AVAILABILITY AND USE OF DIGITAL REFERENCE SERVICES IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES

Ngozi Odili, Gift Ihunanya Nwosu, MaryJane Chinelo Ezenduka

Abstract


This study examined the utilization of digital reference services in Academic libraries. The study adopted descriptive research design. Ten (10) Library staff was chosen each from Baze University Abuja, Rivers State College of Health Science and Management Technology, P/H, and Federal College of Education (Technical) Umunze. Checklist and structured questionnaire were used as data collection tools for the study. The instruments (checklist and questionnaire) were subjected to face validation and were also subjected to pilot test using Cronbach Alpha which gave a reliability coefficient value of 0.89. Data collected from the study were analyzed using mean scores. The study revealed that searching online databases, online internet search, ask a librarian, live chat services, short message service (SMS), and social media services were the available digital reference services in Academic libraries. The study also showed that majority of the digital reference service such as document delivery, referrals, bibliographic verification, searching web OPAC, referencing using reference management software, user education, online tutorial, online inter library loan, ask a librarian, live chat services, short message service (SMS), and social media services were used on a low extent in Academic libraries. Similarly, inadequate fund allocation, lack of library website, lack of ICT facilities such as computers, slow internet connectivity, and poor library use by staff and students were the challenges of using digital reference services in Academic libraries. Furthermore, adequate fund allocation, provision of adequate ICT facilities such as computers, presence of digital infrastructure i.e. e-library, and stable power supply were revealed as the solutions to the challenges of utilization of digital reference services in Academic libraries. The study concluded that some Academic libraries are still experimenting with digital reference service due to the fact that the innovation is still at its evolving stage in developing countries, such as Nigeria. The study recommended that there should be a functional library website in all Academic libraries Academic libraries to make digital reference sources and services easier and accessible to the students


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