Resource Sharing and Networking in Library and Information Centres in Africa

Resource Sharing and Networking in Library and Information Centres in Africa

Edeama O. Onwuchekwa (National Open University of Nigeria Library, Lagos, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch381

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Ali (2010) posits that the ultimate aim of library and Information service is to supply its user with all the materials that he or she needs in order to do research, become more educated, empower him/herself, or simply be entertained. The explosion in published output, the sharp increase in bibliographic access of literature through online and off-line databases on CDs decreasing library budgets along with high cost of published output have made it virtually impossible for libraries and documentation/ information centers to fulfill information needs of their primary clientele. Under such squeezing situation the best option left with the libraries is to optimize the output and utilize their resources through extensive sharing and networking.

In view of the above, the traditional concept of ownership in collection development is gradually being replaced by access to information and knowledge without regard to location and format. According to Benzies (1999) Resource sharing is the process by which a group of libraries, information centres, etc., decide to make their resources available for the common use and benefit of all members of the group. It means a partnership in which each member has something useful to contribute to the others and is willing to make this available when needed. It is, essentially, a pooling of resources, a cooperative undertaking for increased capability, greater user satisfaction and economy of effort.

Chatterjee (2010) is of the opinion that Information Resource Sharing does not merely mean mutual sharing of information sources among libraries but utilizing information resources of one library for generating services of another library. For instance, librarians in any library in Nigeria can easily find out any information concerning any book in the Library of Congress in United States of America within a couple of minutes without leaving the confines of their library buildings. The fact is that ICT has become indispensable to libraries in the provision of timely information to users and, in fact, to the progress of librarianship as a profession.

A “network” is, essentially, an interconnected group or system. A library and information network is, therefore, a group of libraries or information centres that are interconnected or linked for the purpose of resource sharing. Kaul (2002) gives the view that a library network can bridge the digital divide and play a major role in developing appropriate content, managing content for dissemination, improving access to resources, contributing the growth of trained manpower and so on.

In the same context, consortia-based subscription of e-journals is one of the major and most popular activities undertaken by library networks. The exponential growth of information and escalating cost have prompted the libraries to look for an collective arrangement which would provide them with a better bargaining power to have access to maximum information with possible minimum cost (Siddanagouda, 2013).

According to Webster (2006), Open source software is another example of collaboration at work in libraries. The open source movement in general is an important means for libraries to share software resources. Each individual open source project creates its own dynamic resource-sharing network. However, modern information technology has made the task of resource sharing very simple and convenient. The new technology brings forward to the information field many products and services which have changed the nature of fundamental library objectives and operations.

In the last few centuries, libraries and information centers have entered another era; many libraries are taking steps to reach out to other Libraries in the learning community in other to tackle the ever increasing needs of their users and to provide quality service. The ultimate goal of information/library networks is to interlink information resources in a metropolitan area, so that those users could access information irrespective of its location, format, medium, language, script etc. The conclusion of this article will highlight the formal and informal ways in which library professionals can make the most of the advantages and benefits of such collaboration.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Centres: A “center designed specifically for storing, processing, and retrieving information for dissemination at regular intervals, on demand or selectively, according to express needs of users.

Resource Sharing: “A term used to describe organized attempt by libraries and Information Centres to share materials and services cooperatively so as to provide one another with resources that might otherwise not be available to an individual institution. It represents an attempt to expand the availability of specialized, expensive, or just plain not-owned resources beyond the bounds of a single institution.”

Co-operation: A process that incorporates many different relationships between two or more individuals or organizations. It involves active partnerships with resources being shared or works being done by multiple partners in coordinated effort for the common good. It involves having a shared sense of a problem or challenges to an area.

Collaboration: Collaboration is about sharing and exchanging knowledge and skills. Thus, it involves knowledge, skills, and techniques’ sharing and transfer; enables visibility; and by using collective effort may solve problems faster.

Library Networks: A library network is a specialized type of library cooperation for centralized development of cooperative programs and services, which includes the use of computers and telecommunications etc.

Library Cooperation: A reciprocally beneficial sharing of resources developed or pre-existing by two or more Libraries.

Consortia: The co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration between, and among, libraries for the purpose of sharing information resources.

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