THE ROLE OF LIBRARIANS IN SUPPORT OF INFORMATION NEEDS OF STUDENTS IN OPEN AND DISTANCE EDUCATION IN THE UNIVERSITY OF UYO
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In every aspect of higher education, libraries are essential. Effective library support for distance learners is essential for high-quality knowledge and learning delivery. Information and communication technology (ICT) has changed every aspect of society, especially the dissemination of information. As appropriate to the library's individual mission, libraries have an inherent obligation to provide information libraries to support the educational, recreational, and economic endeavors of members of their respective communities. Direct personal assistance, directories, signs, exchange of information culled from a reference source, reader's advisory service, and dissemination of information in anticipation of user needs or interest are all libraries of library information services. The term "open and distance education" refers to both the fact that all or most of the teaching is done by someone who is separated from the learner in time and space, as well as the openness and flexibility of missions, whether in terms of access, curriculum, or other structure elements.
The term "open and distance learning" or "education" refers to both the fact that all or most of the teaching is done by someone who is separated from the learner in time and space, as well as the fact that the mission includes more openness and flexibility, whether in terms of access, curriculum, or other structural elements. The above definition of open and distance education is similar to that of Aina, (2004), who stated that "it is a type of education that is delivered to learners from a distance." There have been four major phases in the history of distance learning systems. The mission or goal of a particular system, programs and curricula, teaching/learning strategies and techniques, learning materials and resources, communication and interaction, support and delivery systems, students, tutors, staff, and other experts, management, housing and equipment, and evacuees are all components of open and distance learning systems (RUSA, 2000).
Between the learner and the teacher, there is a physical barrier. Thus, it includes a method of communication that others may refer to as a means of the printed and written word, such as the telephone, computer conferencing, or teleconferencing, which is used to bridge the physical divide between the instructor and the learner. Open and distance education both entail providing whatever educational opportunities are required by anyone, anywhere, at any time for those who would otherwise be denied. UNESCO's strategic objectives in education are to improve the quality of education by diversifying content and methods and encouraging experimentation, innovation, the dissemination and sharing of information and best practices, as well as policy dialogue (UNESCO, 2002 and 2005).
The terms "open and distance education" are frequently interchanged with "open learning," "correspondence education," and "external study." In Nigeria, for example, there is the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), the University of Ibadan's External Studies Programme, and the University of Lagos' Distance Learning Institute. In Africa, open and distance education programs are generally delivered using one of two organizational models. There is a single model in which a university's distance education program is its sole mandate; it does not offer full-time programs on campus; rather, its mandate is to provide education at a distance. This style of vehicle may be found in a variety of nations. The second type is the dual model, in which a university runs both full-time on-campus and distance education programs at the same time. Both groups of students follow the same curriculum and achieve the same credentials at the conclusion of the program. This is the more typical model seen at many African colleges.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In a world of online educational systems, distance learning has become a crucial part of the educational sector. However, there are certain parameters that have to be met in order to make the open and distance education fully effective, of which include librarians. The importance of librarians cannot be over emphasized; they serve a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of the open and distance educational scheme. They are essential in providing basic materials needed for the students to be fully indulged in the educational process.
This study looks into the role of librarians in support of information needs to students in open and distance education in the University of Uyo.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The primary aim of this research is to examine the role of Librarians in support of information needs of students in open and distance education in the University of Uyo. Thus the following objectives;
1. To give an explanation as to what open and distance education entails.
2. To determine the role of Librarians in support of information needs of students in open and distant education.
3. The challenges faced by Librarians in supporting the information needs of students in open and distance education in the University of Uyo.
4. To proffer solutions to the challenges facing Librarians in the execution of these support duties.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions guide this research;
1. What does open and distance education entail?
2. What are the roles of Librarians in support of information needs of students in open and distant education?
3. What are the challenges faced by Librarians in supporting the information needs of students in open and distance education in the University of Uyo?
4. What are the solutions to the challenges facing Librarians in the execution of these support duties?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be significant to the University of Uyo as it will provide awareness on the roles of librarians in support of information needs to students in their open and distance learning scheme. It will also be significant in the academic world as it will be an addition to the limited materials on such a subject matter.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study will only cover the role of Librarians in providing information needs of students in open and distance education in the University of Uyo. The effects of Open and distance education on the students of Uyo will also be looked into. Also, solutions to the challenges facing Librarians in providing information needs to the open and distance learning students will be looked into.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
During the course of this study, the limitations faced by the researcher were limited materials, insufficient time and funds to fully delve into an in-depth analysis of the subject matter.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. OPEN EDUCATION: Open education is education without academic admission requirements and is typically offered online. Open education broadens access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems.
2. DISTANCE EDUCATION: Distance education, also called distance learning, is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school.