Evaluation of electronic service infrastructures and quality of e-services in Nigerian academic libraries

Publication Date02 November 2015
AuthorBrendan E. Asogwa,Cyprian I. Ugwu,Ferdinand C. Ugwuanyi
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Evaluation of electronic service
infrastructures and quality of
e-services in Nigerian academic
Brendan E. Asogwa, Cyprian I. Ugwu and
Ferdinand C. Ugwuanyi
Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nsukka, Nigeria
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the quality of online services in academic libraries
in Nigeria. It seeks to assess the functionality of electronic infrastructures, to expose areas where the
service needs of users are not adequately provided and to recommend solutions.
Design/methodology/approach – The sample population was 210 staff and students who used
electronic resources in Nigerian university libraries during the 2012-2013 academic session. A
questionnaire was the main instrument for data collection. Modied WebQual four performance
indicators were designed and used to measure: library equipment, library website, online public access
catalogue (OPAC) and e-user education in the university libraries. The ve-point service performance
scale that ranged from very poor performance to excellent was used in measuring the views of the
Findings – None of the indicators was rated excellent; six were rated good; nine were average; two and
ve indicators scored poor and very poor, respectively. Poor funding, intermittent power supply and
weak telecommunication infrastructures were among the major impediments to online services in
Nigerian universities. Through adequate funding and prudent management of library funds, online
services in Nigerian university libraries could meet global standards.
Practical implications Results from this paper could guide library management on several
concrete remedial actions to sustain e-service performance that could meet the missions and visions of
contemporary academic libraries.
Originality/value – This paper was the rst to apply WebQual model in the evaluation of electronic
performance quality of academic libraries in Nigeria.
Keywords Academic libraries, E-resources, E-services, Nigerian university libraries
Paper type Research paper
One of the primary objectives of academic libraries is to ensure that services rendered to
clients contribute signicantly to the visions and missions of the institution. Electronic
service (e-service) in academic libraries is becoming indispensable because to scholars,
it is the gateway to all electronic resources. User satisfaction is anchored to the extent
that the information and communication systems available in a library meet the user’s
basic information needs. This is the reason performance measurement forms an integral
part of evaluating whether the aims and objectives of an institution are met and, at the
same time, sets priorities for continuous improvement. To measure these attributes,
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 28 April 2014
Revised 27 June 2014
13 September 2014
Accepted 3 November 2014
TheElectronic Library
Vol.33 No. 6, 2015
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/EL-04-2014-0071
university libraries utilize benchmarking processes to evaluate performance.
Performance evaluation, if well handled, minimizes errors, points out weaknesses and
enhances efciency (Henczel, 2002).
In this study, the quality of e-services is viewed as the effectiveness and efciencies
of libraries in providing needed e-resources and e-services to all users. The volume of a
library’s physical collections has, for many decades, been a benchmark for evaluating
the quality of its performance. In developing countries, librarians had been relying upon
counting their statistics and analyzing them as the means of measuring their
contributions to the institution’s mission. Weiner (2005) noted that for this method,
successfully fullling its mission in a former era evaluated the quality of library services
by measuring the size of collections and the budget, the number of visitors, issuing and
returning statistics or inter-library loans, staff strengths and other processes. They were
relying on what Blixrud (2001) characterized as an outmoded opinion that:
[…] the way to determine if a library was actually fullling its mission was to measure how
many books were held in the collection, how many users were served, and how much money
was spent while providing those services.
Before the arrival of information technology, librarians in Africa had focused their
attention on measuring the level of their competencies by providing needed facilities and
ignoring the measurement of the quality of services and the extent to which users’ needs
were met. African libraries and librarians then seemed not to be disturbed with Zeithaml
et al.’s (1990) dictum: “within a service quality orientation, only the customers judge
quality, and all other judgments outside customers’ views were essentially irrelevant”.
Oluseye et al. in Rehman and Sabir (2012) also noted that a better understanding of the
perceptions and expectations of users is a prerequisite for delivering high-quality
services according to their expectations. Miller (2008) revealed that these outcomes
began rst in 1908 with the aim of demonstrating how “library services make a
difference to its constituents; how it compares to similar institutions; and its
contribution to recreation, teaching, learning, and research”. Providing data allowed
librarians and libraries to benchmark practices with other institutions. Benchmarking
compares and measures their practices, policies, philosophies and performances against
high-performing libraries anywhere in the world.
At the time, benchmarking provided an excellent way of measuring the performance
quality of libraries until information and communication technology (ICT)
revolutionized library operations. ICT has been accompanied by enormous changes and
challenges to the way that academic libraries and librarians manage their resources and
deliver efcient services. In line with the development of ICT, Nitecki (1996) remarked
that in a virtual library environment, a measure of library performance based solely on
a library’s collection has become obsolete. In the twenty-rst century, there has been a
paradigm shift that has impacted the tools, services quality, approaches and skills for
providing services in academic libraries. For instance, Internet databases and other
electronic productivity software are now used in the management of library data (Chen,
1998). Online public access catalogues (OPACs) are rapidly eliminating the need for
users to be physically present in library buildings, archives, museums and records
ofces for them to access materials. Virtual libraries and archives have enabled users in
remote locations to simultaneously access archival collections without disturbing the
physical contents.

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