User Education

Education is a lifelong learning process, there is no end. As far as library activities are concerns, the users are illiterates. They need some sought of user education on how to use library resources and services. Because the collection of libraries is very complicated to know how to use and what the service available is etc., they must need assistance and guidance. It has its own objectives. Broadly it means to bring awareness about or to guide the users, about library facilities, collection, services, etc. for new users this type of guidance is necessary.

Definition of User Education:

“User education is a process of activities involved in making the users of the library conscious about the tremendous value of information in day to day life to develop interest among the users to seek information as and when they require” (Shahi)

“User Education is the program that equips library users with skills to access, evaluate and use the information to satisfy their needs” (IGI Global)

So, we can say that user education may be defined as a process or program through, which the potential users of information are made aware of the value of information and are motivated to use information resources.

Methods of User Education:

User Education can be conducted in the following methods;

  1. Lecture Method: Lectures are the most common methods of instruction. They are used for teaching large groups of students. In the lecture method of teaching both auditory as well as visual sensory inputs are made use of the lecture as a form of communication in education has been strongly criticized. It is only suitable for providing a general introduction to a course on information retrieval. The lecture method may be more effective to a mature group of audiences rather than beginners.
  2. Using Audio-visual Materials: In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the use of audio-visual media in the teaching and learning process in general and for library user education in particular. As a result, the information can be conveyed in a series of units such as slides or overhead transparencies or printed illustrations. This would suggest that tap/slide medium or the use of audio-visual tape in conjunction with printed materials would be suitable for library user education.
  3. Using Computer Assisted Learning: During the last two decades, computers are increasingly being used for information activities. This has resulted in the rapid growth of computer-based online information retrieval systems. The use of this method depends on the education of users and the availability and functioning of this method of information retrieval.
  4. On-Site Visit to the Library: Librarians have become more particular regarding the evaluation of programs of library instruction. It might be emphasized that evaluation and the feedback received in the process will lead to the improvement of the education users.

Levels of User Education:

The user education program can be divided into three levels as follows;

i. Library Orientation: It is an introduction to the library building, card catalogue, and some basic reference materials. The orientation aimed to the follows;

  • Motivation for searching and using the information.
  • Creating awareness about available information resources.
  • Exposing them to various organizational tools of the library.

ii. Library Instruction: It teaches the users, how to use the indexes, bibliographic tools, abstracts, and other reference materials. This level often gives instructions to the researchers in their field to get specific information resources. The aims are as follows

  • Provide specific instructions on how to use and understand specific information systems, information sources, and tools.

iii. Bibliographic Instruction: Normally, it is difficult to use the bibliographic tools because of their organizational pattern. Thus, these instructions aim at;

  • Exposing to the users the bibliographical tools. Providing guidance to understand the features of these tools and their nature of subject coverage.

Finally, we can say that information technology plays a unique role in storing, managing, and retrieving information effectively. Networking and multi-user environment and multi-media have been an important development in the field of IT. Libraries are increasing their efficiency and effectiveness of their operations and services in this environment. To familiar the users with these technologies, User Education is essential programs that need to support the concept of educating for a lifetime.