AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF LIBRARY FACILITIES BY STUDENTS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT IN UNIVERSITIES IN ENUGU STATE

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this work was to ascertain the availability and utilization of library facilities by students with visual impairment in universities in Enugu State. Five research questions were formulated to guide the study. The design of the study was a descriptive survey while the population comprised of 32 students with visual impairment and 68 librarians in the sampled institutions in Enugu state. The sample size was 100 including students with visual impairment and librarians, purposive random sampling technique was used to select the institutions that admit students with visual impairment and also to select the respondents for the study. A structured questionnaire titled Library Facilities Observation Schedule (LFOS) and Utilization Questionnaire (UQ) for collection of data f rom respondents were used. The data was analyzed using percentage, mean and standard deviation while two null hypotheses raised for the study were analysed through use of chi-square and t-test statistics. Findings showed that students with visual impairment do not utilize library facilities because of inadequacy. The study recommends that there should be proper orientation, provision of adequate facilities to meet the needs of students with visual impairment and proper training of the librarians by the universities.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Persons with visual impairment, like their sighted counterparts, require information at the proper time and place. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has made the world a global village yet persons with visual impairment are still having problems in gaining access to information transmitted through the internet and other printed reading materials for their education. This is unlike their sighted counterparts who can read newspapers, magazines, novels and textbooks visually. (Maduagwu and Kassim 2001) noted that, for information acquisition, persons with visual impairment depend solely on listening skills and the use of brailed books. However, Maduagwu and Kassim (2006) observed that readers with visual impairment require books-reading materials in special formats such as computers, Braille machines, large print books, recorded information, talking books, listening equipment such as tape recorders and recording studios.

Visual impairment, according to Ugwuanyi, Igbo and Obiyo (2012) is characterized by inability of the person affected to perform visual functions due to damage done to the organ or tissue resulting in the loss of sight or vision. Mengal (2010) perceives a person with visual impairment as one who suffers from sight impairment and defects his eyes to such a degree that it makes one disabled in terms of one’s visual


abilities and perception. Sight is very crucial in one’s life and it enables an individual to interpret his environment whether it is friendly or unfriendly, harsh or accommodating (Ugwuanyi, et al, 2012). The authors added that visual impairment is any loss or abnormality of the physiological or anatomical structure of the eye. Atinmo and Dawha (1997) noted that the need for specialized reading materials for readers with visual impairment has become acute and urgent because of its importance for their education and training. Unfortunately, these type of books may not be available or utilized by students with visual impairment in the universities in Enugu State.

Moreover, Chapman and Stone in Okeke (2001), see students with visual impairment as people who have difficulty in seeing which necessitate the use of special educational methods or adaptations to access materials and use special aids and equipment for learning which may not be possible to find in the university libraries. Because the child’s vision is impaired he requires special aids to enable him access information from the university library. The students with visual impairment though not too many in number, no doubt encounter difficulties in their physical, emotional, social and educational development. The population of persons with visual impairment in Nigeria, according to Atinmo (2007), is estimated at 3 million and that very few of these have received formal education and are capable of reading and writing in Braille. The need for all to read and be informed is not in doubt, whether through formal or informal process. Libraries are recognized all over the world as institutions of inestimable value, providing a variety of information resources for the benefit of users (Oyegade, 2003). Most libraries, especially public libraries, which should play a pivotal role in supporting learners with visual impairment are grossly underfunded and neglected (Oyegade, 2000). Oyegade further states that while efforts have been made by various organizations to set up modest library services for students with visual impairment in their catchment areas, there have not been any concerted efforts at the national level to establish national, coordinating library services for students with visual impairment in the society.

Libraries are rooms where books and other materials are kept for readers and researchers. Maduagwu and Kassim (2001) perceive libraries as the nerve centres of educational institutions. A university as one of the educational institutions should have good library. According to Uwanife (2010), a good library is the one that has a combination of print books, and non-print or audio visual materials that contain information both for non disabled and disabled students. That is why university libraries are very critical for every academic activity in the university. As Reitz (2004) stated, university libraries are the centres for collection of books, journals and other information materials which are relevant for use by students, scholars and the general public for learning, teaching and research. This implies that university libraries are established to help students and teachers to accomplish their set goals in teaching, learning and research. Writing about the objectives of university library, Ifdon (2004) itemized the objectives of libraries as follows:- provision of materials for undergraduate instructions of any kind, term papers and projects as well as materials for supplementary reading, provision of materials in support of faculty, external and collaborative researches. University libraries also make provision for specialized information on the region within which the university is situated as well as cooperation with other academic libraries, with a view to developing a network of academic library resources that is at the disposal of all scholars (Fabunmi, 2004). In order to perform the above functions, university libraries provide information sources in both print and non-print format. Some of these include generalized or references materials such as dictionaries, bibliographies, abstracts, indexes, travel guides, yearbooks and encyclopedias.

In every university library, information-bearing materials are acquired, processed, organized, preserved and disseminated for use for users. Aina (2004) posits that for a university library to be relevant to the users, information bearing materials are readily acquired and made available to the clients or users of the library. But in spite of the benefits of university libraries, the students with visual impairment seem not to benefit maximally from these resources. This is because meeting the information needs of the few literate persons with visual impairment in Nigeria with the right kind of library services, media formats and accessibility has remained a seemingly unachievable task by the institutions that cater for their information needs.
Availability of library facilities in the context of the study means information or reading materials that can be easily obtained or used by the readers. Availability also means a condition of being available, accessible or obtainable by the user. Availability of library facilities, according to Aguolu (2002), refers to the physical presence of information resources within the library. Such resources, according to the author, include: books, journals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, internet facilities, dissertation, audio visual materials and government documents. Aguolu also noted that availability of library facilities means ensuring that library- based information, resources, published and unpublished materials, printed and non-printed ones, audio visual materials which may ordinarily not be immediately located in the university library are ready for use. As in Aguolu perceives availability of library facilities as ensuring their presence in the Nigeria university libraries for immediate use.

Availability of library facilities in the university libraries may help to ease research work of students with visual impairment and enhance their academic performance and helps in the development of educational institution (Aguolu, 2002). Furthermore, Popuola (2001) in agreement states that facilities could be a motivating factor for users to change their perception in seeking information once such information is available and adequately satisfy their needs.


It is an indication of the quality and quantity of teaching learning and research resources present in the university libraries. Availability of library facilities give the students with visual impairment confidence in carrying out their research work. Thus Fabayo as quoted by Ugwuanyi (2007) revealed that availability of library facilities refers.....

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