National Library Project and TETFund’s Timely Intervention, by Rahma Oladosu
Knowledge they say is power and it is impossible to think about seeking knowledge without thinking about books and other research materials. The acquisition of knowledge needed to cure ignorance is derived from studying; hence we can’t deny the importance of a library whether in a nation, an institution and even in our individual homes.
Typically, a Library is a tool for intellectual freedom and economic development; a gateway to political, economic, social happiness and survival. To be more elaborate, a library is a collection of materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or digital access (soft copies) to materials, and may be a physical location or a virtual space, or both. Collections in a library can include printed materials and other physical resources in many formats such as DVD, CD and cassette as well as access to information, music or other content held on bibliographic databases.
These collections may be organised for use and maintained by a public body such as government; an institution such as a school or museum; a corporation; or a private individual. In addition to providing materials, libraries also provide the services of librarians who are trained and experts at finding, selecting, circulating and organising information and at interpreting information needs, navigating and analysing very large number of information with a variety of resources.
As we all know, most Library buildings often provide quiet areas for studying, as well as common areas for group study and collaboration, and may provide public facilities for access to their electronic resources; for instance: computers and access to the Internet.
Going back memory lane, the National Library of Nigeria was established in the mid-1960s with the enactment of the National Library Act of 1964. In 1970, a new legal precedent was set with the creation of the National Library decree. The decree was partly enacted on the advice of the National Library Board which wanted to expand the library to other state capitals in order to create a network of repositories of knowledge. The collections of National Library of Nigeria are limitless ranging from textbooks, journals, reference collections and government documents, among others. A lot of educators and institutions have been advocating for better libraries in Nigeria and the completion of the Nigeria National Library, Abuja. This noble cause cannot be over emphasised because of the importance of a functional National library of Nigeria in almost all the facets of human existence and development.
Nigeria, Our dear nation like many others developing countries, is passing through critical period of educational, economic, political and social development. This established a truism that such development cannot be achieved in isolation. It is therefore felt by many that if Nigeria is to achieve its full potential in these core areas of human growth, development of her national library is imperative.
Regrettably, all the potentials of the national library in Nigeria are being hindered presently due to poor reading culture, inadequate funding, high level of illiteracy, dilapidated facilities and resources, inadequate and non-progressive staff training to keep the professionals abreast of current best practices in the ever-evolving information sector especially as it pertains to use of technology to organise resources and offer services and outdated materials in the library. Despite these challenges, national library can provide information on improving productivity, hygiene, business activities and promote democracy and social-economic issues. On this note, it is good for the governments in Nigeria to fully become aware that great nations of the world prosper using the possibilities in reliable information. It is good to also state that public library is central to information management by qualified library professionals.
As part of efforts to reverse this trend and the determination to bring about a significant progress in the development in our “ailing” library, Nigeria’s sole administrator of education tax proceeds for tertiary institutions in the country, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has set aside the first tranche of N15 billion to fast-track the commencement of construction of the National library revamp project.
With a little over a 100 days in office as the Executive Secretary of the Fund, Arch Sonny Echono stated “that Work on the National Library had been stalled for years due to inadequate funding, with over N50 billion needed for its completion according to the current evaluation requirements, the fund had put all plans in place for the completion of the building, adding that it has conveyed its readiness to provide the funds to the ministry as soon as the Federal Executive Council assents to it. On our own part, we have set aside the first tranche of about 15 billion already in our coffers to be deployed as soon as the approval from the revised cost is granted by the Federal Executive Council.”
While laying emphasis on the importance of library, he further said, “for us in the tertiary education system, library is where learning takes place, including research. Teaching materials and resources that students access to improve themselves are all deposited for record purposes. Library is usually the center of any academic institution.”
There is an urgent need for a functional and well equipped national library in order to achieve an economically viable Nigeria that bases her policies on informed decision making. This is majorly because libraries as reservoir of reliable information that are consulted for reference and other services centers for nation building. TETFund’s decision to set aside N15 billion to revive the library is a positive development and a ray of hope for the coming generation, a hope that they will meet a conducive, well-managed and equipped library to carry out research and to generally acquire knowledge.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is a Staff Writer with the Economic Confidential