The Library System



The word ‘Library’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Liber,’ which means a book. There are many definitions of a Library. For example International Encyclopedia of Information and Library Science defined a Library simply as a ‘collection of materials organized for use.

    Books and journals in a bookshop follow some form of arrangement, organization and pattern of use; should we therefore say that a bookshop is a library because the materials therein follow some pattern of organization? Some observed defects in this definition will lead us to examine yet another definition of Library by Balakrishnan and Paliwal (2001).

“The Library is the place where individual's needs for knowledge and information are met through the collective provision and interpretation of resources... ”

The question here is, who provides and interprets the said resources?

The Library is a room or a hall where there are books, non book materials and journals organized in a defined order by professionally trained personnels who make such materials are available to its seekers for use.

   To this extent, a library is not the same thing as a bookshop or a place where information is got; for if you turn a library upside-down, what will fall out are not information but books, non-book materials and journals.

   What constitutes information depends on one’s understanding and interpretation of a given data within a particular context. Therein lies opinion, ideas and messages which give vent for actions or inactions. So two individuals exposed to the same materials, based on their intelligence and power of understanding may or may not be able to derive information relevant to solve a problem within given context.

The essence of the matter as observed by Feather and sturges (1997) is that

 “we are concerned with information which has been brought under control in a way which makes it accessible and therefore usable.”

 “Raw data is the building block, and knowledge is the construct; information is the cement.”

   The effective management of information allows it to be stored by means which permit it to be systematically and efficiently retrieved in a format which will facilitate the tasks of the end-user.

   For the User, however, information is a tool - a means not an end. It may facilitate work or leisure, necessity or luxury, education or entertainment. The concern of the Information Professional (Librarian) is to ensure that the users’ reasonable demands are met as postulated by Feather and Sturges.


As the phrase ‘Use of Library’ connotes, it is the ability of a Library Patron to be able to navigate the Library collection independently with a view of satisfying his/her perceived needs. Such perceived needs could be to satisfy leisure or entertainment needs, learning, reading or research purpose.

   According to Ishola (1980) it has been said that “an educated man is one who knows where to look for information." In this regard, UNESCO in its General Information Programme (GIP) emphasizes the importance of User Education which is the focus of this treatise.


   User Education is very necessary in order to reap maximum benefits inherent in the library system which include teaching, learning, research, recreation/leisure etc. User education can therefore be defined as the orientation given to users or readers which then creates an awareness of the robust benefits of information, entertainment beyond reading and everyday researching.

   Ability to pilot oneself through the Library Collection is a big relief to the user as it creates self-confidence in him. Again when all the users are educated on fishing for themselves efficiently in the ocean of books and non-book materials, the librarian is free to attend to other professional duties.

   Everyday, thousands of books and journals are published; users educated in the use of library would be able to link subjects of related discipline and retrieve materials by themselves.

Advancement in technology has brought in the use of Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). User education will familiarize users with modern retrieval devices as against the card catalogue that has been in use for centuries. User education will acquaint users with basic kinds of prints and non-prints material available and how they are arranged.

User education will also provide the user with the knowledge of other subject areas related to the primary area of interest and how to find reference for them.

User education will introduce users to various sections in the library, with the knowledge of the material contents of each sections e.g. Reference Section, Special Collection, Serials, Reprography, Circulation etc.


The Library is an academic establishment within University that supports the academic programmes of the parent body (the University). Libraries in Universities and other tertiary institutions, as affirmed by Ika (2001), provide the essential springboard for the advancement and dissemination of knowledge.

 In that regard, the library as a support service institution, equates with a faculty having a number of departments within it.
 The university librarian is the administrative head of the library just as the Dean of a faculty. It is for this reason that Nwokocha (2004) posits that library operations are woven around both human and material resources.

It has been affirmed that no university grows above its Library. In other words, the strength of the library’s collection determines the academic prowess and quality of the university teaching staff and students.

According to Tahir (1998), the term ‘University Library’ refers to a library that is established, maintained and administered by a University to meet the needs of its students and members of the academic community. In the University of Benin for instance, the University Library known as John Harris Library, is one of the infrastructures on the Campus that gulps as much as ten percent (10%) of the University’s total yearly recurrent allocation.

In view of the functions of universities as centre for teaching, research, publishing and extension services, their libraries are engaged in the:

A. Acquisition/collection of knowledge in all forms.
B. Organization of knowledge for easy storage and retrieval.
C. Storage and preservation of knowledge
D. Retrieval and dissemination of knowledge.

On the other hand, the objectives of a University Library according to Ifidon (1985) are as follows:

A. Provision of materials in support of the learning process, that is, materials for students course work, assigned reading, as well as background reading for essays, term papers and projects.

B. Provision of materials to meet the requirement of faculty specialist and postgraduate students who are doing research.

C. Provision of materials to assist the library user in his own personal self development.

D. Cooperation with other university libraries with a view to developing a network of academic library resources which are at the disposal of all students and teaching faculties.

E. Meeting the specialized information needs of the regions within which the universities are situated.

Tahir (1998) is of the opinion that, the provision materials is not only to meet immediate needs of the Students and faculty staff but to help the university realize its strategic long term objectives of training and graduating men and women who would be academically and technically sound and ultimately worthy in character and learning.

   The above functions and objectives of an academic library are accomplished through the departments/divisions and units of the library which are as follows:

(a) Administration Department
(b) Technical Services Department
(c) Readers’ Services Department
(d) Research and bibliographic Services Dept
(e) Audio-visual/Media Resources Department
(f) Information and Communication Department (ICT)

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