Library and Information Science Project Topics

Effect of Reference and Information Services in Selected Academic Libraries in Adamawa State

Effect of Reference and Information Services in Selected Academic Libraries in Adamawa State

Effect of Reference and Information Services in Selected Academic Libraries in Adamawa State


Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine the reference and information services of

academic libraries in Adamawa State. Specifically the study sets to:

  1. Identify reference and information services provided in academic libraries in Adamawa State.
  2. Find out resources available for reference and information services in these libraries.
  3. Identify methods used for reference and information services delivery in academic Libraries in Adamawa State
  4. Ascertain effectiveness of reference and information services in academic libraries in Adamawa
  5. Determine hindrances to reference and information service delivery in academic libraries in Adamawa state.
  6. Suggest strategies for effective reference and information service delivery in academic libraries in Adamawa State.



This chapter reviews related and relevant literature on the topic. The review has been presented under the following subheadings:

  • Conceptual Framework,
  • An overview of the concept of reference services in libraries,
  • Reference and information service provision in academic libraries,
  • Resources for reference and information services in academic libraries,
  • Effectiveness of reference and information services in academic libraries
  • Methods used for reference and information services delivery in academic libraries
  • Hindrances to effective reference and information services in academic libraries,
  • Strategies for effective reference and information services in academic libraries,

Review of Empirical Studies,  Summary of Literature Review

Conceptual Framework:

Higher education in Nigeria is primarily tied to man power development and this could only be achieved through the effective use of the resources and services of academic libraries. Leo (1998) sees academic libraries as integral part of the institutions. Without the library the institution cannot realize both its general and specific aims and objectives which among others include „teaching, research, publication and conservation of knowledge. In similar view Dollah (2002) defines academics libraries as libraries attached to universities and colleges serving the teaching, learning and research needs of the staff and students. In  agreement with above stance, Dan Azumi (2001) notes that academic libraries are those in institutions of higher learning like universities, colleges of education and polytechnics. They are established to cater for the need of the institutions in realizing their objectives of teaching, research learning and publication. Agu (2010) states that academic libraries are libraries situated in institutions of higher learning. This is to say that any library attached to post secondary or tertiary institution can be described as an academic library. In other words academic libraries exist in institutions of higher education, the colleges of technology, and the polytechnics. Agu further stressed that academic libraries vary in shape, size and objective or mission statement from one institution to another, but their characteristic functions are both academic and administrative designed and geared towards the achievement of educational objectives as set by the individual academic institutions. However for the purpose of this work, Babuja and Agu‟s definition of academic library above will be adopted.

It is in the light of these that academic libraries exist in order to provide their clientele with books and other information sources. They also provide various services in order to make these resources accessible through effective reference service.

Katz (1992) sees reference services “as an art which draws from the raw materials of all subject areas”.  He also stated that to perform well as a reference librarian, a substantive knowledge is a must, liberal education a help, a scientific and technological background useful, but imagination is indispensable. Prytech (1995) describes reference services “as the phase of library work which is directly concerned with assistance to readers in securing information and the resources of the library in study and research”.   Reference services are indeed the communication of all library activities aimed at facilitating the use of library and its resources.  In consonance Edoka (2000) defines reference services as the personal assistance given by the librarian to individual in search of information for whatever purpose, as well as various library activities deliberately designed to facilitate easy provision of information.




This chapter discusses the procedures that were employed for the study. It is presented under the following sub-headings: research design, area of the study, population, sample and sampling technique, instrument for data collection, validation of the instrument, procedure for data collection and the method of data analysis.

Research Design

The study adopted the descriptive survey design. According to Nworgu (2006) descriptive survey design is a study   that aims at collecting data on something and describing it in a systematic manner. On the other hand, Afolabi (1993), notes that survey research method involves gathering of   data about a target population from a sample and generalizing the findings obtained from analysis of the sample to entire population .The study which involves the  effect of reference and information services in selected academic libraries in Adamawa state lends itself to descriptive survey because it involved observing and describing a situation in reference services that involves a large population.

Area of the Study   

The study was conducted in Adamawa State.  Adamawa is a state in northeastern Nigeria, whose capital and largest city is Yola. In 1991, when Taraba State was carved out from Gongola State, the geographical entity Gongola State was renamed Adamawa State, with four administrative divisions: Adamawa, Michika, Ganye, Mubi and Numan. It is one of the thirty-six states that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On May 14, 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Adamawa State, along with neighboring Borno and Yobe States, due to jihadist group Boko Haram’s insurgency.

Sample and Sampling Technique

Due to the small number involved, the entire population of reference staff in the three (3) institutions was used for the study. For the registered user’s population, a total of 272 were used for the study. The sampling technique used here is the proportionate Stratified Sampling.

According to Anaekwe (2007) this technique divides the population into strata (sub-population). After division, the random sampling is done on each stratum to select the needed sample size. This technique is more appropriate because of the nature of population of reference and information users of the three intuitions for the study i.e. their categorization into different levels of study. E.g. Adamawa State University, the study levels are year one to five, depending on the course. Adamawa state College of Education there are NCE I to NCE III while the State polytechnic has ND I and ND II. For Adamawa state University with registered population of 612, 122 were taken.  65 was taken from the State Polytechnic Lafia with a registered user population of 325.



In this chapter, results of the study are presented according to the research questions.  Data relevant to each research questions are presented in tables and analyzed using frequency, percentages and the mean.  Frequency and percentages are used in tables 2 and 4, while the mean is used in tables1, 3, 5, and 6.  At the end of the chapter, a summary of major findings was presented.  As earlier indicated, the sample population for the study was 272 users and 7 staff. Such was the number of questionnaires administered.

However, 101 were returned at NSUK, 67 at COEA and 51 at NASPOLY, giving a total of 219.  This represents 80.5 percent of the total sample population of users showing a reasonable high percentage.  For the reference staff, all seven questionnaires administered were returned, giving 100 percent return.



This chapter contains the discussion of the research findings arranged along the line of objectives and research question.  It also carries the implications of the study, recommendations, limitations of the study, suggestions for further research as well as the conclusion.

Discussion of the Findings

The findings in this research have been discussed based on the structure of the questionnaire which as earlier noted was constructed in line with the research objectives and research question.

Provision of Reference and Information Services. 

Data collected and analyzed along this line shows that current Awareness Services rank the most often provided services from the perspectives of both users and staff.  It is no surprise that it is followed by selective Dissemination of Information in both instances, given their close relationship.  That student users attest to these indicates that these services are offered to both students and staff users.  This is very important as it would go a long way to enhance the study and research endeavors of these groups of users.  These services are attested to earlier in Edoka (2000) and Madu (2008)

Indexing service and Abstracting services are shown to be provided often in the institutions. These are listed together as reference services in Edoka (2000).  These services must have been provided to make the periodicals accessible to users.  These are very important because periodical articles would be lost without them.  The journals for instance are a “hot cake” in research endeavours.  This is because of their rich variety of information, given the multiple contributors. This information is less often captured in their titles.  It is therefore expected to painstakingly prepare indexes to these articles so as to guarantee access to them.  Furthermore, abstracts to the articles would help the user decide whether to consult the full text or not.  This saves invaluable time of users.

Another important service often carried out in the institutions is reprographic service

This is more compelling given the reserved nature of the materials.  A part from Jack‟s view (1985) quoted in Akanya (2006) that photocopying facilities reduce mutilation of books and theft to the barest minimum, it also generates revenue to the library.  However, the equipment and services should be arranged in such a way as not to distract other users in the section.

Resources for reference and Information Services

The list of reference resources in table 3 shows that only on-line catalogues are not readily available in the libraries.  Dictionaries attract the highest percentages followed by encyclopedia and then maps.  This result is not a surprise as these are the resources that readily come to mind when reference services or section is mentioned.  It is also an indication that the two are the most consulted by users.  All reference staff is agreed on the employment of and availability of the dictionaries, encyclopedias, directories, biographies, periodicals, indexes and maps for reference services.  All the resources and more are contained in the list drawn in Babuje (2001), Madu (2008) chigbu, Ekwelem and Ezema (2009) as well as in Okore, Asogwa and Eke (2009).

As earlier noted, only on-line catalogue attract abysmal percentage.  In fact, among the staff respondents it is zero percent.  The complete absence of on-line catalogue is an indication of lack of electronic resources in the libraries, and that leaves much to be desired. It shows that the libraries, particularly their reference sections are cut off from the information super highway which has democratized access to information around the world.  Today emphasis has shifted from „owning‟ to „accesses‟ to information. Academic libraries in Adamawa state must exploit man‟s most impactful invention of all time-the internet –otherwise they stand the risk of being left behind if they are not already there.  Reference and information services in institutions of higher learning are too crucial to run entirely on the manual platform.

Information technology has no doubt revolutionized access to information in libraries

Users now search databases with the use of on-line catalogue terminals which are conspicuously absent in academic libraries in Adamawa State, Nigeria.  The implication of this for their reference services is that information search cannot be provided effectively, reference questions cannot be answered quickly and satisfactorily, worse still reference staff would appear irrelevant to the needs of users.

Methods used for Reference and Information Service delivery

Data analyzed on above subject matter reveals that library orientation/instruction and ready reference questions are the most popular methods used for reference and information service delivery.  These are attested to by both users and staff alike.  Library orientations when effectively carried out go a long way to ease the burden and pressure of prospective users could bring to bear on the reference libraries/staff.  This is because the user, rather than asking question at every turn has the know-how to help him out in some areas without bothering the staff.

Ready-reference Questions is very common service in academic libraries and require quick answers, hence staff of these very important sections of the library are supposed to be conversant with the reference tools required to answer these questions.  The places of library instruction and ready-reference have been earlier highlighted in Boop (1995), Edoka (2002), Ifidon (2008) and Madu (2008).

Effectiveness of Reference and Information Service

Majority of users in the schools are of the opinion that reference and information services are not effective. However, majority of staff opined to the contrary.  This calls for concern because the staff cannot stand as judges in their own case.  This is in spite of reference resources and services agreed to be available or provided in the sections.  It is true however, that mere availability of resources and services does not necessarily translate to effectiveness.  Concerted efforts must be made to make reference services effective in these libraries.  This can be done through regular evaluation.

Evaluation of library and information center is aimed at improving the services rendered in that library or information center.  In this regard, the evaluation of reference services would examine the present techniques of providing services and how to improve on them for better results.  In this evaluation, the areas to concern with are; resources, services and staff.

Resources should focus on types of resources; manual or electronic.  On manual, some factors like recency, reputation of the authority and publishers, physical features, etc, should be considered.  The various reference services such as the one drawn out in table 2 should also be evaluated with the aim of improving each of them.  On staff, personal characteristics should be looked into.  These include areas such as good knowledge of reference resources and services, approachability.  Sound professional qualification, good public relations, availability, etc.  Evaluation of staff helps to provide a feedback to them on their performances and to see areas to improve upon.

Hindrances to Effective Reference Services

It was earlier established among users that reference and information services in academic libraries in Adamawa State are not effective.

In table 6, each of the phenomenon listed as possible hindrances to reference services was accented to as such by both users and staff except that the letter disagreed with „staff indifference‟ and inadequate opening hours being among the hindrances.

Inadequate funding has remained a most irrepressible monster among the hindrances to effective reference services.  Most other factors are directly or indirectly linked to poor funding. To start with, even the parent institutions themselves do not fare better as they are also cash strapped.  The trend often is that libraries funding is done at the whims and caprices of schools management. Regrettably, reference materials are very expensive and their costs are rising by the year against dwindling library subvention.  This has made most academic libraries to stock outdated materials in their reference sections to the detriment of users. These issues were bemoaned earlier in Kantumoja (1992) and Olanlokun (2003).

Strategies for Effective Reference and Information Services

The data analyzed and presented in table 7 presented a number of strategies for improving reference services as acceded to by respondents The  measures are improved funding, adequate, publicity of reference sources, introduction  of compulsory user education to staff and students, provision of adequate infrastructure, purchase of current and adequate reference materials ,employment of qualified reference personnel, application of ICT facilities to reference services, formulation of well defined reference policy and training and retraining opportunities to be provided for reference librarians.

The success and sustenance of every organization including the library is unarguably tied to funds. The place of funds and funding in library services were earlier captured in Dauda (1995), Anafulu (1996) and Igbo (2006). Since poor funding has remained a recurrent decimal in academic libraries it behooves on management to explore alternative means to supplement their allocation. The reference   section for instance can be re-organized to provide services to the public for fee. The same can be done to binding and reprographic services. In any case, there is urgent need for government at all levels to review its financial commitment to   the education sector. The UNESCO recommended 26% of all government budgets for education, but what is being allocated annually is abysmally low. An improved funding would settle a lot of other problems such as provision of adequate infrastructure, purchase of adequate and current reference materials.

The importance of employment of qualified personnel to undertake reference services cannot be over-emphasized. This is because the quality of services rendered by a reference librarian is directly proportional to the professional training and other competencies developed.

Such competencies include adequate computer literacy, acquisition of information communication technology skill, communication ability and other personal traits. The researcher fully aligns with the views of Olanlokun (2003), Nkiko (2006) and Madu (2008) on the qualification and competences and personalities of the reference librarian earlier advanced.

Implication of the Study

The result of this study has grave implications for reference and information librarians, library managements and the government/proprietors of institutions of higher learning.

The reference librarians are expected to harness information from reference sources and make them available in the most suitable form for users. These services would in turn impact positively on the study and research performances of patrons, thus leading to the achievement of the institutions main objectives. The study would help the reference librarian to improve in their services to their patrons. For enhanced services, reference librarians must of necessity develop themselves not only academically in the profession, but must embrace relevant skills like the computer literacy and ICT competences.

For library administrations of institutions of higher learning, it could be gleaned from the study that poor funding, inadequate and outdated reference sources constitute major hindrances to effective reference and information services. Efforts should be intensified to reverse these factors as anything to the contrary impedes effective reference services

The government must encourage institutions of higher learning which it sets up to achieve its purpose. One major way is by adequate provision of funds and monitoring of such funds to ensure that the libraries receive their due allocation to enhance reference and information services.


Based on the findings and implications of the study, the following recommendations have been drawn.

  1. Reference librarians/staff should be encouraged to pursue higher levels of education and attain higher professional skills.
  2. Library management should enter into inter-library loan service, online services and referrals services. These will ensure a robust reference services to users.
  3. Regular evaluation of reference and information services should be carried out in the Libraries. This would result in an improved service delivery.
  4. Library management should sue for improved funding of the library with the school management as well as explore other avenues of revenue generation to supplement their allocations.
  5. Efforts should be made to stock the reference sections with adequate current materials for effective reference services.
  6. Library management should plan and execute a practically oriented instruction to staff and students users.
  7. ICT Facilities must of necessity be acquired and introduced to reference services for best results.
  8. Reference librarians /staff should be adequately equipped with relevant ICT competences that would place them to meet the current information challenges.
  9. The reference environment should be properly arranged to ensure adequate comfort for users and staff
  10. There should be a formulation of a well-defined reference and information policy.

Limitations of the Study

Some limitation could be noticed in this study. The question against cluster A for instance does not appear to convey the complete message. The same is the case with cluster C question.

The response options in cluster A; less often (LO) and not often (NO) carry some measure of ambiguity. Some respondents found it difficult to make a clear distinction between the two.

Thirdly, four methods were lumped together in item no.29. These are fax, Telephone, Email and Internet. The responses to this item are unclear as one cannot say which of the methods response is stood for. They should have been separated for clarity.

Suggestion for Further Research

This research work is not conclusive in itself as far as the subject of reference and information services in academic libraries is concerned. The following areas could therefore be explored to further the horizon of the subject.

  1. The influence of reference and information sources and services on academic performances of users.
  2. The evaluation of reference sources and services in academic libraries
  3. Qualification and competences of reference staff vis-à-vis reference service delivery.


Reference and information service which is the focus of this research is viewed in this work as the direct personal assistance given by the librarian to an individual client in meeting his or her information needs. The cardinal role of reference and information services, particularly in academic environment was vividly set out in literature review at the course of this work. A sample user population of 272 and 7 reference librarian /staff was administered questionnaire. Data generated was analyzed using simple percentage and the mean in appropriate cases.

The result of the study shows that current Awareness services, Selective Dissemination of information. Indexing and Abstracting services are the major reference services rendered in the institution studied. Only online catalogue is not available as part of the reference resources in the libraries. Ready reference Questions , library orientation/ Instruction , bibliographic verification and current awareness services are major methods used for reference and information services delivery, while  inadequate funding, poor infrastructures, outdated reference materials and inadequate ICT facilities are hindrances to effective reference services . It was also discovered that improved funding, provision of adequate infrastructures, purchase of adequate reference materials, and employment of qualified reference personnel and introduction of compulsory user education as strategies for improved reference services.

Based upon above and other findings, ten recommendations were made to effectively redress the trend. Some of these were that library management should sue for improved funding of the library with the school management as well as explore other avenues of revenue generation, reference sections should be stocked with adequate current materials for effective reference services, library management should plan and execute a practically oriented instruction to staff and student users and ICT facilities must of necessity be acquired and introduced to reference for best results.

Finally, the work spells out limitations for the study and how they were overcome, and then draw suggestion for future research. The abysmally funding of the education sector, consequently the academic libraries with ripple effect on reference and information services in these libraries which is expressed in under-stocking of the reference section, inadequate infrastructures outdated materials and lack of ICT facilities. However a painstaking implementation of the recommendations made in the study would redress the ugly trend and introduce a fresh dimension to reference and information services.


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