AN EXAMINATION OF ACADEMIC LIBRARY SERVICES AND THE NEED FOR EFFECTIVE MARKETING OF THE SERVICES
1.1 Background To The Study
The academic library serves as the brain of its parents’ information. According to Aina (2004), the primary purpose of an academic library is to assist the academic environment’s objectives in the areas of learning, teaching, and research service. For millennia, Jubb and Green (2007) noted that academic libraries have played a crucial role in advancing research across all subjects and disciplines at their host universities and colleges. An academic library provides the following services: material circulation, shelf management, user education programs, information services, and operation of the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), exhibitions and displays, reader inquiry services, Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI), training and internet services, bibliographic services, indexing services, abstracting services, access to electronic resources, and document delivery.
The usefulness and efficiency of an academic library’s services are mostly decided by library customers. Aina (2004) acknowledges this reality when he asserts that the user is vital in librarianship practice. Without clients, no library can exist. The human and material resources of a library are invested heavily for the purpose of providing excellent services to library customers. The library, for its part, is responsible for ensuring that its materials and services are used (Edoka, 2000). The user is considered the most logical source of information about whether or not the library is performing its functions properly. Any academic library’s goal statement should aim to provide exceptional service to its patrons. There are several types of library users at larger institutional libraries. They include students, postgraduates, lecturers, researchers, and external users representing a diverse range of vocations and walks of life.
Academic libraries, on the other hand, are required to sell their services to consumers. Libraries are no longer the exclusive source of information. They now face competition for clients from the internet, bookstores, and online book dealers, as well as a growing desire for more efficient services and a better understanding of user demands. As a result, academic libraries must comprehend their patrons’ demands, organize service delivery, market available services, and offer them promptly and effectively. To do this, marketing is a critical instrument.
Kolter (1994) defined marketing as the social and management process by which individuals receive what they want and desire via the creation, offer, and exchange of goods and services. Without patrons, a library is nothing. Marketing is about interacting with and informing customers about resources and services that align with their interests. Academic library marketing success is contingent upon persuading customers that the tools or databases are desirable. They must comprehend the nature of the services and be passionate about their potential use (Noel & Waugh, 2002). Academic librarians must promote their services and resources to students and prospective users in order to raise awareness of the importance of the academic library. Major segments of the prospective market for library services are likely unaware of all available services or have no concept of what is provided. That is why marketing is critical to the academic library’s success and continued existence. Every library’s primary objective should be to provide excellent customer service. Excellent service may be equated to an excellent marketing effort, which is another reason marketing is critical for libraries. A successful marketing strategy educates users about the library’s services and the importance of their usage.
For example, marketing in a library context has been examined through a variety of lenses. For example, Ravichandran and Babu (2008) define marketing of library services as the process of developing, selling, promoting, and disseminating library goods in order to facilitate exchanges between the library and its patrons. Similarly, Nwegbu (2005) characterized marketing in a library environment as developing and presenting the library’s books and non-book materials in terms of the wants and desires of library users and using successful strategies to encourage, educate, and service the library’s current and prospective clients. According to Basanta and Sanjah (2008), the ultimate goal of marketing is to offer the appropriate information to the appropriate user at the appropriate moment. The success and efficiency of a library are determined by the services provided, not by the size of the library, the number of staff materials, or the amount of information accessible.
Due to budget constraints, the majority of academic libraries place little emphasis on marketing library and information services. The budget of inadequate financing is exacerbated by the fact that academic library administration does not always have a timely and constant budget for library management, much less for marketing library services. Additionally, internet connectivity is intermittent and inadequate. Additionally, the majority of library management lacks a fundamental understanding of marketing; they perceive marketing as a function of profit-driven corporations and not libraries. With these obstacles in mind, academic libraries must use specific approaches for marketing library services. These tactics include developing a library website, communicating with users through e-mail, holding exhibits and displaying new arrivals, distributing flyers and posters, conducting user education, offering electronic access to information, and planning library week. Additionally, funds should be set aside for library marketing.
Libraries must offer user-oriented services in order to properly identify, fulfill, enlighten, educate, and market the genuine value of library services to users. Users should be educated about the library’s numerous services and how they might help them become lifelong learners. To accomplish these goals, librarians must use the marketing mix, which consists of four components: place, product, pricing, and promotion.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It cannot be overstated how critical marketing library and information services are. However, the very existence of libraries is under attack. This is because information access has become very quick and is facilitated by technology (Aina 2004). Users increasingly choose to get information online rather than via libraries. Libraries’ services must be redesigned to accommodate the information technology age. Libraries must transition from a paper-based to a digital-based means of delivering information to users. In contrast, people are unaware of the many services offered by libraries. Libraries have failed to provide users with the necessary information. The services provided are not geared towards the end user (Green, 2007). This has led to non-or under-utilization of library services. The ramifications are immense. As a consequence, users are unable to identify, access, or realize their information requirements. This may also contribute to the poor quality of teaching, learning, and research at our universities. As a consequence, they are unable to keep up with the evolution of global society. When these services are used, they will help people in their jobs and also help them become lifelong learners.
1.3 Objectives Of The Study
The overall aim of this study is to critically examine academic library services and the need for effective marketing of the services. Hence, the study will be channeled to the following specific objectives;
- Ascertain the need for marketing academic library services
- Determine the extent to which academic library services are marketed in Abia state University
- Identify the techniques employed by academic libraries in marketing of library services.
- Identify the problems militating against marketing of library services in Abia state University.
1.4 Research Question
The study will be guided by the following questions;
- What is the need for marketing academic library services?
- What is the extent to which academic library services are marketed in Abia state University?
- What are the techniques employed by academic libraries in marketing of library services?
- What are the problems militating against marketing of library services in Abia state University?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be significant to the following: all academic institutions, administration, library committees, librarians, users and researchers. In specific terms the findings will be significant to academic institutions administration in the area of policy formulation by providing a road map on the information resources and services to be provided to users in order to satisfy their information needs. It is hoped that that it will create awareness to the library committee as regards the strategies to enhance effective marketing of library services to users.
This work will also educate librarians on how to effectively and efficiently market library products and services. It will also assist them in identifying their lapses and hence improve on their services by attracting, satisfying, and retaining users in the library. The findings will also be useful to users by creating awareness on the various services available in the library. The users will get an improvement in the services offered as a result of the recommendations of this study. The research will also contribute to the existing body knowledge in marketing library services and build on the knowledge of the problems in academic libraries in Nigeria. The findings of this study will provide background information for other researchers researching on various marketing techniques in Nigeria libraries.
1.6 Scope Of The Study
This study is structured to generally examine academic library services and the need for effective marketing of the services. However, the study will further ascertain the need for marketing academic library services, determine the extent to which academic library services are marketed in Abia state University, identify the techniques employed by academic libraries in marketing of library services, and identify the problems militating against marketing of library services in Abia state University.
The participants for this study will be obtained from Abia State Universities.
1.7 Limitation Of The Study
In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.
1.8 Definition Of Terms
A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes.
An academic library is a library that is attached to a higher education institution and serves two complementary purposes: to support the curriculum, and to support the research of the university faculty and students.
This is as a social and managerial process by which individual groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and exchanging products and services.