APPROACHES OF LIBRARIANS TOWARD MARKETING INFORMATION ASSETS AND SERVICES IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN NORTH-CENTRAL AREA, NIGERIA

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APPROACHES OF LIBRARIANS TOWARD MARKETING INFORMATION ASSETS AND SERVICES IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN NORTH-CENTRAL AREA, NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The study examined the attitudes of librarians toward marketing information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria.  Prominent among the objectives of the study were to find out whether librarians possessed knowledge of marketing and also to identify the attitudes of librarians toward the marketing of information resources and services. Five research questions were raised to achieve the objectives of the study and four hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05level of significance. Some of the research questions raised were: What are the attitudes of librarians toward the marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone, Nigeria? What are the factors inhibiting the marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone, Nigeria? The survey research method was adopted for the study. The population of the study comprised of 152 librarians in 13 universities libraries located in North-Central Zone, Nigeria. The sample size was 120 librarians drawn from the 13 university libraries. The purposive sampling method was used to draw the sample since the population is homogeneous. Questionnaire was the instrument used for data collection. The data collected from the respondents were analyzed descriptively using frequency distribution table, percentages and mean. The spearman rho, Anova,and Kruskal Wallis H  statistics were used to test relationship and differences between the variables. The null hypotheses were rejected because it was discovered that there was a significant relationship between the knowledge of marketing possessed by respondents and their attitudes toward the marketing of information resources and services. Findings from the study revealed that majority of the librarians had positive attitude towards the marketing of information resources and services. It was discovered that most of the respondents indicated that they had some form of knowledge about marketing. Also the researcher discovered a gap in marketing skills of librarians that needed to be addressed to achieve success in information marketing. The study recommended the redesigning of the library and information science curriculum in library schools in order to train and retrain librarians to become more knowledgeable and skillful in the marketing of information resources and services. Based on the findings, the researcher recommended that university libraries should adopt a marketing orientation and approach to guide their marketing activities as this would encourage librarians to embrace the marketing culture in order to enhance information delivery to the users of university libraries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

The primary role of the university library is to support teaching, learning and research geared towards the actualization of the goals and objectives of the parent institution. Various kinds of resources are acquired and different types of services are provided by the University library so as to satisfy the needs of the faculty, students and other clients. However, the current reality is that library users no longer hold any special loyalty to a particular library, but will rather go where they are most likely to satisfy their information needs. (Echezona and Nwegbu, 2015). Feldman (2006), Clifford and Obadare, (2018) and Ifidon, and Obaseki, (2018) stressed the need for today’s libraries to begin to examine the change in needs and demands of library users and respond appropriately. This would require university libraries to evolve and implement strategies which will retain departing users and attract potential users to the library through the marketing of their resources and services.

Martey (2006) observed that academic librarians have no option but to get seriously involved in planning and implementing marketing strategies in their libraries. He pointed out the reasons librarians must market their resources and services to include among others, the importance of marketing as a weapon for handling competition in view of perceived ICT challenge, users who have stopped using the library must be won back and the reality that continuing financial support for the library is dwindling. Libraries are discovering that by using marketing principles and techniques, they can understand better their user’s needs, justify funding, communicate more effectively with a variety of external audiences, and achieve greater efficiency and optimal results in delivering products and services that meet the identified needs of their clients(Spalding and Wang,2006).The value of marketing is to ensure the growth and survival of libraries in the face of competition from other platforms that users are turning to.

The attitudes of librarians toward marketing library information resources and services are pivotal as they are the intermediary between the resources and users.

Attitudes are patterns of belief, believed to be predictive of behavior reflecting people’s biases, inclination or tendencies that influence their response to situation, activities, and

people or programme goals. According to Bhardwaj and Jain (2016), library

professionals’ positive attitude towards marketing is a prerequisite for a successful plan and execution to market library products and services. Effective marketing of information services is enhanced by the librarians’ knowledge and skills in the area of marketing. One of the reasons hindering the adoption and application of marketing principles, strategies and tools by librarians is the low level of knowledge and skills they possess about marketing. (Nwosu, 2010).

It has become imperative for librarians to have a good understanding of marketing so as to be able to employ marketing in the library environment to achieve the aim and objectives of the library. The Marketing approach is very useful to libraries to create awareness, attract new users, and retain existing ones and to improve the image of librarians and upgrade their reputation within the society.  The factors that have now made it imperative for university libraries to adopt marketing approach to information services delivery is the low use of library resources and services as well as competition from alternative information providers like Google, Ebsco Host and other search engines and databases. Umar (2011) alluded to low level use of university libraries in his study on Customer Retention Strategies for Information Service Delivery in University Libraries in North Western States of Nigeria. He stated that library use and patronage have dramatically reduced in most university libraries. However, there exists the traditional resistance on the part of librarians and information professionals to adopt the marketing concept because of the misconception that marketing is considered inapplicable to the domain of information. In addition, the reluctance to adopt marketing is aggravated by the belief among information professionals that the benefits of information are selfevident. Similarly, Chaudhary (2011) posited that between the 1920s until the early 1970s, aside from special libraries most libraries, archives and information services did not see much, if any, need to market their products and services.

Jestin and Parameswari (2002), Gupta (2003), Rowley (2010), Olugbenga and Pius (2010) identified the challenges of budget cuts, increasing user base, the rapid growth of information resources, rising costs, and complexity in information requirements as the factors forcing librarians to adopt marketing to improve the patronage of library resources and services. The concept of marketing means different things to different people, as many researchers have proposed different definitions. Kotler, (2005) defined marketing as:

The analysis, planning, implementation and control of carefully formulated programs designed to bring about voluntary exchanges of values with target market for the purpose of achieving organizational objectives. It relies heavily on designing the organization’s offering in terms of the target market needs and desires and as using effective pricing.

 

From this definition, one can infer that marketing is a managerial activity that places emphasis on the target market’s needs and desire rather than on the producer or service provider’s preferences. Kaur and Rani (2007) see marketing as applied to librarianship as meaning a sufficient change in the traditional attitude of librarians towards acquisition, organization, processing and retrieving of information. Essentially, marketing is concerned with developing, maintaining, and /or regulating exchange relations involving products, services, organizations, persons, places, or causes. Kotler’s definition is most appropriate to the concept of marketing used in this study because it emphasizes that marketing is a managerial process that encompasses carefully formulated programme designed to achieve desired responses. In this study, marketing is seen as purposive group of activities which foster constructive and responsive interchange between the providers of library and information services and the existing users and potential users.

The word marketing means different things to different people. Marketing was traditionally considered synonymous with selling, and was thought to belong exclusively to the profit making sector (Ledoux and Melesse, 1995). In the information world, not only is the definition of marketing rather hazy but the product itself, information is usually hard to qualify as it’s so often obscure, abstract, ephemeral, time sensitive, expensive or a combination of all or some of these.

In 1960, the concept of marketing changed forever with the publication of Theodore Levitt’s classic article entitled “marketing myopia”. In the work, he challenged the traditional product-oriented approach to marketing, and with it, the notion that a good salesman could sell anything to anybody. He argued for the adoption of a customer- oriented rather than a product-oriented concept of marketing. However, by the early 1970s, many attempts were made to extend the use of the marketing concept to the nonprofit sector, including libraries. It is worthy to note that it is only in recent years that marketing of information has become a subject of interest to many librarians and information professionals.

The underlying context of marketing whether in the primordial/sense or modern sense, is exchange. Marketing is about exchange between two parties, where values such as goods, services, ideas, places are at the center of the exchange process. Kuar and Rani (2007) submitted that, in terms of libraries, marketing means a sufficient change in the traditional attitude of librarians towards acquisition, organization, processing and retrieving information. According to the authors, the basis of library services should be to help its users to solve their information gathering and processing needs.  Marketing utilizes and blends a set of tools called the marketing mix: product, pricing, Promotion (communication), and (place) distribution.

According to Chaudhary (2011), marketing in the library context refers to those instruments through which information (both raw and processed) are transmitted to its customers.  This is so because it involves understanding the needs and wants of customers, and tailoring the operations of an organization to identified needs. This essentially entails identifying and satisfying the customer needs using available resources.

Librarians need to understand and be able to differentiate between marketing and selling.  It is important to know that “selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash, marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, discovering and finally consuming it. This is the fulcrum of marketing concept.

Shontz, Parker and Parker (2004) described marketing as “a purposive group of activities which foster constructive and responsive interchange between the providers of library and information services and the actual and potential users of these services.

These activities according to these authors are concerned with the products cost, method of delivery, and promotional methods.

Other notable researchers have provided specific definitions of marketing. Rowley,

(2001), Smith (1995), Vespery (1993) Jain, Jambhekar, Rao and Rao (1999), Madhusudhan, (2008), Jestin and Parameswary (2002), and Al-Bahrani (2009). Others have focused on the promotion aspect of marketing and have provided useful suggestions concerning how the library can better promote itself. Yet others have emphasized the element of exchange in their definition of marketing.

1.1.1 Marketing as it Relates to the Library

Marketing is one of the managerial functions which business organizations employ to achieve their goals and objectives. Through marketing, business organizations create awareness about their products and services using various tools and techniques to inform, persuade and remind customers. Marketing has become a major weapon that libraries employ to create awareness about their products and services. As academic libraries continue to fight for their survival amid growing expectations, competition from online sources and wavering public perceptions, effective marketing is increasingly becoming a critical tool to ensure the continued support of users, stakeholders and society as a whole (Porter, 2012).

Under the competitive environment in which libraries are operating, their survival depends on their ability to keep, maintain and increase the number of users coming into the libraries. In the words of Famaren (2016), It is paramount that strategies are developed to deliberately market services offered by libraries and information services to provide information to meet the growing needs of users to enhance their competitive potentials in using information resources effectively. Consequently, it is no longer enough that libraries provide good services; they must be perceived by the user as providing valuable products and services. In the library context, marketing implies an exchange relationship based on a service philosophy that is user-oriented rather than product-oriented and primarily geared towards satisfying users.

According to Rowley (2001), the roles of all stakeholders in the information market place are undergoing revision, and the library and its staff are no exception. This development has necessitated a paradigm shift in the marketing of information resources and services.

The focus of library marketing is to identify and understand the needs of the customers (users) and then provide resources and services to satisfy such needs. In marketing library resources and services, the librarian has to go out to look for the customer as oppose to where the customer has to come into the library looking for the librarian to service their information needs. In this context, the attitude of the librarian plays a very significant role in the marketing of information resources and services in university libraries.

1.1.2 Traditional Approaches to Marketing Information Resources and Services In the words of Kamara (2017), in former times, university libraries offered a small range of products and services only. Along with worldwide digitization and globalization, services have been transformed and the traditional tasks of librarians diversified.

The traditional approaches adopted by libraries, especially university libraries to market library resources and services in order to increase patronage by users include user education, library exhibition, current awareness services, selective dissemination of information, and public relations (Kawatra, 2008). Notwithstanding, the results obtained by libraries with the traditional approaches, Echezona, Ibegbulam and Nwegbu, (2016) stated that there is need to reposition the academic libraries by implementing strategies such as redefining the concept of ‘library’ by integrating the physical space and the digital space and redefining library user services among others.

User Education

Libraries of all kinds have over the years employed user education as a strategy for promoting library resources and services and encourage patronage by users. In university libraries, the teaching of use of library, guided tour of library and library orientation for new students and information literacy are some of the methods adopted to educate users to become effective users of the library.

 

Library Orientation

This involves a special programme organized by the library to familiarize new users with resources, services and operations of a given library. This is aimed at acquainting the users with the library so that they can confidently use the library without difficulty. This is commonly used by university libraries to familiarize new users with the library environment, resources and services.

Current Awareness Services

It is one of the major reference and information services provided by libraries to users. In academic libraries, current awareness services and selective dissemination of information are important components of information work targeted at creating awareness and

attracting users to the library.

Public Relations and Publicity

Libraries have used these among other traditional techniques to publicize its activities, resources and services with the aim of attracting new users into the library and to retain existing users. Also, through public relations the library is able to attract the goodwill of stakeholders.

Library Exhibition

The exhibition of library resources has been in use especially in university libraries. It involves the display of library resources in conspicuous place within or outside the library for the public to see what the library has in stock and through this attract potential users. While some of these activities are related to marketing, they are not all encompassing as they are usually employed to provide optimum level of services to reach more users and encourage the use of information resources. The translation of marketing principles and strategies from the profit-oriented private sector into the nonprofit organizations where most university libraries belong is relatively new. Nwosu (2010) provided three reasons for the failure by Nigerian libraries to adopt the use of marketing techniques: These are:

  • A simple misunderstanding that equates marketing with publicity and public relations functions.
  • A lack of understanding of what marketing is and what it involves so that libraries fail to recognize many existing management and collection development operations as marketing components, and;
  • A disagreement about the role of the client in determining the library’s products and marketing mix.

Pandya (2001) conducted a survey of the M.S. University of Batoda, India to explore the feasibility of marketing library and information services and products. Findings from the study revealed that almost all the respondents depended on the library to satisfy their information requirement. In addition, Madhusudhan (2008) highlighted the significance of information marketing by university libraries, which include among others:

  1. Promotion of the use of information resources
  2. Ensuring the optimum use of information,
  3. Creating perception of need and thereby creating demand, and
  4. Improving the image and status of the libraries and library professionals. However, the review of the literature on the status of marketing of information resources and services in university libraries by Zaki (1997), Tanui and Kitoi (1993), Nwosu (2010), Madhusudhan (2008), Olanlokun and Zaid (2006), Olusanya (2005) and Kawatra (2008) revealed that university libraries are slow in adopting and adapting marketing. Inazu (2009) observed that associating marketing with libraries has not been appreciated, because it is believed that they are funded differently and have different environments.

Furthermore, librarians by their training often do not possess enough skills and competencies to employ marketing tools effectively in information service delivery. A cursory look at the presentation blow shows the differences between the traditional and modern approaches to the marketing of information resources and services.

S/NTraditional Approaches S/N Modern Approaches
1       Basic operations and services 1       Value added operations and services
2       Staff assisted services 2       Self- services
3       In-house operations and services 3       Outreach operations and services
4       Free services 4       Priced services
5       Reactive services 5       Proactive services
6       Mass customization services 6       Individualized services

Source: Chaudhary, 2011

From the foregoing it is important for librarians to market information resources and services in order to retain existing library users (who need to be treated as customers) and to attract potential users (customers). To do this effectively and successfully, librarians would need to have a good knowledge of marketing and develop positive attitudes to the marketing of information resources and services.

                              1.2      Statement of the Problem

Librarians have been engaged in teaching people how to use the library and its resources by employing various techniques and tools such as library orientation, bibliographic instruction, information search skills, user education and now information literacy. Despite of this, library users are often not satisfied with the attitudes of librarians while interacting with them. Consequently, existing and potential users do not take full advantage of all the information resources and services available in university libraries, resulting into underutilization of the libraries. The attitude of librarians toward employing various marketing techniques and tools to attract more users to the library and retain existing ones in the midst of competition with other platforms has serious implications for information delivery in university libraries

Hitherto, the low knowledge of marketing possessed by some librarians, especially those in university libraries, made them to think of marketing as something limited only to selling, promoting or advertising the library, not realizing that library marketing refers to a total organizational effort to attract and improve services to users.  Therefore, because of the low knowledge, skills and orientation librarians have about marketing which results to their lack of understanding and appreciation of the significance of marketing and its application to library and information services, their attitude and disposition could significantly affect how they deploy marketing in the library environment (Kavulya,2004). As major operators of library marketing activities, the knowledge, skills and attitudes of librarians can significantly affect the success or otherwise of a library’s marketing practice and achievement or otherwise of the library’s marketing goals. Most of the studies in this area have focused on the applicability of marketing to libraries, the extent and types of marketing activities engaged in by libraries. However, not many studies have investigated or evaluated the attitudes of librarians towards the marketing of library and information products and services, specifically in relation to university libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria. Available literature revealed that not many of the previous studies looked at the marketing of information products and services from the perspective of the librarian. Although some previous studies had observed some sort of misunderstanding and hostility to marketing among librarians, most of these were either speculative or based on extremely small samples whose result cannot be generalized. This study investigated the attitudes of librarians toward the marketing of library resources and services in university libraries located in North-Central Zone, Nigeria.

1.3 Research Questions

The following research questions are stated to guide the study:

  1. What are the types of information resources and services that are available and marketed by university libraries in North-Central zone, Nigeria?
  2. What is the knowledge of marketing possessed by librarians in university libraries in North-Central Zone, Nigeria?
  3. What are the attitudes of librarians toward marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central zone of Nigeria?
  4. How do the attitudes of librarians toward marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria influence their involvement in the marketing function?
  5. What are the factors inhibiting the marketing of information resources and services in universities libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria?

                              1.4       Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were tested in this study.

HO1: There is no significant difference in the types of information resources and services available and marketed by universities libraries in North-Central Zone, Nigeria.

H02: There is no significant difference in knowledge of marketing possessed by librarians in the various types of university libraries toward the marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria.

HO3: There is no significant difference in the attitudes of librarians towards marketing of information resources and services in the different types of university libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria.

H04: There is no significant difference in the factors inhibiting the marketing of information resources and services in the various types of university libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria.

1.5 Objectives of the Study The objectives of this study are:

  1. To determine the types of information resources and services that are available and marketed in university libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria.
  2. To determine the knowledge of marketing possessed by librarians in university libraries in North-Central Zone, Nigeria
  3. To determine the attitudes of librarians toward the marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone Nigeria.
  4. To investigate how the attitudes of librarians toward the marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone of Nigeria influence their involvement in the marketing function.
  5. To identify the factors inhibiting the marketing of information resources and services by librarians in university libraries in North-Central Zone, Nigeria.

                              1.6       Significance of the Study

The findings from the study would be of benefit to university Librarians, Library and

Information Science curriculum designers, Policy makers and Scholars in the field of  Librarianship. It would help university librarians to understand the attitudes and  perception of librarians about marketing, the factors that determine their attitudes and  the implication of their attitudes on the marketing of library resources and services.

By identifying gaps in the knowledge about the attitudes of librarians, the study will provide the basis for the development of a curriculum on marketing of library and information products and services for library and information Science

schools/departments in Nigeria, and also design a training material for capacity building to enhance marketing skills of librarians.

The study will also provide empirical data for researchers on the attitudes, perception, knowledge and marketing skills possessed by librarians and the various ways through which librarians can create awareness to enhance information service delivery. By and large, the findings from the study will serve as guide to library managers, other information professionals, researchers and other stakeholders in the information value chain in planning and implementing marketing strategies that will contribute significantly to improve exploitation of the rich library resources available in university libraries in order to promote learning, teaching and research for national development.

The result of the study is going to be published in peer reviewed journal with international reach so that other scholars can benefit and carry out further investigation in this area.

                              1.7       Scope of the Study

This study investigated the knowledge, and attitudes of librarians towards marketing of information resources and services in university libraries in North-Central Zone, Nigeria.

As at the time the study was conducted there were twenty universities in North-Central Zone, Nigeria. Since the universities were many and scattered, the researcher selected from among federal government owned universities, state government owned universities and privately owned universities located in the North-Central Geo-Political Zone in Nigeria. The list of these universities is presented under population of the study. The study is specifically focused on librarians from the universities in North-Central Zone, Nigeria.

However, other library staff such as library officers, library assistants and administrative staff were excluded from the study. This is because this category of staff was not considered to be in a position to provide all the relevant answers required by the researcher. The study was delimited to examining the attitudes, and knowledge of marketing and marketing skills of librarians and how these enhance library use. It did not cover other factors such as political, socio-cultural and economic factors that might influence the attitudes of librarians in their adoption and application of marketing in university libraries.

                              1.8      Operational Definition of Terms

The key terms used in the context of this study are defined operationally as follows:

Attitude-          The beliefs and predisposition of librarians to activities, methods, ideas,

processes of exposing users to available library resources and services.

Awareness-   The process of informing, reminding and persuading clients to patronize

the services provided by the library.

Information Resources- The stock- in- trade employed by librarians to assist library

users to satisfy their information needs. Examples are books, journals, and data bases, CD-ROMs, abstracts, and indexes.

Information Services- Activities carried out by librarians that provide useful resources

to customers to solve their need for information to facilitate learning, teaching and research.

Information- Anything that adds to human knowledge and is capable of assisting in

decision making, problem solving and providing answer to a particular question.

Marketing– A concept and tool used for the dissemination of appropriate information in

the appropriate channels required by intended recipients. It involves methods and strategies.

Resource– Information carrier employed to assist library users to satisfy their information

need. It is a source of information that has a physical form, and can be transferred from the librarian to the client.

Service– Any activity carried out by the library that provides useful resources to

customers (users) to solve their need for information to facilitate learning, teaching and research.

User/Customer/Client– The beneficiary that is provided with information products and

services by the librarian.

Librarian- A person who has undergone professional training in library, archival and

information science in a university with a minimum of bachelor’s degree qualification.

University Library– A library owned by a university, manned by professional librarians

to support teaching, learning and research through the provision of information resources and services.

 

   

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APPROACHES OF LIBRARIANS TOWARD MARKETING INFORMATION ASSETS AND SERVICES IN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN NORTH-CENTRAL AREA, NIGERIA

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