MARKETING OF LIBRARY SERVICES IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES(A CASE STUDY OF IMO STATE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY, OWERRI)
Background to the Study
Libraries are the knowledge and information foundation of any nation. A library collects, organizes and makes information resources accessible to all kinds of users regardless of their ages, background and interests. Islam (2004) defined library as a learned institution equipped with treasures of knowledge, maintained organized and managed by trained personnel to educate the children, men and women continuously and assist in their self improvement through an effective and prompt dissemination of information. There are different kinds of libraries and each performs different kinds of functions to meet the determined purpose and needs of the people they serve (Ode and Omokaro 2007). These libraries include the following: academic libraries, public libraries, special libraries, school libraries, and private libraries.
Uwaifo (2010) stated that academic libraries are the ones established and maintained by higher institutions of learning such as universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, schools of nursing, petroleum training institutes and schools of health technology. He also noted that the essence of establishing an academic library is to enable it support the curriculum of the tertiary institutions which established it. They are essential part of the learning community. He went further to state that the academic library is the information nerve centre of its parent body. Aina (2004) stated that the main purpose of academic library is to support the objectives of an academic environment in the areas of learning, teaching and research service. Jubb and Green (2007) observed that academic libraries have for centuries played critically important roles in supporting research in all subjects and disciplines within their host universities and colleges. The following are the services provided by an academic library: Circulation of materials, shelf management, user education programmes, provision of information services, and operation of the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), exhibitions and displays, reader’s enquiry services, Selective
Dissemination of Information (SDI), trainings and internet services, bibliographic services, Indexing services, abstracting services, access to electronic resources and document delivery services.
The effectiveness and efficiency of services provided by an academic library are mainly determined by library users. Aina (2004) recognizes this fact when he stated that the user is very critical in the practice of librarianship. No library can exist without the patrons. The entire human and material resources in a library are put in place at considerable expense for the overall purpose of providing effective services to the library users. On its part the library has a responsibility to ensure that its resources and services are used (Edoka, 2000).The user is regarded as the most logical source to determine whether the library is playing its role satisfactorily or not. The mission statement of any academic library should be the provision of excellent service to its users. In higher institution libraries there are various categories of library patrons. They are undergraduates, postgraduates, lecturers, researchers, external users from all walks of life and many professions.
However, Academic libraries are faced with the need to market their services to users. Libraries are no longer the only information providers .They now have to compete for customers with the internet, bookshops, online book dealers and demand for more efficient services and needs of users. Academic libraries must understand clients needs, plan service provision, promote the available services and deliver them efficiently and effectively. To achieve this marketing is the essential tool.
Marketing has various definitions. Sharma and Bhardwaj (2009) defines marketing as a total system of interacting business activities to plan, promote and distribute want satisfying products and services to present and potential customers. Kolter (1994) described marketing as a social and managerial process by which individual groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and exchanging products and services. A library without users is useless. To succeed, there is need to let the users be aware of the benefits of the library to provision of information resources and services. Marketing is about keeping the clients in touch and informed about resources and services that match their interests. The success of academic library marketing lies mainly on convincing the clients that the tools or databases are worthwhile, they must understand what the services are, and be enthusiastic about how they will be helpful (Noel & Waugh, 2002). Librarians need to market their services and resources for students and potential users to create awareness of the academic library’s value. Major sectors of the potential market for the library’s services are probably not aware of all the services available or have no understanding at all of what is offered.
That’s why marketing is vital to the success and existence of the academic library. The main focus of every library should be a good customer service. Good service can equal a good marketing campaign, which is another reason why marketing is important for libraries. Effective marketing provides the means by which users are made aware of the services of
the library and their value.
Marketing in a library setting has been viewed from different perspective for instance Ravichandran and Babu (2008) views marketing of library services as the process of planning, pricing, promoting and distributing library products to create exchanges that satisfy the library and the clientele.
Nwegbu (2005)defines marketing in library setting as designing and presenting the library books and non book- materials in terms of the needs and desires of the users of the library and using effective techniques to motivate, inform and service the library clientele both present and potential. Weigard (1995) views marketing in library as a process of exchange and a way to foster the partnership between the library and the community. Marketing of library and information services includes user priorities, expectations, individuality, responsiveness, relationship, quality of services, professional skills, competencies and value added services etc. Basanta&Sanjah (2008) stated that the ultimate aim of marketing is to provide the right information to the right user at the right time. A user ascertains the effectiveness and efficiency of a library is not based on how large the library is or the number of staff and information materials available, but on the services provided.
Libraries and information centres have realized that marketing of information services is essential. This is because information has now become a very valuable resource. Libraries and information centre should inculcate marketing principles in the management of libraries. The libraries and the librarians must therefore shift their focus from the information provider to the information user (Iwhiwho, 2008). In doing this, they will be able to achieve their mission and serve their users better in the provision of quality services. Librarians must now act like business men by providing quality services and promoting their services at the right time and place to their users. The emerging technological challenges and societal changes pose a threat to libraries as worthy information providers. As a result of these challenges, it is now time for librarians to prove that they are invaluable to the continued survival and sustenance of their organizations. This can best be achieved by actively marketing their services. In order to successfully market library services, the marketing mix must be applied. The marketing mix is the combination of elements which are used to market a product or service. The marketing mix includes the following: product, price, place and promotion. Product in library content is defined as services offered to users to satisfy their information needs. The main products provided by information professionals are: giving user assistance, serving as middle men between the users and the resources of the library which include information skills programs, selective dissemination of information, user education services, photocopy services, bibliographical services, cataloguing services, reference services, photocopying services, current awareness services and internet/computer services.
The success of the library depends on the quality of services and products rendered to users Bushing (1995) supported this statement when she stated that the success of the library depends on the quality and excellence of its products. She continues that products include all the resources and services available in the library. The price is the cost of producing the product. The time it takes a user to obtain a product is referred to as price. Libraries are not profit making organization. Libraries users pay indirectly for the services they use. They pay through their school fees, taxes, grants and donations. These are enough reasons to satisfy the information needs of users. Typically, the development of information communication technology has proven that the place is very important factor in a library setting. The internet makes it possible for any library to offer services to users at any part of the world and at any time of the day. Every academic library must make provision for internet connectivity in their libraries. The library environment and staff must be user friendly. Promotion simply means informing users about the benefits they will derive in using library resources and services. The five elements of promotion includes: Advertising, public relation, incentive and environment.
Nolan (1998) advised librarians to become entrepreneurs. Librarians must not wait for people who have no idea on how libraries are managed and who do not care about their work to change their situation for them. She advises that libraries must run like commercial firms and professional librarians must be managers. However, in other to achieve these librarians and information professionals need to be very competent in marketing of library services. This is because, in every work of life competency is the key that is used to face the developmental challenges in the corporate world. (Chandra, 2011). The success of a library largely depends on the level of competence that exists among the librarians in the library. Mailese, (1995) quoted Amaral and stated that many librarians lack professional understanding of the marketing concept and its applicability to their field. This could be as a result of lack of adequate training and education on marketing to librarians in library schools. It is now very necessary for marketing to be introduced in library school’s curriculum. Also frequent seminars, trainings and workshops on marketing and information and communication technology should be organized for librarians.
Marketing of library and information services have not being given much attention in most academic libraries because of funding. The problem of poor funding is compounded by the fact that academic library administration does not always have a timely and consistent budget for management of library not to talk of allocating a budget for marketing of library services. There is also unreliable and inadequate access to internet. Also, most library management do not really understand the concept of marketing they view marketing as just applicable to profit organization and not applicable to libraries. In view of these challenges academic libraries need to apply some techniques in marketing library services. Such techniques include: creating a library web page, sending e-mails to users, exhibitions and display of new arrivals, use of leaflets and posters, organizing user education, provision of electronic access to information and organizing library week. Also funds should be allocated for marketing of library services.
In order to successfully identify, satisfy, inform, educate and sell the true value of library services to users, libraries must provide services that are user-oriented. Users should be enlightened about the various services found in the library and how it will make them life -long learners. In achieving these, the librarians must apply the marketing mix which includes place, product, price and promotion.
Statement of the Problem
The importance of marketing library and information services cannot be over emphasized. However, the existence of libraries is being challenged. This is because access to information is now very fast and relies on technology. Users now prefer to turn to the internet to source for information than coming to the libraries. Libraries must redesign their services to cope with this era of information technology. Libraries must change from the traditional to digital method of providing information to users.
Users are not aware of the several services available in libraries. Libraries have failed to provide the required information to users. Services provided are not user-oriented.
These have resulted to non-utilization or under-utilization of services available in the library. The consequences of these are enormous. It results to users not able to locate, access and recognize their information needs. This can also result to low quality of teaching, learning and research activities in our higher institutions. As a result they are unable to meet up with development in the global society. These services when utilized will help them in their careers and also make them life -long learners. Currently, it seems no study has been carried out to determine the efficient and effective way to market library services in Academic libraries in Imo state University. Marketing is not emphasized in most library schools curriculums therefore librarians may have problems in marketing their services.
It therefore, becomes necessary to examine the effective and efficient ways to market library services, in academic libraries.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate marketing of Academic libraries services in Imo state University, Imo state.
The specific purposes of this study are:
- To determine the need for marketing library services in academic libraries in Imo state University, Imo state.
- To determine library services for marketing in Academic libraries in Imo state University, Imo state.
- To examine the extent of marketing library services in Imo state University, Imo state.
- To determine current techniques employed by academic libraries in marketing of library services in Imo state University, Imo state.
- To inquire into the competencies required of librarians in marketing of library services in Imo state University, Imo state.
- To determine problems militating against marketing of library services in Imo state University, Imo state.
- To examine strategies for enhancing marketing of library services in Imo state University, Imo state.
This following research questions guided this study:
- What are the needs for marketing academic library services in Imo state University, Imo state?
- What library services are available for marketing in academic libraries in Imo state University, Imo state?
- To what extent are library services marketed in academic libraries in Imo state University, Imo state?
- What current techniques are employed in marketing of library services in academic libraries in Imo state University, Imo state?
- What competencies are required of librarians in marketing of library services in Imo state University, Imo state?
- What problems are militating against marketing of library services in Imo state University, Imo state?
- What are the strategies to be adopted for the enhancement of marketing of library
services in Imo state University, Imo state?
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be significant to the following: all academic institutions, administration, library committees, librarians, users and researchers. In specific terms the findings will be significant to academic institutions administration in the area of policy formulation by providing a road map on the information resources and services to be provided to users in order to satisfy their information needs. It is hoped that that it will create awareness to the library committee as regards the strategies to enhance effective marketing of library services to users.
This work will also educate librarians on how to effectively and efficiently market library products and services. It will also assist them in identifying their lapses and hence improve on their services by attracting, satisfying, and retaining users in the library. The findings will also be useful to users by creating awareness on the various services available in the library. The users will get an improvement in the services offered as a result of the recommendations of this study. The research will also contribute to the existing body knowledge in marketing library services and build on the knowledge of the problems in academic libraries in Nigeria. The findings of this study will provide background information for other researchers researching on various marketing techniques in Nigeria libraries.
Scope of the Study
In terms of geographical scope, the study will be restricted to academic libraries in Imo state University, Imo state. In terms of content, it will investigate marketing library and information services in academic libraries in Imo state University, Imo state. It will cover the need for marketing library services, services rendered in academic libraries, current techniques employed in marketing of library services, competencies required by librarians in marketing of library services, problems encountered in marketing of library services and strategies for enhancement of marketing library services.