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Study Level: BTech, BSc, BEng, BA, HND, ND or NCE

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1.1        Background to the Study

Universities globally promote the conduct of scientific research to engender social, political, economic and technological development in societies.(Odekunle, 2001). Therefore, the principal role of Nigerian universities as defined in the National Policy on Education (2004) includes provision of high-level manpower for national development which can be achieved through teaching, research and community services. Ojedele and Ilusanya (2006), asserted that university education should be pursued within the context of national requirement for maximum benefit. In contemporary society, the quest for personal and societal development has made the demand for university education imperative and making establishment of universities pervasive. Consequently, Nigerian universities have increased from one at independence to 138 with many more on the awaiting list of National Universities Commission’s approval (Wakili, 2015). Aguolu and Aguolu (2002) observed however that these universities cannot attain their goals without a vibrant university library.

The university library is an important component in any academic community. Emokiniovo and Ogunrombi (2012) observed that university libraries are established primarily to support the teaching, learning and research activities of their parent institution. As a result, both academic staff and students rely heavily on their resources to satisfy their quest for information. Among all these library resources, the primacy of serials is never in doubt. Anunobi et al (2010) asserted that the unflinching capacity of institutions of higher learning to teach, research and publish is founded in the publication called serials.

A serial according to AACR 11 (2002) is a continuing resource, issued in a succession of discrete parts, usually bearing numbering that has no predetermined conclusion. Serials include newspapers, annuals, bulletins, periodicals, journals, monographic series, etc. Serials are very important library resources that constitute veritable tools for teaching and research. Serials contain the current and factual information in all fields of knowledge. Adubika (2007) emphasized that serials have certain advantages over the book in terms of being recent as the latter takes longer time to publish while the former is published at short intervals. Okiy (2008) opines that serials constitute important part of library resources which contain the latest information and current affairs. She further stressed its necessity to be as complete as possible in order to support teaching and learning.

In Fayose’s (1995) view, periodicals are not only the most current library resource, their contents are often written by authorities in the field which make them reliable, precise and easy to read than textbooks. Anunobi et al (2010) pointed to the fact that most textbooks and monographs derive their contents from previous journal articles. Nwalo (2003) extolled journals as the backbone of research activities in universities and some of these publications may never be published in any other form again which explains why libraries attach great importance to their acquisitions. Agbaje (2003) further affirmed that journals are the unique, most important channel for the communication of ideas, exchange of experience and the transmission of current information and scientific breakthrough to the academic community.

University libraries must subscribe to current relevant journals in print and non-print to satisfy the diverse needs of library customers. This was the practice until the mid – 1980s when economic difficulties brought drastic budget reductions following which Nigerian university libraries were compelled to cut down their journal subscriptions and embarked on outright cancellations in many instances, due to lack of money. Afolabi (2006) saw universities this period as being in shambles for while Harvard University (U S A)with the world’s best virtual library still subscribed to 39,000 journals annually, no Nigerian university library held subscription to 700 current journals. Ajayi and Ayodele (2002), concluded that higher education in Nigeria was in travail as the whole system was riddled with crises of various dimensions and magnitude. The Presidential Visitation Panel which looked into the operations of all federal universities between 1999 and 2003 also confirmed that academic facilities in the universities were truly in deplorable condition (NUC, 2004).

Obviously, no university can lay claim to academic excellence without a good library to reinforce its teaching, research and public service mandates. In contrasting terms however, Ogundipe (2005),after a thorough survey of prevailing situation in most Nigerian university libraries had described university library resources in Nigeria as a sorry, disgraceful exhibition of incomplete sets of out -dated journals. Tijjani (2001)stated that university collections became irrelevant and out- dated. Agada (1989) did not mince words in stating that most university libraries had only archival collections of books and journals. Strengthening this view, Arikewuyo (2004) maintained that funding of higher education has been on reverse since the commencement of civilian regime in 1999 from average of 11.12% to an all-time low of 1.81% in 2003.Ajayi and Ekundayo (2006) asserted that despite government claim of generous allocation of funds to the educational sector annually, it has never satisfied the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) of 26% commitment of total budget as recommended for developing countries. The need to address the dwindling fortunes of universities and their libraries in Nigeria therefore becomes urgent and compelling.

Intervention Measures by Government and Agencies

The Federal Government was determined to improve the deteriorating conditions in the universities and as a way out of this applied for a loan of $120 million from World Bank in 1990.Through the World Bank loan acquisition of books improved significantly in the universities (214,000 volumes of books) but recorded less success in journal procurement (12,000 journal titles). Journal supply was to come in tranches, the last to be received in the third year but the supply came so late that the first batch was received in the seventh year rendering all the journals obsolete on arrival (Ekoja, 1992). In 1993,to further consolidate the gains of this venture, the Federal government extended the intervention to the State universities through the European Economic Commission (EEC) agency to promote the quality of state-owned university library resources. However, while the World Bank Loan (WBL) was confirmed to be truly an effective life-line to the federal university libraries, Odusanya and Osinulu (2004) regretted that the EEC intervention project to the state universities failed as a result of political deadlock that turned Nigeria to a pariah state through the Ogoni crisis.

The Library Development Fund (LDF), another attempt to improve funding was a product of 1992 Academic Staff Union of Universities /Federal Government of Nigeria Agreement which increased library allocation to 10% of total recurrent grant to each university. The fund however was aborted in December, 2001 when inflation had already rendered it impotent according to Tijjani (2003) on Nigerian universities. Lawal (2004) revealed that the report of the Secretary of NUC indicated that the LDF is at best relied on exclusively for library development but it is not so in practice as the funds are clearly and unremorsefully diverted to other purposes.

Similarly, between 2001 and 2002, part of the proceeds from the oil revenue referred to as the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) was spent on purchase of books for libraries. The tenure of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) was brief but highly politicized as the Directors made orders without consultations with university libraries. This resulted in unprofessional supply of multiple copies of hundreds of books to university libraries some of them below university standard. The sudden scrapping of the agency ended its catalogue of shoddy performance which was already a major worry to university librarians. The Education Trust Fund (ETF) now Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund) also an offspring of ASUU/FGN Agreement of 1992 has been consistently contributing to the development of higher education in terms of equipment, library resources and infrastructural development. However, according to Ekoja (2011) the fund is designed or suitable only as supplement to regular library budget to strengthen university library resources and not to be relied on as main source of library finance. It is the inability of these intervention programmes to ensure uninterrupted current journal supply to Nigerian university libraries that prompted this initiative of Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project which is the focus of this study.

Advent of Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project in University Libraries

The Journal Donation Project originated within New School University’s Graduate Faculty. It was launched in 1990 by Prof Arien Mack editor of the quarterly Social Research as a response to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the necessity to rebuild their libraries. From a small project based entirely on donation of subscriptions, the JDP has gradually metamorphosed into a major library support project that renders assistance to about 400 libraries in 27 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The mission of the project initially was the development of archives to assist in rebuilding the major research and teaching libraries throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union by providing current subscriptions and back volumes sets of English Language professional and current events journals. This was later extended to other parts of the world as funding was made available.

A Mac Arthur grant was approved to work with four Mac Arthur grantee university libraries in Nigeria, the first time such gesture will be extended to African Continent. They are: Ahmadu Bello University (A.B.U.), Bayero University (B.U.K.), University of Ibadan (U.I ), and the University of Port Harcourt (Uniport). The goal of the project is to meet the needs of students, faculty and researchers at these four institutions by providing more efficient, reliable, and easy access to research and scholarly information.

The Mac Arthur Foundation is a private independent grant making institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvements in human condition. The Foundation which has had an office in Nigeria for many years promote the general good of human societies. The Foundation supports this mission through sponsorship of research, policy development, dissemination, education, training and practice. Usually Journal Donation Project creates the best possible scholarly resources at the libraries receiving her support for her long term goal, is to create first class scholarly archives in such universities especially in Africa where they are so desperately needed. With access to the up –to- date scholarship that these journals will provide, scholars and citizens who have for long been deprived of the absence of this essential information will more easily be able to communicate with the community of international scholars.

Efforts have been made to ensure all libraries selected for this scheme are libraries where users can have the greatest possible access to the journals and these libraries are committed to serve and extend their user communities. Currently about 1000 journals are available through the Journal Donation Project’s reduced cost subscription scheme, at an average discount of 65 per cent. The assessment of Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project therefore constitutes the major interest of this study.

1.2     Statement of Problem

Students and lecturers in Nigerian Universities require information from current serial resources in order to profitably engage in teaching, learning and research activities . However it appears that most university libraries find it difficult to make adequate, current and relevant serial resources available to their customers. It is widely recognized that the major issue in serials acquisition emanated from decades of chronic under-funding of universities, aggravated by growth in students‘ enrolment and the ever increasing cost of journal publications.

Exacerbated by the global economic meltdown, most Nigerian Universities beginning from mid-1980s could no longer provide the basic essentials for learning including library resources; most readers only use the library mainly to read their notebooks. Students of Computer Studies were using texts printed before 1980s (twenty years after) while medical texts were largely obsolete. Many view the library as weak and unable to support the teaching and research missions of the university (Mac Arthur Report, 2005). Confronted with dwindling library budgets and inflationary trends in the economy, the best most university libraries could do was to embark on constant title cancellation exercises in tune with available library budget which has become unrealistic for acquisition purpose.

Ogundipe (2005)described library resources in this era as ‗libraries of diminishing resources‘, while Emilian (2004) concluded that Nigerian University libraries could no longer provide adequate resources for their customers. The dilapidated state of serial resources in most university libraries necessitated the intervention of Mac Arthur Journal Donation which assists in making current serials available at highly discounted costs. Virtually all university libraries in the country experiencing some hard times would wish to be on the project but this is limited by the amount of grant the project receives from sponsors. Even for the university libraries on the project, it is not just free donation but each university is expected to pay specified percentage of total journal costs which vary yearly therefore, Mac Arthur does not determine what resources any of them receives but this depends on the fund each university library commits to journal subscription . The project merely negotiates discounts based on the financial commitment of each university library. With the end of this project in 2006, there is the need to find out if the project made any impact on the resources of these selected university libraries.

1.3         Research Questions

This study seeks answers to the following research questions:

  1. What is the quantity of serial resources available in Nigerian university libraries before, during and after the Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project?
  2. How current are the serial resources in Nigerian university libraries before, during and after Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project ?
  3. How relevant are serial resources in Nigerian university libraries before, during and after Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project ?
  4. What are the impediments to the use of serial resources in Nigerian university

libraries before, during and after Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project ?

1.4         Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to assess the Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project in selected university libraries in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:

  1. To determine the adequacy of serial resources in Nigerian university libraries before, during and after the Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project;
  2. To ascertain the currency of serial resources in Nigerian University libraries before, during and after Mac Arthur Journal Donation .
  3. To determine the relevance of serial resources in Nigerian University Libraries before, during and after Mac Arthur Donation Project.
  4. To determine the impediments to the use of serial resources in these university libraries before, during and after Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project.

1.5      Significance of the Study

The Mission of Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project is to assist university libraries in provision of current serial resources so that learning, teaching and research will substantially improve. The Study may help University Management allocate more resources to support library resources and services and also seek alternative sources of library funding.

The study will be of importance to all stakeholders and those in positions that can bring positive changes to the library system by making them to know that despite its importance in learning, journal resources are still deficient in quantity, relevance and currency in most Nigerian university libraries.

The study will also allow the selected university libraries privilege to be chosen for the project to show-case how far this donor assistance has empowered them to support their university programmes with current serial resources.

The Mac Arthur Journal Donation has provided one of the most economical means of acquiring foreign journals which continues to be a challenge to both new and existing university libraries. This study will serve as a path-finder to interested university libraries.

This project is a challenge also to affluent Nigerians to establish Foundations like Mac Arthur in support of worthy ventures that can bring development to society. The study will also be a contribution to enrich the literature and publication on this subject in the field of librarianship.

1.6      Scope of the study

The study covers the four Federal Universities selected by the Mac Arthur Journal Donation Project – first recipients of the donor in Africa. The study focused on assessment of serial resources and impediments to their use in the four selected university libraries in Nigeria which are : Ahmadu Bello University, (A.B.U.) Bayero University

Library, (B.U.K.) University of Ibadan, (U.I) and University of Port Harcourt) (Uniport).The period covered by the study are before, during and after the Mac Arthur intervention. The period before is to portray the state of serial resources in these university libraries prior to the intervention. The period during the intervention is expected to reveal immediate changes or improvements the intervention has brought while the period after is expected to show the extent of the impacts of the intervention on these university libraries and their coping strategies.

1.7         Limitation of the study

The limitation encountered in the field is the uncooperative attitude of some of the subjects to volunteer needed information by filling the study questionnaire. Staff turn-over also affected the response in a way as some respondents were not the staff on seat during the project in some of the University Libraries therefore not very conversant with the project.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms were operationally defined thus :

Journal resources: These are academic and professional publications containing current information and contributions in an area of study.

Serial Management: Activities involved in selection, acquisition, processing, preservation etc. of serial resources in libraries.

Library Development Fund: This is a specified percentage of university budget to improve university library resources.

Journal Donation Project: This is an intervention project by Mac Arthur Foundation to assist selected university libraries in Nigeria in acquisition of current journals for research.

Mac Arthur Grantee University Libraries: These are the four university libraries selected by the Mac Arthur Foundation for assistance in Nigeria (Ahmadu).

Bello University, Zaria; University of Ibadan, Bayero University Kano and University of Port Harcourt).


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