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NIAMEY, NIGER - DECEMBER 09: Students reading in school books at a Nigerian school on December 09, 2013, in Niamey, Niger. Photo by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption***
NIAMEY, NIGER - DECEMBER 09: Students reading in school books at a Nigerian school on December 09, 2013, in Niamey, Niger. Photo by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption***

Library Patronage Falls In N/West

Nkechi Okoronkwo

Patronage of libraries in some states of the North West has dwindled due to obsolete books and dilapidated structures.

In Kebbi, Katsina and Kano, most conventional libraries have either closed down or serve as “mere reading rooms’’ without the needed books to add value to studies, NAN investigations revealed.

Librarians who spoke to NAN, complained that library usage had greatly reduced, leaving them empty, unlike in the past when students and researchers trooped in for studies.

Alhaji Umar Kambaza, the Director, Dr Yusuf Bala Memorial Library, Birnin Kebbi, said that lack of funds to re-stock current literature, newspapers and journals had discouraged members of the public from patronising libraries.

He also noted that infrastructural defects had limited the scope of some of the libraries from even displaying the few available ma- terials in stock.

“In this library, established in 2006, attendance has reduced to less than 800 as against about 3,000 monthly in the past.

“We hardly lend out books to the public,” he said, adding that the provision of e-libraries would help to bridge the gap in making reading materials available to the public.

“The e-library would soon make modern libraries outdated and obsolete since materials are now accessible through social media.

“Two out of the our five library branches have been operational due to dilapidated structures just as the decline in new materials has resulted in decline in reading culture,’’ he added.

Kambaza advocated for a law to involve financial institutions and organizations in library management, especially in the supply of books, maintenance of structure and training.

He suggested that librarians must come up with innovations to encourage reading culture and make libraries central in providing materials on current issues, events and news.

NAN reports that most schools libraries in the state were also affected by lack of updated reading materials to assist students with their studies.

Some students, who spoke to NAN, said they now access vital materials for their studies through the Internet.

At Ultimate Private School, Birnin Kebbi, an official, Mr Ibi- kunle Tajudeen, said the school- opted for a computer centre instead of a conventional library, considering the fact that current materials were re available through the Internet.

“The textbooks required by our students are not available in the conventional libraries, hence the best option was to provide a com- puter centre in line with modern trend.’’ A retired school teacher, Mallam Mudi Ali, attributed the decline in the utilization of librar- ies to modern technology.

“The ICT has made learning less tedious and accessible for those who can afford the facilities,’’ he said.

In Kano, Alhaji Abdullahi Ado, the Head of Department, Reader Services, Murtala Mohammed Library, called for joint funding by the three tiers of government to revive conventional libraries in the country.

He noted that inadequate funding had hindered smooth operation of most public libraries, leading to poor patronage and absence of up-to-date reading materials.

Ado said that the provision of conventional libraries in public schools was critical to the revival of reading culture, which is now absent among students.

The librarian also advised that special programmes be introduced in schools to make students computer literate, in order to fully utilise the e-library for their studies.

Ado explained that libraries contribute immensely to national development by providing and preserving materials on issues of national importance. “Libraries also serve as sources of information where research materials are kept for easy reference.’’ In Kaduna, a check in some school libraries revealed the absence of reading materials and dilapidated facilities.

A teacher in a public secondary school, Mr George David, complained that the libraries were not functional due to absence of relevant books due to years of neglect by government. “What would you expect the students to come and read when there are no books?” he queried.

Mrs Evelyn Musa, a primary school teacher, said that her school had no functional library, adding, “we only ask our pupils to read their books in the class.”

However, Mr Dogara Samuel of Wisdom Academy, Kafanchan, said the school encourages pupils to use the library and had made computer classes compulsory.

“We ensure that our students visit the library daily for their computer classes,” he said.

Miss Franka Uzo, a Librarian at Graceland College, Madakiya, told NAN that in order to encourage the use of the library, all pupils had been registered as members of the school’s Readers Club.

Stephen Kiwo, a Junior Secondary School student of Government Secondary School, Kukun, said that as much as he loved to visit the library, the available books were inadequate. “I can count the number of textbooks and story books aside old newspapers in my school library,” he said.

Mrs Irene David, a parent, urged the Kaduna State Government to step up efforts towards equipping libraries, to promote reading culture among students.

Also, Mr Ishaya Adamu, the District Head of Ungwan Galadima, said parents as well as private and corporate bodies should contribute their quota towards revamping libraries across the state.

Reports from Katsina say that the state government has done very little to revamp its existing libraries.

A check revealed that two public librairies located in Kankia and Mani had been closed down, while the ones at Funtua, Daura, Dutsima, Malumfashi and Katsina had not been restocked for the past 16 years.

A competent source in the state library board, who pleaded anonymity, said people patronise the existing libraries only to read newspapers.

Some students who spoke with NAN, said that they use the libraries to read their personal books as there were no materials for reference purposes to enrich their studies. A student, Nura Abdullahi of Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina, however, said that the public libraries in Funtua and Katsina have been connected to the Internet.

A lecturer in the Department of Library Science of the university, Malam Muhammad Kabir, however, expressed dismay over the reluctance of the state government to provide funding to public libraries.

He, therefore, urged the incoming administration in the state to make the provision of functional libraries a top priority.

Kabir noted that this would inspire students and the general public to cultivate and imbibe a reading culture. (NAN)

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