UTILIZATION OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICTs) FOR EFFECTIVE LIBRARY SERVICES IN NIGERIAN ARMY TRAINING SCHOOLS
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Background of the Study:
In Nigerian Army, there exist a number of corps and schools that are specially designated to meet the peculiar educational and training needs of these corps. They play very useful and important roles in the training of personnel which in long run improve the development of the Nigerian Army. These schools called training schools are key institutions in planning, execution and advancement of the frontiers of education in Nigerian Army. They include Nigerian Army School of Education (NASE), Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration (NASFA), Nigerian Army School of Military Engineering (NASME), Nigerian Army School of Medical Studies (NASMS), Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Infantry Centre and School (ICS), Nigerian Military School (NMS), to mention but few. Some of these schools were accredited to offer degree, diploma, and certificates courses to the personnel and civilians, and also embark on researches. Thus, the essence of library services became imperative and essential in these schools. The development of these schools is rooted deeply in the history and formation of Nigerian Army.
According to the History of NA (1994), NA was formed far back as 1863, when Lt Glover of the Royal Navy selected 18 indigenes from the Northern part of the country, and organized them into a local force, known as the “Glover Hausas”. The small force was used by Glover (as Governor of Lagos) to mount punitive expeditions in the Lagos hinterland and for the protection of British trade routes around Lagos. After a series of transformation, reformation and reorganization processes, the group later metamorphosed into what is known today as Nigerian Army. The significance of literacy in the army was realized during the 2nd world war when it was difficult for the British commander to communicate effectively with African troops in English language and which often resulted in heavy casualties. After Burma campaign in 1945, greater attention was paid to the literacy of African soldiers in the Royal West African Frontier Force (RWAFF). Functional literacy cadres began to be organized for those who could neither read nor write in English.
According to the history, this gave rise to the recruitment of literate civilians into the army as education instructors. Those who passed tests in spoken and written English were awarded “E” badge attached to their jackets and they were paid some language proficiency allowances. There was also the school of Education and Clerical Training established at Yaba. By 1945, it became the West African Army School of Infantry and Education (WAASIE). In wake of independence, WAFF was disbanded and each force became independent of each other, Nigerian Military Force (NMF) came to existence in July 1956, it had 5 battalions, and each had a Unit Education Officer (UEO) that run literacy courses in 3 stages: stage 1, 2 and 3. These were later redesignated Army Certificate of Education (ACE) 1, ACE 2 and ACE 3 courses.
By 1960, the Royal Nigerian Military Training College (RNMTC) later known as the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC); Nigerian Army School of Infantry, and now Infantry Centre and School were established to train education instructors, clerks and infantry personnel. By 1964, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) was established to produce full fledged military officers. Today NDA is a degree awarding institution. In 1970, Nigerian Army school of Education was established by Nigerian Army Education Corps (NAEC) to run corps courses, languages courses (English, French and Arabic) and instructional technology courses, for personnel of NAEC and other corps and services of NA. By 1983 Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration (NASFA) was established to cope with the effective management of the financial resources of the NA.
By 1979, after handing over to civilian administration, reorganization and modernization of the combat formations, supporting services, and training schools started. More training schools were established by other corps for adequate manpower development and professional training of their personnel. The strategic position of training was identified and upheld to high esteem. Thus, Institute of Army Education (IAE) was set up to embrace a research unit, a library service, and Army Bookshop, Inspectorate Branch and Educational Services. The purpose of setting up these ancillary services especially the library was, like any other libraries to provide, preserve and disseminate information resources in these training schools, with greater reference to the materials that are essential to the art of defence.
The importance of library to army was historically demonstrated at old U.S.S.R. of Lenin. Ahramov (1985) reported that Lenin was swift to realize the importance of the political outlook of both officers and men in the Red Army and took a personal interest in the setting up of its library networks, readers’ clubs and other cultural organizations. After the revolution, the military libraries needed reorganization to reeducate the Army in the spirit of Marxism – Leninism. An Army needs to understand and approve the system it is defending in order to preserve morale and it is the library’s task to make the necessary political education available.
But the role libraries of Nigerian Army training schools has been to complement training by making relevant training information available to officers and soldiers in discharging their duties in art of defending the territorial integrity of the nation. Current and relevant information is very crucial in executing the art of defence especially now that technological advancement in ICTs has exposed man’s ability and dexterity to record, manipulate, communicate and access quality information.
Agwai (2004) explained that to achieve a realistic and performance – oriented training, various training schools need to be expanded to take more trainees, and be properly equipped to improve skills, and performance. And this can be achieved through keeping track of new trends in military science, through research and development made possible in the libraries by the library staff.
Libraries in all Nigerian Army Training Schools are expected to be effective and efficient in service delivery, to ensure that the needs of the users are met; current and accessible information resources are suitable and available all the times. These information resources should be delivered to the users timely and in appropriate manner; they should ensure that these information resources provided are of high quality, accurate and appropriate. The library staff should assist the users in interpreting the information he provided when and where necessary especially those generated through software packages. They should promote and encourage users’ awareness of new services like current awareness service (CAS) and selective dissemination of information (SDI), and other information sources as they develop. This should help to establish the relationship between information and training and libraries. Moreover, Nigerian Army libraries should provide users with individualized guidance and support as this will sharpen their information search and application skills.
However, it was observed that in many Nigerian Army libraries, above stated services cannot be effectively rendered due to the manually processing system of the services, except information and communication technologies (ICTs) are properly utilized. ICTs are fastly becoming veritable tools in enhancing effective services in modern libraries and information centres. They are the driving force in new service platform of the libraries. It involves the application of computers and other communication technologies to provide preserve and disseminate information in the libraries which were initially provided in a hard copy. Many library services today can be carried out smoothly with the use of ICT facilities with greater efficiency and effectiveness without the constraint of space and time. To appreciate the essence of ICTs for effective library services in NA training schools, one has to consider the uses of technologies especially the digital ones which are in existence to assist the librarians, library staff and users in achieving their aims and needs. These technologies also include all devices that can be used in processes of storage, retrieval, manipulation, transmission and reception of digital information essential for training, leadership and management. The devices include personal computer, digital TV, Camera, Internet facilities to enhance e-mail services, fax, Compact Disk – Read Only Memory (CD-ROM), flash drives, floppy diskettes, printers, and scanners. Due to the increasing volumes of information needed for training in all stated training schools, it was observed that these technologies mentioned can accurately, timely capture, preserve and disseminate them for immediate and future use.
On the other hand, Ochai (2007) defined ICTs as equipment or interconnected system or subsystems of equipment used in automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control display, switching, interchanging, transmission, reception of data. It includes computers and all other forms of technology used to create, store, exchange and use information in its various forms such as business data, voice conservation, still image including those not yet conceived are regarded as ICTs. They are basically information handling tools, a varied set of goods, applications and services that are used to produce, organize, process, distribute and exchange information. They also include the old ICTs of radio, television and telephone, and new ICTs of computers, satellite and wireless technology and internet.
These different tools are now working together, and combined to form an interconnected and networked world; a sophisticated infrastructure of interconnected telephone services, standard computing hardware, the internet, radio, and television which reach into every corner of the globe. According to US News and World Report (1996) the idea that led to the development of internet was born sometimes in 1969 by the American Defence Agency. Owing to the fears of cold war and the need for online communication over long distances, internet was discovered. But today, it was observed that many libraries all over the world surf the net (internet) to access, publish and share relevant information among their users. It has reduced the world to a “global village” as any war fought, any peace keeping, peacemaking and peace enforcement brokered anywhere, any defence pact signed, policies formulated, any armaments developed, procured, and used in any part of the globe can be seen, heard and read about in almost real time in all part of globe through the power of ICTs and made available in the library for future references.
In Nigeria, the situation is not different from the stated scenario. Many other libraries especially academic and special libraries have seen hope in ICTs to meet the expectations of the modern users. Many research findings, reports, conferences, seminar etc have been generated, downloaded, uploaded and made accessible to users in a well-packaged format. Many organizations have anchored on the hope brought by ICTs to achieve their mission. And some of these organizations that have gained from ICTs for effective service delivery are Nigerian Army Training Schools.
Therefore, there is need for an effective library services in these schools to make relevant information resources available to officers and soldiers timely and accurately in discharging their expected duties as enshrined in section 217 (2) of 1999 constitution. The important of these information as indispensable resources for human development and training in the army cannot be overemphasized.
However, it was also observed that the absence of ICT facilities in Nigerian Army training schools would create a lot of challenges to the librarians and other library staff, students in particular and entire Nigerian Army system generally. These challenges include dearth of current and relevant information sources necessary for training, late arrival and delay in provision and dissemination of crucial and accurate information of world events; faulty preservation, mechanisms, drudgerous provision of services, time-consuming, strenuous and manually processes of all library services. Without ICT facilities, the whole training exercises would come to zero, training objectives would be difficult to achieve. Lack of current and relevant information resources would retard training thereby making Nigerian Army objectives and duties unachievable.
Though, the importance of ICTs for effective library services in Nigerian Army training schools has been acknowledged. The availability of these facilities in some of these libraries has been equally achieved. ICT policies have been formulated, adopted and implemented. But, the types of ICT facilities available in Nigerian Army training school libraries have not been ascertained; the services offered with the use of ICTs in these libraries have not been determined; the extent to which the facilities contribute to library service delivery are not known; the problems encountered in using these ICT facilities need to be identified; all the strategies to enhance the usage in Nigerian Army training school libraries have not been proffered. Therefore, it is this mentioned gaps that this study is set to fill.
Statement of the Problem
It was observed that due to insufficient and ineffective utilization of ICTs in the libraries, many soldiers and officers have resorted to the use of cyber café in the streets.
The essence of effective library services in Nigerian Army training schools is to provide, preserve, retrieve and disseminate available information resources essential to training, leadership and management to Nigerian Army personnel. These information resources are very indispensable to training, bearing in mind the importance of training vis-à-vis the overall duty of Nigerian Army. Therefore, there is need for an effective library services in these libraries. These services include the provision and dissemination of these information timely and accurately; and efficient preservation to enhance speedy and smooth retrieval when necessary. It also includes satisfying the instructional and research needs of the users by helping them to interpret the information retrieved.
It was observed that to render these services efficiently, smoothly, ICTs are very indispensable as it will enhance effective service delivery in these libraries. This is because only ICT facilities have the capabilities to accommodate the increasing volumes of information resources at the users disposal. The whole volumes of printed materials can be digitized and kept in CDROM or in a computer hard disk. It could be stored in a data base in far location accessed remotely through network. The whole processes of Nigerian Army training school programmes could be integrated and formatted in software. The training schedules are tailored to follow the current events worldwide; therefore all training data, leadership and management practices of developed countries could be viewed, downloaded, and packaged for continuous reference.
But service delivery in many of these training school libraries was observed to be minimal, insufficient, inefficient and ineffective. A good number of libraries in some Nigerian Army training schools are hesitant to take advantage of ICT facilities to provide real time communication. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake this study to determine how those that embraced ICTs utilized it for effective service delivery. And if eventually this study is not carried out, the vision to mould a modern and technologically oriented force with effective command, control and communication systems as well as modern management processes will be a mirage.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to determine the utilization of ICTs for effective library services delivery in Nigerian Army training schools.
The specific objectives are to:
- Ascertain the types of ICT facilities available in the training school libraries.
- Determine the services offered with the use of ICTs in the libraries.
- Determine the extent to which ICTs contribute to library service delivery.
- Identify the factors which enhance the utilization of these facilities.
- Identify problems encountered in utilization of these facilities.
- Proffer strategies for enhancing ICTs utilization in Nigerian Army training school libraries.
The following research questions were developed to guide the study:
- What are the types of ICT facilities available in Nigerian Army training school libraries?
- What are the services offered with the uses of ICTs in these libraries?
- To what extent do ICTs contribute to the library service delivery?
- What are the factors that enhance the utilization of these facilities?
- What are the problems encountered in utilization of these facilities?
- What are the strategies that can be adopted to enhance ICT utilization for library effective services in NA training school?
Significance of the Study
A clear understanding of utilization of ICTs for effective library services delivery in NA training schools through the findings of this study would be of tremendous benefits to the library staff, students, researchers in particular and NA in general.
The findings of this study are expected to be beneficial to the Nigerian Army and the management of the training schools by identifying the types of ICTs facilities that are very essential in information handling and also those available in their libraries. Information is sine quo non to training and its provision, preservation, retrieval and dissemination timely and accurately is determined by the types of ICTs available.
The findings of the study are expected to enlighten the Army Headquarters in the services offered with the use of ICTs in provision of qualitative information in the libraries. Use of ICTs in libraries introduced greater efficiency and effectiveness without the constraint of space and time. The findings of this study are expected to identify these services.
The findings are expected to be beneficial to the libraries and the library staff in attracting needed fund and subventions for procurement, maintenance and training in ICTs proficiency. Once the uses are approved by the Army Headquarters, it would facilitate the availability of the ICT facilities in the libraries. And this would make their job easier and also motivate them to contribute towards training of competent and reliable personnel for Nigerian Army and indeed Nigeria.
Library staff would through this study assess their roles, readiness and competencies in utilization of ICT facilities. Utilization of ICT facilities for effective and efficient library service delivery needs special skills, training and caution. The findings would provide strategies they need to enhance ICTs services in their library.
The users of these libraries would benefit from this study as the findings would educate and/or enlighten them about the complimentary roles of ICTs in manipulating information necessary for their training especially those that can be sourced in the libraries as the findings would reveal the ICTs contributions to the libraries.
The findings of this study are expected to be beneficial to other researchers interested in Nigerian Army training schools libraries. It would help them in sourcing information for further research in this area.
In the administration of the libraries, the findings would identify problems associated to ICT oriented libraries, and provides the library staff and Nigerian Army Training School management with the strategies to curtail the problems as well as to enhance effective utilization of ICTs in their libraries.
Scope of the Study
The study covers various types and uses of ICT facilities in some selected libraries of NA training schools. The types of ICTs include internet facilities, computers connected to the internet, scanners, printers, photocopiers, facsimile, floppy diskettes, flash drives, CD-ROMs, video tape players, audio tape players, projector screen, multimedia/digital projector, functional library e-mail, inter com, institution website, digital TV, camera, library software, telephone etc, the uses include the extent to which above-stated facilities are utilization in Nigerian Army training school libraries. The study also cover these libraries: Nigerian Defence Academy library in Kaduna, Kaduna State; Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration Library in Apapa, Lagos State, and Nigerian Army School of Education Library in Ilorin, Kwara State. The study focuses on the library staff and users of these institutions in terms of service delivery.