Provision of public library services to meet the information needs of rural dwellers in the North-Western zone of Nigeria.
Mohammed, Badamasi Babangida.
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The study examined the provision of public library services to meet the information needs of rural dwellers in the North-Western zone of Nigeria. The following research questions were addressed: What are the information needs of the rural dwellers in the North-Western zone of Nigeria? What skills do rural dwellers effectively use to identify, access and use information from public libraries? What information sources and services are used by rural dwellers to seek and satisfy their information needs from the library? What channels are used by the public libraries to disseminate information to the rural dwellers? What challenges are faced by the rural dwellers in seeking and using information from public libraries? The study was underpinned by Wilson’s 1981 model of information behaviour and Aina’s 2006 model of library-extension service linkage. Pragmatic research paradigm and mixed methods research were employed. A sample of 427 was drawn from the library users, heads of branch libraries and directors of the state library boards. Interviews, observation and questionnaires were used to collect data. The qualitative data was analyzed using different types of content analysis one of which was thematic. The quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and SPSS computer software. The findings revealed that the information needs of the rural dwellers revolved around agriculture, health, education, economy, government policies, rural development, culture and recreation. Among the major skills used by rural dwellers to identify, access and use information was visiting the libraries to use the information sources available. The findings also showed that the rural dwellers as well used other sources to identify access and use information beside those of the libraries. These included contacting friends, neighbours, relatives, and other people during market days, town criers, extension workers, gatekeepers, village heads, religious leaders, oral traditional healers as well as contacts through cell phones. Among the formal sources used by rural dwellers were receiving information on radio and television, visiting viewing centers and health centers/dispensaries as well as receiving information from schools/adult centers.The dominant channels/sources used in disseminating information to rural dwellers were mainly printed materials, posters and fliers, as well as other audio/visual facilities. The major challenges faced by rural dwellers in seeking information from public libraries were the centralization of the library services at the local government headquarters, absence of library services and Community Information Resource Centers in the rural communities. The study recommends that the libraries should be adequately funded to provide all the needed library and resources, facilities and services. There should be a framework for policy review regarding the provision of the library services in rural areas. Other challenges identified included language barrier, lack of qualified library personnel and lack of basic infrastructural facilities in rural communities, as well as economic constraints among rural dwellers. The study also recommends a new approach that can be used to provide effective public library services to meet the information needs of the rural dwellers.