Member profile: Stephen Akintunde, Librarian at University of Jos

Name: Stephen A. Akintunde, PhD
Job title: University Librarian
Institution: University of Jos, Nigeria
ACU RKI Community member since: 2015

Stephen Akintunde

How long have you been working in libraries?

Since 1973. I started as a young secondary school leaver and, literally, 'grew up' in the library.

What do you enjoy about working in libraries and what inspires you in your career?

The dynamism of the operating environment and the challenges it throws up. Libraries and library services have changed and continue to change. For instance, the librarian has emerged from being a 'sage' that knows all to being a 'guy by the side', guiding, advising, and counselling users. This is a paradigm shift in the organisation and provision of library services. Information Technology has impacted the packaging and delivery of information and library resources, and the roles of the information providers. The library is also responding to the culture of today's library user by providing both creative learning spaces and makerspace for users, so they can maximise their potential within the library space. I enjoy responding to the dynamic environment.

As University Librarian, what does your role involve?

My role involves understanding the environment, projecting into the future, and ensuring my staff respond effectively to the dynamic environment through formulating appropriate rules, providing training opportunities for staff development, and user involvement in the provision of library services.

As a Principal Officer of the university, I also participate in the formulation and implementation of policies for the university.

What are your current projects/initiatives?

The main project is a creative learning space – a learner-centred organisation of space, matching the cultural needs of users with the latest pedagogy and technology. Our staff and students have found the new look of the library quite inviting and we have recorded an astronomical rise in the use of the library since 2015 when we started implementing this. It is a continuing project.

Another important initiative is getting lecturers to make better use of library resources and direct their students to using them. We do this by continuously training both staff and students. We discovered that the use of electronic resources is incomparable to the investment, and have therefore engaged staff and students through information literacy training.

Describe your library and resources and how you reach your users.

The University of Jos Library started life as a campus library of the University of Ibadan in 1972. It contains approximately 200,000 volumes of hard copies, with many more electronic resources – both subscribed and open source, which can be accessed via the library's website.

There are four branches of the library; the Law Library, Lamingo Campus Library (Medical Library), Naraguta Campus Library (Arts, Education, Environmental Sciences, Management Sciences and Social Sciences), and Bauchi Road Campus Library, which provides resources and services for Agricultural Sciences, Engineering, Pre-Clinical Medical Sciences, Natural Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Veterinary Medicine. The sitting capacity for the four libraries is 1,506 readers.

The library is learner-centred, and the philosophy for service is of a 'Teaching Library'; this means librarians and faculty staff jointly develop the collections with input from students too. Subject librarianship is practised to enhance this. Staff and students therefore have a librarian who takes care of their collections and the collections are close to the librarian, who ensures continuous training and outreach to staff and students.

What challenges do you face in your day-to-day work and how do you overcome these challenges?

Challenges? They seem to be a normal ingredient of work in organisations. The challenges that I face include an almost zero budget, affecting the acquisition of books and journals and subscription to electronic resources. We use every opportunity to announce our needs by displaying what we have been able to do with so little. We also harvest several open access databases that are relevant to courses taught in the university. We reach out to other universities for links to open resources on their websites, which they have granted permission to.

Another challenge is getting lecturers and students to use the numerous electronic resources available appropriately. This is one of the things we address via information literacy trainings.

Where have you seen a real improvement in the past year and what's your top tip for fellow Community members working in your region or beyond?

We have observed a steady and sustained rise in the gate count of users of the library; from an average of 50,000 per month to 70,000 per month. It does appear, therefore, that if learner-centred spaces are provided, with good furnishing and technological support, e.g. providing internet connectivity and electrical outlets for plugging and charging mobile devices, it is most likely that today's learner will be a regular visitor to the library.

What big changes have you witnessed and what do you see as the key issues for librarians in the future?

The big changes that I have witnessed include the transformational impact of information technology on librarians and library services, and the organisation of library spaces as cultural adaptations. These two may continue to be on the table for a long time because they affect one another, and librarians must be sensitive to them and respond appropriately in professional development and the delivery of service.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your library?

In October 2016, there was an incident where a fire destroyed the Naraguta Campus Library, with about 100,000 volumes of books lost.

My future plans are to see the renovation of the burnt library into a culturally modern library space and concretise information literacy. I also desire that all my staff are at the cutting-edge of developments in information and library services through continuous training and personal and professional development.

What do you value most from your professional networks, like the ACU RKI Community?

What I value most is perhaps insights into the operation of library services across the Commonwealth, and the creativity and futuristic outlook of professional colleagues.


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Dr Stephen A Akintunde has been on the Steering Committee for the RKI Community since 2015, and was a member of the former ACU Libraries and Information Network from 2008. 

Dr Akintunde is Chairman of the Nigerian University Libraries Consortium (NULIB) and Country Licensing Coordinator, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL). He was chosen as Outstanding Reviewer for New Library World in the Emerald Literati Network 2015 Awards for Excellence. He has held leadership positions in the Nigerian Library Association at state and national levels. His membership of professional associations includes the American Library Association, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, International Sociological Association, and Nigerian Library Association.

Dr Akintunde welcomes any support for the restocking of the burnt library, read more about how you can help on the University of Jos library blog 

If you would like to contact Dr Akintunde, please email akins@unijos.edu.ng

Last modified on 15/12/2017
Tags: Nigeria, Africa, Member Communities, ACU Research, Knowledge and Information Community