re – Nigerian libraries to go on-line by 2008

ABUJA, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — All Nigerian libraries under the management of the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) will be linked to the Internet by 2008, a government official said here on Sunday.

NLN Chief Executive Officer Linus Ikpaakindi told the official News Agency of Nigeria that this will allow Nigerians to access foreign journals and books in 20 libraries located in 20 states of the federation.

“Linking the libraries to the Internet is the first step toward the actualization of the National Virtual Library project for the country,” he said.

Ikpaakindi promised that the Internet facility at the libraries would enable Nigerians of all walks of life to have access to information as cheaply as possible.

He said that under the project, the nation’s resources, potentials and capabilities would be digitalized, while local content would be created for on-line usage.

Source: click here

The way I see it, the article is basically saying that internet access will be available in Nigerian Libraries for students to do research online……at least as an alternative to spending money in cybercafes.

Talking about Nigerian Libraries, I do not want to sound like a kill-joy, but its very easy to say:Nigerian Libraries to go online by 2008.

The following questions are presently crossing my mind:
1) Where are these Libraries? there are public libraries: a handful operated by the government, and there are private libraries(individual libraries of various institutions of learning: secondary/University)

2) I was conversing with an SSI student sometime ago, trying to encourage him to be studious etc., rather than playing football all weekend. I told him to go to his school’s library, pick up a magazine/daily newspaper and read etc., read about politics, world news, science and technology etc., and if he has any question, he can come ask me. The boy replied that his secondary school has no library. I was kinda shocked to hear such coz my own secondary school(in those days) had a library.

Now, if an SSI student in 2007 is attending a secondary school that has no library, I think the situation is very scare. I would like to ask why our Board of Educational Directors/Managers nationwide allow such a School to be in operation. How many of these library-less secondary schools do we have in Nigeria?

How do their teachers teach students? how will students that don’t have textbooks(for financial reasons) fare in class? how will they get books to read? how do these teachers even update themselves and their lecture notes, semester after semester? the questions are unending, but the fact is that there are many SSI students in 2007, in various sec-schools across the country who in the next 2-years will want to write JAMB, University Entrace examinations etc., whose schools presently don’t have libraries, who don’t even know what a library is – talk less of the benefits they can derive from using the library.

Note: my example student is attending a secondary school in Lagos state – the center of civilization, business etc in Nigeria. I wonder what is happening up-North.

3) Defintely, institutions of higher learning – our Universities have libraries, but how many of such have libraries that fit to retain the name: Library?
– Are the books, magazines, journals etc in these Libraries relevant to the present age? are they recently published books?
– are they available – how many copies of book-xyz are in these libraries(most cases 1-copy only), and are available to be borrowed?
– Many libraries at various institutions are what can be called: Recommended-Text-Book-Only-Library. They contain only text-books recommended/prescribed by the institution for a particular course / subject-matter. example: only copies of a particular book-xyz which is recommended for Physics101 are available in the library. Nothing else

How then can the students be told to “read wide”, when the University has narrowed their options? How can a typical student THINK OUT OF THE BOX, about something new, think about something else when he has no reference materials from other authors on the same subject matter?

When there is no opportunity to read another book/journal related to the subject matter that is not a recommended-text book by the University, at the end of the day, its exactly what the lecturer teaches that we find in the textbooks which we find in the library. What comes to my mind is: garbage in, garbage out.

I visited the National Mathematical Center(NMC) in Abuja in 2003. The company I worked for had a contracted job to be carried out at the NMC, and I was sent over. I was surprised to see what I call as “the dust-enabled” library, shelves containing aged books – as far back as 1969. I had to ask my host if this was the NMC Mathematical Library or the Store. The whole thing was extremely funny to me, especially when I was even informed that they were offering Masters degree in Mathematics. I tried to figure out how an M.S Mathematics graduate student can read about 1969 Mathematical principles and be expected to postulate a theory applicable to 2003. I went round the shelves, but the latest published book I saw was published in 1977. Many of these books were older than myself.

From the library, we went to their data center/IT main office. The NMC had these ancient looking servers that I began to think if such had network cards…..I mean the things were just bogus. Computers in various offices were a little recent-then, but the networking was just serious….I mean serious. I tried to compare how many working machines were available as to those packed by a side, and were said to be ‘faulty’. The worst thing was that the NEPA, it was hardly available. When electricity failed, I was informed that the generator was available for only 3-hours after which it must be compulsorily shut off, as the fuel was being rationed.

Although they claimed to have internet access from the NITDA/NUC, I don’t know which was which, I couldn’t figure out how they managed to stay updated IT-wise considering technology was changing everyday.

see someone else’s experience visiting the NMC.

It was 4-years back, I don’t know if they have upgraded, but the fact was, that was the National Mathematical Center for the Nation Nigeria, and to find it in a deplorable state broke my heart.

As I said earlier, its very easy to say that Nigerian Libraries are to go online by 2008, however, the implementation process is usually where Nigeria gets stuck. I hope they won’t this time.

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One response

  1. […] Rebecca Powers wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt11 (Xinhua) — All Nigerian libraries under the management of the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) will be linked to the Internet by 2008, a government official said here on Sunday. NLN Chief Executive Officer Linus Ikpaakindi told the … […]

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