Information Retrieval Methods (a Case Study Of Onitsha Divisional Library)

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This study aims at finding the information retrieval system is basically a system that stores records in a file for data relevant to each request. The purpose of such system is to help access and use of knowledge which has been recorded. This study on information retrieval methods: A case study of Onitsha divisional library is an investigation into the various means adopted by the library under study in their information retrieval process. Particular attention is paid to existing information retrieval methods use in the library and how suitable they are, the basic advantages of digital information retrieval system over manual were also revealed by the study. The research methodology adopted for the research is the survey method; data was collected using questionnaire together with observation. The study also revealed the information retrieval process in the library is manual which the library organizes each materials through cataloguing, classification and indexing. Base on the problem encountered, some useful suggestions on how to improve on the information retrieval function in the library were made. The study also concluded by suggesting that further research study be made.




        Information is a basic human need. It is needed virtually in all facets of human endavour such as teaching, learning, business, decision making, education, travel etc. No modern society can function effectively within the intensive of information whether in print or non print format.

        It is therefore pertinent to know how these information can be harness, retrieved and disseminated for use by the user or the society in a modern world. The different methods of information retrieval are therefore discussed in this write up with special interest on Onitsha divisional library.

        The word information cannot be mentioned in isolation of human beings. Information has been described as the master resource, the chief raw material and the principle product of modern economics. Even before the modern world, the ancient world has been dealing with information gathering storage and retrieval which were done in an ancient ways where papyrus, clay tablets etc were used. Information can be seen as data that have been subjected to some logical processing or functions capable of answering a user’s query, be it recorded, summarized or simply collected that would help in decision making.

        Information retrieval methods or systems came into beings as a means of ensuring that information generated and recorded do not get lost over time. Before knowledge became, individuals formed the repository of knowledge. With libraries, repository of knowledge began to change into recorded form. Nowadays the quantity of new information being generated is such that no individual can hope to cope with this information explosion and at the same time make them available to users. This led to the use of information retrieval with minimum cost in time, labour and money. Information retrieval method or system therefore is the process of searching some collections of documents in order to identify those documents in order to identify those documents which deals with a particular subject.

        Reitz (2004) defines information retrieval (IR) as the process, methods and procedure used to selectively recall recorded information from a file of data. In libraries, searches is made typically for a know item or formation on a specific subject, and the five is usually a human readable catalogue or index, or index, or a computer-based information storage and retrieval system, such as an on-line catalogues and bibliography database. In the design of such systems, a balance must be attained between speed, accuracy, cost and effectiveness. Any system that is designed to facilitate the literature searching activity may legitimately be called an information retrieval system. The catalogue, Index and bibliography, abstract as well as computers is known as information retrieval systems (IRS)

        In the library today, instead of the individual storing the knowledge in the brain and mind, we have the corporate store, the library, instead of the individual memory, we have the corporate memory. The library catalogues, bibliographies indexes and computers. These information retrieved systems (tools) contain the bibliographical details of documents such as the author, edition, call-number, publisher, place of publication, date etc. These details help the user to identify the current title, author of the document without which retrieval becomes impossible.

        Thus, the researcher purposes to investigate the various process adopted by the public library under study in retrieving for use known information items needed to retrieve documents on a particular subject problem and questions encountered.


        In Nigeria, educational activities started with the arrival of the whitemen who introduced their religion to us. In the process, churches and schools were established. A seminar was organized for the development of public libraries in Africa and it is hold at the university college, Ibadan between 27th July and 21st August, 1953. This seminar focuses on drawing up guidelines for the public library services. The seminar also covered all aspects of public libraries and the major outcome includes the formation of the professional library association then called West African library Association (WALA). The impact of WALA is quite immense.

        The Eastern Nigeria government then under the leadership of late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe too up the chance of UNESCO (United Nations Educational and scientific cultural organization) conference and invites professionals from the regions to come and help to establish public library in the region. Late Mr. Kalu Okorie come and surveyed the Eastern region and make recommendations, part of which is that there must be library legislation to give legal backing to the establishment of public library services. This recommendation is accepted by the regional government.

        The Eastern part of Nigeria therefore becomes the first region to have library board and library legislation. The establishment of the library actually takes effect in 1958 with the building of the regional library headquarter at Enugu. This quickly followed with the establishment of divisional libraries at port Harcourt, Ikote Ekpne Umuahia and later at Onitsha and other branch libraries were also established Onitsha Divisional library was establish in 1967. It is not a separate library of its own. The library is use during the war as Onitsha high court until 1972, when the library is renovated and open for users consultation, following the creation of 19 states in 1973 Anambra State is created out of the east central state just like Imo state, each of the states had libraries within its area of jurisdiction.

        On 11th September 1976, Anambra State Government Constitute the state library board with the responsibility of equipping other divisional libraries in the state. This board is set up to serve the people within their community. The acquisition of this library is mainly materials from Enugu.

        Onitsha divisional library is opened on the 28th November 1966, by the Military Governor, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The library has passed through many directors. Because of the creation of the new Anambra State in 1991 with its capital at Awka, the materials obtain as part of the library’s share were housed at St. Mary’s High School Ifitedunu because there is no permanent building for the library board.

        The present administration under the leadership of Mr. Peter Obi give Onitsha divisional library a new look as most of the old books has been weeded out and replace with more current ones, furnish it, repaint it, beautify the compound, establish a Microsoft centre for E-library services. The Microsoft unit building has been completed but equipment it is still in progress (Mr. Peter Obi) donated reading desks and shelves, tables and chairs for the Microsoft centre.

        The former director of library is Barr. Chris O. Onebunne who retired from service on April 2009 before Mr. Osigwe N. took over from him and become the present director of library services. The incumbent divisional library is Nkechi Udeze.



        The period under review in this research work is of great importance. It is a period of manual information explosion. It is a period more many retrieval methods exist, where more efficient, rapid and accurate retrieval methods has been developed  such as the use of catalogue card, index and bibliography abstract as well as the computer.

        However, there re basic problems which militates against the utilization of these methods or systems. Some of these problem includes: Low literacy level, Lack of funds, Government apathy to libraries, the pitiable conditions of our public libraries.



        This study aims at finding the causes and solutions to the problems of information retrieval methods by the library. The following objectives are:

i.            To identify the available information retrieval system used by library under study

ii.          To know the types of information retrieval in the library

iii.        To discover how information is being organized in the library.

iv.        To identify the problems encountered by the library in its information retrieval efforts.

v.          Making useful recommendations of how best to improve on the methods of information retrieval in the library



The study is significant because the library users, librarians, administrators and the entire public will see it as a guide to their field of endeavours especially the (librarians)

Again there is no information can only be relevant when it goes to the right people at the right time.



        This study is focused on public library only due to financial constraint and time that the researcher cannot be able to cover other libraries like national libraries, academic and special libraries etc.


i.      What are the information retrieval methods used in Onitsha business library?

ii.     What are the type of information retrieval Onitsha divisional library is operating?

iii.        How are materials being arranged or organized to enhance easy location?

iv.        What are the problems of information retrieval methods in the library?

v.          What are the useful recommendations that should be adopted to improve method of information retrieval in the library under study?



        For the purpose of understanding the work the following terms are relevant to point out

1.          INFORMATION: This refers to a fact told or communication that is fact is a piece of information that is referred as true. It can also be seen as a processed data which is communicated or received that can be used in making decision.

2.          PUBLIC LIBRARY: It is a library that is publicity funded by forms or individuals. It is sponsored by the federal government, state or local people where the library is built and basic aims of establishing for the provision of information materials that is not restricted to my class of persons in the community public

3.          INFORMATION RETRIEVAL (IR): This means the systematic storage and recovery of data as from file and catalogue or memory bank of a computer. It equally means document delivery, mail-links, library searches, personal files, catalogue and data base design.

4.          METHOD: It is a way of doing something or doing things a careful logical way.

5.          SYSTEM: This is a collected of activities and elements designed to accomplish a goal. It also mean a set of idea, theories, procedure according to which something is done

6.          INFORMATION RETRIEVAL SYSTEM: This is a process, methods and procedures used to selectively recall recorded information from a file of data in the libraries.

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Information Retrieval Methods