3 Easy Steps To Learn English Grammar With Mini-Stories

While most English students struggle to learn English grammar, mini-stories instantly turned Rinaldo Guerreiro into a fluent English speaker. Now an English speaking maven, this former English student of mine now teaches others students just like himself in several different English schools. And he now creates his own mini-stories to teach his English students.

Junior is not a language geek. He was not ‘holed’ up in a cave 14 hours a day to learn English. He is just a normal, small-town person his English students can relate to. You too, can become an English speaking maven — and even teach others too — when you follow my grammar learning strategies below.

My Fool-Proof Plan to Mastering English Grammar With Mini-Stories
There are two major problems that English students face when studying grammar. The first is they spend way too much time focusing on the exceptions and waste time that could be used more profitably.

The second problem is that when they want to talk in English, they have to pause to remember all the rules and exceptions to the rules before they can say anything. That kills your fluency and makes you stumble over your words and sentences.

Using mini-stories and following these three simple steps will help you overcome both of these problems that most English students face with a single blow.

Step 1: Listen To Your English Mini-Story
Once you have a mini-story that focuses on the English grammar structure that you want to learn, you need to listen to it many times. This will allow you to begin assimilating the grammar structure before you begin to study the grammar rules. This will make it much easier to understand.

Listen to your English mini-story several times a day. And do this for several days. It is important that you understand the story well and grasp its internal structure implicitly before you try to memorize any of the rules. Otherwise the rules just won’t make sense.

Instead you want to use the grammar rules to explain what you have already seen in the story because that is how children learn to speak their mother-tongue. First they learn how to talk. Then they go to school to study grammar. So, why learn English any differently?

Step 2: Study Your Grammar Lesson
So, after you have listened to the mini-story several times and understand it, now it is time to study your grammar lesson. Now this is where most English student make the fatal mistake of getting bogged down in the details.

Most want to learn all the rules and exceptions to each rule…and waste lots of time where it isn’t profitable. At this point in you English learning process you want to speak English fluently like a native. And native speakers make lots of ‘grammar’ mistakes…which means that if you speak too perfectly you won’t sound like a native.

There is nothing wrong with that…if you are the head English professor in some fancy language university where you want to impress everyone. But if you’re like 99% of the English students I know — you just want to be able to express yourself clearly and easily.

So, don’t get bogged down in the details and all the exceptions to the grammar rules. Instead of spending weeks trying to learn how the grammar doesn’t work…you can spend just five minutes watching a quick video to understand how it does work.

Focusing on the basics…means that you can spend your effort and energy on what is most important — developing your fluency.

Step 3: Do Your Grammar Exercises
Now that you understand the basic concepts of the grammar structure…it’s time to put your skills into practice. So, this is where you want to do some basic English grammar exercises.

Not only will you be practicing what you are learning…but you will also be testing yourself which means that you will be able to evaluate if you really understood what you learned correctly.

Okay! I know I promised you three steps…but I wanted to give you an extra bonus step here that will really help you master the grammar structures that you are learning.

Bonus Step: Listen To The Grammar Mini-Story
For best results when learning something, you must compare it to something else. That way you can look at the similarities and differences between each one. So, what I always recommend that you do is listen to your original mini-story again…but this time with a different grammar structure.

For example, if your original mini-story was in the present continuous…you would now want to hear it in the past continuous or the present perfect. That way you can observe what changes between the structures and what remains the same.

Follow these steps, and you will master the English grammar structures quickly and easily so you can speak English fluently and proficiently like a native speaker in the least amount of time.

Tools You Need to Learn English

Many people are not aware of the right approach and right tools to learn English easily and quickly. The moment we think of learning English, big books that are difficult to read or understand come to our mind. Another thing that strikes our mind is spoken English institute.
Are they really helpful? Ask anybody who tried these things. The answer will most probably be ‘No’. Then why are people still following these things which never provide efficient results?
Before you look for an easy and quick way to improve English, you should first understand that English is a skill and not a subject. Hence, stuffing the information from every nook and corner of the English books will not help. It is not the right way to go about learning a language.
Learning English is simple and all it takes is the right process of learning. Firstly, you need to have a minimum set of tools to learn English quickly and easily. Let us have a look at them.
Vocabulary book: What is a language without words? Until and unless you are aware of the words, you cannot use the language properly. Vocabulary book, may sound like any other boring book, but is actually interesting as it contains all the commonly used words in that language. Probably, the fast way to improve English is to learn commonly used words.
Dictionary: Dictionary and vocabulary book may sound similar but they are not. The vocabulary book gives only a list of commonly used words along with their meanings, their origin plus some examples to make it easy to use the words. Whereas, the dictionary gives the words and meaning and sometimes how to use them in the language; along with some grammatical information. It is good to be familiar with the most common words and their meanings in English. Dictionary makes it easier to understand the words. You use a dictionary to find meanings of words for which you are not sure of the meaning, especially as you are reading something. You use the vocabulary book so that you can use the right words easily while speaking and writing.
Illustrated comics and stories: If you think that above sources are serious, then here comes the entertainment side of the language. The smarter way to learn English is to find something easy and fun so that you put more effort to improve English skills. It’s not advisable to do difficult language exercises or go through serious literature to improve and learn English quickly. Illustrated comics and stories are the best aids to improve and learn English quickly while having fun.
Note book: A dedicated note book for writing notes while learning English makes it easy to progress quickly. English learning process will take longer without this. A good learner will make a note of important points to remember for future reference in the process of learning. Later, he can look through the small notes or refer them regularly to improve English skills.
The number of tools mentioned above may appear less, but they are the most effective ones which help in going through the English learning process easily. I believe that learning process should always be kept simple, to be productive. It is not about struggle, it is about smooth process. Proper usage of these tools will ensure you get command over English quickly and easily.

Learning English Is Crucial to Your Success

Learning the English language is truly a necessity for everyone in this day and age. The Internet has really created an interconnected global community, and its universal language is English. It is not uncommon for US, Canadian, Australian and UK businesses to have staff, partners and customers all over the world. The travel industry, international politics, Internet and media are predominantly English now and in order to keep up in today’s world, people are finding that they need to speak English more and more. No matter where you live or what you do, fluency in English is becoming a necessity to function in today’s society.
As one of the most widely spoken languages, English is known as the international language. Even in countries where it is not the official language, it is becoming more commonly spoken every day. With the current global media influence, English is the most common second language in the world. More than 400 million people speak English as their mother tongue, and over 700 million have learned it as a second language.
We now live in the “Information Age,” and if you think about it, the majority of that information is in English. Most websites, magazines, books, videos and research materials are in English. If you use the Internet at all in your business or personal affairs, I’m sure you have begun to realize this. In fact, the majority of software on the market today is in English as well, so even using your computer is becoming harder if you don’t speak English. The widespread use of the Internet and social media online has made English proficiency more and more sought after.
If you are looking to do business globally, or even just in the US market, a solid grasp of the English language will be necessary for you to succeed. The opportunities for business growth or even gainful employment are much greater for English-speaking people. If you currently do business in a non-English speaking country, you can expect your profits to sky-rocket once you expand globally. The US has the highest concentration of consumers in the world and controls most of the market-share in many sectors worldwide. Breaking into that market can be extremely lucrative for overseas businesses that are able to do so, and naturally, you will have much more success if you are fluent in English.
Career opportunities for people who are fluent in English are much more abundant than for those who are not. People who live in poorer areas of the world can easily get very high-paying jobs in the American market. Teleworking and working online is becoming commonplace in the business world today. American companies are outsourcing work to people in the Philippines, China, India and other countries very frequently now. The vast difference in the rates of pay and cost of living in these countries make it very lucrative for both the employer and the employee. An employee in the Philippines working for an American company, for example, can easily earn a day’s pay in an hour! Adding “Excellent written and spoken English” to your resume or CV will put you miles ahead of the other job applicants and will allow you to earn a higher salary. If you are considering immigrating to an English-speaking country, you will need to prove that you possess a good command of English. Most of these countries have language requirements that must be met in order to gain residency status.
Those who do business online will be interested to know that over 565 million of Internet users are English. The majority of the websites are English as well. Needless to say, if you want to compete in the global market, English is a requirement, and by having your website available in English, you will increase your reach and readership by leaps and bounds. Expanding your business overseas is much easier these days in our interconnected world, and being able to serve your client base in a common language will allow you to do that.
Even if you are not interested in doing business globally, you may have the opportunity to travel internationally at some point. While it would be impossible to learn every language of every country you want to visit, just knowing how to speak English will make your trip much more enjoyable. Business people all over the world are increasing their English-speaking staff. This means that if you can speak English, you will have an easier time ordering at restaurants, booking hotels, asking questions and getting directions, shopping and generally enjoying your trip to a foreign country. If you aren’t able to communicate with people in the country you are visiting, chances are you won’t have a very good vacation.
Most of the top-rated universities in the world are in English-speaking countries – the US, UK, Australia and Canada. If you are considering studying abroad, you will need to be fluent in English not only to study in these institutions, but also to gain entry and obtain a study permit in that country. Books from all over the world are often translated into English, more often than any other language. Studying any subject will be much easier with access to the billions of books available in English. With a strong command of the English language you will be opening doors to so many top of the line educational facilities and thus allowing you to unlock your full potential with no linguistic barriers.
Comparatively, English is much easier to learn than many other languages. The alphabet is simple, with only 26 characters and no accents; grammar rules are simpler than many other languages; verb tenses, pluralization and possessive pronouns are quite easy to learn. Depending on what your native language is, you will most likely find English to be quite straightforward and easy to comprehend. The effort involved in learning is well worth the multitude of benefits. If you put in the time and effort to learn English, you will truly be unlocking opportunities in your professional and personal life that will lead to a fuller and more satisfying future.
Of course, it’s not necessary to become completely fluent right away. You can easily learn how to speak English well enough to land a great job or communicate effectively without perfecting every aspect of English grammar. There are numerous online English Language training tools that are very effective. These tools are the perfect way to learn to speak English very quickly.

Marketing Public Library Services in Sierra Leone

Introduction
The concept of instituting marketing principles to non-profit institutions such as library and information Services is no longer a controversy. Organizations operate in an environment of change. Today we live in a global market for many goods and services in which technology, purchasing power and many factors change on a regular basis. One of the key functions of marketing is to find out how these changes affect clientele’s wants and needs and to develop organizational strategies and plans that will ensure that the library meets these challenges (Dransfield and Needham, 1995). It is therefore not surprising that public librarians are joining the marketing bandwagon. This article explores the marketing activities in the operations of the Sierra Leone Public Library services.
Public Libraries
A Public Library is funded wholly and partly from public funds and the use of which is not restricted to any class persons in the community but freely available to all. It is a major agency of enlightenment for adults, providing for children the recorded experiences of others which will help them grow into adults.
Usherhood (1981) defined Public Library as an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some form of or other community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services and equally available to members of the public community regardless of race, nationality, economic and employment status and educational attainment.
The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB)
The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) was established by Ordinance in June, 1959. The setting up of the Board was envisaged in the Government’s White Paper on Educational Development in 1958 and its functions outlined therein as follows:
• To provide a national/public library Service;
• To support and reinforce program of adult and fundamental education;
• To provide effective services for children and young adults including requisite services to schools;
• To provide much needed information and references services;
• To provide where needed adequate services for special groups, that is women and girls, language groups.
The Central Library is designed to give public services to Freetown and also to function as headquarter of the National/Public Library services and to provide accommodation for a growing collection of book and non-book materials in the country. It does all technical processing of stock for the Regional and Branch Libraries and has an Adult Lending Reference and a Children’s department.
Libraries are charged with responsibility to provide information service to support educational, recreation and personal endeavors of the members of their respective communities and the Sierra Leone Library Board is not an exception to that. The following services are provided at the Sierra Leone Library Board to Clientele:
Children Services
The Sierra Leone Library Board provides information services to children by the provision of books and other materials for children which are often housed in a special section known as the Children’s Library. A special service for children known as child orientated educational program specially designed for younger library users is included in the children’s library services. They also provide services to children through storytelling, drama/play and reading aloud.
Book Borrowing and Lending Service
The main task of Sierra Leone Library Board is to provide the public with access to books and periodicals. The Sierra Leone Library Board typically offers access to a variety of books which are available for borrowing by anyone with the appropriate library card.
Current Awareness Service
At the Sierra Leone Library Board, current awareness service is aimed at bringing to the notice of potential users, newly available documents and information services. This is done by collating information and producing new secondary sources, circulating current periodicals or other documents acquired and producing and distributing one or more forms of bulletins.
Selective Dissemination of Information
A more personal information service is being run at the Sierra Leone Library Board in which the library constantly notifies library users about particular information/materials matching them in a profile of the information needs and research pre-occupation of their clientele. This is done by either bringing references to relevant items to the notice of their clients and by obtaining copies and then supply the documents themselves to library users.
Outreach Services
The Sierra Leone Library Board provides outreach information services which is committed to developing library outreach program for non-users, the undeserved, and people with special needs in the communities in restricted areas.
Computer and Internet Services
In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, information resources and government services are being provided online by the Sierra Leone Library Board. This is done by providing access to the Internet and public computers for users who otherwise would not be able to connect to these services.
Library Marketing
Marketing is often viewed as a set of strategies and techniques that belongs to administrators outside of librarianship. But, librarians are also involved in the marketing process. The essence of marketing involves finding out users needs and want, then setting out to meet these needs.
Marketing according to Weingand (1995) “can be viewed as a process of exchange and a way to foster partnership between the library and its community” (p.296). In order to maintain the relationship between the public library and the community, marketing strategies have to be employed as effective tool.
Marketing in the public library means more than simply promotion or selling. It is more concerned about user needs. Marketing the Public Library is a social and managerial process by which products and services as well as values are exchanged in order to fulfill individuals or group needs. Marketing refers to those instruments through which information, both raw and processed, are transmitted to its members. Promotion or campaigning is but two activities in the broader exercise of marketing
Planning Library Marketing Program
The continued existence of libraries, if not their survivals, may well depend upon the use of marketing and planning strategies, communicated through effective public relations, to significantly alter the perceived role and position of the library in society.
In a real sense, Public Relation is the promotion component of a full marketing plan of library program. It can be seen as the communicated module which serves the promotion function; conversely, it may be easily depicted as a philosophical relationship between library and community which serves as a guiding light for promotion activities.
Both communication and research skills serve well in the marketing planning process of which Public Relations is an important component. Specific skills and knowledge are also needed in marketing planning programs for libraries. It goes without saying that both ongoing marketing planning and programs, and in particular, how the needs of different groups of users differ from each other. Library and information services are complex entities, as are the human users and potential users of these services.
Planning, promotion and campaigning are but all activities in the boarder exercise of marketing. User studies therefore, have a very wide range of uses in relation to the planning of library marketing programs of a service. They contribute in the planning, promotion and development of library services. In their contribution they help in the understanding of different user group behavior and their needs, and can assist in effective campaigning and planning process.
Three steps to planning library marketing programs are:
• Knowing what your beliefs are and therefore what you want to achieve;
• Communicating these beliefs as practical objectives to the people with whom you work, in order that these objectives can be fulfilled; and
• Creating a vehicle which allows this to happen. This can only be achieved by defining the basic components and through organization.
Methods of marketing in Sierra Leone Library Board
Book Displays and Exhibitions
Displays and exhibitions are widely used in most public libraries as a marketing strategy to sell their products or items. The SLLB displays jackets of new books which are not yet included in the lending department for easy access by users and to increase usage. It is also a means of drawing the attention of users and non-users to particular aspects of library resources and services.
Printed materials and Publications
In order to make a very good image of the public library and for public librarians to establish better communication between the library and users, publicity programs are put in place by the management of the Sierra Leone Library Board through news release. The management also considers annual reports and newspapers as basic publicity techniques. Publications such as bibliographies, guides and brochures are used by the library to communicate with the wider public.
Public Relations Office
Public relations according to Usherhood (1981) is concerned with gaining of public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution. It is a process that furthers mental understanding and cooperation between a government; or any organization and its various public. The Sierra Leone Library Board has a Public Relations Office charged with the responsibility to enhance a smooth system of communication.
User Education/Readers Advisory Service
This could be described as training a group of users in the effective use of the library and its resources. It is used to stimulate the users to make greater use of the library and introduces library staff to clientele who might be reluctant to seek their assistance. This is the principal means through which library staff can learn about readers’ needs, opinions and habits. Good communication with readers enables staff to inform and influence readers.
The Media
These involve printed and audio-visual forms of communication and any necessary equipment to render them usable. The Press, radio and television are important means of publicizing information service, since they offer potential of reaching many people from all walks of life. The media are cultivated so that messages are distributed with regularity. Publicity mechanism such as news releases, special events and brochures can also be employed.
The Social Media Groups (SMG)
The Sierra Leone Library Board makes use of the Social media groups such as ‘Facebook’ and ‘Watsapp’ as an effective way for publicity in order to put their messages across to users of their services.
Challenges of Marketing Library and Information Services at the SLLB
A lot of challenges have militated against the effective planning and implementation of library marketing programs at SLLB. The following are some of the challenges:
• Inadequate Staff: Although staff numbers have been maintained, the ratio of professional staff is very low. The library is manned mostly by paraprofessionals who mostly lack the skills to plan and implement marketing programs.
• Finance: The library depends heavily on government subsidy. The government has no specific or substantial funds for the running of the library thus the library administration has to foot most of the bills that have to do with marketing. The irregular flow of funds has served as a barrier to the progress of marketing library and information services at the SLLB.
• Lack of standard printed materials and publications: The SLLB lacks most standard printed materials and publications due to poor planning of marketing programs. This negligence has made the library handicapped of public relations tools in the form of printed materials and publications such as newsletters, questionnaires, diaries and calendars.
• Displays are improper and exhibitions seem almost absent: The library depends mostly on donations and most of the books are acquired without jackets. Therefore displaying book jackets in inconsistent. In fact exhibition programs are yet to survive as they are only recently introduced. The library lacks relevant display and exhibition materials to mount these activities.
• Inability to organize frequent Radio Programs: The SLLB lacks media communication facilities. The library cannot frequently organize radio programs on its own because of lack of funds. The absence of radio programs stands out as an acute problem to the progress of marketing programs in the library.
Conclusively, marketing is the instrument that libraries use to transform their aims and objectives into operational plans of action. In most developing countries’ public libraries such as the SLLB, marketing strategies cannot operate properly due to the existence of bottlenecks in planning programs. Good marketing programs actualize the plans and measures necessary for the achievement of goals and objectives.

Learning English From Home

Learning a new language can be difficult and overwhelming, even when the language is a popular one. Many people hope to learn English through different ways of learning as a way to increase opportunities and job related skills, while others simply want to improve upon their personal knowledge. Different people learn best in different methods. Some people learn quickly by reading books themselves because they have better ability to process the information and remember it. Others might do it better when they go in a group. They can share and discuss more knowledge and gain new ideas with the teacher and friends. Some people even do better when they are alone because they don’t need somebody every time to practice. You can speak English on your own. Out of all the above options, learning English from home is the best option because it gives flexibility to learn at any convenient time.
So if you do not have adequate time to go out somewhere, but still you want to learn it anyhow, then learning English at home is the best option. Whether you are a complete beginner of the language or you already have a little knowledge of the English language, its possible to learn English at home no matter where you live. This type of English language learning will maximize your progress in English, in the shortest period of time, & that too in a relaxed and hospitable environment.
There are many advantages for choosing to learn English at home:

  • It will give you the options of different learning methods like online English learning websites, English learning kits, Podcasts etc.
  • You get flexible and hassle free learning sessions with it. Here you don’t need to plan your schedule or spend your time in going to a coaching class. You have complete convenience of choosing your own time and place for learning.
  • You are not dependent on anyone for your learning. You learn independently, which not only makes you independent but also increases your self confidence.
  • It allows the whole family as well as friends to learn using the same material. This is cost effective & furthermore it also provides flexible learning to everyone.
  • You can use these learning from home material anytime throughout your life. You can revise your learning even after a couple of months or years of your learning.

There are different ways of learning English at home. But the most important aspect is to stay motivated and practice regularly, so that you can improve your language skills. Different ways to learn English at home are:-
Books/Websites/English learning kits
To speak fluent English, you need to understand the rules of grammar. You can learn these through a book or a website or an English learning kit that specializes in teaching English. If possible, choose a resource that includes explanations in your native language. English learning kits are a huge success these days. With these, learning English has become absolute fun! These interactive English learning kits allow you to practice vocabulary as per your own time & convenience.
Flash Cards
Create flash cards that are relevant to the type of English that you wish to learn. For example, if you’re studying English for business, you’ll need to know English words that relate to business. Review the cards on a daily basis. This is a good way to build your vocabulary words.
Watching English movies
If you are a fan of English movies, then learning English can be more than fun. Learning English by watching movies is learning by input, which is both enjoyable & motivational. You learn a lot of things from watching English movies such as – pronunciation, vocabulary, style, intonation even western culture, habit etc.
Podcasts
Listening to others speak English is an essential skill. You can improve listening skills through Podcasts, which you can listen to on your Mp3 player. Start with Podcasts created for non- English speakers, which will include slow, clear language. As your skills improve, you can start listening to Podcasts on topics that interest you
Out of the several options available, it’s up to to the learner which learning method he/she wants to adopt to learn the language but one thing you should always keep in mind that whatever learning method you choose, you should be self motivated.
So learn English by staying at home & boost your confidence in your work & social life.

Reference Services in Academic Libraries in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Society is becoming more stratified and polarized, with the rich and the poor, the educated and uneducated, having limited cognitive skills wider apart than in any time in our history. In this period of increasing stratification by income and ability, the library in academic institutions may acts as a bridge between the entrenched social poles.

Reference libraries have the longest history of any type of library. They existed in the days of clay tablet and from such tablets, information was consulted and a list of concerns is being regarded as the primitive forerunners of current library catalogues. From their beginnings in ancient times, the functions of libraries have not altered significantly. However the format, quantity and content of the materials making up their stock and the resultant services have progressively been transformed to the point where the researchers today have access to a network of sophisticated information resources. The primary role of the library is educational and this has been the attitude if not the realization of reference librarians (Higgens, 1988).

Academic libraries are those designed to meet general studies at the undergraduate and graduate levels and which also support their parent institutions in delivering their programs for an effective teaching and implementation of practical skills. Higgens (1988) defined an academic library as that attached to help academic institutions above secondary level serving the teaching and research needs of students, staff and researchers. According to Harrods (2000) academic libraries are those found in universities, polytechnics, colleges and all other institutions forming part of or associated with the educational institutions.

Reference Services at the Fourah Bay College Library

Fourah Bay College library was established in 1827. It is located at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone in the Michael Jollife Building which was named after the late Mr. Michael Jollife, an expatriate who served as College librarian from 1961-1970.

The first floor of the library houses the reception desk; photocopying room; issue desk; Sierra Leone Collection (incorporating the United Nations Collection); the American Shelf; General Reference Collection; Cataloguing Department; Acquisition Department; Circulation Department and the College Librarian’s office. The second floor holds the Textbook Collection. The third floor contains the General Lending Collection.

The lower ground floor houses the Bindery; staff rooms and stores. The library has Professional, Para-professional and other support staff. It uses the Dewey Decimal Classification Scheme and the Triplicate Issuing System with Card catalogue.

Fourah Bay College library is one of the outstanding academic libraries in Sierra Leone established with the mission statement “to build a comprehensive collection of recorded information to support effective teaching, research and training in the Liberal Arts, Pure and Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Social Sciences and Law and related fields to facilitate speedy access to information, and to optimize the use of collection by potential library users of Fourah Bay College and other institutions.”

Reference Service is the peak of library activity job. It involves the maintenance of a resource bank from which answers to queries are provided and materials needed by users are made available.Davidson (1979) defined reference service as the provision of information and materials to people entering a reference library and requesting help from the library staff. Katz (1997) viewed reference service as the behind-the-scene activities of the reference library in the selection, acquisition and maintenance of the library stock and its careful recordings and administration.

When we talk of reference service in academic libraries, we mean those activities undertaken by librarians and associated types of staff from the reference department in academic libraries. This is achieved through the use of collection of books, and other materials stocked in the reference department for reference purposes distinct from collection made for home reading or other use outside the library. The reference process in academic libraries involves the following:

• The user recognizes his need for information;
• The user puts his question to the librarian;
• The librarian engages the questioner in a reference dialogue;
• The librarian refines and restates the question;
• The librarian formulates the search strategy;
• The librarian identifies and exploits his own and/or external information resources;
• The librarian presents his tentative findings;
• The user assesses the relevance of these in relation to his requirements; and
• The user accepts an approved answer.

Reference materials at the Fourah Bay College Library include:dictionaries, encyclopedias, abstract journals, directories, yearbooks, biographies periodicals/serials, indexes to periodicals, newspapers, maps and charts, technical reports, patents, standard specifications, dissertations, theses, conference proceedings and the academic and administrative calendar of events or the operation of the college.

In addition to these materials the library offers the following services:

Reference Service: This refers to the personal assistance given to users in finding specific information whether direct or indirect. At Fourah Bay College Library, a resource bank is maintained from which answers to questions are provided and materials needed by users are made available.

Bibliographic Service: The library prepares book lists and bibliographies for its clients, especially post-graduate students which serve as a great aid in their research activities especially in the writing of their theses and dissertation.

Photocopying Service: This service is provided for students who wish to photocopy their notes as well as lecturers who want to reproduce multiple copies of useful materials to make their lecture notes. Users pay a fee for this service.

Internet Service: This is the latest among the services provided at the Fourah Bay College Library. The Library provides an opportunity for staff and students to access information online via the use of the Internet. However, to use the system, the clientele must have some skills in the use computers and a fee is also charged for the service.

Binding Service: Mutilated references materials are sent to bindery to be bound. However it is not a free for all service as some cost is charged for the services rendered especially to students and for personal work of staff members.

The reference department at the Fourah Bay College library is a special one from which materials cannot be borrowed for home reading. It is served by special librarians called Reference Librarians or Information Officers, who assist and advise patrons in their research and other literature needs. They provide bibliographic or intellectual access and offer targeted services and programs with the mission of educating, informing and entertaining a variety of audiences and the goal of stimulating individual learning and advancing society as a whole.

Reference Queries:are also answered in the library. These questions posed by the library patrons to the reference librarians with the aim of getting the right information to satisfy their needs. These queries are divided into:

Directional Queries: These are queries in which the reference librarian is asked simply for directions.

Ready Reference Queries: These are referred to as quick reference questions. They are queries in which the reference librarians need to consult only one source, and that adjacent to the inquiry point, in order to deal with the user’s needs. This is distinguished from the purely directional level of work by the fact that the librarians need to consult some data rather than simply answer from personal knowledge.

Specific Search Queries: These are described as those in which reference librarians may need to consult several sources to ensure complete the satisfaction of user needs. They are the kind which are clearly understood without too much discussion and the sources required are obvious and fairly elementary.

Research Queries: These are queries that require extended searches, perhaps over several days and possibly involving a number of library staff concurrently. The marshaling of facts and figures from a wide range of sources, together with the need to write extensive background notes and explanations, and probably to borrow materials from other libraries and make a telephone call to advice or getting assistance from other libraries will be a feature of this type of query

Challenges of Reference Services at the Fourah Bay College Library

Academic Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially Fourah Bay College Library are not without challenges. These range from shortage of funds through lack of adequate professionally skilled staff to erratic power supply.

The library is wholly and solely dependent upon the college administration for funding. An assessment of funding at Fourah Bay College Library reveals that a very low priority is given to the institution’s academic nerve center. The library is gravely underfunded. Games and Sports Division is given a higher quotation than the library. This financial challenge has therefore limited the library in the provision of an excellent reference service to its clients. The library also lacks the required current reference materials to handle reference queries. This financial constraints has limited the library in acquiring the most recent reference materials.

Further the number of professional staff is small compared to the number of para-professional and other support staff. The reference section does not have adequate staff to handle the volume of reference queries from the bulk of the users of the library especially during peak periods.

Power outages also pose a serious challenge. The problem, though a national one, has affected the operations of the library. The 21st century library is supposed to be a digital library which must thrive on power supply. Sadly power supply in Sierra Leone is erratic and this has handicapped the Fourah Bay College library greatly. As such staff and users could not make use of such facilities as computer, searching the Internet for recent reference materials and information or photocopying materials which cannot be used outside the library or even have access to automated reference materials.

The reference department at the library does not have Internet facilities to aid in answering reference queries that require current response. Also the seating accommodation in the reference department at the library is inadequate and cannot accommodate the large number of students in the college who come in for reference services. The reference department also lacks Current Awareness Services (CAS), Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) all of which form the basis for reference services. Moreover the reference sources and resources available at the reference department are not well publicized or marketed which could serve as a strong link between the department and the clients.

Indeed, reference service is one of the most important services that a library uses to meet its aims and objectives. There is considerable potential in the use the college library of reference services but there are also many challenges. There should be therefore commitment on the part of the librarians, library administration, users and the college administration in order to achieve quality and sustainability in the development and improvement of reference services. Only through their active participation will reference services transform the teaching and learning process, alter the nature of information seeking, organizing and using behavior at Fourah Bay College.

Getting Self-Published Books in Libraries

Many authors have misconceptions about libraries. I have spoken to several authors who are resistant to have their books in libraries and will not donate copies. The resistance comes from a fear that people will check out their books for free and thereby hurt their book sales. Other authors do not bother with libraries because they believe self-published books are not accepted by libraries and they don’t want to argue with stereotypically snooty librarians.

Not acting based upon these misconceptions actually results in a loss of book sales for authors. Having a book in the library’s collection is one of the best things an author can do. Numerous advantages result from being in the library, but before authors can take advantage of those benefits, they need to get libraries to put their books on the shelves.

Working with Public Libraries

So how do you get your book in the library? The easiest way is to donate a book to your local public library. I have yet to meet a public library that would not add a donated book to its collection, provided the donation was done through the proper channels. Granted, there may be some exceptions because libraries, big as they often are, do have limited shelf space, so they need to make sure the books they carry will be read by their patrons. That said, if you can get your book on the shelf, you will have made a big step toward marketing your book to potential customers.

The key to donating your book is finding the right librarian to accept it. Do not just go to the circulation desk and say, “Here’s a book for the collection.” The person at the circulation desk is usually not the person who makes decisions about what books go on the shelves. He or she might just add the book to the stack of donated books, many of which end up in the library’s book sales to raise money for the library. Instead, call the library and ask to speak to the librarian in charge of collections. That person is the one in charge of buying books and deciding what books get to be on the shelves. Be prepared to give the person information about your book and offer to stop by or email the person with the book cover image. If you are polite and professional, this librarian may be your foot into the library door. Ask other local authors who the appropriate librarian is and what their dealings have been with that librarian so you are prepared for the reception you might get.

Without being pushy, ask for a little publicity once the librarian agrees to accept your book. If the library is in a smaller town, it may have good connections with the local media. I know one library that even takes photos of authors who donate books and sends them to the local newspaper for publication; this gives you expanded publicity and lets people know the book is at the library. At the very least, libraries will often publish in their newsletters, on their websites, in the local newspaper, or on a local access television channel, books recently added to their collections. Remember, everyone can’t read the same copy of your book at the same time. If a waiting list for your book starts, the library will want to buy more books. (Don’t hesitate to ask all your friends to go to the library and request your book so that waiting list does grow). And the longer that waiting list is, the more likely people won’t wait but just go out to buy your book.

Once your book is in the library, it will be catalogued, and once catalogued, it may end up being listed on WorldCat.org. WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. Libraries belonging to WorldCat provide access to their resources at which allows people around the world to find your book online. These books are also available for inter-library loan, so if your library is in New Hampshire, someone in Texas might request the book and be able to read it.

So beginning with your own local public library, you can make your book accessible nationwide and even worldwide. But getting your book in the library is not the end result. Now that it is in the library, let people know it’s there. This is your chance to do a little guerrilla marketing. I know one author who, whenever he goes to the library, looks up his book on the library’s computer, then leaves the screen up with his book on it so the next user will see it. He also will look for his book on the shelf, and if it’s not checked out, he will pull it out an inch or two on the shelf so it stands out, or even face it outward so people will see it.

At book signings or book fairs, if people ask whether your book is in the library, go ahead and tell them it is. I know many authors who have had people buy their books after reading them in the library just because they loved a book so much they wanted to own it, or they wanted to give copies as gifts.

Also, now that you have your foot in the door at the library, you can continue to network. Eventually, all the librarians may get to know you. When you go to check out books at the circulation desk, they will be pleased to meet you and they might say, “Oh, so you’re the author. We have a lot of people check out your book.” It’s a good way to find out how popular your book is and to make the librarians remember you.

Be sure to get involved with the library. Libraries today are turning into community centers. They are always doing special programming for their patrons. Offer to give a talk. Help with a conference. Donate your time helping with a book sale. Whatever you can do to get to know the library staff will benefit you. I know many authors whom the library continually calls to do events, give advice, or help them with programming. By assisting with library events, authors become known in the community. Being a volunteer also might make the library willing to repay you by hosting a book release party for your second book. Even if you hold events in other venues, the library will often be willing to put up posters for the event-think how many hundreds or thousands of people visit the library each day who may see those posters.

Beyond your local library, branch out to other libraries in your state. First you might visit libraries in neighboring towns, then work your radius out to the next county. You can drop names of your local librarians with librarians in other towns. Most librarians know each other within their own county or state, so if you have library references, other libraries will be more likely to want to host you for a book signing or talk-and buy your book for their own collections.

Special Interest Libraries

Beyond the public library, many other types of libraries exist whose shelves would be a good home for an author’s book.

Most states have their own state libraries. For example, I know one author who sent copies of his book to the Library of Michigan. The result was, without his asking, he ended up being listed on a brochure the Library of Michigan distributed to libraries statewide featuring Upper Michigan authors.

Your town might have a library for the visually impaired that would be interested in your books-even if you don’t have an actual audio book, many of the new readers, such as Kindle, will read books out loud to people, so let such libraries know your book is available in electronic or audio form.

University libraries might be more particular than local libraries when it comes to taking self-published books, but if you went through that university’s English degree program, or you worked as an assistant at the library when you were in college, or you worked at the local newspaper-whatever you did as a student-see if you have connections that can help you. Wherever you were an alumni, use it to your advantage to get your book in the university library, and also to do events on campus.

If your book is age appropriate, talk to librarians at the local school libraries, either elementary, middle, or high school. Many schools love to have author visits, and depending on your book’s topic, they might have you come in to talk to the students about being an author or about your book’s subject.

Is there a local history museum near you? Then donate a copy of your book to its research library-generations from now, people may be interested in the local author who lived in the town, and if you’ve written a local history book, all the better. I know one author whose local history book is regularly used by the research librarians as a resource they show to their patrons, and many of those patrons then go out and buy the book since they can only use it otherwise in the research library.

Many organizations and centers have libraries-from the local senior center to churches. They are all opportunities to get your book included in their collections as well. Think of places you are involved with and ask other people you know about organizations with library collections and who to talk to in those organizations.

Libraries are Your Best Friends

In short, having your book in a library is one of the best things you can do to promote it and to sell books. Be friends with your local librarians and you will get local community recognition that in time can become national and then worldwide. And remember, every library is different and has different policies and different staff. Just because one library says “No” to you doesn’t mean another library will. Keep at it and you’ll find your book on more library shelves than you anticipated when you began.

Learn English Easily at Home

It is the hope of many people, whether for personal or professional reasons, that they will be able to learn English easily. The very idea of learning a new language can often make even the most capable learners nervous. Fortunately, there are people who learn English well every single day, and with the right planning and work, you can be one of those people

Make a Plan
Although no one can guarantee that you will be able to learn English easily with any one particular method, it can definitely be guaranteed that without planning in advance, you will not learn English very easily at all. Whether you plan to learn English by natural methods such as watching English television, listening to English radio, and conversing with people in English as much as possible, or you prefer a more study oriented approach such as taking an English course, or perhaps a combination of the two methods, if you don’t have a clear plan and goals, learning English will not come easily.

Organic Language Acquisition
Organic language acquisition is a natural method of learning a language the way a child might learn to speak his or her native tongue. This is a very natural language learning method, and if you are able to totally immerse yourself in the English world, you will certainly be able to learn English easily. Immersion in the language requires that you do not speak any language other than English. To practice this method, watching television, listening to the radio, reading magazines and newspapers, cooking from recipes, and following various verbal and written instructions, should all be in English. This is particularly effective for non-English speakers who have recently moved to an English country.

Curriculum Based Language Acquisition
For those who prefer a more structured environment when learning English, curriculum based language acquisition might be a good choice. Many people are able to learn English easily by enrolling in an English class, using at-home English learning computer software, or listening to an English language instructional course on CD while driving in their cars. There are also many workbooks, flashcards, and self-tests that can be used to support this method of learning English

Combination Approach
For most people a combination of the above two approaches is the fastest and best way to learn English easily. If a person only goes to classes but never engages in real-life conversations, they will have a very difficult time becoming totally fluent, and a person who is immersed in a language verbally but never learns the specific grammatical rules will not be able to use his or her English in a professional setting very effectively. Therefore, if possible, the English learner should engage in a curriculum based approach to learning English, but should also be sure to engage in conversation with and listen to native English speakers as much as he or she can manage in order to facilitate the quickest learning possible.

Quick Tips
If a person is determined to learn English easily, he or she should also be sure to adhere to certain guidelines that will help them in their mission. First, be certain that your family, friends, and colleagues all know that you are trying to learn English, and that whenever possible, they should speak to you in English rather than your native tongue. Secondly, do not focus on just a single element of language acquisition at the expense of others. For example, it is not advisable to only attempt to speak the language but neglect to read it, write it, or listen to it being spoken. In order to be successful at obtaining fluency, a person should be attentive to all the different language elements.

Because English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the entire world and can be instrumental to a person’s personal and professional success, it is no wonder that there are so many people intent on learning to speak it with fluency. With the right planning and a lot of determination, anyone can learn to speak English quickly and easily. Combining an immersion approach with a curriculum based program will afford almost anyone the right foundation for a lifetime of speaking English. As long as the English makes a concrete plan with a set goal and adheres to it, he or she will be speaking English in a very short amount of time.

Charging or Issues Systems in Special Libraries in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Special libraries are collections that exist to serve the specific needs of their clients. The libraries are varied as their needs. However, the libraries do have common elements in the service that they provide, their focused collections and their knowledgeable staff who are able to adapt to the changing needs of their clients base. The phrase “Special libraries” is a misnomer, because all libraries are special and have commonalities in their functions. This statement does not dispute the fact that some libraries have special concerns-be they of their clientele, their collections or their purpose. A standard definition of a special library would be the one that exist to serve the limited needs of a specific entity- a business, industry, government agency, non-profit group or professional organizations. Also included are subject oriented units of a public or academic library (Beenham and Harrison, 1990).

The collection of special libraries is smaller and tends to be more focused in comparison to public and academic libraries. Special libraries have the tools and the people necessary to make information available to the client because it is not just enough to collect and house information. It must be made accessible to users. A Special library in short is particularized information services which correlates, interprets and utilizes the materials at hand for the constant use and benefit of the organization it serves (Chirgwin and Oldfield, 1982).

The over-riding requirement of the Special library is that it should provide current information that enables research workers and other employers to carry out their duties effectively. Therefore, it provides not only a collection of materials for which is known demand, but also a network of services that make information readily available for a variety of outside sources.

Previously, the provision of books and other materials for purposes of research had been considered of paramount importance. With the dramatic increase in the number of post-war student in Sierra Leone, it came to be more generally accepted that a university library should aim to serve the needs of their main categories of readers; namely, the undergraduate research worker, and the academic staff.

Definition of Charging or Issues System

According to Berkett and Ritiche (1977), the recording of the loan of materials is called charging or issuing. The charging method selected by a particular library depends to a large extent on the library’s clientele, the size of the stock and the need to restrict the number of items which a library member may have on loan, and on whether the library has peak periods for the lending and returning of materials. The choice of methods will also be affected by the amount and type of information the library staff requires the issue to furnish.

The purpose of a circulation system is to give the library users as much access as possible to the stock. Unfortunately, a book loaned to one reader is not available to others and certain restrictions have to be made. For instance an Encyclopedia is a compendium of knowledge on a vast number of subjects and is designed for easy reference rather than for continuous reading. Allowing such a book on loan would inconvenience a great number of library users without benefiting the borrower.
Each library will use a system for recording the books and other items it lends to its readers. There have been many modern developments to record issues in the last thirty years, mainly due to high cost of staffing, increased usage, and in search of better all-round efficiency. There is no one all-purpose systems which will meet the demands of all kinds of library, although the latest computer charging system can cope with many aspects speedily.

A good system should enable the library staff to discover which reader has borrowed which book. It should show when books are due for return and which are overdue. Some systems can control the number of books issued, and particularly the number which each reader has borrowed. The better systems will permit the book is renewed without returning the book in person, and should allow readers to reserve books which are not immediately available.

Charging or Issues System in Libraries

The Circulation department is the area where most patrons are used to because it is here that library materials are loaned out and returned after use, and it is sometimes referred to as the leading or take home department. Records of patrons are kept here after they have completed a necessary form that provides personal information about them, that is, name, address, sex, status and guarantor. Some departments have different cards for different categories of users to complete. The following functions are however performed by circulation department:
• Registration of new users and keeping the records of library patrons;
• Keeping records of borrowed materials and those returned;
• Noting down when borrowed materials are due back in the library;
• Keeping statistics of the department;
• Sending overdue notices to patrons who fail to return their books when due (Nwogu, 1991).

Types of Charging or Issue Systems used in Libraries

As has been said, one of the principal services offered by libraries is the lending of books and others materials. Obviously, libraries need to keep some kind of record of such loan transactions and many methods have been devised to regulate this task. These methods are known as Charging or Issuing methods. The charging method selected by a particular library depends to a large extent on the library’s clientele, the size of stock and the need to restrict the number of items which a library member may have on loan and on whether the library has peak periods for the lending and returning of material. Here are some examples of charging methods used in varied types of libraries.

The Browne System: For many, many years the most commonly used charging method is the Browne system. With this system, a membership application form is filled in and the reader is given a number of tickets bearing his or her name and address. The reader presents the books to be borrowed at the issue desk, along with a reader’s ticket for each book. The date label in each book is stamped with the date of return; the book card is removed from each book and inserted into the reader’s tickets (one book card per ticket). The charge therefore is one book card inserted into one ticket. When the book is returned, the assistant will look inside it to ascertain from the date label, or pocket, the accession number/author/class number as well as the due date. The appropriate charge is then removed from the issue, the book card replaced in the book pocket and the ticket returned to the reader.

The Islington system: In this charging system, each reader is given one plastic ticket on which is embossed his or her name and address. The stationery inside the library books is the same as the Browne system. However, the difference lies in the fact that the reader must print an address slip (using an embossed ticket) for each book he or she wishes to borrow. Therefore the ‘charge’ is a book card plus a paper address slip inside a blank ticket.

Ticket book or Cheque book charging: In this method, each book has a book pocket permanently fixed inside the cover on which details of the book are given. Within this book pocket is a plain pocket, inside which is a book card bearing details of the book. The reader need only insert one of his or her ticket slip into the plain pocket and present the book for date stamping. The assistant removes the ‘charge’ and it is subsequently filed. The issue trays are usually kept in a separate ‘discharge room’ and not at the issue desk. There is a reception desk where the books are returned, the actual discharging being done later in the ‘discharging room’ when the charge is removed from the issue, the reader’s ticket destroyed and the plain pocket and book card returned to the book. An additional ‘cheque book’ is issued to the reader whenever the previous one is used up.

Token Charging: The book date label is stamped in the usual way, and the reader must surrender one token for each book being issued. On returning the books, the reader merely receives the appropriate number of tokens in exchange. At the end of each year the reader must be able to produce the full complement of tokens or pay a replacement cost for any which have been lost. A visible index (that is a list of reserved books which must be checked whenever books are returned) is used for reservations.

Punched card charging: when a book is borrowed, the assistant takes two punched cards, pre-dated with date due for return (both punched and dated stamped), places the two punched cards in an automatic key punched machine and punches on both cards the reader’s number and book accession number and class number. One card is retained as the library’s record of loans; the other card is inserted in the book pocket with the date of return clearly visible. The punched cards are removed from returned books, sorted into accession number order by machine, and then matched by machine with the duplicate cards kept as the library’s record of loans. Unmatched cards represents books still out on loan and these can be refilled mechanically, this time in date order to reveal overdue.

Computerized Issuing System: Computer systems now available in libraries are very advanced indeed. The issue terminal is equipped with a data pen to which may be attached a self-inking date stamp. There is a card holder into which the reader’s ticket is inserted. Charging is accomplished by running the data pen horizontally across the bar code on the reader’s ticket and the across the barcode labels on the books to be borrowed. The date labels in the book are stamped with the date of return and the ticket is returned to the reader. The discharge terminal is also equipped with another data pen and this is used to read the books’ bar code labels when they are returned. The reader’s ticket is not required at this stage as the reader’s name will be automatically deleted from the computer records when all books are have been returned (Beenham, and Harrison 1990).

Charging or Issue System at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) was founded on the 12th April, 1988 by the Government of Sierra Leone in Co-operation with the Nigerian government and the World Health Organization (WHO). With the enactment and coming into effect of the 2005 University Act, which led to the creation of two universities in Sierra Leone, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences as a constituent arm of the University of Sierra Leone, in cooperation with the National School of Nursing, which is now a faculty and the Pharmacy Technician School, also part of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library started a few months after the college was established in 1988. The library was first located at Bass Street, in Brookfields and later transferred to New England in Freetown, from where it was finally transferred to the Connaught Hospital, when the Ministry of Health gave up the building it used to occupy as a library.

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library was started by a Medical Librarian by the name of Nancy M’Jamtu-Sie in 1988. The library holds the main stock of Medical and Health Sciences materials in the University of Sierra Leone. The library depends solely on donations and it operates on three sites: the main Medical library at the Connaught Hospital which houses the library administrative office, short loan, reference, World Health Organization audio cassettes collection; the CD-ROM and Internet facilities, the multidisciplinary library at the National School of Nursing, houses the general collection and as well as short loan and reference books and the Medical Sciences library at the Kossoh Town Campus.

The mission of College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences is: “to train community-oriented doctors, pharmacists, nurses, laboratory scientists, and the health personnel with sound professional and managerial skills suitably qualified to meet international standards and capable to undertake research and pursue training in specialized areas for health care delivery services.”

The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences practices the Browne Issue System mentioned above, which is practiced in most libraries especially Special libraries found in the University of Sierra Leone. With the Browne Charging or Issuing system at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, each library book has a book card which is kept in a pocket inside each book. The card identifies each book by recording, usually the accession number, classification number, author and short title. Each reader has a ticket issued to him/her which indicates the name and address. This reader’s ticket holds the book card, which is taken from the pocket in the book, and this forms the record of the issue. Each book is stamped with the date for return and the issue is filed in trays under the date due for return, and within what date probably by accession number.

When the readers return the book, the date due for stamped on the date label locates the correct date among the issue trays and the accession number printed on the date label should find the correct position within that date. The book card is then returned to the book, which is now ready for shelving and the reader recovers his tickets. Overdue books are self-evident since the trays are in date order, and reservation are made searching the appropriate care in an obvious way. The Brown system is simply operated and easily understood by library staff and readers alike.
Clientele or Users of College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library

A clientele in library is a body of customers or patrons that makes use of a library in order to get needed information. The clientele of a library are highly knowledgeable group. Consequently, the emphasis of the library is on maintaining considerable depth of subject material or supplying information to be in print.All members of the University of Sierra Leone who are allowed to use the College of Medicine and Allied Health Science library must register with the library and obtain a membership card. External readers are allowed to use the library for reference purposes but would not be given borrowing facilities.

At the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, most of the books are available to users for loan period and the number of books loaned varies. The book stock covers basic medical sciences, biology, physiology, biochemistry and all disciplines of medicine. Books are borrowed to both students and staff for specific period of time.

Challenges of Charging or Issue System used at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library

Special Libraries in Sierra Leone, especially College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Library are not without challenges.

Space Challenge: The three sites where the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library operates have been observed to be very small with reference to the building. The locations of these sites especially with ones at National School of Nursing which houses the general collection as well as short loan and reference books; and the Medical Sciences library at the Kossoh Town campus, are not seen as favorable in terms of their locations. They do not offer convenient access for all staff and clients. Shelving and storage has not been conveniently located.

Financial Status: The financial standing of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library has been very unsatisfactorily especially when the management cannot meet with its obligation of taking care of the library’s itinerary. This has led to the library not having updated collections. This has been seen in the area of salaries, which has been very poor, operational costs, subscriptions, acquisitions, training and professional development.

Insufficient Materials: Materials at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences are inadequate to meet the needs of its users. Materials are mainly acquired through donations as the library does not have enough funds to purchase materials in order to meet the needs of its users.

Inadequate computers and limited Internet Service: There are no adequate computers and strong internet connectivity sufficient enough to service the numerous clienteles. At the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, the inadequate number of available computers does not allow the library to operate the Computer charging or issuing system which is more advance and easier to operate than the Browne charging system which the library currently uses. The Internet service provided is also not sufficient to handle the high number of both their students, staff and other users.

Lack of adequate trained and qualified staff: The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library is short of adequate trained and qualified Librarians which have rendered the library ineffective in the area of properly disseminating information to users. The library is only made up of two qualified librarians and additional staff consists of a technician, clerks, cleaners and messengers.

Conclusively, the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library as a Special library in the University of Sierra Leone has been able to meet the information needs of the many users with the Browne Issue system that it operates on. However, the collection is not updated and the service is not excellent enough to satisfy the clientele that it caters for. The College library lacks enough funds to purchase updated materials. The services of the library have not been too satisfactorily and this is due to few trained personnel and limited facilities. In spite of these challenges at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences library, the Browne charging or Issue System has proven to be the therapy that has salvage the issue of delivery of services to their clients and the due preservation of their materials.

Use of RFID Technology in Libraries: An Automated Metheod of Circulation, Security, Tracking and…

1. Introduction

RFID is an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a technology that allows an item, for example a library book to be tracked and communicated with by radio waves. This technology is similar in concept to a Cell Phone.

Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is a broad term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects. There are several methods of identification, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a person or object, and perhaps other information, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves reflected back from the RFID tag into digital information that can then be passed on to computers that can make use of it.

2.Concept of RFID for Libraries

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is the latest technology to be used in library circulation operations and theft detection systems. RFID-based systems move beyond security to become tracking systems that combine security with more efficient tracking of materials throughout the library, including easier and faster charge and discharge, inventorying, and materials handling.

This technology helps librarians reduce valuable staff time spent scanning barcodes while checking out and checking in borrowed items.

RFID is a combination of radio -frequency-based technology and microchip technology. The information contained on microchips in the tags affixed to library materials is read using radio frequency technology regardless of item orientation or alignment (i.e., the technology does not require line-of-sight or a fixed plane to read tags as do traditional theft detection systems). The RFID gates at the library exit(s) can be as wide as four feet because the tags can be read at a distance of up to two feet by each of two parallel exit gate sensors.

2.1 Components of an RFID System

A comprehensive RFID system has four components:

(1) RFID tags that are electronically programmed with unique information;

(2) Readers or sensors to query the tags;

(3) Antenna; and

(4) Server on which the software that interfaces with the integrated library software is loaded.

2.1.1Tags

The heart of the system is the RFID tag, which can be fixed inside a book’s back cover or directly onto CDs and videos. This tag is equipped with a programmable chip and an antenna. Each paper-thin tag contains an engraved antenna and a microchip with a capacity of at least 64 bits. There are three types of tags: “read only”, “WORM,” and “read/write.

“Tags are “read only” if the identification is encoded at the time of manufacture and not re-writable.

“WORM” (Write-Once-Read-Many)” tags are programmed by the using organization, but without the ability of rewriting them later.

“Read/write tags,” which are chosen by most libraries, can have information changed or added. In RFID library, it is common to have part of the read/write tag secured against rewriting, e.g., the identification number of the item.

2.1.2 Readers

The reader powers an antenna to generate an RF field. When a tag passes through the field, the information stored on the chip in the tag is interpreted by the reader and sent to the server, which, in turn, communicates with the Integrated library system when the RFID system is interfaced with it.

RFID exit gate sensors (readers) at exits are basically two types. One type reads the information on the tag(s) going by and communicates that information to a server. The server, after checking against the circulation database, turn on an alarm if the material is not properly checked-out. Another type relies on a “theft” byte in the tag that is turned on or off to show that the item has been charged or not. It is then not necessary to communicate with the circulation database.

Readers in RFID library are used in the following ways:

Conversion station-where library data is written to the tag;

Staff workstation at circulation- used to charge and discharge library materials;

Self check-out station-used to check-out library materials without staff assistance;

Self check-in station-used to check in books etc. without staff assistance;

Exit sensors- to verify that all the books etc. leaving the library have been checked-out;

Book-drop reader- used to automatically discharge library materials and reactivate security.

Sorter and conveyor-automated system for returning books etc. to proper area of library;

Hand-held reader-used for inventorying and verifying that books etc. are shelved correctly.

2.1.3 Antenna

The antenna produces radio signals to activate the tag and read and write data to it. Antennas are the channels between the tag and the reader, which controls the system’s data acquisitions and communication. The electromagnetic field produced by an antenna can be constantly present when multiple tags are expected continually. Antennas can be built into a doorframe to receive tag data from person’s things passing through the door.

2.1.4 Server

The server is the heart of some comprehensive RFID systems. It is the communications gateway among the various components. It receives the information from one or more of the readers and exchanges information with the circulation database. Its software includes the SIP/SIP2 (Session Initiation Protocol), APIs (Applications Programming Interface) NCIP or SLNP necessary to interface it with the integrated library software. The server typically includes a transaction database so that reports can be produced.

2.2 Optional Components

Optional RFID system includes the following three components:

1. RFID Label Printer

2. Handheld Reader

3. External Book Return

1. RFID label Printer

An RFID-printer is used to print the labels with an individual barcode, library logo etc. When the print is applied, it simultaneously programmed the data in to the chip. After this process, the RFID label is taken from the printer and self-adhered to the book. It also checks each RFID label for function.

2. Handheld Reader/Inventory Wand

The portable Handheld Reader or inventory wand can be moved along the items on the shelves without touching them. The data goes to a storage unit, which can be downloaded at a server later on, or it can go to a unit, which will transmit it to the server using wireless technology. The inventory wand will cover three requirements:

· Screen the complete book collection on the shelves for inventory control.

· Search for books, which are mis-shelved.

· Search for individual book requested.

Other applications can be written for the inventory wand, since the system utilizes a personal data terminal (PDT).

3. External Book Return

Libraries can offer a distinct service, which is very useful for users like ability to return books during off hours. External book return is a machine with a slot with a chip RFID reader integrated into the wall. It works the same way as the Self Check –Out Station. The user identifies himself/herself (if required by the library), and then puts the book(s) in to the slot. Upon completing his/her return, the user will receive a receipt showing how many and which books were returned. Since they have already been checked-in, they can go directly back onto the shelves. These units can also be used with sorter and conveyor systems.

3. Key Features of RFID in library

The reliability of the system, its ease of operation, and the flexibility of tagging all kinds of media easily, is important criteria in choosing an RFID system. The main aim for today’s libraries to adopt RFID is the need to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Automation and self-service can help libraries of all sizes toward achieving these aims, and RFID has the added advantage that it can also provide security for the range of different media on offer in libraries. The technology can also improve circulation and inventory control, which helps to optimize the allocation of labor and financial resources. This means that libraries can relieve their professional employees of routine work and operational tasks.

All of the tags used in RFID technology for libraries are “passive.” The power to read the tags comes from the reader or exit sensor (reader), rather than from a battery within the tag.

A few libraries use “smart” card, which is an RFID card with additional encryption, is an alternative to merely adding an RFID tag on staff and user identification cards. Not only does that identify users for issue and return of library materials, but also for access to restricted areas or services. This would make it possible to make it into a “debit” card, with value added upon pre-payment to the library and value subtracted when a user used a photocopier, printer, or other fee-based device, or wished to pay fines or fees.

3.1 Speedy and Easy User self-charging/discharging

The use of RFID reduces the amount of time required to perform circulation operations. This technology helps librarians eliminate valuable staff time spent scanning barcodes while checking out and checking in borrowed items. For the users, RFID speeds up the borrowing and returns procedures. The Library professionals, instead of scanning bar codes all day long in front of a queue of users, are released for more productive and interesting duties. Staff is relieved further when readers are installed in book drops.

3.2 Reliability

The readers are highly reliable. Several vendors of RFID library systems claim an almost 100 percent detection rate using RFID tags.

Some RFID systems have an interface between the exit sensors and the circulation software to identify the items moving out of the library. Were a library user to run out of the library and not be catched, the library would at least know what had been stolen. If the user card also has an RFID tag, the library will also be able to determine who removed the items without properly charging them.

Other RFID systems encode the circulation status on the RFID tag. This is done by designating a bit as the “theft” bit and turning it off at time of charge and on at time of discharge. If the material that has not been properly charged is taken past the exit gate sensors, an immediate alarm is triggered. Another option is to use both the “theft” bit and the online interface to an integrated library system, the first to signal an immediate alarm and the second to identify what has been taken out.

3.3 High-speed inventorying

A unique advantage of RFID systems is their ability to scan books on the shelves without tipping them out or removing them. A hand-held inventory reader can be moved rapidly across a shelf of books to read all of the unique identification information. Using wireless technology, it is possible not only to update the inventory, but also to identify items, which are out of proper order.

3.4 Automated materials handling

Another application of RFID technology is automated materials handling. This includes conveyor and sorting systems that can move library materials and sort them by category into separate bins or onto separate carts. This significantly reduces the amount of staff time required to ready materials for re-shelving.

3.5 Tag life

RFID tags last longer than barcodes because, the technology does not require line-of-sight. Most RFID vendors claim a minimum of 100,000 transactions before a tag may need to be replaced.

4. Demerits of RFID Systems

4.1 High cost

The major disadvantage of RFID technology is its cost. While the readers and gate sensors used to read the information typically cost around $1,500 to $2,500 each; and the tags cost $.40 to $.75 each.

4.2 Accessibility to compromise

It is possible to compromise an RFID system by wrapping the protected material in two to three layers of ordinary household foil to block the radio signal. It is also possible to compromise an RFID system by placing two items against one another so that one tag overlays another. That may cancel out the signals. This requires knowledge of the technology and careful alignment.

4.3 Removal of exposed tags

RFID tags are typically affixed to the inside back cover and are exposed for removal. This means that there would be problems when users become more familiar with the role of the tags. In Indian libraries this is a major challenge to keep the tags intact.

4.4 Exit gate sensor (Reader) problems

While the short-range readers used for circulation charge and discharge and inventorying appear to read the tags 100 percent of the time, the performance of the exit gate sensors is more problematic. They always don’t read tags at up to twice the distance of the other readers. There is no library that has done a before and after inventory to determine the loss rate when RFID is used for security.

4.5 Invasion of User Privacy

Privacy concerns associated with item-level tagging is another significant barrier to library use of RFID tags. The problem with today’s library RFID system is that the tags contain static information that can be relatively easily read by unauthorized tag readers. This allows for privacy issues described as “tracking” and “hot-listing”.

Tracking refers to the ability to track the movements of a book (or person carrying the book) by “correlating multiple observations of the book’s bar code” or RFID tag. Hot-listing refers to the process of building a database of books and their associated tag numbers (the hot-list) and then using an unauthorized reader to determine who is checking out items in the hot-list.

4.6 Reader collision

One problem meet with RFID is the signal from one reader can interfere with the signal from another where coverage overlaps. This is called reader collision. One way to avoid the problem is to use a technique called time division multiple access, or TDMA. In simple terms, the readers are instructed to read at different times, rather than both trying to read at the same time. This ensures that they don’t interfere with each other. But it means any RFID tag in an area where two readers overlap will be read twice.

4.7 Tag collision

Another problem readers have is reading a lot of chips in the same field. Tag clash occurs when more than one chip reflects back a signal at the same time, confusing the reader. Different vendors have developed different systems for having the tags respond to the reader one at a time. Since they can be read in milliseconds, it appears that all the tags are being read simultaneously.

4.8 Lack of Standard

The tags used by library RFID vendors are not compatible even when they conform to the same standards because the current standards only seek electronic compatibility between tags and readers. The pattern of encoding information and the software that processes the information differs from vendor to vendor, therefore, a change from one vendor’s system to the other would require re-tagging all items or modifying the software.

5. Best Practices guidelines for Libraries

As libraries are implementing RFID systems, it is important to develop best practices guidelines to utilize the technology in best way and to keep the privacy concern away. The following may be the best practices guidelines for library RFID use:

· The Library should be open about its use of RFID technology including providing publicly available documents stating the rational for using RFID, objectives of its use and associated policies and procedure and who to contact with questions.

· Signs should be pasted at all facilities using RFID. The signs should inform the public that RFID technology is in use, the types of usage and a statement of protection of privacy and how this technology differs from other information collection methods.

· Only authorized personnel should have access to the RFID system.

· No personal information should be stored on the RFID tag.

· Information describing the tagged item should be encrypted on the tag even if the data is limited to a serial number

· No static information should be contained on the tag (bar code, manufacturer number) that can be read by unauthorized readers.

· All communication between tag and reader should be encrypted via a unique encryption key.

· All RFID readers in the library should be clearly marked.

· ISO 18000 mode-2 tags should be used rather than ISO 15693.

6. Installations

While there are over 500,000 RFID systems installed in warehouses and retail establishments worldwide, RFID systems are still relatively new in libraries. Fewer than 150 had been installed as of the 2004.

Most installations are small, primarily in branch libraries. The University of Connecticut Library; University of Nevada/Las Vegas Library, the Vienna Public Library in Austria, the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and the National University of Singapore Library are the only sites that appear to have tagged more than 500,000 items each.
So far in India only two University libraries have Installed the RFID system. First among them is Jayakar Library of Pune University and second is Dhanvantri Library of Jammu University. The use of RFID throughout Indian libraries will take at least four to five years.

7. Recent Developments

Recent developments in hardware and software for RFID systems have increased the potential of this technology in library automation and security. ‘Today, the one important result for libraries is the ability to use non-proprietary systems, now that the new generation of RFID-chips with standard ISO 15693 (to be integrated into ISO 18000-3) is available,’ explains Dr Christian Kern, system development manager of Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, a Swiss company specializing in such systems for libraries. ‘With this technology, libraries do not have to depend on one single supplier for tags. As libraries make a long-term investment, which mainly consists of the quantity of tags needed, this is a very important requirement.’

8. Vendors

The products of six manufacturers of library RFID systems are available in India through their business associates: Bibliotheca, Checkpoint, ID Systems, 3M, X-ident technology GmbH represented by Infotek software and systems in India and TAGSYS— the last represented by Tech Logic, Vernon, Libsys in India and VTLS .

There are several other companies that provide products that work with RFID, including user self-charging stations and materials handling equipment.

Conclusion

It is quite clear from the above discussion that an RFID system may be a comprehensive system that addresses both the security and materials tracking needs of a library. RFID in the library is not a threat if best practices guidelines followed religiously, that it speeds up book borrowing and inventories and frees staff to do more user-service tasks. The technology saves money too and quickly gives a return on investment.

As far as privacy issue is concerned it is important to educate library staff and library users about the RFID technology used in libraries before implementing a program.

It may be good for librarians to wait and watch the developments in RFID for some time before the cost of tags comes down to $.20 or less, the figure which librarians has determined is the key to their serious consideration for the use of technology.

While library RFID systems have a great deal in common with one another, including the use of high frequency (13.56 MHz), passive, read-write tags. Lack of Standard and Compatibility of tags produced by different vendors is a major problem in implementation of RFID in Libraries. Current standards (ISO 15693) apply to container level tagging used in supply chain applications and do not address problems of tracking and hot listing. Next generation tags (ISO 18000) are designed for item level tagging. The newer tags are capable of resolving many of the privacy problems of today’s tags. However, no library RFID products are currently available using the new standard. Apart from that cost of the RFID Tags and equipment is also a major problem for libraries to implement the same in a developing country like India.