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OPAC refers to information retrieval system composed of database of bibliographic records describing the books and other materials owned by a library or library system. This study was undertaken to explore the awareness and utilization of Online Public Access Catalogue

(OPAC) by undergraduate students in Federal University Dutsin-Ma Library, Katsina State.

Investigation was carried out in respect of the level of awareness, purpose for utilizing OPAC, extent of utilization, extent of satisfaction and challenges of utilizing OPAC in FUDMA library. The study employed the cross-section survey research method which accommodates large population. There were a total of 3,124 undergraduate students in Federal University Dutsin-Ma, out of which 319 respondents were selected for the study using cluster and simple random sampling techniques. However, only 285 students completed and returned the questionnaires. The data collected were analysed using mean and standard deviation. The study revealed that undergraduate students were aware of some of the services provided by OPAC, which include how to link to some online database via library‟s OPAC and finding out whether needed material is available in the Library or not. The study equally revealed that they made use of OPAC for various purposes which include locating book and non-book materials in the Library and retrieving the call number of a book. This indicated that undergraduate students utilize the above services more than any other services Moreover, they derive satisfaction from locating of book and non-book materials, finding out whether needed materials is available in the Library or not and identifying books in a given subject. However, some of the challenges found were lack of full awareness, power outage and inadequate computers at the OPAC station of the Library. In view of the above findings the research recommends that the management of the Library should employ other means of promoting awareness such as including OPAC into library instruction module and

incorporates library guide on the University website.



1.1        Background to the Study

Libraries play a pivotal role in the development and promotion of university education worldwide. University library being the heart of the university system provides suitable materials useful for teaching, learning and research purposes and thus supplement classroom teaching work along with provision of information required to attain intellectual pursuits (Ramana, 2004). In order to achieve this goal, most libraries have put in place adequate resources to support teaching and research, trained qualified librarians capable of organizing the information contents in the most scientific and helpful order as well as a library catalogue which is used to facilitate easy retrieval of educational resources in the library (Bamidele, Omeluzor, Onoyeyan and Titilayo, 2014).

Moreover, Rathinasabapathy (2005) maintained that the role of academic libraries should, among others, broaden the catalogue of resources in support of academic inquiry and discovery. A library‟s fundamental purpose has always been to support the process of research and education by helping users to find information and ascertain its value. In any academic institution, it is expected that the library provides opportunities for librarians to serve users in different ways. For example, by hosting new types of tools that enabled the users to guide themselves in specialized disciplines. Essentially, the library catalogue is one of the important tools of the library which links users‟ requirements to the documents in a library. Traditionally, manual information retrieval system was used in most libraries to identify and locate available materials by checking card catalogue. Woods (1986) argues that in manual system, all cards had to be drafted, checked, typed, proofread, corrected, sorted, filed and the filing checked. Also, whenever any book is moved to a new location, withdrawn or lost, all the cards had to be found and corrected. However, this system was characterized by various setbacks such as time consuming, subjected to perennial backlogs and errors in card production and filling (Adigun, Salvador and Abdulazeez, 2011). Furthermore, as libraries expand and grow, it becomes more difficult to maintain the manual card catalogue due to increasing cost of catalogue maintenance. Egberongbe (2000) notes that manual descriptive cataloguing has been observed to be time consuming. As a result, many libraries experience cataloguing backlogs, which prevent the information materials from being accessed since the entries will not be represented in the catalogue. Hence, users cannot access such information materials at the right time. She highlights that many of these problems could be reduced or eliminated by the replacement of card catalogue with OPAC. She also observes that with the use of OPAC, more subject searches such as author, title, subject, ISBN, ISSN, date and place of publication could be carried out. It is a tool designed to facilitate information retrieval process in this information age.

With the rapid development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the last two decades and subsequent development of Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), access to library collection is provided in a more convenient and easy way. The term Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) refers to information retrieval system composed of database of bibliographic records describing the books and other materials owned by a library or library system. OPAC is accessible online regardless of geographical location, making it convenient for remote users or via work stations usually concentrated near the library reference desk to make it easy for a user to request the assistance of a trained reference librarian.

Since its inception in the late 1970s, OPAC has become widely accepted  information retrieval tool and the vast number of bibliographic records has been converted into computer format, using the Machine-Readable Cataloguing (MARC) form (Feather and Sturges, 2003). Its increasing recognition worldwide is mainly because OPAC allows users to quickly and effectively search the needed bibliographical records of materials through simple or advanced searches; eliminates repetitive nature of work; improves the quality and range of services; facilitates easy and wider access to all kinds of information sources; facilitates faster information communication; increases morale and motivation of library staff; facilitates cooperation and information sharing; save time, space and resources; improves productivity and image of the


An OPAC is an interactive search module of an Automated Library Management System; it is part of the Integrated Library System (ILS). OPAC contains all the bibliographic information of resources contained in a library. It serves as a key to the library collections. With OPAC, library users can locate information resources they need in the library easily. It improves searching capabilities of the library resources because information resources can be located as easy as possible compared to the traditional card catalogue. Mulla and Chandrashekara (2009) confirmed that OPAC is an instrument of change in today’s libraries as it helps facilitate users‟ search for library materials and to determine the availability of such materials in the library at a given point in time. Depending on the design, the search menu of an OPAC may comprise of items such as author, title, subject, call number, patron name, basic search and keyword search, International

Standard Book number (ISBN), International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), Library of Congress Call Number (LCCN) and item barcode. Basic search is useful when a user knows the facts about an author, title, subject, series, call number and heading, while keyword search is useful when a user does not know the facts about an author, title, subject, heading of the document. Some OPACs are Internet-based, that is they can be accessed globally on the World Wide Web (WWW) while those that are not internet-based are usually installed on standalone computers. Presently, in Nigeria, not all available OPACs can be accessed on the WWW. Some are already operational while, others are not fully operational. Example of the fully operational OPAC is the FUDMA Library.

Additionally, with the advent of OPAC, the library information resources can be searched through multiple ways such as title, author, subjects, publisher, keyword, call number, ISBN, date and place of publication (Fati and Adetimirin, 2015). OPAC contains all the bibliographic information of a library or an information centre; it is a gateway to the entire library collections. OPAC is the contemporary, friendly and flexible form of library catalogue that gives quick and easy access to information resources. Awareness of OPAC can also be described as having the knowledge of the existence, benefits and purpose of OPAC, though the level of awareness vary from one user to another. Ruzegea (2012), defined OPAC awareness as the knowledge of it and maintains that it is also a first step to increase usage (usability) of the library resources and other relevant information in the library and outside libraries or online databases to aid students in their learning processes.

Nevertheless, the introduction of OPAC into the libraries immediately results in different skills required to enhance fully exploitation of them. Therefore, the success of OPAC implementation in the library depends greatly on the extent to which users are kept well informed about OPAC and be trained to equip them with requisite skills so that they can understand, accept and make more effective use of OPAC services (Ramana, 2004; Kinengyere, 2007; Msagati, 2014).

Utilization of OPAC is the act of using OPAC as a system, medium, device, resource or service. OPAC has created immense changes in the library activities. Its importance cannot be overemphasized because it facilitates extraction of relevant documents or information from a large collection of documents in response to a user‟s request; it provides different search elements: by author, title, subject, call number, classification number, series, ISSN and ISBN. In addition, it is used to locate books, to find non-print materials, to find out whether required information resource is available in the library or not, to compile bibliography of books on a particular subject and to check the number of copies in library stock. Based on this, Ukpebor (2011) noted that OPAC provides wider access, since users can retrieve information from any participating library or even search online from their home computer, it provides the public with direct access to a library bibliographic database through the use of terminal searchable through a variety of access points greater than those available through card form catalogue, it is searchable with a common command language, which may be transferred when the public moves from one library to another, it also displays search results in readily understandable form and provides useful link to different databases and multiple users can query the database simultaneously.

The use of OPAC in the library is of particular ideal for students as they need not to spend time to travel from their location to the library to know the availability of a particular book, to place book requests or to spend time scanning through the library card catalogue to know the call number of a particular book. With OPAC, students can now browse online the physical collection of the library anywhere regardless of their geographical location. Thus, this initiative has saved their time and cost of travelling from their remote locations and reduce the number of physical presence in the library. Fati and Adetimirin (2015) argue that OPAC minimizes the time and stress of searching through shelves; thereby supporting the fourth of the Ranganathan‟s laws of Library Science “Save the time of the user”.

With these unique advantages that OPAC has over the card catalogue, libraries started to embrace the new technology, Kaur and Sharda (2010) recommended that libraries should develop and maintain an integrated online public access catalogue (OPAC) with both internal and external resources as well as printed and other formats of knowledge.

The importance of Library OPAC cannot be overemphasized, because it is the online database of materials held by a library or group of libraries which provides a platform for students to search and to locate books and other materials available in a library. Therefore, by using the library OPAC, students can access bibliographical records of variety of information resources independently without looking for assistance from the library staff or a colleague and without being necessarily present in the library since they can access it from their remote locations. The Federal University Dutsin-Ma Library is automated right from the establishment stage and it provides an OPAC work station which can be searched remotely without being present in the Library. It is in line with this that the researcher had to carried out this study in order to find out the level of awareness, the extent of utilization, extent of satisfaction with OPAC as well as the challenges of using OPAC in retrieving information by undergraduate students in Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Library.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) enables information searchers in the library to easily find and locate information resources on the shelves. According to Kapoor and Goyal (2007) OPAC is the key to a library‟s collection as it allows users to find out about what books, journals, conference proceedings, reports and other resources are available in either print or electronic format. It is expected that information searchers with access to the internet whether from homes, offices, hostels or even on their smart mobile phones should be able to access library OPAC before coming to the library to consult or to borrow their needed information resources.  The Federal University Dutsin-Ma (FUDMA) Library is known to be automated in such a way that all the bibliographic information of its resources are accessed via web-based OPAC; library staff exert a lot of effort to orient and encourage library users to use the OPAC before searching the library‟s shelves. For example FUDMA Library organizes an orientation programme to newly admitted undergraduate students every year to educate them on how to go about searching

Library resources, this effort helps in creating awareness to students about the existence of Library OPAC.

Despite the potentials of OPAC, preliminary observation by the researcher has shown that library staff are frequently asked by students about the location and status of library resources. Also students are often seen moving from shelf to shelf searching for their desired information resources, though, this task could actually be performed using the library‟s Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). Several scholars such as Ansari and Amita (2008) and Mulla and Chandrashekara (2009) have also reported similar or the same situation occurring in different libraries in other countries across the globe.

It was also noted that much has been done in Nigeria to discover awareness and use of OPAC. Ebiwolate (2010) studied the use of the library catalogue by undergraduate students in Niger Delta University Library. His study revealed that majority of the undergraduate students in Niger Delta University were not aware of the library catalogue and its uses. Similarly, Onuoha, Umahi and Bamidele (2013) examined the use of OPAC among final year students in Redeemer‟s University (RUN) and University of Agriculture Abeokuta (UNAAB), Nigeria. The findings from their study revealed poor OPAC utilization among the respondents.

It is based on these observations and support from literature that the researcher had to carried out this study to find out the level of awareness, extent of utilization and the extent of satisfaction with OPAC by undergraduate students in the Federal University Dutsin-Ma Library. This is because despite many studies conducted by different researchers locally and globally, this problem still exists among library users particularly students.

1.3         Research Questions

This research sought to answers the following research questions:

  1. What is the level of awareness of Library OPAC among undergraduate students in


  1. What is the purpose for utilizing Library OPAC by undergraduate students in FUDMA?
  2. To what extent do the undergraduate students of FUDMA utilize the library OPAC?
  3. To what extent are the undergraduate students of FUDMA satisfied with the library OPAC?
  4. What are the challenges of utilization of the library OPAC by undergraduate students of


1.4        Research Hypotheses

The research sought to test the following null hypotheses:

HO1. There is no significant difference in the level of awareness of library‟s OPAC among undergraduate students in the three faculties of FUDMA.

HO2. There is no significant difference in the extent of utilization of library‟s OPAC among undergraduate students in the three faculties of FUDMA.

HO3: There is no significant difference in the extent of satisfaction with library‟s OPAC among undergraduate students of the three faculties in FUDMA.

1.5       Objectives of the Study

The following are the objectives of the study.

  1. To identify the level of awareness of library OPAC by undergraduate students in


  1. To determine the purpose for using Library OPAC by undergraduate students of FUDMA
  2. To determine the extent of utilization of library OPAC by undergraduate students of


  1. To determine the level of satisfaction with library OPAC by undergraduate students of


  1. To identify the challenges of utilization of the library OPAC by undergraduate students


1.6       Significance of the Study

This study is significant because it would benefit the Federal University Dutsinma Management in knowing what is obtainable in the Library and how effort could be made in supporting the Library to create more awareness of OPAC. The study is necessary and its implication is that if this study is not conducted in FUDMA library, huge amount of money and time would continue to be spent by the FUDMA management in the maintenance of OPAC without the Library users making effective use of the OPAC services provided.

Since the search for printed catalogues in the library results in waste of time, the study is significant because it would help the FUDMA Library to address some of the challenges faced by its Users and improve in its operations. It is hoped that effective utilization of the findings of this research would help the students to become more aware of all other services provided by Library OPAC which in turn would help them to utilize all Library OPAC services. The findings of the study would hopefully assist management of other university libraries to identify the challenges facing the students in the use of OPAC and which solutions would be proffered. This would serve as an avenue for the exchange of ideas, create more rooms for discussions and allow sharing of some problems that library and users are facing. Also, recommendations from the study would serve a useful guide in pointing the way forward in the provision of OPAC services not only in FUDMA but also in other tertiary institutions in the country in general.

It would help the Ministry of Education, Librarians‟ Registration Council of Nigeria (LRCN) and other regulatory bodies in library and information work when making policies and taking decisions on libraries, this is because the work would serve as a useful guide to them in knowing what is obtainable in University Libraries OPAC and the challenges faced.

Finally, the findings of this study would hopefully bridge the gap in knowledge on the OPAC awareness and utilization by students and add value to the existing body of literature.

1.7        Scope and Delimitations of the Study

The study covered only the undergraduate students of Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, Nigeria. The study focused on the level of awareness of OPAC, extent of utilization of OPAC, purpose for utilizing OPAC, challenges for utilizing OPAC and the extent of satisfaction with OPAC by undergraduate students in Federal University Dutsin-Ma library. The study is delimitated to undergraduate students only because they are the large category of users and they patronized the library services the most.


1.8        Operational Definitions of Terms

The following terms are defined operationally according to the context of the study:

Challenges: This is any difficulty encountered when utilizing FUDMA Library‟s OPAC FUDMA Library: This is a library found in Federal University Dutsin-Ma, it is established to support the university in her academic pursuits such as learning, teaching and research.

OPAC: It is an acronym for Online Public Access Catalogue. It is a computerized version of library catalogue accessible via computer terminals in FUDMA library

OPAC Awareness: This is having knowledge about the OPAC existence, benefits and purpose in FUDMA Library.

OPAC Satisfaction: Good feeling someone has when he/she used the FUDMA library‟s Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC).

OPAC Utilization: This refers to the act of using the Library OPAC to retrieve any kind of information resources available in the FUDMA Library.













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