Tuesday, March 19, 2013


An academic library is a library that is attached to academic institutions above the secondary level, serving the teaching and research needs of students and staff. These libraries serve two complementary purposes: to support the school's curriculum, and to support the research of the university faculty and students. Academic libraries are information centers established in support of the mission of their parent institutions to generate knowledge, equip people with knowledge in order to serve the society and advance the well being of mankind. Khanna defines academic libraries as those special libraries found in educational institutions and whose main purpose is to the special purpose of serving the special needs of the specialized or homogenous clientele.
The academic library in an educational institution also plays a part in supporting the research efforts and this role is more stronger in academic libraries than in public libraries, The library helps to conserve the research potential of the university or college . Aguolu (2002), noted that the university library is the heart of the university. This is because, the academic health, intellectual vitality and effectiveness of any university depends largely upon the state of health and excellence of its library which is its lifeblood.
Initially,  libraries and academic institutions existed outside of each other for hundreds of years. At the time, the method of teaching revolved around a professorial lecture and student recitation, though sometimes a lecture would be turned over to the university to be copied and purchased by students. As more lectures were copied and more copies of older lectures were reproduced, a storehouse for these materials took shape. By 1338, what is considered to be the first (ancient) academic library, the library at Sorbonne (University of Paris), contained over 1700 volumes of lectures. As more writing became available universities saw the value in having books that could not be included into the course of studies. Sir Thomas Bodley, a benefactor of the University of Oxford took it upon himself not just to fund the library collection, but to travel the continent to buy books on many subjects. (Budd, 1998) By 1605 it was noted to have contained more than 5000 books and manuscripts. The number of universities aided by the advent of printing, continued to grow and their curriculums broadened, reflecting a rise in literacy and a trend towards scholarship. It was during this period in the colonies that Harvard University was established. In 1638 John Harvard donated £800 and 300 books to establish what we know as the first state-side academic library. In 1667 Harvard’s first librarian was appointed. Use of the library was limited to senior members of the university and the library was only open from 11 am until 1pm. (Budd, 1998) Access was limited as no catalog system existed until 1723 and even then they were usually arranged by size or donor. By the beginning of the 20th century there was definitely a shift from collection and preservation, to utility, and academic libraries began granting more access to faculty and some to students. The increase in use meant a need for more services, extended hours and more staff. As Institutions took a more active role in funding library collections and creating comfortable facilities, the library became less of a place to store dusty books and more of a place for dynamic learning. The first colleges in the United States were intended to train members of the clergy. The libraries associated with these institutions largely consisted of donated books on the subjects of theology and the classics. In 1766, Yale had approximately 4,000 volumes, second only to Harvard. Access to these libraries was restricted to faculty members and a few students: the only staff was a part-time faculty member or the president of the college. The priority of the library was to protect the books, not to allow patrons to use them. In 1849, Yale was open 30 hours a week, the University of Virginia was open nine hours a week, Columbia University four, and Bowdoin College only three. Students instead created literary societies and assessed entrance fees in order to build a small collection of usable volumes often in excess of what the university library held.

Philosophy of an academic library focuses on providing an active learning space and diverse services to meet the various needs of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni of The Wellington School community. Services such as 24/7 access to print and online resources, individual and group instruction and literature promotion offer students the opportunity to    become lifelong readers, learners and leaders. The Library supports the school curriculum and the lifelong learning of students, faculty, staff and parents by fostering positive attitudes toward reading. The Library provides more than 35,000 print volumes and seven subscription databases suitable for the community. The Library is open nearly 50 hours a week. With the online catalog and subscription databases, the community has access to many library materials and services 24/7. By providing students and faculty with new or unfamiliar resources and services, the librarians are able to enrich and expand or reshape learning and teaching. By actively reaching out beyond requests for materials and assistance, by anticipating needs and by maintaining a high profile in the life of the school, the librarians are active participants in the educational process.
The purpose of the academic libraries of higher education is advancement of learning and acquisition of knowledge.
ü The first purpose of academic of libraries, therefore, has been to be there when they were required. It is not possible to create a library instantly. It takes time. So most libraries are passive institutions, waiting to be used. Nor is it possible to purchase books or pamphlets or journals instantaneously, even in the electronic age.
ü The second purpose of libraries, therefore, has been to acquire, to make accessible and to preserve information which a user may need, to have the information ready when the person realises their need for that information.

1.     The role of the academic library is to serve the mission of the system under which it has been created, which includes community colleges, technical colleges, junior colleges, 4-year colleges and universities. The support of teaching requires material for class readings and for student papers. In the past, the material for class readings, intended to supplement lectures as prescribed by the instructor, has been called reserves. In the period before electronic resources became available, the reserves were supplied as actual books or as photocopies of appropriate journal articles. Traditionally, one copy of a book was made available for each 10 students — this is practical for large classes only if paperback copies are available, and the books reused from term to term.
2.     Another role is to provide a service of reference and lending material appropriate to the needs of the staff and students of the institution.
3.     The academic library provides education and this means that it should be used as a dynamic instrument for explaining and expanding the horizons of knowledge .Khanna notes that it exists to feed and nourish the intellect of students and staff and also invite all those who enter its portals to fully participate its intellectual and cultural life
4.     Wilson and Tauber note that the role of  modern academic libraries range from conserving knowledge , teaching, research and development, publication to promote academic visibility, extension services and interpretation.
5.     Beenham and Harrison define the main objectives of an academic library as; to serve the needs of the academic community, to provide reference materials at appropriate levels, to provide study areas for users, to provide a lending service appropriate to the different types of users and to provide an active information service
Funding is a very great problem for the various libraries. The academic institutions that host the libraries do not most times allocate adequate funds for the growth of the library. In Nigeria, corruption had enveloped the life of our leaders. The little fund allocated for  the library are not well spent
Invisible Infrastructure
Another component is the invisible content and costs of libraries. Many users are simply unaware of the expense of acquiring and managing information resources or the amount of value added by libraries and librarians. Considerable professional time and vast amounts of paraprofessional and clerical time are devoted to the processes of selecting, collecting, organizing, preserving, and conserving materials so that they are available for access. Despite the expanding scope of library services, more people seem to claim that they never go to the library anymore because everything they need is online.
The invisibility is partly due to the successes of the institution. Good library design means that people can find what they need, when they need it, in a form they want it. Good design is less obvious than bad design, and thus libraries risk being victims of their own success. The selection process requires a continuing dialog with the user community to determine current
needs, continuous scanning of available resources, and judicious application of financial resources. Once selected, the items are collected, whether in physical form or by acquiring access rights. This process, which requires negotiation with publishers and others who hold the rights to desired items, sometimes takes months or years, depending on the materials and the rights. As new items are acquired, metadata are created to describe their form, content, and relationship to other items in the collection. Once in the collection, resources must be preserved and conserved to ensure continuous availability over time. The invisibility of information work was identified long ago (Paisley, 1980), but the implications of this invisibility are only, now becoming widely apparent.
Content and Collections
Until very recently, libraries were judged by their collections rather than by their services. Scholars sought out, and traveled to, the great collections of the world. The collections of major libraries are much more than the sum of their parts; disparate items are brought together and relationships between items are identified. But what does it mean “to collect” in today’s environment, when libraries provide access to content for which no physical artifact is acquired? The question is further complicated by the fact that access may be temporary for the term of a contract, rather than (relatively) permanent, as for purchased material.
Preservation and Access
While little agreement may exist on the definition of a library “collection,” most librarians would agree that the collections must be preserved so that they remain accessible. Portions of physical collections are crumbling, and libraries are undertaking cooperative efforts to preserve the content, physical artifacts, or both. Preservation of digital collections is yet more complex and potentially even more expensive than preserving printed resources. Most printed volumes will survive “benign neglect,” provided they are shelved under adequate climate controls. Digital resources must be continually migrated to new software and new technologies; active management is required for preservation (Smith, 1999). When a library owns the rights to the digital content, the library presumably is responsible for maintaining continual access, absent other cooperative agreements.
Libraries face a broad range of challenges in preserving digital resources, including continual migration to new formats and new media as they become available. (Borgman, in press). Some of the preservation issues are within libraries’ sphere of influence, but many are outside their immediate control.
v The major challenges include digitization of collections, electronic access and the subsequent privacy and intellectual property issues, competition from online search engines, information literacy, value added services for the “new” student and faculty including distance education students, and the education and skills needed by today’s librarian to address these issues.
The academic library performs myriad functions among which are
Ø The use of RSS service to inform their users of library news and developments in a way that resembles the “news device” that many libraries still have, often in collaboration with the RSS service: changes to the library schedule, new acquisitions, library renovations, exhibitions. Etc.
Ø Assisting staffs and students of the institution in acquisition of general information materials relevant to the curriculum and search interest of the users.
Ø Provision of online information database   for their users so that they can access information on various information platforms. The use of databases is very relevant. AGORA, TEEAL, HINARI, etc.
Ø Education of  library users on the importance of the library and benefits that can be derived from using the library is another service rendered by academic libraries.
The academic library is very essential to the existence of the academic institution. Academic libraries must decide what focus they take in collecting materials since no single library can supply everything. When there are particular areas of specialization in academic libraries these are often referred to as niche collections. These collections are often the basis of a special collection department and may include original papers, artwork, and artifacts written or created by a single author or about a specific subject

v Khannaa,J.K.Fundementals of library organisation.New Delhi:Ess Ess Publications, 1987.
v Budd, J. (1998). The Academic Library: Its Context, Its Purpose, and Its Operation Englewood: Libraries Unlimited.
v Hoare, Peter (1997). Academic Libraries in International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science, Ed. John Feather and Paul Sturges. New York, New York: Routledge. pp. 2.
v Beenham, Rosemary and Harrison,Collin..The basics of librarianship. 3rd.ed.London:Clive Bingley, 1990...
v Budd, John. M.. The Academic Library: Its Context, Its Purpose, and Its Operation. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited., 2008.p. 30–31.
v Paisley, W. J. (1980). Information and work. In B. Dervin & M. J. Voigt (Eds),Progress in the Communication Sciences (Vol. 2, pp. 114-165). Norwood, NJ:Ablex.
v Lynch, C. A. (2001). Metadata Harvesting and the Open Archives Initiative. ARL Bimonthly Report 217, 1-9.
v Borgman, C. L. (in press). The invisible library: paradox of the globalinformation infrastructure. Library Trends, Special Issue on Research Questions for the Field.
v Wilson, L.and Tauber, M.F.(1980)Univesity libray.New York:Columbia, 1980.
v Borgman, C. L. (2000). From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in the Networked World. Cambridge, MA:The MIT Press.

1 comment:

  1. nice write up. i will reference ur work in my study. thanks