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Reference inquiries received through different channels: The challenges reference librarians face in university libraries in Nigeria

Ebikabowei Emmanuel Baro (The University Library, Federal University Otuoke, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria)
Bueaty U. Efe (The University Library, Federal University Otuoke, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria)
Gboyega K. Oyeniran (The University Library, Federal University Otuoke, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 5 August 2014

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the different channels reference librarians receive reference inquiries from patrons in university libraries in Nigeria.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire was used to collect data on the various channels through which reference librarians received reference inquiries in Nigerian university libraries. The questionnaire was administered using an online method.

Findings

It emerged that the face-to-face traditional reference desk was rated as the highest channel through which librarians receive reference inquiries in Nigeria, followed by library Facebook page and phone/short message service (SMS). Instant messaging (IM) and e-mail were identified as the least used channels by the patrons. The challenges mentioned include the absence of policy statements concerning virtual reference services; the lack of information and communications technology (ICT) skills on the part of librarians; slow Internet connectivity; power failures; management’s lack of support for emerging technologies; IM’s limitations; user’s expectations of instant answer; inarticulate requests; and lack of adequate current reference materials.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are from a small sample size; therefore, the findings may not be substantial enough to generalize. Further study is necessary to determine if these results are consistent throughout other university libraries in Nigeria.

Originality/value

The findings will inform university libraries in developing countries that are planning to adopt virtual reference services to deliver reference services to users anywhere, anytime.

Keywords

Citation

Emmanuel Baro, E., U. Efe, B. and K. Oyeniran, G. (2014), "Reference inquiries received through different channels: The challenges reference librarians face in university libraries in Nigeria", Reference Services Review, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 514-529. https://doi.org/10.1108/RSR-09-2013-0049

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited