Education plays a major role in the attainment of a sustainable economy and national development. Library is a major part of education and has its effect on every other sector of the economy. In a country like Nigeria, the largest economy and most populous country in Africa with a budding youth and child population, the future of the nation is at risk if there is no improvement in library development in the country. This article covers the problems of Library development in Nigeria.
Problems of Library Development in Nigeria
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This is a source of many other problems encountered in the library sector. Inadequate funding negatively affects the purchase of books and the development of the e-library scheme in most Nigerian libraries. Due to inadequate funding, many library structures are in bad shape. The absence of up-to-date library materials also makes the populace lose interest in library. The situation keeps getting worse as the Nigerian government keeps reducing the amount to be spent on library in these times of recession and oil dip.
Poor reading culture in Nigeria
The poor reading culture of the Nigerian masses poses a huge challenge to the development of library in Nigeria. The masses have a nonchalant attitude to reading and hence Library so people hardly make use of library facilities and services. Another contributing factor to poor reading culture in Nigeria is the irrelevance of library service to the illiterate. Illiteracy is a general problem for Nigeria’s education environment. Library service has had little impact on illiteracy in Nigeria. Illiterates make up to two-thirds of the adult population. The country lacks an extensive literature in local languages. Mostly, there are English language literatures written by Nigerians. There is also the problem with even the literates where those who have access to libraries use them only for educational purposes, to pass an examination or get a degree. Once they have achieved their education goals, they give up on library. Libraries in Nigeria is used by less than 1 percent of the entire population. The importance of a service that is meant for all but accessible and relevant to only a selected few is one thing that is hard to sell.
Inability to Extend Library services to Urban areas
Most libraries are located in cities of Nigeria. There are many rural areas without library services and facilities. This is another problem of library development in Nigeria.
Lack of adequate training
The lack of adequate training for staff of libraries in the country is another problem of the sector. There is hardly any planned training for staff to keep them abreast with the ever-evolving practices of the library and information sector so they can attain world standards. Staff of Nigerian libraries also need to be trained on the use of technology in library services.
Development of library services in Nigeria has been greatly affected by the creation of states in Nigeria. Often times, the decision to further divided the divide the country into states is not made with public libraries in mind. In 1967, when the four regions were abolished and twelve states created, library buildings had to stay where they were, but books and staff were shared out. These new states also had to adopt the lack of policy in the library sector. It is difficult to convince those in power that you need funds or that library development is worth spending money on when there is no policy in place. It has often been recommended that library facilities should be regional and local in order to increase library facilities throughout the nation. But oftentimes, books and staff are shared across the nation in a hasty, ill-conceived manner. Because of this, there is a varying range of quality of library services provided across the nation, varying from non-existent and very poor to reasonable.
Lack of political will and Poor Leadership in the library sector
Successful library development in any nation depends on two essential factors. One is the willingness and enthusiasm of the government in facilitating library development programmes. Second is the need for right and professional leadership to execute such library development programmes. When there is government support, funding is not so difficult. The most important of this is the right leadership in the library sector. Although it is true that without funding, even the best leadership will achieve very little, however, much can still be done with the absence of funds.
Lack of Library Legislation
Without the backing of the law, no country can build a successful and effective library service. Legislation is a right to demand for funding to improve the sector. There can also be the establishment of a board of members who are professionals and care about library development and give the library and information sector all the support it needs. Without library boards, the library sector will continue to wallow in impoverishment. There needs to be the establishment of library legislation so there can be better library services.
Poor attitude from the government
There is a poor attitude from the government towards the library sector. Public libraries are compared with other sectors whose revenue is quantified. The library sector has huge benefits for the nation in the long run, as it is only educated people that can improve every other aspect of the economy. However, many government officials argue that because the benefits of the library and information sector is not readily translated into immediate revenue for the state, it does not deserve any significant funding.
This is one of the greatest challenges of library development in Nigeria is staffing. At first, the problem was that there were not enough librarians. Next, it was that there were not enough Nigerian librarians, then there were not enough Nigerian librarians from a particular region who had the appropriate qualifications.
Poor Conditions of Service
The library sector is wrecked by poor conditions of service in terms of pay and incentives. This makes most workers non-enthusiastic about work.