The Problems and Prospect of Reference Services in Academic Libraries


“A library when its collection is based on different nature, it serves as a body of different nomenclature to the users”. It has a staff trained in different subject matter; it often rendered services. Because academic libraries deals with general field of study, there is need to keep them up to date with whatever is going on in their field and they must be able to lead for further research. Previously writing on academic libraries were found in temples, educational establishments and universities. The growth of books and journals particularly following the invention of printing has developed into literature flood on all branches of the subject.

Thorton (1963) said “reference work in any library, consists of the exploitation of the stock for the benefit of readers” good reference work is dependant upon a librarian with a knowledge of the literature of the subject solving the readers queries and problems by the most divert method.

To accomplish this, it involves the aid of adequate book selection, catalogue classification, bibliographies, and other reference tools.

Fenton (1969) opined that: “reference work taken as a whole constitutes on extensive complex system in which many of the libraries departments play a part”, it covers the organization of every aspect of he reference service, the setting up of the library centralizes reference collection and services or the analysis of the reference works and periodicals by means of variety of catalogue and files, bibliographic searches and the compilation of bibliographies and indexes.

For the purpose of this study, literature review will be carried out under the following sub-headings;

  1. Reference material/source
  2. Staffing of the reference section
  • Management of reference section
  1. Problem facing reference section
  2. Reference question


2.2  Reference material and source

Reference materials are sometimes applied to standard work or expensive book or to these acquired for study rather than recreation and the entire non-fiction stock of a library is occasionally referred to as “book for reference”.

Anambra State University, Uli Campus being an academic library which deals with broad field of study and discipline. Examples, encyclopedia, dictionaries, directories, government documents, abstracts, indexes and non-printed material in form of reports on research.

Periodicals are more important because they contain the most up to date information just as the catalogue is the key to a library and bibliographies are the keys to the literature of any subject.


2.3  Staffing of the reference section

Amah (1987) said that librarian should have a masters degree in librarianship before he is fit to head any section of the library. This is because, an ignorance reference worker can render the finest book collection useless, while a skillful assistant who knows how to search from each book, all the various kind of information can show astonishing result even when is limited to only a few basic works.

Pnytherch (1990) is of the view that any library worth its name has to take adequate measure to retain and encourage their staff to remain in the establishment for efficient and effective services.


2.4  Management of reference section

According to Lucy (1980) management means the direction of an establishment through the planning, organizing, co-coordinating and controlling of both human and material resources towards the achievement of their objective and the processes of co-coordinating individual the groups activities towards the goals.

Management determine the goals and target of any library with those of the librarians for an efficient delivery.

Asams (1987) a librarian should acquire enough skills in order to assist library users, exploit the limited materials available to them. Libraries need specialist on all fields to carryout library function effectively for easy retrieval of information.


2.5  Problem facing reference section

According to Foskett (1977) a problem is that thing which prevent an individual from achieving a particular objective. The reference librarian encounters difficulties in accomplishing the desired goals. The first problem is lack of adequate funds to purchase the required reference resources. Another one is the problem of well trained staff to carryout the demanding task in the reference section.

Asams (1987) said that publishers and book sellers do not advertise their books. The national bibliography of Nigeria which could have a better guide is not comprehensive enough because publishers so not obey the legal deposit law, which stipulates that some copies of every book published in the country should be deposited in the National Library of Nigeria.

Reference work in an academic library may entail the compilation of bibliographies for the use in research work and providing the information.

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