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Public libraries in Nigeria risk extinction, need urgent reform – student group
–By Vincent Ufuoma (Student Reporter)
THE Nigerian Library and Information Science Students Association (N-LISSA) has condemned the sorry state of public libraries in Nigeria.
Azeez Elijah Olawale, the association’s national president, on Tuesday through a statement obtained by The ICIR, faulted leaders at both federal and state levels for misappropriating funds meant for the building and development of public libraries in the country.
“The Association faults the past leadership of the federal and state government for neglecting and embezzling funds that are budgeted for the library development in Nigeria over the years, hence denying millions of Nigerians access to useful information and research materials,” the statement read.
While commending African nations such as Rwanda and South Africa for investing heavily in public libraries, Olawale said the Nigerian government is destroying her’s. If the trend is not discontinued, he warned, public libraries will go into extinction, thereby destroying the knowledge base of the nation.
Most libraries in the country, according to the student association, “are in a devastating, pathetic, critical, emergency, and worrisome condition”.
“Most Nigeria’s public libraries are characterised by dilapidated structures, falling roofs, bushy environment, absence of electricity supply, lack of staff, abandonment of Library building, lack of library materials, use as a market place among others,” the president lamented.
“The poor attention to public libraries can be said to have contributed to the increase in crime rates, illiterate population, the spread of rumours, etc.”
Olawale called on government at all levels, non-governmental organisations, schools, as well as well-meaning Nigerians to work together in resuscitating and restoring the glory of public libraries. Various stakeholders, he suggested, can contribute through the renovation of structures, and donation of books, computers and other materials.
The statement said: “We equally call on President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, the leadership of the National Assembly, the Chairman of the Governor’s forum, H.E. Kayode Fayemi, all state governors and politicians to intervene, rescue, and resuscitate public libraries in Nigeria and as well come up with sustainable policies that will ensure Nigeria’s libraries favourably fit in to the demands of 21st century libraries to serve the information need of all and sundry irrespective of one’s status, level of education, position, occupation, age, sex and information needs.”