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PROVISION AND USE OF INFORMATION RESOURCES AND SERVICES IN LIBRARIES FOR LEGISLATION IN HOUSES OF ASSEMBLY OF NORTH-CENTRAL STATES, NIGERIA
This study was conducted to investigate the provision and use of information resources and services in Libraries for legislation in Houses of Assemblyof North Central States of Nigeria. To accomplish the objectives of the study, six research questions were raised and three State Houses of Assembly were randomly selected. The population for this study comprised of 76 members of state houses of Assembly and the management of the libraries selected. Structured questionnaire was designed and validated forface validity.The validated questionnaire waspilot testedand the result showed a reliability index coefficient of 0.82, which revealed the appropriateness of the instrument that was used for data collection. Out of the 76 (100%)copies of the questionnaire administered on the respondents, 69 (91%) were found valid and 7(9%) invalid. The data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics, Frequency distribution tables and percentages. The result reveals that Legislators in the State Houses of Assembly in North-Central Nigeria have various types of information needs and different types of information resources and services were also provided by these legislative libraries to satisfy the information needs of the legislators. Though, the resources and services are not satisfying the information needs of the legislators as revealed by the majority of the respondents. On the basis of the findings the following recommendations were made that State Houses of Assembly in the North Central should make adequate funds available to the library so as to enable the libraries acquire necessary resources and to provide services that would enable the libraries meet the information needs of the legislators. The libraries should acquire modern information and communication technologies and should be linked with the internet facilities to enable the legislators have access to abundant information worldwide.Provision of information resources like books, magazines and materials of local history to the libraries should be improved on since the accompanied services is a function of the available resources.
1.1 Background to the Study
Information is that which is transmitted by the act or process of communication it may be a message, a signal, ora stimuli Olabode(2008). It assumed a response in the receiving organism and therefore poses response potential. Despite the daily growth of information and the problems associated with it the need for it keeps on increasing. This is because information is regarded as a basic tool for researchers, politicians, teachers, students and those in business. Olabode(2008) observe that: the need for information as a resource becomes more apparent when information is understood to mean facts, data, opinion, and the like including but revealed in the results of the study research and scholarship in all fields of knowledge. Information has become a critical element in life and society. It is an important part of development. In a developing legislative like Nigeria, information in all aspects of life need to be collected to assist legislators in their day to day management process. The legislators need as much information as it can get to aid its legislative process.
Making information sources readily available and accessible to legislators couldsignificantly increase the effectiveness in making laws for peace and order which are vital to development efforts. Sada (2012) noted that … key to an effective legislature is the knowledge and information that permit it to make informed decisions on specific issues and to play active role in the policy making process of the nation.
Library services are the principal sources for meeting the information needs of the parliamentarians of today and future. To make informed decisions on a myriad of complex policy issues, legislators need authoritative information on a timely basis.
Legislative libraries in Nigeria, as observed in Gama (2012) have been part and parcel of institutional framework for law making. There has always been National Assembly Library as well as State Assembly Libraries with any emerging civilian dispensation. The National Assembly‟s Library took its root from the then general government library located in the Secretariat at Marina, Lagos. Its rich collection consisted of a large stock of central government publications and the papers of the old legislative council which was the central law making body up to the year 1951.Legislative libraries therefore serve as windows through which legislators could see and acquire/access information resources and services which facilitate legislative processes in houses of assembly. Realizing the nature of the responsibilities of legislators, which is primarily law making as well as the role information could play in facilitating their responsibilities, today, virtually all parliaments world over have libraries attached to them with the primary function of assisting and supporting the law makers to carry out their pyramid functions of making decisions for the betterment of the society through the provision of information resources and services.
The expected roles of legislative libraries in State Houses of Assembly, according to
Abubakar and Haruna (2010) are as follows:
- To provide the legislature, including the committees with the best available information on which to base its decision making;
- To provide legislators with best digests, summaries and similar short-form of information which will enable them cope with complex issues and the ever-increasing amount of data;
- To provide impartial, reliable, up-to-date written or oral briefs to assist legislators in the course of their official duties;
- To assist legislators in their duties through seminars, conferences and programmes designed to ensure that they are well informed;
- To provide immediate access to local, regional and international newspapers, radio programmes (where available), video tapes etc.;
- To provide ready reference services;
- To provide reading list on topics of current interest for the advancement of the knowledge of the legislators and also assist them understand particular issues;
- To ensure that most relevant documents in form of books, journals, recorded tapes, etc. are provided and aimed at meeting the information needs of the legislators.
According to Mohammed (2011), a typical legislative library should be able to provide easy connectivity between the legislators and the information resources they need irrespective of their location and time of need. However, looking at the status of this category of libraries in relation to the needs of their parent organization, it is also of paramount importance to provide information resources and services based on the needs of the users they serve. This study is therefore geared towards investigating the kinds of information resources and services that are provided and how they are been utilized in the libraries of Houses of Assembly of North-central States Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Legislature is generally referred to as an official body, usually chosen by election, with the power to make, change, and repeal laws; as well as powers to represent the constituent units and control government Dada (2007). Iwhiwu (2011)on the other hand conceptualizes legislatures as
“assemblies of elected representatives from geographically defined constituencies, with lawmaking functions in the governmental process”. In the same vein, Joeland Enetta (2009) identified two features that distinguish legislatures from other branches of government. He opines that legislatures have formal authority to pass laws, which are implemented and interpreted by the executive and judicial branches and their members normally are elected to represent various elements in the population.
The duties of the legislature as contained in the constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria (2009) are as follows:
- Making law for peace and order in the State;
- Deliberate on all matters of interest to the State;
- Debate, amend (where necessary) and approve annual budget submitted by the executives;
- Educate the electorates through their deliberations, publications and other activities;
- Watch the activities of the executives and to ensure that they operate in the best interest of the electorate;
- Screen the nominees of the executives for certain top posts in government.
However, legislators can only perform their duties effectively and efficiently if they have information. That is why in the developed democracies such as the U.S.A American Congress has the most famous legislative library in the world i.e. library of congress (the world‟s biggest library) with volumes of books and library materials running into millions. The library of
congress has developed this magnitude to serve the interest of the congress in facilitating their research services.
In UK also, the library of the British house of commons has gained full recognitions as an information and research department which is responsible for acquisition, processing and arrangement of the main collection of books, pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals and indexing of all British parliamentary papers and of many other publications, domestics and foreign for all members of parliament.
The national assembly library of Pakistan has the largest collection; it is the main archive of house documentation, including stenographic reports of plenary session debates, laws passed by the national assembly and executive ordinances laid before the house. The library has also subscribed through the Pakistan Higher education Commission to a digital library providing members with access to major academic and business journal resources through a dedicated website.
Unfortunately in Nigeria, in spite of the importance of knowledge and information to legislators we are yet to understand how legislators access and use information in undertaking their legislative duties.
This research will investigate the provision and use of information resources and services in libraries for legislation in Houses of Assembly of North-central Nigeria.
1.3 Research Questions
The Study seeks to answer the following research questions:
- What are the information needs of legislators of State Houses of Assembly in North Central Nigeria?
- What types of information resources and services are provided in the State Houses of Assembly Libraries in North Central Nigeria?
- What types of information resources and services are utilized in the State Houses of Assembly Libraries in North Central Nigeria?
- How satisfied are the legislators with the information resources and services that are provided in the States Houses of Assembly Libraries in North Central Nigeria?
- What are the challenges associated with the provision of information resources and services in the State Houses of Assembly Libraries in North Central Nigeria?
- What measures could be taken to remedy the challenges?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are to:
- Identify the information needs of legislators of State Houses of Assembly in North Central Nigeria.
- Find out the types of information resources and services that are provided by the libraries in State Houses of Assembly in North Central Nigeria.
- Determine the types of information resources and services that are used by the legislators in State Houses of Assembly in North Central Nigeria.
- Find out the level of satisfaction of the legislators with the information resources and services that are provided in the State Houses of Assembly Libraries in the North Central Nigeria.
- Identify the challenges associated with the provision of information resources and services in the State Houses of Assembly Libraries in North Central Nigeria.
Find out measures of overcoming the challenges.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would contribute to existing body of knowledge in areas of legislative libraries. It would also provide an impetus for the improvement in the area of identifying the information resources and services provision to legislators for effective legislative practices so as to encourage them make maximum use of the library to satisfy their information needs.
The study would also be beneficial to the Houses of Assembly in the States under study and other State Houses of Assembly library authorities by assisting them select, acquire organize, preserve and make available information resources and services in accordance with the information needs of the legislators in their State Houses of assembly for effective legislative practices.
The findings of this study would assist researchers and scholars who may be interested in conducting researches on information resources and services in other State Houses of Assembly of other geo-political zones in Nigeria, and in overcoming the challenges facing legislative libraries in the States under study and other State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria especially in the area of information resources and services provision to legislators.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The scope of this study was the State Houses of Assembly in the North-Central Geo-political zone of Nigeria, i.e. Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger and Plateau. The study focused on the provision and use of information resources and services for members of
legislative House of Assembly. Consequently, the respondents for this study comprised only legislators and the Management of the legislative libraries of the six State Houses of Assembly under study.
This study was limited by inadequate access to legislators due to logistics and other protocols attached to meeting them, this was as a result of their tight schedules, commitments and numerous engagements invariably affected the completion and returning of the questionnaires to the researcher within the time limit. It is also clear that there were very few written document available about the resources and services in the libraries which also serve as a constraint in the conduct of this research.
However, in order to minimize the constraint, Chamber Desk Staff of Sergeant-At-Arms of various State Houses of Assembly were employed to help the researcher in distribution and collection of questionnaire to the legislators in the chamber. The choice of Chamber Desk Staff of Sergeant-at-Arms was in line with their schedule in the various State Houses of Assembly.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The following key terms were used in the research and are hereby defined in the context in which they are used.
Information: Refers to anything that adds to existing knowledge, ideas, skills and experiences positively or negatively.
Information Needs: Refers to aspirations to acquire a certain types of necessary information from the library by an individual to satisfy his/her curiosity.
Information Resources: Refers to both print and non-print materials that contain information.
Information Services: Refers to those activities rendered by the legislative libraries to ensure access and maximum effective utilization of information resources.
Legislators: Refers to the persons who are elected to represent their individual constituencies.
Legislative Libraries: Refers to libraries attached to the respective State Houses of Assembly to cater for the information needs of the members of legislative House of assembly.
North-Central States: Refers to States in one of the six geo-political zones existing in Nigeria. Its other name is Middle Belt Zone. It comprises of Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger and Plateau.
State Houses of Assembly: Refers to legislative houses conferred by the amended 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria section 47 with the responsibilities of making laws for good governance of the societies in their respective States.