Library User Education In Tertiary Institutions In Nigeria


Over the years, there have been various terms referring to teaching effective use of the library and its resources. These terms include “user education in academic libraries” “Reader instruction,” and “User instruction”  “Library orientation”.

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This chapter will bring to light different views from different scholars and professional libraries on library users education. Thus, their views will be reviewed under the following sub-headings:

  1. Origin of user education in academic library.
  2. Categories of user education programmes in academic libraries.
  3. Information goals of the academic library.
  4. Library use
  5. Library orientation/user education
  6. Staffing and services
  7. Overview of library use education programme in FCE (T) Umunze library.


Origin of user education in academic libraries:

The instruction in the users education in academic libraries has roots as far back as library profession itself. The origin of users education in academic libraries can be traced back more than 170 years ago. The earliest evidence of instruction was seen in a librarian lecturing to undergraduates was found at Harvard college in the 1820s. It was reported that most academic librarians were professors with part-time library appointment who taught the use of library for academic purposes. It was in the early 1900s that William Warner Bishop and William Fredrick pole espoused the concept of library instruction that are still valid today, with the aim of making students independent learners and to clarify the role of the library in the university. In 1905, William Harper observed that “The equipment of the library will never be finished until it has upon its staff men and women whose sole work shall be, not the care of books, not the cataloguing of the books but giving instruction in their use”.

Adio (2006) stated that: “The history development of user education is not recent and that it has been traced to 1960s, particularly the use of academic libraries”. This was in line with the view of Young (1974) that: “Library instruction movement as we know it today and the controversies which surround it came to maturity in 1960s.

Categories of users education programmes in academic libraries:

There are various methods of imparting the skill on the use of a library. Aina (2004) asserted that: “It could be one-to-one sessions, library orientation/tours or classroom instruction”. Speaking further on one-to-one sessions approach by Aina, he opined that the reference librarian takes a new user round the various sections of the library where the librarian will explain the activities that go on in the different sections of the library without necessarily distracting the staff of the various sections. During the section, the user is exposed to the basis services of a library, e.g how to use the catalogue to search for documents of interest, location of shelves etc.

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Akande (2002) explained that: “Library orientation involves taking fresh undergraduates on a guided tour of the library”. Citing university of Ibadan as a case study, the author explained that the programme normally last for 3-4 days and it features events like talk, exhibition, demonstration and guided tour. An important aspect of the programme is the talk which is always given by the university librarian or his representative. The third category is the class instruction. It is a formal instruction for library users. In some academic institutions, it is a non credit learning course.

Information goals of the academic library:

There are goals and objectives for users education in academic libraries. Fjallbrant and Stevenson (1978) described the goals and objectives of user education in academic libraries as follows; the goals and objectives for programmes of University user education must be in agreement with the general aim of the library, the aims which must in turn, be related to the goals and aims of higher education.

Among the information goals of University libraries as stated by Adio (2006) are:

  • To contribute to the realization of the aims of the university with regards to teaching, leaning and research, by acquisition of materials (both print and non print) necessary to cover present day and future information needs.
  • To organize the material acquired in such a way that it not only permits but actively stimulates the use of the materials.
  • To adapt these information resources and services to the ever-changing needs of the university, and the society.
  • To contribute to the integration of both national and international information resources within the university.


Library use:

The frequent of library use and perceived level of satisfying involved in utilization of the libraries by the students are two vital signs that have broads and urgent implication for all who seek to shape the libraries of the future.

Okiy (1998) states that: “The library is an important academic sector of the university and that a university is as good as its library”. Truly, it is through the information materials in a library, the users will get what they are searching for. When these library materials are used by the students, their academic performances are imposed. And the image of the institution is also promoted. A well equipped University/Polytechnic library really has the welfare of the students and the entire institution at hand: Oyesiku (2000) emphasizes that:

Effective use of library by staff and students is expected to be the principal objective of establishing specialized libraries in the University, stressing that a library is more than a place to read and make references. It is equally a place to seek information and to supplement materials and knowledge already provided in the classroom.


Indeed, many library users believed that the library is only meant for reading and research not knowing that libraries also offer recreational/relaxation services for its users. It is also a place where students and staff can get additional knowledge which will make them perform better.

Collaborating the fact of ignorance in the use library, Amkpa (2000) says: “Among other thing that many students do not spend more than two hours daily in the library and that their specific reasons for using libraries involves studying without using library materials.” This means that many students see the library as a mere reading room because they believe that the library will not have current material on their fields.

Anafulu (1996) said that: “No student no matter how brilliant can ignore the academic library. Those who do are invariable mediocres.” Indeed, for a student to perform well academically and also widen his/her knowledge, he/she must be a patron of the library. Those students that do not patronize the library are lazy and half-baked because no body is all knowing. We all need the services of the library.


Library Orientation/User Education:

This is the process of making the library patron learn how to make effective use of the library and its resources, through the acquisition of skills in identification and retrieval of information.

Ezemba (2004) further view user education/reader instruction as: “an instruction given to reader to help them make the best use of the library.” Most academic libraries in Nigeria now provide this service. The service could take the form of orientation (or guided) tours of the library for fresh men as well as formal lectures on how to use the library for both undergraduates and even post graduates. A number of academic institutions in the country now include ‘use of the library course’ as part of their general studies programme, and the course is taught generally by staff of the library.

Oduagwu (2002) said that: “It is a type of service meant to educate the user on how best to make maximal exploitation of the library resources.” He also added that: “User education encourages students to develop life long habit of good reading inquiring and research.”

User education is the instruction given to reader to help them make best use of the library materials. It is also known as library orientation and user assistance or guidance.

Fleming (1990) define User education as: “Various programmes of instruction, education and exploitation provided by libraries to users to enable them to make more effective, efficient and independent use of information sources and service to which libraries provide access.” He also gave some specific component of user education as:-

  • Librarian introducing students, some of whom come from school system where there are generally no school librarians or well established libraries to the complexities of University library facilities.
  • Librarian familiarizing users who little or no information seeking skills at all with a broad range of library resources in order to develop skills.
  • Librarians educating users on how to find materials manually or electronically using on-line public access catalogue and compact disc read only memory (CD-ROM).

Foss (1990) supported that: “User education should be organized at different information levels to ensure that needs of all users are met.” He outlined these different levels within the Fourah Bay College (Sierra Leone) user education programme. The first stage is concerned with more subject and bibliographic materials. The third stage of instruction would cater for the needs of advance and research students.

User education is essential in public library services, it improves the image of the library. Above all, user education and training are the best ways to implement Ranganthan five laws of library science; viz.

  1. Books are for use
  2. Every reader its book
  3. Every book its reader
  4. Save the time of the reader
  5. The library is a growing organism.

User education essential because it reduces students frustration and making research easy. Also, student earn better grades because they will know how to find more and better information resources to support their researchers paper, projects, proposals and other assignment.

Staffing and Services: 

The libraries by their responsibilities and nature of services rendered have been identified as an agency of educational upliftment and aids in National Development by giving additional knowledge to students, researcher etc, and enlighten people more on what they want to know.

There is need for the provision of adequate and qualified staff that will be able to organize the library materials very well and assist students and other users in their search for information and facilitates easy retrieval of information.

Competent staffing must be provided to ensure the proper development and the use of the library services and collection. The staff is a primary link between the community’s need and its library services and collection.

Overview of User Education Programme in FCE (T) Umunze Library:

The use of library by students in tertiary institutions is very paramount to academic performance because library is the heart of academic excellence. User education programme in the academic setting is a useful approach to guide all users of the library the way to use library resource so that it will help them in long life education: said by Mrs. Obi Ifeyinnwa the deputy librarian during my interviewing to her. She notes that FCE (T) Umunze offered use of library as general course ‘termed’ GSC 112.

The introduction of the course GSC 112 is a compulsory course that all undergraduate fresh students must pass before their graduation from the institution. It was the attitude of the user to the use of library materials that led to the introduction of the course as a college requirement to the situation of misuse, mishandling and general abuse of library materials.

The FCE (T) Umunze library opening hours are as follows:

Monday –Friday       8am – 6pm

Saturday                  9am – 4pm

Sunday                    2pm – 6pm will only provide papers as a reference for your research. The papers ordered and produced should be used as a guide or framework for your own paper. It is the aim of to only provide guidance by which the paper should be pursued. We are neither encouraging any form of plagiarism nor are we advocating the use of the papers produced herein for cheating.

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