FAILURE to submit a copy of one’s published book to the National Library within one month of publication is an offence and is punishable, on conviction by a fine.
This is according to section four of the National Library Act which has been in existence since June 1, 1970.
Titled “deposit obligations”, section 4(1) of the National Library Act read: “The publisher of every book published in Nigeria shall, within one month after the publication, deliver at his own expense to the National Library three copies of the book, two of which shall be kept in the National Library for permanent preservation and one of which shall be sent by the Director to the Ibadan University Library.”
The law also states that “If a publisher fails to comply with any provision of subsection (1) or (2) of this section, he shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a fine not exceeding N100; and the court before which he is convicted may in addition order him to deliver to the Director three copies of the book in question or to pay to the Director the value of those copies.”
Apparently, many Nigerian publishers do not know about the existence of this law, or they deliberately flout it, perhaps due to the insignificant fine attached to it.
And this could be one of the reasons the National Library is full of outdated books, as revealed by a recent investigation by Premium Times which detailed how Nigeria’s National Library has been left in a state of utter decay, characterised by a bushy surrounding, dilapidated infrastructure, old books and poorly-motivated staff.
A staff of the National Library who pleaded anonymity said the situation was due to poor funding from the federal government. This is despite the fact that N3.5 billion was allocated to the Library in the 2017 budget and another N3.5 billion has been allocated to it in the yet-to-be approved 2018 budget.
“We are supposed to update our shelves yearly but because of the funds, it has not been so. We get our materials from gifts and exchange, book donations and hand purchases and most of our materials are outdated.
“Its not like they bring new books. They only bring the ones processed from the headquarters and the last time we received materials was last year,” the source said.
Experts say there is need for lawmakers to revisit the National Library Act and change some of the provisions that are obsolete, with a view to breathing new life into Nigeria’s National Library, which, in ideal terms, should be a national icon.