Nnamdi Azikiwe Library
The article discusses the issue of motivation of academic librarians in Nigeria. It notes that motivation of academic librarians is very vital for efficient service delivery in the academic libraries. It suggests some strategies for motivation of libraries such as competitive salary, promotion as and when due, provision of favourable conditions of work, et cetera.
The library is pivotal to the proper running of any university. Without the academic library in any university, the mandate of the universities which border on teaching and research will not be effectively handled. This is because; the library is the agency for collecting, organizing and disseminating knowledge for effective use. The library in addition provides the physical facility of storing such knowledge, be it in printed or electronic format. This explains why the university libraries are usually seen as the “heart” of every university. University libraries are designed to support the role assigned to the university where it functions. Therefore, for the library to live up to its billing, it requires above all, the intellectual and professional services of people who have been adequately trained to do so.
The staff, therefore, makes the library work. Argyris (1957:13) succinctly elucidates this fact by affirming that “No organization, it seems has “life” without people. The library obviously needs “life” to meet its service mission and no library manager can afford to ignore the motivational needs of its staff and expect to meet the needs of the library as an organization”.
From the foregoing, it is evident that human resources are the most important element of any organization. This is because, if an organization such as the library is furnished to the hilt and all the infrastructure and technology for work are provided and if the offices are equipped with all the modern paraphernalia of office without adequate and competent human resources it will no doubt be unable to live up to its name. Therefore, ignoring or giving motivation of human resources a low priority will certainly result in very serious productivity and service problems.
In Nigeria presently the library profession has not been accorded the recognition that it so rightly deserves. Problems of dwindling resources persist arid this has no doubt affected staff welfare in no small measure. Salaries are not completive, working environment for most librarians is not what it should be, promotion most times are delayed for many years and when promotion is given, the promotion arrears are not paid. Staff training and development in most libraries are not well planned and well implemented and a host of other problems bordering on staff welfare.
This article, therefore, intends to examine these problems and thereafter proffer effective strategies for staff motivation.
THE DEFINITION AND CONCEPT OF MOTIVATION
Motivation according to Schein (quoted in Ezeani 2002:13) is defined as “impulses that stem from within a person, that lead him to act in ways that will satisfy these impulses”.
Dunnette (1976:65) defines motivation as a label for the determinants of the choice to initiate effort on a certain task the choice to expend a certain amount of effort and the choice to persist in expending effort over a period of time.
The New Encyclopedia Britannica vol 8 (1998:364) defines motivation as factors within a human being or other animal that arouse and direct goal-oriented behaviour. This definition is more appropriate for this paper. This is because; motivation of any individual is usually geared towards a particular goal -oriented behaviour which is simply to serve the organization more effectively. Motivation, therefore, is absolutely pro-active and should elicit a positive response from a worker.
Many management theories on motivation have been propounded, but, the theories of Abraham Maslow and Frederick Herzberg will be briefly examined in this paper because of their practical application to the library profession.
Abraham Maslow’s theory proposes that human motivation can be understood as resulting from a hierarchy of needs. These needs starting with the most basic- the physiological needs (eating, drinking, resting, etc) progress upward to security needs (pension, health insurance, etc), to belongingness or the need to love which include (good relations with the environment, friendship, fellowship to love and be loved); to need for self-esteem (self confidence, recognition, adoration, to be given importance, status etc); to culminate to the*apex need of self-actualization (maximization of the latent potential power, capacity, development of abilities) et cetera.
In relating this theory to the library profession, Maslow advances that once a member of staff feels accepted or has a sense of belonging in an organization, he becomes receptive to esteem signals for what he does, he, therefore, wants to do give of his best and be seen as a good worker and be accorded recognition for what he is doing; all these culminate to self-actualization within the library.
Herzberg (1959) in his two factor theory of motivation advances that a work environment makes workers happy or unhappy. According to Herzberg, incidents which make workers happy include achievement, recognition, interesting work, responsibility and professional growth. These he called motivators. These factors are intrinsic to the work itself, the motivators are the only factors that can motivate people according to Herzberg because, and they make for self-actualization and growth. Factors that keep people unhappy in the work environment are company policy and administration, supervision, working conditions, interpersonal relationships and salary. These are extrinsic factors. Herzberg called these factors ‘hygiene’ factors. From the foregoing, it has been established that the organizational climate in no small way affects motivation. If the climate is unfriendly, it can stifle creativity and growth; however, no two organizations are the same. Little wonder Plate and Stone (1976:146) opine that:
Like other complex organizations, libraries despite their apparent homogeneity differ considerably with regard to their organizational history, leadership climate and even goals and objectives. Library procedures vary from library to library and so must personnel practices and supervisory styles according to the peculiar development needs and personnel in any given library. Library managers must therefore be skilled in the adaptation of exiting principle of motivation to local requirements.
The organizational climate can in many ways stifle or repress talents and skills and can also motivate or arouse same.
STRATEGIES FOR STAFF MOTIVATION
The library, a service organization needs motivation for two important reasons: First the product of the library is strictly service, and this is closely linked to the attitude of serving staff themselves. Therefore, if the workers feel de-motivated it immediately rubs off on their performance and relationship with client. Management must therefore have a social impact, because “management decisions affect people directly within the organization whose lives in turn affect the society in which they live”. Evans (1976:4).
Secondly, the cost of labour will certainly rise when workers leave to libraries they find more attractive and where they will be more motivated. Therefore, a workforce must foster high employee morale, commitment and productivity through motivation of Staff. This helps workers to live out their talents and skills. The question therefore, is how can staff be motivated?
Salaries play a crucial role in staff motivation. Nigeria is a tedious country and cost of living is very exorbitant;” therefore, to motivate staff the salary paid must be comparable to what contemporaries elsewhere earn. Otherwise, this can initiate a kind of exodus to more attractive jobs. Unfair wage is a sure way of de-motivating staff.
Working Environment /Working Materials:
The environment where librarians work is very fundamental to how they feel about their job and consequently the achievement they make in the library. For librarians, adequate work environment with adequate work paraphernalia such as air-conditioners, information communication technology like computers, internet facilities, telecommunication systems, photocopiers, can go a long way in stimulating staff to give of their best.
Working materials are equally important e.g papers for printing, pens, pencils, notebooks, Staplers etc are crucial to our job as librarians and must be adequately provided.
Attitude of colleagues:
The climate within the library should always be warm, friendly and cordial for workers to be able to live out their dreams and give of their best. If the climate is hostile, it must inevitably rub off on the library patrons or users. This will consequently affect their effective use of the library. Teamwork is very much needed in providing information for library patrons.
Provision of effective feedback to librarians:
Feedback means communicating to the staff the management’s reaction regarding their work performance. Feedback lets employees know what they are doing well, where they need improvement and how they can improve. Feedback also offers employers opportunities to reward excellent performers, remove poor performers and identify librarians who are able to assume additional responsibilities. Feedback must also be prompt and task related. Staff needs both praise and constructive criticism regarding their performance. Appraisals and staff meetings often provide opportunities for feedback.
Promotion brings with it more money, more recognition and increase in status, therefore, staff promotion is a sure way of motivating hardworking librarians. Promotion also acts as a form of encouragement to other librarians to work hard, so as to merit promotion. However, in Nigeria, sometimes promotion of staff is not done according to merit. Nothing can cause de-motivation as much as seeing indolent staff promoted because of favoritism, nepotism, bribery and the like see (Ezeani 2003).
Delegation of Authority and responsibility:
When librarians feel responsible and accountable for their work, their job satisfaction increases. If responsibility is backed up with a certain level of authority, the job satisfaction increases. Certain strategies could be used to enhance responsibility and authority. These include:
(i) gradually increasing staff autonomy.
(ii) giving librarians freedom to be creative.
(iii) allowing independence in decision making; et cetera.
According to Adams (quoted in Onah (2002), equity theory postulates that people want to be treated fairly. This is a very important aspect of motivation. Librarians work better in an environment where reward is given to deserving individuals and punishment meted out to workers who deserve it regardless of whom they are accordingly. Any sign of inequity is de-motivational and must be abhorred.
Every member of the library should be made to understand the bases of reward and punishment given to individuals.
According to Ezeani (2004:48) “Staff development is a planned activity that equips staff to learn, to grow, and to acquire and maintain all the necessary skills and competencies needed to effectively achieve and maintain quality library services”. Staff development is the highest kind of motivation for hard work any library staff can receive. This is because, the need to grow and develop professionally is fundamental to our work. Motivation wanes when there is limited opportunity for development. Library managers should always be committed to staff development, this can be encouraged by:
- Sponsoring librarians in training programs and conferences.
- Encouraging special training /seminars/workshops from time to time with a view to keeping staff abreast with current research and technologies in the library profession
- Encouraging academic leave for staff to be able to develop their
Staff Welfare Scheme:
Staff welfare involves the whole package organized by the employers for the well being of employee with a view to enhancing the quality of life of workers. In the library profession various welfare schemes exit for staff. These include:
- Medical / health facilities for workers.
- Accommodation / accommodation allowance.
- Transport allowance
- Welfare package for staff in the event of death of a spouse
- Pension /gratuity.
All these help workers to put in their best. It is interesting to observe that welfare schemes are very much valued by workers so much so that a worker might settle for less pay in a library where the welfare scheme is more attractive and better organized.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In business and industry, libraries have become increasingly important as information departments; in academic institutions, they are acknowledged to be an indispensable part of the teaching and research program. It, therefore, follows that motivation must be very basic to the library. This is particularly important because every aspect of the library work is intimately determined by the competence, motivation and effectiveness of the human resources. This shows that managing the human resources is very crucial since all else depends on it. This article has therefore tried to establish the importance of motivation in libraries and the various motivational strategies in the library profession. I will end by positing that motivation is crucial in management and any library manager who plays down on it will definitely slow down productivity as well. Besides, librarianship is a service profession and therefore very important that librarians be adequately motivated for them to be able to live up to their mandate of providing information and knowledge to patrons
Employers must design a positive, high employee morale work environment that enables librarians to use their talents and skills. Make staff professional and personal development a priority for librarians’ motivation. This is the only way to retain the best employees and create the motivational environment where they will thrive.
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