“What’s happening over there?”: a study of the current state of services, challenges, and prospects in Nigerian medical libraries


  • Biliamin Oladele Popoola Systems and Evidence-Based Medicine Librarian, University Library, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo State http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0809-1210
  • Ngozi Celestina Uzoagba Senior Librarian, Medical Library, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Nafisa Rabiu Assistant Lecturer, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Ilorin




Libraries, Health Sciences, Medical Libraries, Nigeria


Objective: The authors examined the current state of service delivery, collections, and challenges in Nigerian medical libraries.

Methods: We employed a descriptive mixed method research design using a cross-sectional quantitative survey of Nigerian medical librarians and qualitative interviews with heads of selected Nigerian medical libraries.

Results: Respondents indicated that the US National Library of Medicine classification scheme is most commonly used to organize the resources of medical libraries in Nigeria. Respondents indicated that library users have a high understanding about the library but exhibit low usage of library services. Nigerian medical libraries have social media accounts but use them infrequently. Most medical librarians do not provide specialized services to health care professionals, and monographs are the major information resources in their collections. Most medical librarians in Nigeria have beginner-level knowledge of systematic reviews and evidence-based medicine and rarely organize training for library users.

Conclusion: Our findings show that services offered by medical libraries in Nigeria are still evolving. Identified skill deficits among medical librarians need to be addressed. The country’s library associations and international programs in developing countries should focus on providing continuing education and training of Nigerian medical librarians to enhance their support for medical education and practice in Nigeria.

Author Biography

Nafisa Rabiu, Assistant Lecturer, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Ilorin

Assistant Lecturer, Department of Library and Information Science, University of Ilorin, Nigeria


Dimitroff A. Research in health sciences library and information science: a quantitative analysis. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1992 Oct;80(4):340–6.

Popoola BO. Involving libraries in improving health literacy to achieve sustainable development goal‐3 in developing economies: a literature review. Health Inf Libr J. 2019 Jun;36(2):111–20. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hir.12255.

Obaka DN. The challenge of medical librarianship in Nigeria. Int Libr Rev. 1985;17(1):51–66. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0020-7837(85)90017-2.

Cannon DA. The development of medical library facilities in Nigeria. Libri. 1954;3:184–7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/LIBR.1954.3.1-4.184.

Clark HM. The development of medical library facilities in Nigeria. Libri 1954;3:183. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/LIBR.1954.3.1-4.183.

Belleh GS. Medical librarianship in Nigeria—a review of the literature and comments on some problems and prospects. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1975 Apr;63(2):199–208.

Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria. Approved schools [Internet]. The Council [cited 6 Dec 2019]. <https://www.nmcn.gov.ng/apschool.html>.

Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. Status of accredited medical and dental schools in Nigeria [Internet]. The Council [cited 6 Dec 2019]. <https://www.mdcn.gov.ng/page/education/accredited-medical-and-dental-schools-in-nigeria>.

Oluwakuyide A. An examination of Nigerian medical library service and problems. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1972 Apr;60(2):315–8.

Amosu M. Medical library development at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1974 Jan;62(1):49–51.

Sulemani SB, Afarikumah E, Aggrey SB, Ajuwon, GA, Diallo O. International trends in health science librarianship part 15: West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal). Health Inf Libr J. 2015 Sep;32(3):241–6. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hir.12109.

Anyaoku E.N. Evaluating undergraduate students and use of medical library resources: a study of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria. Int J Libr Sci. 2015;4(3):53–8.

Ullah M, Ameen K, Bakhtar S. Professional activities, needed competencies and training needs of medical librarians in Pakistan. Educ Inf. 2011;28(2–4):115–23. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/EFI-2010-0895.

Bhatt A. An analytical study of the medical college libraries of Gujarat in the Age of Information Technology. Libr Philosophy Pract. 2012;697. (Available from: <https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/697>. [cited 11 Feb 2020].)

Makri S, Blandford A, Gow J, Rimmer J, Warwick C, Buchanan G. A library or just another information resource? a case study of users’ mental models of traditional and digital libraries. J Am Soc Inf Sci Technol. 2007 Feb;58(3):433–45. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.20510.

Okeke O.C, Eze SGN, Eze JU, Asogwa GE. Status of medical library resources and services in teaching hospitals in Enugu State, Nigeria: implications for quality health care services. Int J Knowl Content Develop Technol. 2017 Jun;7(2):21–40.

Hendrix D, Chiarella D, Hasman L, Murphy S, Zafron ML. Use of Facebook in academic health sciences libraries. J Med Libr Assoc. 2009 Jan;97(1):44–7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.97.1.008.

Quadri GO, Idowu OA. Social media use by librarians for information dissemination in three federal university libraries in Southwest Nigeria. J Libr Inf Serv Distance Learn. 2016;10(1–2):30–40. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1533290X.2016.1156597.

Okoroma FN. Issues and the use of social media in reference services by academic library personnel in Nigeria. Advances Soc Sci Res J. 2017 Jun;4(12):187–99. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14738/assrj.412.3285.

Young SWH, Rossmann D. Building library community through social media. Inf Technol Libr. 2015 Mar;34(1):20–37. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6017/ital.v34i1.5625.

Benson OV, Okorafor K, Ekeruche AC. Application of social media to library service delivery: perception of library and information science practitioners in Imo State, Nigeria. Inf Technol. 2017;14(2).

Brettle A. Systematic reviews and evidence based library and information practice. Evidence Based Libr Inf Pract. 2009;4(1):43–50. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18438/B8N613.

Cooper ID, Crum JA. New activities and changing roles of health sciences librarians: a systematic review, 1990–2012. J Med Libr Assoc. 2013 Oct;101(4):268–77. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.101.4.008.

Murphy SA, Boden C. Benchmarking participation of Canadian university health sciences librarians in systematic reviews. J Med Libr Assoc. 2015 Apr;103(2):73–8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.103.2.003.

Hutchinson TP, Meier AJ. Evidence-based anything: priorities for librarians. Electron J Acad Spec Librariansh. 2007;8(2):1–8.

Lewis S. I work in a hospital library: that makes me a health librarian, doesn’t it? Presented at: Positioning the Profession, 10th International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML); Brisbane, Australia; 31 Aug–4 Sep 2009.

Blanco MA, Capello FC, Dorsch JL, Perry GJ, Zanetti ML. A survey study of evidence-based medicine training in US and Canadian medical schools. J Med Libr Assoc. 2014 Jul;102(3):160–8. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.102.3.005.

Ducas A, Demczuk L, Macdonald K. Results of a survey to benchmark Canadian health facility libraries. J Can Health Libr Assoc. 2015;36(1):3–10. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5596/c15-008.

Ayala AP, Lenton E. More than expert searchers? a case study for librarians exploring roles beyond databases. Presented at: Mosaic ’16, joint conference of the Medical Library Association, Canadian Health Libraries Association, and International Clinical Librarian Conference; Toronto, ON, Canada; May 2016.

Okeke OC, Eze SGN, Eze JU, Asogwa GE. Status of medical library resources and services in teaching hospitals in Enugu State, Nigeria: implications for quality health care services. Int J Knowl Content Develop Technol. 2017;7(2):21–40. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5865/IJKCT.2017.7.2.021.

Federer LM, Lu YL, Joubert DJ. Data literacy training needs of biomedical researchers. J Med Libr Assoc. 2016 Jan;104(1):52–7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3163/1536-5050.104.1.008.

Frandsen TF, Tibyampansha D, Ibrahim GR, von Isenberg M. Library training to promote electronic resource usage: a case study in information literacy assessment. Inf Learn Sci. 2017;118(11/12):618–28. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/ILS-08-2017-0082.

Epstein BA. Health sciences libraries in the United States: new directions. Health Inf Libr J. 2017 Dec;34(4):307–11. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hir.12199.

Ekene U, Agbo AD, Onyekweodiri NE. Assessment of available resources and library services provided in two medical libraries in South-East Nigeria. Int J Libr Sci. 2016;5(1):1–6.






Original Investigation