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IMPLICATIONS OF INTEGRATED LIBRARY SYSTEMS (ILS) SWITCHING COSTS IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES
Integrated Library System (ILS) switching is a very crucial project in the life of any library, and capital intensive. However, Nigerian university libraries have continued to switch ILS within a short period after deployment without reaping the cost of investment made in the first instance. This study sought to determine the reasons for switching ILS among Nigerian university libraries, the procedural and financial switching costs of ILS and factors taken into consideration while switching. Additionally, the study determined the implications of switching ILS on Nigerian university libraries. A qualitative research approach using multiple case study design was used to gain a better understanding of the problem; purposive sampling technique was used to select the participants. Interview was the instrument used for data collection, and the researcher conducted five interviews with five (5) participants from university libraries across the geo-political zones of Nigeria. Data were collected from June 2016 through July 2016. The analysis of data was done using themes derived from the objectives of the study. Findings revealed that delay in getting vendors support to fix ILS problems, some ILS have limited storage space to accommodate large data, crashing and data loss, and political considerations, were some of the reasons given by NUL for switching ILS. The study also discovered the implications for switching as delay; inability of students to use the online public access computer; time taken to populate the new ILS; and cost in terms of manpower training; while capacity to manage the system, costs, security of data, staff capacity building, hardware, power backup, services to be provided to users, availability of funding, were some of the factors considered by the libraries when switching. The study, therefore, recommended among others that Nigerian university libraries should conduct adequate and thorough feasibility study based on the peculiar needs of their libraries before selecting the appropriate library software, libraries
should adopt and deploy open source ILS which are more cost effective and easier to maintain rather than buying proprietary ILS which were developed based on US and UK standards and which might not fit their needs. The study concluded that the switching over from one ILS to another by NUL studied is too frequent. The frequency of change is associated with lack of proper feasibility study and knowledge involved in determining the implications of frequent switching on the libraries.
1.1 Background to the Study
University libraries are grappling with enormous challenges due to high turnover rate of integrated library systems (ILS). In many organizations, information technology (IT) has become crucial in the support, sustainability, and growth of their businesses, university libraries inclusive. As the rate of publication increased, libraries realized that they could not process resources fast enough with traditional manual systems and that automation could be a way out which could also control costs on labour-intensive operations. Gbaje (2013) posits that an automated library is one where a computer system is used to manage one or several of the library‟s key functions such as acquisitions, serials control, cataloguing, circulation and public access catalog.
Library automation no doubt offers many opportunities to improve library services to patrons. It makes materials easier for patrons to locate as well as allow staff to serve patrons better by facilitating a multitude of tasks. For any automation process to commence, the choice of an appropriate Integrated Library System (ILS) has to be made which will drive the automation process. The adoption and implementation of Integrated Library System is expensive as opined by Gbaje and Murtala (2014), whereas the budget of most libraries is inadequate. Therefore, libraries cannot afford the huge repercussions as a result of frequent switching of integrated library systems. In spite of the huge implications, as revealed by Chetty et al. (2007) university libraries in Nigeria have a high turnover rate of integrated library system.
An ILS, according to Deewil (2013), is an automated package of library services that contains several functions. These functions usually include circulation, acquisitions and cataloguing etc. He further revealed that ILS usually comprises a relational database, software to
interact with that database, and two graphical user interfaces (one for patrons and one for staff). Most ILSs separate software functions into separate modules, each of them integrated with a unified interface. Many integrated library system packages are available in the Nigerian market. These includes Liberty, LIBS+(X-Lib), CDS/ISIS, TINLIB, GLASS, Alice for Windows, Innovative Millennium, Virtua, KOHA, Voyager and more recently NewGenLib. Libraries in developing countries such as Nigeria have depended on ILS imported from developed countries like UK and USA. These ILS are very expensive to purchase, maintain, implement and deploy. Implementing a new ILS, according to Deewil, (2013) is probably one of the biggest and most expensive projects undertaken in a library. Previous studies such as Omoniwa (2001), Bozimo (2006), Nok (2006), and Imo and Igbo (2011) clearly revealed that within a short span of time many university libraries have switched from one integrated library system to another without fully implementing and deploying the old system.
This pervasive use of automation software has created a critical dependency on the software by university libraries calls for a specific focus on implications of switching cost of integrated library systems. Switching costs is defined by Haj-Salem and Chebat (2014) as “the one-time costs that customers associate with the process of switching from one product to another”. Similarly, Fan and Suh (2014) view Switching cost as the “difficulty” or “disutility” involved in changing over or switching (to a new product/service/system). This is why Farrell and Klemperer (2007) in Puekert (2010) concludes that when a user changes a product it means that funds specific to the current product have to be duplicated, then switching costs occur. This notwithstanding, organizations are regularly confronted with the decision to renew an existing contract or evaluate the market and switch products.
University libraries, according to Spiers (2010) are generally the most developed libraries in Nigeria as they are the core of any university and therefore are at least minimally sustained. The primary purpose of university libraries as posited by Emwanta (2012) is to “support teaching, learning and research in ways consistent with and supportive of the institution‟s mission and goals”. Thus, university libraries are considered the most important resource centre of an academic institution. No university can develop or function effectively without a strong library at its centre. This emphasizes the saying that an educational institution is rated largely by its library.
Burnham, Frels and Mahajan (2003) developed a switching cost typology that identifies three types of switching costs as (1) procedural switching cost, primarily involving the loss of time and effort; (2) financial switching costs, involving the loss of financially quantifiable resources; and (3) relational switching costs, involving psychological or emotional discomfort due to the loss of identity and the breaking of bonds. Similarly, Fan and Suh (2014) adapted from the research of Burnham et.al (2003) separates switching cost into two types, procedural switching cost and financial switching cost. This study therefore adopted procedural switching cost and financial switching cost, because this study was interested in determining the implication, of switching from one integrated library system to another, as such relational switching cost is excluded.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One of the most crucial decisions in library automation is the choice of an appropriate Integrated Library System. Having taken such crucial decisions to adopt specific Integrated Library System, it is expected that university libraries will use this software for some time before
considering switching to another, but unfortunately the researcher had observed that few years into the deployment of these software the libraries abandon them for another with substantial implications.
Due to the enormous cost of acquiring and deploying Integrated Library Systems it is not expected, in the view of Deewil (2013), that ILS turnover rate for library automation should be high. According to Applegate, Austin and Mcfarlan (2007), IT system should ideally be easy to adopt and deploy but difficult to stop using. Customers drawn into the system through series of increasingly valuable enhancements should willingly become dependent on the systems functionality. In developed countries, technology savvy executives switch to new technologies because of among others their flair for new innovations these technologies have to offer in anticipation of solving an identified need and their quest to try out something new.
In Nigerian university library system, studies have revealed a high ILS switching rate. According to Imo and Igbo (2011), Nigerian university libraries switch software averagely within five years of use. This is a colossal waste of resources with huge implications on the libraries quest for automation. These not withstanding, Nigerian university libraries continue to switch from one ILS to another Oketunji (2006) and Zaid (2004). Perhaps the management of these libraries are ignorant of the implications of switching ILSs. In the Nigerian university libraries system the implication of this frequent switching is yet to be ascertained.
Several studies have been conducted on switching costs. For instance, Farrell and Klemperer (2007) studied switching costs from a broad theoretical perspective, and Chen and Hitt (2006) from information technology (IT)) perspective. Empirical studies such as (Greenstein, 1993; Knittel, 1997; Chen and Hitt, 2002; Whitten and Wakefield, 2006; Krafft and Salies, 2008; Maicas et al.2009) provide evidence of switching costs in IT markets.
This study determined the implication of switching ILS by Nigerian University libraries. This is because of the need to provide empirical data on the implication of ILS switching in Nigerian university libraries.
1.3 Research questions
The study was guided by the following questions:
- What are the reasons for Switching Integrated Library System in Nigerian University Libraries?
- What are the factors considered when switching Integrated Library Systems in Nigerian university libraries?
- What is the procedural switching cost of Integrated Library Systems in Nigerian university Libraries?
- What is the financial switching cost of Integrated Library Systems in Nigerian university libraries?
- What are the implications of Integrated Library System switching in Nigerian university libraries?
1.4 Objectives of the study
The objectives of this study are to determine the following:
- Reasons for switching Integrated Library Systems in Nigerian university libraries
- Factors considered when switching Integrated Library System in Nigerian university libraries.
- Procedural switching cost of Integrated Library Systems in Nigerian university Libraries?
- Financial switching cost of Integrated Library Systems in Nigerian university libraries?
- Implications of switching Integrated Library System in Nigerian university libraries.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study is significant because the findings would provide an insight into the implications of ILS switching on libraries and their parent institutions. The result of this study would add to the limited body of knowledge on ILS switching in the information science field. In the wave of dwindling financial resources of the libraries, shedding light on the implications of switching ILS would enable library managements and their parent institutions to be more prudent with their resources and enable them evaluate more critically the decision to switch ILS.
1.6 Scope of the study
The scope of this study was limited to determining the implication of switching ILS in Nigerian federal university libraries. The study was further limited to only those Nigerian federal university libraries that have switched ILS. This means that Nigerian university libraries that have newly acquired or have been using same ILS over time were excluded. The study was focused on the following Universities: Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Jos; University of Lagos; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; and University of Port-Harcourt.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms used in the study were operationally defined as follows:
Financial Switching Cost: this refers to the loss of financially quantifiable resources as a result
Implications: These refers to the positive or negative outcomes of switching ILS in university
Integrated Library Systems (ILS): These are computer programmes designed to enable libraries automate their house keeping functions.
Library Automation: Is the process of computerizing library manual operations
Procedural Switching Cost: refers to time and effort loss as a result of switching
Switching: The act of changing one ILS for another
Switching Costs: quantifiable resources, time and effort lost as a result of switching integrated
University Library: Is an academic library located in a university under study