This project is aimed at examining the problems and prospects of reference services in academic librarians, using the Anambra State University Uli campus library as a case study and how to evaluate the strength and weakness of the reference services in an academic librarian. It will also help to know the problems caused by the library clientele and profile solution toward the problems. This project work is design to know the functions of reference librarian and services to make prospect in the reference section of a library. Chapter one of this project works treats Background to the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of some terms as it concerns to this work. Chapter two treats literature review which covers areas like Reference materials, staffing of the reference section, management of reference section, problem facing reference section. Chapter three treat methodology which comprises of research design, population of the study, sample and sampling technologies, research instrument, and method of data analysis. Chapter four treats data analysis, presentation of result and discussion of findings. While Chapter five treats summary of the work conclusion and recommendation for further study.
1.1 Background to the study
Reference service is one of the essential services of the library. Meaning reference service is the activities, roles, functions and services rendered by the reference librarian constitute reference service. According to Prytherch, (2002) He states that: “reference service deal with the provision of reference work by library staff”.
According to Ohio Library Council, (2005) Reference services is “A way for libraries to meet the needs of their user (clientele) communities”. Reference service involves instructing clients to operate independently and at own pace to uses electronic and print resources of the library, it also involved personal assistance given to the users to enable them meet their needs.
James (2005) states that reference work started in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to respond to several forces and trends. In the next several decades from the 1930s through the 1950s, a new technology that provides, access to the library to a lager member and much wider variety of people was introduce. That technology is obviously, the telephone and the reference literature of the day speaks of its advantages but also its challenges. For example, having distinguished between “important questions coming in via the telephone those business men and involving important topics from less important” ones from club woman planning programs, context questions like should this service be centralized or dispersed? Should it be staffed differently from the desk? What information resources should be dedicated to it? And many more.
According to (ALA RUSA, 2008) reference service includes reference transactions and other activities that involve the creation, management, and assessment of information or research resources, tools and services. Creation and management of information resources includes the development and maintenance of research collections, research guide, catalogues, database, web-sites, search engines etc that patrons can use independently, in-house or remotely to satisfy their information needs. Assessment activities include the measurement and evaluation of reference work, resources and services.
According to Esharenana, (2008) sees reference section as that section of library which provide a variety of services and perform functions necessary to assist the users including provision of information service on demand and in providing institution in the use of library, selected of documents and organization of reference materials.
According to Obiora, (2004) states that reference sources are publications – book and non-book materials consulted only within the library for specific facts or definite piece of information on a subject. There are two types of reference sources, general reference sources which include Encyclopedia, Directories, Dictionaries, Yearbooks and Handbook while special or subject reference sources are Mathematics, Biology, and Library Science.
According to Esharenana, (2008) states that reference question is a sentence, phrase or word posed by a patron to the reference librarian asking for information or assistance in order to meet the need.
According to Ramum (2003) reference policy is regarded as a kind of set of plan and as a kind of framework within which reference staff and clienteles work.
Ahi Rusa, (2003) states that a reference librarians is person that provides reference service. He should posses a wide range of intellectual interest, desire to assist the patrons, flair for organizing documents ability to search literature and adequate knowledge of the library and external resources.
According to Scott (2007) is pubic service counter where professional librarian provide library users with direction on how to make use of library materials, advise on library collection and services and expertise on multiple kinds of information from multiple sources.
According to Anderson (2005) digital reference is a service and the reference transaction is a computer mediated communication.
1.2 Statement of Problems
The aim of this study is to critically analyze the problems and prospect towards the services in the reference section and equally to view the problems that have prevented it from executing effectively and efficiently the bibliographical functions in the library.
One observes that the very rapid expansion of our reference sources have reached a stage of concern. One finds that the library does not tackle the problem of acquisition of up-to-date reference materials like journals to keep the clienteles (students and lecturers even the parent institution) abreast of the new trends in their various field of study.
Development of the reference collection and organization which effect in the backbone of a reference eservice should also be looked into. A maximum attention would equally be paid to the relevance of the exiting services, to see how it meet the needs of the patrons, because the effective use of these materials depends on the services provided by the reference personnel or librarians.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to know the problems and prospect of reference services. Therefore the researcher will be able to find out the following purposes:
i. To know if the reference section of the academic library is well organized.
ii. To know if there reference services are being rendered in line with other reference services in other libraries.
iii. To identify the strength and weakness of the library’s reference collection because any effective reference service may not be feasible without an appropriate and adequate reference collection.
iv. To enable the researcher carry out the findings so that to make recommendation for effective reference services in the library.
v. To take the library to another level through the reference services.
1.4 Research Questions
For the success of this study, this study demands an answer to the following questions:
i. Is the reference section of the academic library adequately organized to perform its functions?
ii. To what extent can the reference materials in the library said to be appropriate for the needs of the clientele?
iii. Are the reference services being rendered in-line with other reference services in other libraries?
iv. Does the library make available all the useful reference materials needed by the users for them?
v. Does the library clientele find it easy with the reference librarian in terms of research?