Stakeholders lament deteriorating Nigerian libraries with outdated books

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  • Poor condition of libraries discouraging youths from reading – Librarian

BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI

As the reading culture in Nigeria continues to nosedive, governments at all levels have been urged to equip libraries with up-to-date books and modern academic materials that will make reading fascinating.

This charge came amid concerns that the two libraries in Ebonyi State are fast deteriorating with falling roofs and outdated stock.

The Director, Ebonyi State Library Services, Edith Ikoro-Uche, in an interview with The Point in Abakaliki, the state capital, identified the poor state of libraries in Nigeria as a reason for the decline in the standard of education in the nation, adding that the worsening condition of reading facilities was partly fueling the dwindling reading culture among youths.

Ikoro-Uche also contended that poor funding of libraries had made reading boring to most Nigerians.

While revealing that “everything in the state library is outdated,” the director solicited for the renovation and equipping of the two existing libraries in the state as well as establishment of more public libraries in the 13 local government areas of the state as a way of boosting the interest of youths in reading.

In her submission after The Point’s correspondent inspected the extent of the decay in the state’s libraries, Ikoro-Uche said, “I am not satisfied with the level of decline in the reading culture among Nigerian youths. In a whole year, only about 50 persons visit the state library to read or research. The environment of the library is not conducive for adults not to talk of children. The library itself is not conducive, it is nothing to write home about.

“I believe you have seen things for yourself. Everything here is not correct. It is outdated. It is painful that the reading culture has fallen and has continued to decline day by day. As a state director of library services, I cannot revive it alone.”

She added, “Governments and parents have stronger stakes here. I thank the current Governor Francis Nwifuru for helping to give the state library a facelift by repainting the walls and others. I call on philanthropists, well-to-do individuals, corporate bodies to help in this perspective. At Afikpo zonal library, we were thrown out of the house because of non-payment of accumulated rent, but one of the big men from there gave us a very conducive place, well equipped with solar power supply and computers.

“The community provided security men to ensure security of the equipment therein. Afikpo Town Union Association took it upon itself to pay the two security men working there till date. When wind blew away the roof, the association gave me N100,000 to mend it. We should not be waiting for governments to do everything because it is impossible.

“The past government did not do much in terms of library maintenance, that is why everything here is outdated. My happiness is that the current governor is education-friendly and has come in to change the narrative. There is a need for the establishment of new public libraries, at least, one per local government area. The only two existing libraries in the state cannot serve a population of over two million persons in the state, adequately.

“For instance, Abia State has 12 public libraries, which are adequately serving the entire state. When you compare the level of their reading culture and that of Ebonyi, you will notice the clear difference. When there is a well equipped/conducive environment, more people will have interest in reading.”

Other areas the state government should look into, according to Ikoro-Uche, include poor staffing, lack of electricity, water and toilets.

Reacting, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Library Development, Pius Nwoga, expressed the readiness of the state government to revive the reading culture of the youths by establishing libraries in all the local government areas of the state.

“A saying goes that education is the life wire of every society. The education or reading culture cannot be revived if there is no functional library. That is why the present education-friendly administration, led by his Excellency, Francis Nwifuru, has deemed it fit to ensure we have a functional and befitting library to upgrade the standard of education in the state,” he assured.