ETHICAL ISSUES IN INFORMATION USE AND THE EXPLOITATION OF LIBRARY RESOURCES BY UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN SOUTH-SOUTH ZONE, NIGERIA
Libraries acquire and stock all forms of intellectual property documents and materials (print and non-print) required for study, learning and research. They offer information literacy programmes and studies not only to provide access to the resources in their collections but it is also necessary that through these programmes users are expected to be equipped with relevant skills to ethically use the resources in a proper manner in order to promote scholarship and academic discipline. This study investigated the influence of knowledge of ethical issues on the exploitation of library resources by undergraduate students in federal universities in South-south zone, Nigeria. The objective of the study was to investigate the extent of awareness of ethical issues in information use and the exploitation of library resources as a requirement for academic integrity by undergraduate students in federal universities in South-south zone, Nigeria. The research design adopted for this study was ex-post facto design. This was so considered because the researcher had no direct control of the independent variable since their manifestation had already occurred and could not be inherently manipulated. The population comprised 952 registered library users randomly sampled from three selected universities, namely University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State and University of Calabar, Cross River State all in Nigeria. A questionnaire was used to collect data. Data collected was analysed by using mean, standard deviation and simple linear regression analysis. Also, the hypothesis was tested at 0.05 level of significance. The instrument was validated using Cronbach Alpha reliability test. The reliability estimate obtained in the variable was .70 showing that the instrument was significantly reliable enough to be used. 10% of the registered users from each of the institutions selected were made up of 346 in University of Uyo, 304 in University of Port Harcourt and 302 in University of Calabar respectively. The study produced a regression co-efficient of R = .573 which indicate that there was a strong positive influence of knowledge of ethical issues in using library resources. The implications of this study are that students learning and information handling experiences or skills can be improved through the teaching of relevant and appropriate information literacy programs or studies. Since information literacy skills have significant influence on appropriate use of library materials and resources in an ethical manner, students should be adequately instructed in information literacy studies. From the study, it was inferred that undergraduates’ knowledge of ethical issues was relatively low in the study areas. It was recommended that more adequate attention should be given to guiding, instructing and teaching of information literacy skills with particular focus on ethical issues in information use to avoid the implications of doing otherwise especially in academic environments. It was also recommended that university management should be more committed to put in place appropriate policy measures and strategies that ensure the provision of adequate staff and infrastructure to implement the teaching of information literacy programs in the institutions. It is important that a culture of appropriate use of information resources should be inculcated early in students’ learning process.
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