Assessment of Information Communication Technology Availability, Use and Challenges by the Staff of ...

Abolarinwa Shola Timothy, Adewoyin Olufunke, Aderanti Paul A.

American Journal of Medical Sciences and Medicine

Assessment of Information Communication Technology Availability, Use and Challenges by the Staff of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research

Abolarinwa Shola Timothy1, Adewoyin Olufunke1,, Aderanti Paul A.2

1Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria

2Department of Information Resources Management, Babcock University, Ilishan, Remo

Abstract

This study examines the knowledge of availability, use and challenges of Information Communication Technology (ICT) by the staff of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) using a descriptive survey design. Participants include all the 299 research and non-research staff of NIMR. Instrument used was a self-structured questionnaire which was administered to all and has a return rate of 154 (52%). The findings of the study revealed that 110 (72.8%) which constituted the majority of the respondents, affirmed positively that they are aware of the availability of ICT facilities in NIMR library. However, those that are not aware of the availability of ICTs seem not to be informed or failed to appreciate it usefulness to their profession. Poor internet signal/slow server and inadequate provision of full internet connectivity was the leading problem encountered by the respondents.

Cite this article:

  • Abolarinwa Shola Timothy, Adewoyin Olufunke, Aderanti Paul A.. Assessment of Information Communication Technology Availability, Use and Challenges by the Staff of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research. American Journal of Medical Sciences and Medicine. Vol. 3, No. 6, 2015, pp 79-83. http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajmsm/3/6/2
  • Timothy, Abolarinwa Shola, Adewoyin Olufunke, and Aderanti Paul A.. "Assessment of Information Communication Technology Availability, Use and Challenges by the Staff of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research." American Journal of Medical Sciences and Medicine 3.6 (2015): 79-83.
  • Timothy, A. S. , Olufunke, A. , & A., A. P. (2015). Assessment of Information Communication Technology Availability, Use and Challenges by the Staff of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research. American Journal of Medical Sciences and Medicine, 3(6), 79-83.
  • Timothy, Abolarinwa Shola, Adewoyin Olufunke, and Aderanti Paul A.. "Assessment of Information Communication Technology Availability, Use and Challenges by the Staff of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research." American Journal of Medical Sciences and Medicine 3, no. 6 (2015): 79-83.

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1. Introduction

International Encyclopedia of Library and Information science [10] refers to information communication technology as the application of modern electronic and computing capabilities (technologies) to the creation and storage of meaningful and useful facts or data (information) and its transmission to users through various electronic means (communication). These includes communication device or application like radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning. Angello and Wema [4] defining information communication technology said that it is the techniques, methods and tools used to access information and to communicate with others. The term refers to electronic and computer based technologies. These are the technologies whereby the information is accessed and used in electronic format through the use of computers. According to Emuakpor (2002) as cited by Issa, Ayodele, Abubakar and Aliyu [11] Information communication technology is all forms of technology applied to the processing, storing and transmitting information in electronic form; stressing that the physical equipment used for this purpose include computers, communication equipment and networks; fax machines and electronic, pocket calculator. Ali [3] asserted that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become the most popular and easy means of dissemination of information and communication. Information and communication technology has caused a change in user behaviour towards seeking information in the library through the reference librarian. Internet, search engine, open educational resources [6] Persistent innovations and advances in Information and Communication Technology have substantially modified the way information is acquired, processed, stored, retrieved, and communicated [14].

In view of the nature of information need of health workers which must be timely and accurate medical libraries embraced information technology early to provide information and services. However, according to Gakibayo, Ikoja-Odongo and Okello-Obura [8] by the turn of the 21st century, library automation and the Internet had revolutionized information access and library operations around the world. Thus Ogunsola (2004) as cited by Issa, Ayodele, Abubakar and Aliyu [11] explained that the pace of change brought by new technologies has had a significant effect on the way people live, work and play worldwide. Hence the library of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research also took advantage of this development in Information Communication Technology to revolutionize its operation to meet the information needs of its users particularly the health researchers and the staff of the institute generally.

The importance of libraries cannot be over emphasized. Libraries are usually the first point of call for information seekers. Kwadzo [12] opined that libraries play a major role in the educational system and in the development of a strong human resource base on the socio- economic development of a country. Its mission is to provide services and access to quality information resources irrespective of formal and location. The library is a key player in education, research and information provision, it has thus been in the forefront in ICT application to its services.

Libraries are repositories of information in whatever format it may appear. Libraries acquisition of electronic resources afford users the opportunities of access to relevant and up to date information from different field. Electronic information resources are also the link to the process of useful research and learning activities which can boost the socio-economic development in the continent. Electronic resources offer significant benefits to libraries such as reducing the problem of inadequate space and mutilation of books Issa, Ayodele, Abubakar and Aliyu [11].

2. Literature Review

Agboola [1] carried out a study on use of print and electronic resources by agricultural science students in Nigeria universities and found out that the use of ICT has revolutionized the way and manner in which the global community uses information. Students are no longer restricted to print materials to solve their information needs. Etim (2004) in Okon (2005) as cited by Lawal Solarin observes that technological development have created a shift from traditional information environment to an e-environment such as CD-ROMs online services, as well as online database

The importance of the internet for information retrieval to support research activities in research institutes/health institutions is acknowledged worldwide. Olatokun and Adeboyejo (2009) citing Ibegwam [16] observed that the Internet has become an important component of the electronic services in academic institutions and has permeated all aspects of life, breaking down barriers to communication and information access worldwide. Many developing countries have made efforts to introduce electronic resources in their libraries, and these can be seen in a lot of research libraries in the continent. Ukpebor [18] observed that the use of electronic resources has contributed to reshaping information retrieval process and access to information. Emphasis is now being shifted from printed sources to electronic resources. There are several electronic resources which include the internet resources, electronic databases, CD-ROM, electronic journals and electronic books.

Ojo and Akande [15] studied student’s access, usage and awareness of electronic information resources at the University College Hospital, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. The study revealed that even though electronic resources are being used by the students. The level of usage was low when compared with what obtained in developed countries. Omotayo [17] surveyed internet access and usage among undergraduates at the Obafemi Awolowo University and found out that the students did not go through any formal training on how to use the internet. They learnt from their friends. The study also revealed that majority of the respondents used the internet only for e-mail, because they lacked the skill to use it effectively for other purposes.

Egberongbe [7] investigated the use and impact of electronic resources at the University of Lagos. She found out that majority of the respondents used electronic resources. They were aware of these resources. She also found out that both faculty and students used e-resources to access information available worldwide for teaching, learning and research. Today electronic facilities are available and have linked everybody far and near together.

Olatokun and Adeboyejo (2009) citing (Ajayi 2003; Akanbi 2005; Idowu, Ogunbodede, & Idowu, 2003) affirmed that the emergence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their role in stimulating rapid development in all sectors of the economy, and in the inseparable socio-cultural and political spheres of life, is widely acknowledged. ICTs are redefining the way almost everything is done and are ready tool for all strata of society (Ajayi, 2003 cited by Olatokun and Adeboyejo, 2009). Ani et al [5] investigated the effect of accessibility and utilization of electronic resources on productivity of academic staff in Nigerian universities. It was recommended that in view of the observed positive impact of e-resources on productivity in the survey; university managements, university librarians, National Universities Commission (NUC) and other stakeholders in Nigerian universities should intensify the process of effective information and communication technology (ICT) diffusion and provision of relevant e-resources in Nigerian universities towards qualitative research. According to them, this would also make academic staff in Nigerian universities to be globally competitive for journal space in international journals, and thus bridge the productivity gap between Nigeria and developed countries.

3. Study Area

The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) is the foremost research institute in the country. It was established in 1920 with the arrival of a Medical team, under the auspices of the Rockefeller Foundation Yellow Fever Commission to the West Coast of Africa. In 1925, another team from the West African Yellow Fever Commission arrived Lagos to join the team from the Rockefeller Foundation and the research facilities at the centre were expanded. The research Centre was named the West African Council for Medical Research in 1954 and metamorphosed into the Medical Research Council of Nigeria in 1960. Through the Research Institute Establishment of the National Science and Technology Act of 1977, the Medical Research Council of Nigeria was renamed the National Institute of Medical Research. The name was further changed in 1993 to the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research. It was transferred as a parastatal under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Science and technology to the Federal Ministry of Health. The Institute has two outstation in New Bussa; Niger State and Maiduguri in Borno State. The Institute has a liaison office in Abuja NIMR [13].

4. Institute Mandate

The mandate of the Institute under the enabling Act of 1977, stipulates that it shall conduct research into health problems in the country essentially in the following areas:

•  Communicable Diseases of Public Health importance in the country.

•  Non-Communicable Diseases prevalent in the country.

•  Basic, applied and operational research for the prevention and control of diseases endemic in the country in co-operation with the Federal and State Ministries of Health.

•  Develop human and infrastructural capacities for clinical and biomedical research in collaboration with Medical Schools, Universities and other Health-related Institutions, in and outside Nigeria.

•  Disseminate the results of health research in the country through training courses, scientific publications, conferences, workshops and other communication channels to the Federal and States Ministries of Health, relevant stakeholders in the Public and Private sectors as well as the general public.

The Institute library was established in 1972, the library is a repository of knowledge and information about health sciences. In line with the Institute mandate, it is set up to support the research efforts of the Institute, this it does by providing access to qualitative information to Health Scientists/Researchers, NGOs, Students and other stakeholders in the health sector of the country.

The Library users include:

•  Research staff of the Institute

•  Clinical and Biomedical Researchers/Scientists from Teaching Hospitals and Research Institutes.

•  Graduate and undergraduate from within and outside the country.

•  Staff of the Federal and State Ministries of Health

The Library collects, preserves, disseminates and exchanges information, which are important to the progress of health sciences. This is done through subscription to Journals and magazines and the purchase of relevant books and also by subscribing to health databases on CD-ROM. The library automation system operates on a Local area network it has terminals in all the sections of the library connected to a temporary server. It has two dedicated PCs for internet browsing and electronic search at the technical section. The library subscribes to Medline database on CD-ROM and also has free access to HINARI database, this provide access to full-text articles in more than 14,000 biomedical journals and 46,000 e-books in the world. The database which is set up by WHO together with major publishers, enables low- and middle- income countries to gain access to one of the world's largest collections of biomedical and health literature. HINARI [9].

5. Research Questions

1. What is the level of awareness on the availability of ICT in NIMR?

2. What types of information communication technologies are used in the NIMR Library?

3. How often do the NIMR staff use ICT?

4. What are the main purposes for using the NIMR Library ICT?

5. What are the challenges the staff encountered on the use of ICT?

6. Method

A descriptive survey design was used to assess the availability, use and challenges of ICT in NIMR. Self-structured questionnaire was used to collect data from both research and non- research staff of the institute, cutting across all cadre of staff both junior and senior staff, male and female. The questionnaire consists of four parts that covered all the research questions. The reliability of the questionnaire was carried out and the result shows alpha coefficient of 0.89. The participants for this study consist of all the 299 staff of the institute out of which only 154 (52%) returned the completed questionnaire. The data collected was analysed using simple percentage to answer all the research questions.

7. Analysis and Interpretation of Data

Research Question 1: What is the level of awareness of the information and communication technology facilities availability in the NIMR library?

Table 1. Knowledge of availability of ICT

In Table 1 above, 110 (71.4%) which constituted the majority of the respondents, affirmed positively that they are aware of the availability of ICTs facilities, while 41(26.6%) affirmed that they are not aware on the availability of ICTs facilities. 

Research Question 2: What types of information communication technologies are used in the NIMR Library?

The results from the table above revealed that, most of the staff are aware of ICT resources such as computer 126 (82.3%), Internet 107 (69.9%), 32 (20.9%), Scanner 44 (28.7%), Multimedia Projector 12 (7.8%), and Photocopying machine62 (40.5%). The low level patronage of CD-ROM is understandable because the contents of the available CD-ROMs are mainly for the use of the research staff since they are on medicine and allied subjects and this category of staff are less than 50% of the total staff population.

Research Question 3: How often do the NIMR staffs use ICT?

The frequency of staff visit to the library varies in pattern. Only 4(2.6%) of the respondents visited the library on a daily basis; 17 (11.0 %) both visited the library twice a week and once in two weeks; 32 (20.8%) once in a month; 50 (32.5%) less than once in six months and 1 (.6 %) once in a year. The poor frequency of visit could be attributed to so many reasons however availability of ICT in the institute particularly the Internet could be responsible because access to the internet made it possible for staff to assess a lot of current medical resources online from the comfort of their offices. Because of the importance attached to health research by the United Nation some of the UN bodies like WHO developed programmes to facilitate access to medical information and they are made available free online for health researchers in the developing countries. Although most time access are to be facilitated by the medical libraries without necessarily visiting the library.

Research Question 4: What are the main purposes for using the NIMR Library ICT?

The purposes for using the library ICT were indicated by respondents above. The primary purpose for using the facilities is research purpose with 50 (32.6%); 46 (29.9%) for Communication; 30 (19.5%) patient Case; and 13 (8.4%) for News information. The fact that research purpose constituted the majority of use falls in line with the mandate of the institute.

Research Question 5: What are the challenges encountered by the staff on the use of ICT?

On the challenges encountered on the use of ICT, expectedly, poor internet signal/slow server 76 (50.0%) and inadequate provision of full internet connectivity 51 (33.3%) are the two most significant barriers to the use of the information and communication technologies in the library. It is also not surprising that the location of the library is also an issue identified as a challenge 18(11.7%) respondents. The library is presently occupying a temporary room to room arrangement on the third and fourth floor of the administration building.

8. Discussion of findings

The findings of the study revealed that 110 (72.8%) which constituted the majority of the respondents, affirmed positively that they are aware of the availability of these facilities in NIMR library. However, those that are not aware of the availability of ICTs seem not to be informed or failed to appreciate it usefulness to their profession as they are not highly skilled professionals that seriously require ICT for their services; majority of who are low cadre non research support staff.

A majority of the respondents visit the Library, but their daily visit of the library is poor and this could be attributed to the provision of ICT in the institute that ensure access to electronic resources for the staff particularly the researchers at the convenience of their offices. Relevant electronic resource like the pubmed is available free on the Internet which can be accessed from individual offices. Health database like HINARI which is provided free for developing countries by WHO is made available free for the research staff of the institute and this guarantee access to more than 7000 medical journals online. Although the password to this resource is made available through the library but they can be accessed at the comfort of user’s office through the internet. This gave credence to Oketunji [16] opined that the Internet and other ICTs provide opportunity for the provision of value added services by libraries

Majority of the respondents were using the ICT for the purpose of research which is the primary mandate of the institute. Thus this explain the reason why majority of the respondents 50(32%) affirmed that they use the available ICT in the institute for research.

The findings of this study revealed that most of the users are aware of ICT resources such as computer, Internet, Scanner, Multimedia Projector, and Photocopying machine. The majority of the respondents 126(82%) make use of the computer in the library while 107(69.9%) use it for internet services.

The findings of the study also revealed that majority of the respondents are skillful in the use of computer but there was low level of skills in working in a network environment because most of them acquired their skill through self-help hence they don’t have deep rooted knowledge of the ICT equipment.

Poor internet signal/slow server 76 (50.0%) and Inadequate provision of full internet connectivity 51 (33.3%) was the leading problem encountered by the respondents. This probably has to do with the internet bandwidth made available to the institute particularly the library. Bandwidth according to Alhassan and Adepoju [2] as cited by Lawal-Solarin is the amount of data that a computer network can transfer in a certain amount of time. This also corroborate Kamba (2008) findings that the problem of IT especially internet use in Nigeria libraries include inadequate and poor information infrastructure.

9. Conclusion and Recommendations

The findings of this study show that the majority of the staff of Nigerian Institute of medical Research are aware of the availability of ICT in the institute library but there are lot to be done to improve the services and the patronage of the services within the four wall of the library.

•  The institute library should champion the creation of awareness of the availability of ICTs facilities in the institute particularly in the library through pamphlets, selective dissemination of information and using of notice board in strategic place within the Institute. This would in one way increase the number of users’ who visit the library on daily basis.

•  The institute management should make provision for more ICTs equipment and electronic resources in the library such as computers, electronic database and a more robust internet service.

•  There is need for the institute management through the library and ICT units to organize formal training on the use of ICTs especially on networking environment and electronic search in order to enhance staff usage skills particularly for the researchers and the low level cadre staff.

•  Finally, the institute management should provide good Internet services and increase bandwidth of this services.

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