy of TETfund, we have been buying books for the various departments and Faculties. We can now say that we have stepped up our book collection; possibly if we were at 40% saturation rate or position before, we have now stepped up to 60% and as time goes on, we will continue to increase the library holdings. All I can say is that: we have very good collection of books in several departments now but we haven't reached 100%. In any case, as the years go by, we drop some books that have become obsolete and add new ones. We are happy that we have many books, our collection is growing. In fact, one of the laws of Library Science is that 'the Library is a growing organism'; so we are growing in terms of Library collection. That's where we are.

In your own opinion, what is the usage statistics of the Library, considering students' population in the University? Would you say that the number complements the use of the Library?

This is a very good question. I do not think that most of our students realize the place of the University Library in their academic pursuit. You find out that several of them don't come to use the Library. Relative to the population of the students, the Library usage statistics is not encouraging; that is not to say that students don't use the Library, they do. In a situation where we have over 15,000 students in this place, we expect that they would be coming even outside the exams period. Many of them just fancy the Library only during exams to prepare for exams; that is not the idea. The idea of the Library is that students come to the Library and read ahead of the lecturer; when the lecturer comes to the class and gives the course outline, the dutiful student should go to the Library and read ahead. There is a need for a re-orientation of the students for them to understand that the Library is the hub of their academic life, and they should spend a lot of time taking information in the Library.

What is the attitude of users to the resources in the Library?

Students come around, pick Library books and read; but some unscrupulous ones mutilate the books which is very disappointing. Some of them even steal the books outright. We have a policy against the swoop photocopying of students' projects. You find out that some of them go and rip those projects; we have had cases of students who go to the shelf and in hidden places, they just rip the entire project and drop the cover. It's selfishness. The reason we don't encourage the swoop photocopying is to guard against plagiarism which is an offence. We encourage them to stay in the Library and read these projects and get guidelines on how to write their own. We have some decent users too and we encourage them.

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