NAN Nigeria’s public libraries bogged by multiple challenges – survey

A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey across the six geo-political zone had revealed that public library services are going through hard times.

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Public Libraries in the country are no doubt battling to remain relevant and facing multiple  challenges such as dearth of infrastructure, paucity of funds, advent of ICT as well as poor reading culture.

A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey across the six geo-political zone had revealed that public library services are going through hard times.

Mr Olakanmi  Adigun, the Director of Public Library Services in the  Oyo State Library Board,  said that financial constraints constituted the major challenge facing the library beside epileptic power supply  hindering its effective running in the state.

Adigun, who acknowledged that the advent of the internet is discouraging many Nigerians from visiting the library for their reading and research, dismissed the notion that conventional library would in the long run lose its appeal.

According to him, the state library board, serves readers current books, journal and newspapers aside from the e-library services is available for online readers and research work

The director attributed the state’s inability to restock the library regularly to the state of the economy which has just come out of recession as  the government does not release funds as the library is expected to be funded.

He said that the state library relied on supplies from publishers who must submit at least four copies of their publications to the library or the state Ministry of Education for review.

On availability of mobile library, Adigun said vehicles that should have promoted the initiative had  been grounded for some time.

Most of the stakeholders told NAN that very few readers visit the library daily with but students making up the majority of readers.

“Nigerians generally don’t imbibe the reading culture hence, majority of our readers are students who only visit the library during external examinations.

“Our readers only come around in large numbers when they want to write external examinations such as SSCE, JAMB, ICAN  and other professional examinations.

“This is the only time we have influx of readers and sometimes have shortage of seats for readers,’’ they said.

Mr Moses Kolawole, the Head of Department, Library and Information Science, the Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa, on his part blamed the decline in reading culture among students on lack of encouragement from home.

“What do you expect when the child has not been encouraged to read right from the primary school, of course when he or she gets to the higher institution, he/she cannot read because they are not used to reading.

“Some of them only visit the library during examinations even when the school facility is well equipped.

The Director of the Simeon Adebo Library in Abeokuta, Ogun, Mr Lateef Benson, identifies poor electricity supply as the major challenge facing the library over the years.

He, however, explained that the situation had improved tremendously since Jan. 15 when the institution was connected to the new Independent Power Project in the state.

Benson told NAN in Abeokuta that the state-owned facility was planning to extend its services to three additional local governments by 2019.

He said that the library, which currently operates in Ijebu – Ode,  Sagamu and Ilaro local governments, would extend its services to Imeko,  Aiyetoro and Ado-Odo council areas for wider access by the people of the state.

The director explained that the library offers services like open library in which people register with the institution and are then allowed to read and consult books.

He added that the library also offers what he described as “indexing and abstracting” services to authors and writers.

Benson further said that the institution offers school support services in which students are brought in to listen to lectures on the value and importance of the library in the learning process.

“We offer other extension services to interested schools during which we teach their students library skills,” he said.

He dismissed the erroneous belief that the library is a private facility, saying, “Simeon Adebo library is fully owned and supported by the Ogun government.’’

Mr Dele Sanya,  the Head of Library, Salamotu Kuku Memorial Library in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun, stated promoting  reading culture in children is a task for education  stakeholders, especially parents and guardians.

“It’s common nowadays for children to always consult the internet through their phones in the course of their fact-checking, forgetting not all information on the net is accurate.

“This is why libraries will continue to be relevant in guiding and educating researchers and readers despite the advent of infotech,” Sanya said.

In Osogbo, Mrs Funke Kolawole, the Chief Liberian in the  Osun Library Board,  also said poor  funding remained the major factor  hindering the re-stocking of the library with new books.

Kolawole said due to the prevailing economic situation in the state, bumdgetary allocation to the library in the past had not been regular.

On the average number of students that visit the library,   the librarian said no fewer than 2,000 students make use of the library in a month.

She said that the figure usually increases to 3,000 whenever students were preparing for external examination.

Kolawole added that the state’s e-library with 50 computers is available for online readers or research work.
She, however, added that the e-library is not in use at the moment due poor internet connection.

Similarly, Mr Kehinde Fatunmise, the Chief Public Librarian in Ile-Ife, said many of the books available at the library were outdated, adding that 2012 was  the last year the library was restocked with new books

Fatunmise also said that the facility has no e-library section, adding that an average of 30 students visit the library in a week.

In Akure, Mr Bode Arawande, the Director of Library Services in the Ondo State Library Board, said public libraries lacked proper budgetary allocation for re-stocking of books, noting that paucity of funds has affected the existing libraries.

“The government should find the political will to improve public libraries in major towns and stock them with modern books.

“Purchase of mobile library van is imperative at least in the three senatorial districts of the state,” he said.

Arawande, however, commended Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration for upgrading the state library in less than a year of his assumption of office.

He disclosed the State Library Board, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, had also earmarked N260 million to upgrade libraries in secondary schools across the state.

At the National library of Nigeria in Akure, a security guard, who simply identified himself as John, told NAN correspondent that the library staff members had been on strike in the last three months.

John said that the cause of the strike might not be unconnected with unpaid allowances.

Contributing,Mr Solomon Igbelowowa, the Secretary of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) in  Ondo State, said funding is  the greatest challenge of public  libraries.

“One thing I know is that libraries are created for improvement of the children academically. We all know how important it is to research.

“For the libraries to perform effectively, they should be well stocked with relevant and modern textbooks and journals to be able to perform the role of promoting reading culture among our children,” Igbelowowa, said.

In Ado-Ekiti, the Head of the State Library Board,  Mrs  Oluyemisi Florence,  appealed to public spirited person, corporate organisations as well as associations to donate books, journals and reading materials to the library.

A retired librarian, Mr Bamidele Akomolafe,  expressed regrets at the state of libraries in the state and advocated formation of local community book repositories so as to bridge the gap.

Ekiti Commissioner for Education, Mr Jide Egunjobi, said the present administration in the state was doing everything to ensure the return of the lost glory of public libraries in the state.

He said the state government had commenced “Operation Fill-Up-the-Libraries” with the aim of restocking the facilities with the right type of books and academic journals, including regular newspapers.

The commissioner warned the youths against spending a lot of productive time fiddling with their mobile phones instead of reading in the library.

In Ilorin, the Deputy Director of the Kwara State Library, Mr Mohammed Iliyasu, told the NAN that while the facility has enough office accommodation, it is long due for renovation and restocking.

Iliyasu, who noted that the complex was last renovated in 2006, also added that there is inadequate funding for alternative energy source and restocking.

“There has not been acquisition of books through purchase for a very long time, although there had been donations and legal deposits from time to time,’’ he said.

On his part, Alhaji Jimoh Akanni, the Chairman of  Kwara House of Assembly Committee on Education, called  for  an intervention fund to check the  deplorable condition of libraries in Nigeria.

Akanni said the libraries in public primary and secondary schools had obsolete books, adding that funds must be made available for purchasing modern books and other materials.

In Yola, a student, Martins Musa, lamented the poor state of Adamawa State Library, noting that almost everything in the library was dilapidated.

“The few of us you see here are just here because of the serene environment, to read our note books, and not for the old books in the library,” he said.

Another student, Hussaini Umar, said most of the books on the library’s shelves were old and outdated, adding that patronage was so low that at all times, the number of library staff members  was more than  the readers.

One of the staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said American University of Nigeria donated books to the library in 2017 and that the only time the library was re-stocked.

The Adamawa Commissioner for Education, Mr Julius Kadala, said the present government had begun rehabilitation of state library and its branches.

Also Mr Alfred Maidoki, the Branch Manager of newly opened National Library in Yola, said about 15 people visited the library daily to read or conduct research work.

Maidoki said despite the facilities provided in the library which had 300 sitting capacity, the reading culture among the residents was very poor.

Mrs Fibi Minakaro, the Acting Chief Librarian of Adamawa State Polytechnic also decried low patronage of the institution’s library by students and lecturers.

Minakaro said most students only remembered the library during examination period.

On facilities, Minakaro said that the library re-stocks annually with the support of TetFUND, which had purchased books worth N71 million in 2016 and 2017.

In Maiduguri,

Mr Bulama Abiso, Borno Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), said lack of funding was the bane of the libraries in the state.

“Libraries are very important institutions in the education sector. Students go to the libraries to do assignments and research on projects.

“Our problems are not just libraries. All hands must be on deck to save the education sector in the state from collapsing,” he said.

A lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, Malam Abba Jidda, told NAN that the university’s library provided the enabling environment for the students to study and conduct research.

“Even though sometimes the library gets overstretched, especially when new students are admitted into the university, the materials for study are available,” he said.

Another lecturer, Bukar Gadzama, said much work needed to be done to improve libraries in terms of access.

“People love to read in a quiet place; the library should be a place to study and not a business centre, as is the case with the university library,” he said.

A librarian, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told NAN that the library, which had over 296,000 volumes of books as well as 500 periodic titles, was transformed into an e-library in 2013 by the former Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council, Dr. Bolanle Babalakin.

Alhaji Muhammad Mangi, Executive Secretary of Jigawa Library Board  said that in spite of the recent developments in ICT, patronage of conventional libraries was still fair.

“We are facing financial problem in running libraries. I am therefore appealing to the government to provide adequate funds for stocking libraries with books.

NAN reports that National Library of Nigeria located on Sultan Bello road in Sokoto metropolis had been nearly turned to car park and with building under lock and key.

The Chief Librarian, Bauchi State College of Agriculture, Mr Ali Yakubu said the number of people making use of the library had decreased.

“Our library is an academic one which is to serve both the students and the staff of the institution.

“It is quite unfortunate that only few people (staff and students) are patronising it despite the facilities put in place.

“Most people now depend solely on internet rather than making use of the library to conduct thorough research,” he said.

“During matriculation, we organise orientation lectures on the use of library as well as the rules and regulations.

On mobile library, the librarian noted that the practice was fast receding and therefore called on government to revive it.

“You can hardly see mobile libraries operating nowadays but they are very important because they go from one community to another sharing knowledge,” he said.

Mr David Danladi, Acting Librarian, Gombe State University (GSU), said the institution’s library had enough facilities.

He also said “Use of Library”   as a course had been made compulsory to newly admitted students to equip them with knowledge on how to utilise the library.

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