UNESCO defines Library as “Those which serve the population of the community or region free of change or for a nominal fee. It is a library designed to serve the generality of the people.” – In other words, a library is a resource center for any piece of information sought after.
Before the advent of the internet and its drastic usage by the human race towards our contemporary society, the library was the real Google – Libraries served as resource for almost everything and they still do but they are rarely used by people in the world today.
In today’s world were information can be grabbed by just inputting some keywords on the internet, one would ponder, do we still need libraries? In this world where reading attention span doesn’t last for more than 10 minutes, Do we still need libraries?
You might have answered Yes or No but truly, the place of libraries cannot be streamlined from educational process.
We might not need the conventional type of library that was used back from time immemorial where we sit in the library and read the books we picked but instead, we are talking about the all digital type of libraries or online libraries that only require registrations and then access to all full library like information online with the use of internet enabled modern technologies such as Mobile phones and computers.
We do need libraries as a resource center and reference purposes. Libraries will provide information Google will never give you on a platter of Gold.
In this article, we shall be diving into the problems that have rendered the Nigerian libraries- Both conventional and online into the abysmal level of almost zero users and its impeding death.
Its not uncommon to find out that people or perhaps students don’t wantto use libraries, and if they do, they are probably there to charge their phones or sleep off. This is a list breaking down the problems one aspect after the other.
1. Poor Library Administration
The administrators in a library assist in managing the libraries. They ensure the libraries are open, functional, and serving the school and/or community in which they operate.
The administrators are expected to have received academic and practical training in basic librarianship from their respected higher institutions before venturing into the art of managing a library effectively for public consumption in Nigeria.
The reverse is almost the case where quack professional who see the art of managing the library as something very simple are entrusted with the management of a library in Nigeria; They in turn mismanage, misfile, ‘misemploy’ unqualified individuals and subsequently lead to the death of the libraries as users tend to stop patronizing when they seek and don’t find what they need.
Putting the employment of qualified individuals into just any hands have led to the incumbent unqualified administrator in the Nigeria library sector.
The possible solution is to always seek consultation from professional recruitment agencies on who and what to look out for when recruiting library administrators.
2. Poor Reading Culture
As noted earlier, Nigerians have a low attention span rate, the average Nigerian believes in thinking action rather than reading to find a solution.
The main problem here are the youths of our society – God bless waec and jamb else no one will be visiting the library or creating time to read anything.
The reading culture in our libraries is an understatement to be called bad. If people don’t read, how do we expect them to use the library.
The possible solution here is simple to encourage the reading culture through prize competitions such as the cowbell maths competition and etisalat literature competitions.
3. Mismanagement of Small Budgets
We understand Government is not funding the public libraries in Nigeria up to expectations, what we don’t understand is how the finance as little as it may seem is spent in the Nigeria public libraries that seem to be in a diminishing state since the 90’s.
Where are the funds going? This problem has surfaced the traditional behaviour of Nigerians as Corruption- Everyone wants to get it fast. The little channeled to the library for management after being cut from above is diverted into personal pockets.
The possible solution here is to make each library stand independent from any organizational body collecting funds for it from the government, lay down organizational charts inline with the library budget and then affix offices that would be held responsible if the budget affixed for a project is left undone within the stipulated period of time.
4. Irrelevant/ Outdated Information
The library is expected to be a place of up to date resource. From daily newspapers to weekly journals, bulletins, contemporary textbooks and everything in-between.
The reverse is the case in Nigeria libraries, the pitiable state of the books is not even to be mentioned while the latest or most current book on the library shelves can be dated as far back as 2003 without any new current materials.
The possible solution here is administrator reform. Administrators need to understand that if they don’t get funding, they should improvise.
5. Lack of Funds
Finance is the life wire of any establishment including land, labour, capitals and entrepreneur and information. The capital here refers to finance which can be used to procure other factors of production there by making it more important than others.
Fund is obviously the major element in every establishment. It is equally the working capital of an establishment. The lack of funds hampers the provision of modern libraries in the country” The Chief Librarian of the National Mathematical Center, Abuja, James Daniel, has once said in an exclusive interview with the Premium times.
Without funds there cannot be growth. Government has turned a blind eye in the educational sector which involves the library and focused more on oil as a way of getting income.
The problem with this is not obvious today or tomorrow, it will be obvious in future generations where the current youths would have no idea of reading in a library as a way of finding solutions to the problems they might be facing.
The possible solution here is to encourage government through the house of reps to set out bills that will most certainly not stop the distribution of funds to the Nigerian Libraries.
6. Poor Infrastructure
Another problem is the existing infrastructural facilities in most public libraries are inadequate. Their reference materials are too old. There are no separate rooms for music library and audio-visual materials, and no rooms for serious readers especially those carrying out research works.
This shows that the public libraries in the nation are not given due recognition they deserve and this is traceable not only to the non-quantifiable nature of library services but also the misconception given to libraries by government to get off these problems.
There must be a re-orientation on the part of the policy makers in government to accord the public library the recognition it deserves in terms of infrastructures.
7. Electronic Libraries
Its a different world now than in 1940. We need to shape the offer libraries give to the new times,
“Society is moving to where things are coming to you not that you go to the thing”. To physically go to a place is an increasingly outmoded concept. Every library needs a Facebook and Twitter account. Libraries should do outreach in public markets, secondary schools, universities as well as public places.
Libraries should go to the people in form of what they want. Electronic libraries need to be developed and set rolling in our internet based world because, no on has time to walk to a library when they have internet services on their palms.
Both Government and private individuals should help drastically in the development of electronic libraries.
8. Inconsistent Government Policy
We understand our Nigeria is been run, one government comes in with its own different type of policy while another comes in, wipes or stop the initial policy and then introduce another policy. This has been the trend from time immemorial in the political settings of Nigeria.
This ugly trend have had adverse effect on the different policies put in place to further the rapid development and participation of Nigerians in public libraries.
As persistent as this problem maybe, we can only hope for new governments to followup with pat administration policies as a solution.
9. Monetize Borrowing
There are not enough books in the Nigerian libraries but there are enough books for borrowing free. Libraries should start monetizing their services as a secondary source of getting income because truly, things work faster when it is monetized and privatized.
Free borrowing will most likely lead to loss by the borrower who may not be able to return the borrowed item. However, if monetized, it will encourage users to return on time and return a borrowed. This trend will not only create a source of income but enlarge the horoscope of users in library usage practices.
10. Poor Aesthetics
Just as the appearance of a home matters, the appearance of a library does matter too. It should be design in such a way that promotes comfort, space, silence and seclusion from crowds.
Poor aesthetics in the Nigerian libraries has led people to find discomfort in reading in the library. They rather read at home where they feel more comfortable and silent enough to learn.
The solution here is improvisation – Librarians should improvise between themselves to make the libraries look more appealing to every age of individuals which in turn fosters usage on the part of the users.Click here to see the latest Jobs opportunities in Nigeria.
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