The Role of Information Technology in Nation Building: the Librarian’s Perspective

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THE ROLE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN NATION BUILDING: THE
LIBRARIAN’S PERSPECTIVE

MULIKAT BOLA ALIYU
And
ABDULWAHAB OLANREWAJU ISSA
Department of Library and Information Science,
The Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State.
ABSTRACT
The paper examines information from the perspective of a conceptual framework with a view, primarily, to establishing its primacy and universality in a technologically propelled world of today. Owing to the exponential growth in the generation, availability and accessibility of information in recent time, the paper establishes the significance of the application of relevant technology in information acquisition, processing, storing, retrieving and disseminating the hallmark of libraries. Impediments to a full realization of opportunities offered by information technology such as infrastructure dilapidation, owing to perennial shortage of funds, adequate personnel, maintenance culture, etc. were pinpointed. It concludes on a recommendatory note by suggesting the rehabilitation of infrastructure facilities, improved budgetary allocation to, and monitoring of, the information sub-sector, recruitment of sound and skilled personnel, including on-the-job training and retraining as well as proper and adequate maintenance orientation.

INTRODUCTION
Several authors on this and similar theme have defined the term “information” differently. Others who took its definition in their writings for granted did so probably because they felt the term is too common and indeed too familiar to warrant such a need. This is however contrary to the position of many authors who have found that defining the term information is not after all, as simple and straight forward as some have thought. Aguolu (1989) underscores this “semantic and conceptual difficulties”, as there are many approaches/dimensions to doing this. Not only can it be referring to “information systems or to objective and cognitive documentary information”, it also has “time and other situation dimensions since its value was contingent upon its timely availability.

Thus, Burch and Grundnitiski (1989) view information as “data that have been put into meaningful and useful context and communicated to a recipient who uses it to make decision”. Daniel (1989) uses a broader approach in her definition of information when she views it as “knowledge used in its generic sense irrespective of the source, format, mode or transfer medium”. The New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (1992) refers to it simply as knowledge obtained by search, study, etc. In his rather simplistic attempt at coming up with a definition, Pinniston (1980) categorizes information as ranging “from articles in technical publications to verbal reports of informal meetings and from news items in daily or trade newspapers to patent specifications”.

In a similar effort, Aguolu (1989) puts forward an understanding of information from two perspectives namely: the viewpoint of its contents-intellectual essence and that of its processing and transfer. That is, the means by which it is produced, published, organized, stored, retrieved and communicated. Thus the signal, stimulus, or whatever message of human experience that is communicated purposely to elicit a response… due to its response potential can be referred to as information. In other words, the term information has come to be regarded as the communication of knowledge.

THE PRIMACY OF INFORMATION
There is no gainsaying that the present world order is one strictly ruled by the power of information and not that of money. Unlike several decades ago, the world today has come to a full realization of the fact that information “is the prime commodity of the presence age “ (Issa, 2002 ). This is especially so for the advanced countries of the world where this has been long established as a reality. As for majority of the developing countries, that are yet to reach such an advanced stage of the realization of its...
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