Concept of Library User-centeredness and the Librarian

INTRODUCTION 


The Library is an agency charged with the duty of collecting, preserving and disseminating recorded information and knowledge. To a very large extent, the Library over time has played an inestimable role of assuring the continuing accumulation, preservation, organization and utilization of recorded materials by the living and bequeathing to the future generation a legacy of materials, which have more than momentary significance.

The twin phrase the ‘living and bequeathing to future generation’ as expressed above, demands some attention as a means of analyzing the Concept of ‘User-Centered’ Library and Information Service.

The living and future generation, when personified without equivocating, refers to man. Man is a living being among others, who harnesses resources around him for his own immediate benefits and that of his offspring’s (future generation). In other to perfectly contribute his quota to the continued existence and perpetuation of the human kind, he needs to be informed and to inform and educate others. One of the institutions equipped to help him achieve and discharge this obligation is the Library, which must be user-centered.

CONCEPT OF LIBRARY USER-CENTREDNESS 


The. first question here is who is a Library User?

Nwokocha (2004) defined the Library User as any person who makes use of a library collectio or services. He went further to state that “there is no unanimity as to what the Library User should be called and that is why they are variously referred to as readers, clients, clientele and patrons; each of these names therefore means the same thing as the other.

Having settled who is a Library User, it should be stated that the very essence of the existence and establishment of the library must focus on him (the user); hence the concept of Library user-centeredness. All Libraries whether private, academic, school, National etc must aim at the provision of services relevant and useful to the user.

Kilgour (1997) painted a clear picture of what he called the active library of the future, which aims at making information available to specific individuals, even information that the individuals may not know that they need, while Aliu and Igbafe (2000) shared a thought on the concept of user-centredness as

“one built with the interest of the User at heart such that it will have a crop of librarians so trained, orientated towards imbibing the culture of user-friendliness that thus imbued with the instinct, knowledge and knack for satisfying the needs and aspirations of its known and perceived users"


WHO IS A LIBRARIAN? 


First, it is to express the unfortunate ignorance on the part of library users who often times refer to any worker in the library as a Librarian. A Librarian is one who has attended a recognised University, obtained a minimum qualification of a first degree in Library and Information Science. In addition, gaduates from the Polytechnics, who obtained Higher National Diploma (HND) (as may be registered by the Librarian Registration of Nigeria) in Library Studies are also qualified as Librarians.

To this extent, a Librarian can be defined as any one who has taken the prescribed professional courses in a University or Polytechnic, leading to the award of Bachelors/HND degree in Library and Information Science, who then becomes eligible to perform the duties of acquiring, organizing and making intellectual materials accessible to its seekers.

To further have a clear-cut delineation of who a Librarian is, it is necessary to point out that we have in the Library set up those who have obtained a degree in librarianship as Librarians as well as those who have merely taken courses in librarianship at Diploma level as Para-professionals. These groups of Para-Professionals occupy the highest grade of non-professional status of Library Officers and thus perform duties above clerical level.

Library Assistants and Attendants, on the other hand, are School Certificate holders who perform clerical duties of shelving of used books and journals, shelf reading, filing of catalogue cards, charging and discharing of books, collecting fines on overdue books, etc.

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