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…as workers lament govt neglect

The National Library of Nigeria still operates an analogue system, whereas many state libraries have gone digital, The Point can authoritatively report.

Being the only United Nations depository library in Nigeria, where UN materials are deposited, the National Library has been neglected in the areas of adequate funding, electronic learning, modern facilities and in most cases, serene environment.

“We have been operating on the analogue system since the establishment of the library. We have not been computerised. We have been using cards to check our titles. We want to use computer to catalogue and classify our materials. Government should come to our aid,” a Level 13 officer, who works at the Lagos State zone and is in charge of monographs, Mrs Foluke Anigilaje, lamented.

Another official, who did not want his name in print, also wondered why the libraries should be in such states. “Maybe it’s because we are not profit-oriented. But this is what the government is doing to help the public, especially the poor; and it is not being looked into. It is the same with all the national libraries across the nation. It’s probably because we do not have a commissioner who is a librarian. Our boss begs before money is released into the library,” she said with frustration.

“We are looking up to the government to perform better by giving the library a new face, by computerising it so that we won’t be using cards,” another female official added.

On the importance of a national library at a time when the Internet had virtually taken over the former’s roles, the chief librarian said, “We register publications on International Standard Serial Number and International Standard Book Number. We are a United Nations depository library; the only library that has United Nations’ materials. This place is an archive of knowledge where we prepare a lot of things such as exhibitions.

“Right now, we are working on what past governments have done in their first 100 days in office. United Nations Day of Exhibition is always on October 24 whereby we exhibit different materials they have been sending to us.”

READING CULTURE DECLINES

Anigilaje, however, expressed concern about the decline in the reading culture among Nigerians, especially the youth, saying, “The reading culture of Nigerian youths is very low. The number of the library users declined yearly in the last five years, until last year when it increased. I think the positive change occurred as a result of the high cost of the textbooks recommended for them.

“More so, they don’t get sufficient information on their research work. When I asked a user, she said she didn’t get the materials on what they wanted, outside. The number of regular users increases mostly during schools’ examinations. But after the examination period, the number reduces because they read only for exams.”

She added, “The National Library is doing all it can to improve the reading culture among youths. For instance, there is the Readership Promotion Campaign and also the Book Fair every year. The essence is to show that reading is good and the knowledge acquired is for a lifetime.

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