Building an Effective Digital Library in a University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Nigeria

Building an Effective Digital Library in a University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Nigeria

Wilson Chukwunedum Ochonogor (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and Faith Ashinedu Okite-Amughoro (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3093-0.ch010
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The wide use of the Internet has resulted in digital libraries that are increasingly used by diverse communities of patrons for varying purposes in which sharing and collaboration have become important social elements. By improving Internet connectivity and growing number of international initiatives, knowledge workers in developing countries are now getting access to scholarly and scientific publications and electronic resources at a level that is unmatched historically. The university teaching hospital library requires up-to-date information that can be quickly accessed in order to increase and optimize healthcare service delivery. As such, the objective of this chapter is to ensure that all involved in the implementation of digitization in the university teaching hospitals live up to their expectations.
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Access to current and useful information is an integral part of every national development and the university teaching hospital plays a vital role in ensuring that adequate and quick health service delivery is practised. For the university teaching hospital (UTH) to function in this capacity there must be an effective digital library to provide the needed information. Hence, the need for building an effective digital library in the university teaching hospitals to facilitate the provision of the core information that medical doctors need in order to tackle diseases and create a healthy people.

The term digital library has been defined by many scholars in various ways. A few of such definitions would be given in this chapter showing how necessary digitisation has become in our generation if teaching hospitals would be able to respond effectively to the health needs of the people. Digital libraries are electronically organised collections of information with associated services where the information is stored in digital formats and accessible over a network at any time across the globe (Michael, 1997, Arms, 2000, Jeng, 2005). The Digital Library Federation (1999) representing the practical community, defines digital libraries as “organizations that provide the resources, including the specialized staff, to select, structure, offer intellectual access to, interpret, distribute, preserve the integrity of, and ensure the persistence over time of collections of digital works so that they are readily and economically available for use by a defined community or set of communities”. With the provision of various information resources orchestrated by digitisation of medical libraries, the future of practising doctors and those undergoing training is shaped to form a reading culture and prepare them to be able to independently search for any information with minimal assistance yet meeting their individual information goals.

Digital libraries provide a single point of access to a wide range of autonomously distributed sources and may be seen as new forms of information institutions, multimedia information retrieval systems, or information systems that support the creation, use, and searching of digital content (Paepcke, Cousins, García-Molina, Hassan, Ketchpel, Roscheisen, & Winograd, 1996; Borgman, Solvberg, & Kovács, 2002). By implication, building a digital library in any university teaching hospital in Nigeria and Delta state, in particular, will leverage access to current information and foster effective health care delivery services. The availability of current research outputs will not only impact on service delivery but will also affect the training and retraining of medical doctors as they will constantly be exposed to new information that is churned out in the field of medicine all over the world.

Digital libraries also represent a new infrastructure and environment that has been created by the integration and use of computing, communications, and digital content on a global scale destined to become an essential part of the information infrastructure in the twenty-first century (DELOS 2004, Jeng, 2005). Jeng summarised digital library definitions thus:

  • Are organised and managed collection of digital information,

  • Are accessible over a network, and

  • May include services

While all of these are true, UNESCO gave the main objectives of building a digital library in any institution as follow:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Library: A library that applies ICTs in its information service delivery.

Building: To put in place facilities that will ensure the feasibility of digital library.

Teaching Hospital: Also known as academic hospital. is hospital attached to universities for the purpose of training and retraining medical doctors and nurses for healthcare delivery.

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