Academic libraries are those libraries established in the university environment to promote research, teaching and learning activities. It is a house of knowledge established in universities where students and staffs are expected to visit and effectively make use of resources to satisfy their information needs. The library can thus be regarded as an organized collection of published and unpublished information materials with staff that are able to provide such materials when needed (Ogbebor, 2011).
Academic libraries are libraries attached to tertiary institutions such as universities, polytechnic institutions, colleges of education, colleges of agriculture, colleges of technology and also research institutes (Akporhonor, 2005). Singh and Kaur (2009) stressed that preservation and access to knowledge and information is the main mandate of academic libraries alongside supporting the mission of their parent institutions which is teaching and research. Academic libraries are at the forefront of providing information services to their respective communities which comprises of students, lecturers, and researchers in order to support their teaching, learning and research needs. Scholars have emphasized on the crucial role of academic libraries in research and scholarship in institutions of higher learning. Many a time’s academic libraries are referred to as the heart or nerve centres of institutions of higher learning where all academic activities revolved.
The present-day academic library services in the 21st century is focusing more on the area of digital, virtual or libraries without borders all of which have transformed academic libraries and led to transition and transformation in the academic library environment. The transition and the transformation are accompanied with sophistication in the changing pattern in the information needs of users which is growing rapidly. Singh and Kaur (2009) observed that there is a paradigm shift from standalone libraries to library and information networks; from printed publications to digital documents; and from ownership to access. The transition according to them is as a result of the impact of ICTs, the Internet and the web which is affecting all types of libraries.
University libraries are an integral part of the higher education system; they provide support services for the formal educational programs as well as facilities for research and generation of new knowledge. University libraries would be ineffective in delivering their information services without a careful collection of relevant information resources which range from print resources to electronic resources. Electronic resources also known as e-resources ensure that information can be accessed without being physically present within the four walls of a library. They include online books, journals, CD-ROMs, databases, online public access catalogue (OPAC) and the Internet (Oduwole & Akpati 2003). Print information resources include books, journals, encyclopedias, dictionaries and so on. The electronic and print information resources get into the library through library acquisition processes. They are processed and organized to satisfy the information needs of library clienteles for improved library patronage.
Library patronage can be seen as the extent to which library users visit the library to use information resources or for any other relevant activities. Despite the fact that many University libraries have large volumes of electronic and non-electronic information resources, research has shown a steady decline in the patronage of libraries in Nigerian academic institutions (Ampko, 2010). Carlson (2001) noted that libraries have notably responded to the decline in patronage by directing more efforts towards provision of buildings and promoting good reading culture; despite these efforts, the gate counts have been falling in many academic libraries.
The declining state of patronage in the academic library could be traced to a number of factors ranging from users’ discipline, gender, reading culture and so on. The World Bank Encyclopedia (2001) states that reading is regarded as basic to learning and one of the most important skills in everyday life. This view was also supported by Kolango (2010) who added that reading may enable people to reach places they could not go physically. Reading in all its variety is vital to being better informed and having a better understanding of life and others. Reading makes a man thoughtful and constructive contributor to a democratic and cohesive society (Sisulu, 2004).
More often than not, students read for different purposes: developmental, recreational, and functional purposes (Smith, 2007). Developmental reading focuses attention on improving the ability to read while functional reading is directed towards information as a means of reading for learning sake. On the other hand, recreational reading is reading for the pleasure. People who read books regularly or who have formed ‘general reading culture’ have developed a lifelong culture of learning that involves paying regular visit to the library and by extension; they promote the library’s existence. On the other hand, some student’s daily reading habits centres on social media, such students only read for examination purposes and rarely pick up books for pleasure (Aina, Ogungbeni & Adigun, 2011). In this case they lack reading culture.
Tella and Akande (2007) observed that reading is an important aspect of life which is not only about enjoyment but a necessity; the basic tool of education. Reading is the key for each and every human being in order to deal with new and emerging knowledge in the changing world of technological advances. Reading, therefore, has been said to be the most important operating area for academic libraries because it represents the competence which allows an individual to understand the information that has been offered to him. Reading has been equated with memory exercise initiated in order to pass school examinations which contradicts lifelong learning principles. This situation has led to the reduction in the value of books as well as the lack of motivation in reading beyond the school context. One of the consequences is the presence of illiterates who are unmotivated, uncommitted and reluctant readers that lack enthusiasm for reading and always have reasons they do not read (Beers, 1996).
Behrman (2004) defined reading culture as an integrated pattern of reading behaviours, practices, beliefs, perception and knowledge. Magara and Batambuze (2005) in their study on ways of creating a reading culture for Uganda refers to reading culture as a situation where reading is part of the people’s living and constitutes a habit that is shared by members of the society. According to Vygotsky (1981) cited in Thompson (2013), ‘culture’ is complex and difficult to define; it can be defined as the product of man’s social life and his public activity. In this regard, culture is understood as consisting of people’s ways of being in the world, behaving, and acting, based on what they have observed in the society, it refers to the attitudes, manners or habits shared by a given group of people in order to achieve common goals. In the context of this study, reading culture refers to the response that library user’s accord to reading and writing in their everyday life. Hence, reading culture becomes established in a society that places high values and interest in books and reading (Commeyras & Mazile, 2011). It should be noted that library users who lack reading culture which is one of the basic tools needed for retrieving information in libraries may visit and leave the library unsatisfied.
User satisfaction implies providing information and/or services that will meet the needs of an information seeker. Solola (2003) opined that the quality of services rendered to library users in any library reflects the quality of the staff. He further contends that if a library is managed by well qualified, experienced and cultured staff, users will always be encouraged to make use of the library. However, Abagai (2008) pointed out that users’ satisfaction involves locating information, familiarity with and user-friendliness of the library catalogue, the classification system, getting assistance from the library staff, having knowledge of library approaches to reference services, borrowing pattern, knowledge of opening and closing time in the library among others. User satisfaction is a concept that describes how library users feel after consulting the library, this also influences re-use of the library information materials and resources.
Mohammed (2006) viewed user satisfaction as the extent to which a library user’s information needs are fulfilled with available service and information resources of a given library. Librarians should pay more attention to user satisfaction with library services. Mason (2010) suggests that librarians must be sympathetic and helpful to all students and that students must be aware that librarians and faculty members are to instruct and encourage their intellectual odyssey and should be seen as facilitators. An underequipped library will therefore not serve its cardinal purposes, hence undermine effective academic work. This phenomenon makes library users to have a perception of the library services in terms of their satisfaction.
Quality assurance demands that, libraries from time to time, need to be assessed and evaluated by their users. This will enable librarian make adequate provision that will meet the information needs of its user community. Users’ satisfaction is considered to be a reliable benchmark for determining library effectiveness. Users’ information needs are met in an effective way by providing standard, suitable and relevant library services. Users’ assessment can provide invaluable information to libraries in re-orienting their collections, services and activities in order to effectively meet users’ information need (Kyrillidou, 2005). Idiegbeyan and Esse (2013) posited that one element of high-quality service is the incorporation of users’ personal needs and expectations into the development of programs and service. They further stated that the continued success of academic libraries depends on the organization’s ability to adjust its products and services to correspond to user needs. Similarly, Omehia and Obi (2008) suggested that only clienteles justify the existence of a library, while Jayasundara (2013) noted that an assessment of the performance of a library depends on the users being judges of quality.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa that is geographically and well located on the West African coast. It has a great diversity in the area of its natural components that comprises of varied topography, climatic conditions as well as vegetational patterns. The country is blessed with abundant natural resources that spread across its 36 states as well as its Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Nigeria has a number of universities with academic libraries attached to them. Also there are a number of polytechnics and colleges all attached with academic libraries. Nigeria’s university system is been supervised by the National Universities Commission (NUC), a parastatal body under the Federal Ministry of Education; while the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) supervises polytechnics and colleges respectively. However, research has shown a steady decline in the patronage of libraries in Nigeria despite the large volumes of electronic and non-electronic information resources materials that has been made available by both government and privately own universities.
Library patronage is indeed on a rapid decline in many Nigeria academic institutions. This could be as a result of poor reading culture among student which have been developed over the years before getting into the university. The declining state of many academic libraries could also be traced to the lack of satisfaction with resources, facilities and staff attitudes toward library user which might discourage them from further consulting the library. Therefore to justify the existence of any academic library, provision of effective services and resources is necessary to attract potential users. It is in view of these that the present study seeks to investigate the influence of students reading culture and user’s satisfactions on their academic library patronage.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Libraries are attached to academic institutions to support the curriculum, assist students in carrying out research works, assignments, projects, and to provide information services to library users. However, no matter how well equipped a university library is, it cannot add value to those within its community except they are satisfied with its resources and services and actually use the information resources provided by the library.
Unfortunately, literature has shown a significant decline in library patronage in many academic libraries in Nigeria which could suggest a poor reading culture among students in academic institutions or lack of satisfaction with library service: This situation, if allowed to continue would not only affect the quality of education in our tertiary institutions but will also threaten the existence of libraries as they may not be able to justify their value to the university community. This study, therefore, investigates reading culture, user satisfaction and the patronage of private university libraries in Oyo State, Nigeria.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The general objective of this study is to determine the influence of reading culture and user satisfaction on library patronage in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
- identify the extent of library patronage of students in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria;
- ascertain the reading culture of students in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria;
- ascertain the extent to which students are satisfied with facilities and services provided by librarians in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria;
- determine the influence of users’ satisfaction on library patronage in private universities in Oyo State;
- ascertain the influence of students’ reading culture on library patronage in private universities in Oyo State;
- ascertain the joint influence of reading culture and users’ satisfaction on students’ library patronage in private universities in Oyo State and
- identify the challenges faced by undergraduates when using the library.
The following research questions are raised to guide the study:
- What is the reading culture of students in private universities in Oyo state?
- To what extent do students patronize the library in private universities in Oyo State?
- To what extent are students in private universities in Oyo State satisfied with library facilities and services?
- What are the challenges facing students in the use of the University library in private universities in Oyo State?
The following are the statements of hypotheses in null form guiding this study. It will be measured at 0.05 level of significance
Ho1: Students’ reading culture does not significantly influence their library
patronage in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria.
Ho2: Users’ satisfaction does not significantly influence students’ library patronage in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria.
Ho3: Reading culture and user satisfaction do not have a joint significantly influence on library patronage of students in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The focus of this study is reading culture, user satisfaction, and library patronage in private universities in Oyo State, Nigeria. Reading culture constitutes reading plan, environmental factors, reading preferences and attitude. Library patronage in the context of this study is limited to consultation of books and other information resources, purpose of visit, frequency of visit and nature of materials consulted. Furthermore, this study will view library patronage from both physical and electronic use of library resources.
User satisfaction entails satisfaction with staff attitude, currency of materials, help/support, and information resources provided, internet facilities provided, lending processes, and shelving. Satisfaction with library policies which are meant to maintain discipline in the library such as eating in the library, use of earphones and dressing are, however, excluded from this study, as the study aims at focusing on academic related issues.
Finally, this study is limited to final year undergraduates because they have been in the university system for a long time and as such are expected to have developed a stable reading culture and library patronage pattern.
1.7 Significance of the Study
This study would reveal the state of students’ reading culture, user satisfaction, and library patronage. This study would generate new insight into the joint influence that students’ reading culture and satisfaction have on library patronage. This knowledge would consequently be used to understand how reading culture and user satisfaction affect library patronage among students. Hence, a solid policy direction and blueprint of targeted campaigns might be developed in order to create customized reading culture intervention library programs for students with low reading culture. This study would also help university libraries to justify increased budgetary allocations for the acquisition of relevant information materials and other library resources in order to increase reading culture and satisfaction among users.
The study would also be helpful to libraries and librarians in universities in Nigeria. It would help to know the conditions of their libraries and therefore help to improve their services, especially in assisting students in their research works and other assignments. It would also help the librarians in the acquisitions process in order to meet the information need of their user community as well as planning of various library infrastructures. Also policy makers will be informed on the importance of user satisfaction with library resources and services provided and how it would promote library patronage and promote good reading culture among student. The findings and recommendation would go a long way in providing the appropriate strategic direction for the smooth and efficient administration of universities in Nigeria and elsewhere.
Finally, it is hoped that the results and recommendations of this study would go a long way to help address the concerns of faculty, researchers, students, and the general public, therefore establishing firmly, the importance of reading culture and user satisfaction on academic library patronage of students.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Reading Culture: This refers to the reading plan, preference and attitude of students towards reading in private universities in Oyo State.
User’s Satisfaction: This is a measure of the contentment with library services by users of the library. In the context of this study, it entails satisfaction with staff attitude, the currency of information materials, help/support, information resources provided, computer and internet facilities, lending processes and shelving.
Library Patronage: This deals with the frequency of students’ visit or use of either physical or electronic information resources provided by the university library. In this study, it means consultation of books/other information resources, the purpose and frequency of visit.