Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Beyond General Relativity and Science: Albert Einstein

Adegbilero-Iwari Idowu

I just have to take it personal with Albert Einstein because for all as ever but till yesterday, I have never thought of him more than being the greatest scientist and his classical work, the Theory of General Relativity. You know, these great folks we read about or studied in class don't really appear to us as normal humans who did actually lived. If you have been like me it is time to start adjusting to the fact that Albert Einstein was human or still is because in no distant time you may run into his direct descendant, a member of his family tree either as your doctor, teacher, friend or neighbor. 

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Albert Einstein

So, who was Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879- April 18, 1955) more than General Relativity?



Birth: born to Hermann (father) and Pauline (mother) Einstein, both Jews, on March 14, 1879 in a German Empire town of Ulm. He later lived in Munich with his parents.

Death: He died on April 18, 1955 at Princeton, New Jersey

CitizenshipHe became a German citizen in 1914, renounced it 1933 for political reasons; became an American citizen in 1940.

Early Life and Education: began schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium, moved to Italy, and then to Switzerland where he furthered his education at Aarau before joining the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in Physics and Mathematics in 1896. He graduated with a Diploma in 1901, gained Swiss citizenship and earned his doctorate degree in 1905.
Marriage and Family Tree
First, Albert Einstein married his classmate in Zurich, Mileva Maric, in January 1903 and both had three children: Liesel (daughter, born 1902, thought to be given up for adoption in 1903; nothing was henceforth heard about her); Hans Albert Einstein (son, born in 1904 ); and Eduard (son, born in 1910, had no children, diagnosed early and institutionalized for schizophrenia, thought to have lived till 1965). Hans Albert Einstein lived up to 1973, was a professor of Hydraulic Engineering at University of California Berkeley and the world's foremost expert on Sediment Transport, had three children of whom was Bernard Caesar Einstein (10 July 1930 – 30 September 2008), the only grandson of Albert to survive childhood. 
Bernard C. Einstein had five children with Doris Aude Ascher (c. 1938-2008) whom he married in 1954: Thomas Martin Einstein (born 1955 in Switzerland); Paul Michael Einstein (born 1959 in France) Eduard Albert "Ted" Einstein (born 1961 in Los Angeles, California) Mira Einstein-Yehieli (born 1965 in Switzerland) Charles Quincy Ascher "Charly" Einstein (born 1971 in Switzerland).
Thomas Martin Einstein, a great grandson of Albert Einstein is an anesthesiologist and physician, at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. He has three children.
Divorce: Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric officially dissolved their union in 1919. Albert had a second marriage same year with his first cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, who died in 1936.
Second marriage: in 1919, Albert Einstein married his first cousin, Elsa Einstein (Löwenthal) formerly married to Max Löwenthal. Albert's marriage to Elsa produced no children but stepdaughters, Ilse Löwenthal, 1897-1934 and Margot Löwenthal, 1899-1986, born to Elsa's first marriage to Max.
Habits: According to Zaria Gorvett, Albert Einstein had 10 hours of sleep and one-second naps per day, a sacred daily walk, spaghetti as favorite food, was a hardened pipe smoker, and passionately averted to wearing socks because when he was young he found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in a sock and thus stopped wearing socks.

QuoteAnyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new- Albert Eisntein

So as much as his novel works, Albert Einstein's person is/are still very much with us and one day you or I may just run into one.
And don't mind me, it is the busybody part of me poke-nosing into another person's personal life. But I think you need to know... 

Notes:
1. "Albert Einstein - Biographical". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 14 Jun 2017. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1921/einstein-bio.html> 
2. http://www.shmoop.com/albert-einstein/family.html
3. http://biography.yourdictionary.com/articles/albert-einsteins-family.html
4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2016/08/16/einstein-was-a-formidable-genius-but-what-about-his-kids/#160408d4f008
5. Zaria Gorvett http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170612-what-you-can-learn-from-einsteins-quirky-habits
6. Wikipedia.com, of course!



Friday, June 9, 2017

Nigeria: Concerning Library Culture or is it Reading Culture? Part2

So what can we do? What can the government do? What can wealthy elites and business corporations do? Lots, can everyone do.

First, the nomenclature of public libraries must forthwith be changed. It is only in Nigeria you call libraries Library Boards. That name is synonymous to the low ratings and poor performance of the sector. They are called libraries, community libraries, public libraries, school libraries, so-so and so library; and not boards nor the least library boards. What’s in a name? Lots are in it. Public libraries serve the generality of the public and are established majorly with tax payers’ money or common government resources. According to an IFLA document:

A public library is an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some other form of community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination through a range of resources and services and is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, disability, economic and employment status and educational attainment.

So, it is imperative to call a lion by its name, public libraries, pronto!

Secondly, and most pertinently, the Nigerian National Assembly must immediately enact an Act of parliament on Library funding. The Act can be called the Library Funds Act (LFA) which will enable the Executive arm of government to appropriate funds for library development in every fiscal year. The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has, under its legal responsibility to higher institutions, being stealthily supporting academic libraries and have so far spent over 25 billion naira on them. This in no small measure can account for the stark difference between the public libraries and academic libraries. So, the LFA is seriously needed not only to bridge the gap between public and academic libraries but to also leverage the creativity of librarians in public libraries and the potential of public libraries to transform the national literacy rating positively. The LFA will also afford all library types to seek and get funds for innovative library projects across the federation.
The National Assembly building: Nigeria

Also, states Houses of Assembly should do same. In this sense, the Library Boards may stay but empowered with budgetary and monetary powers to fund public libraries in each community in the states. I am also beginning to wonder why local government authorities have taken it as odium to do this common good called library for the people they serve at the grassroots. Let it be known that any grassroots governance without library projects is best a grazing endeavor of the roots of the masses. This must stop.
Still with the government, an immediate state of emergency must be declared on Library and Reading. This also coupled with the establishment of a National Agency for Reading (NAR). Thes political will must be demonstrated to drive up library development, library and reading culture.

Apart from government, wealthy elites and business corporations must divest their corporate social responsibility to this vital area. MTN has made efforts in the past with their MTN Foundation e-Library Project. Zenith Bank is trying to come up with something now under their “Adopt a Library” project. But more still need be done. I am looking forward to a wealthy elite like Andrew Carnegie who will devote substantial personal fortune as funds for building public libraries across Nigeria. They can establish foundations and allow for competitive bidding from government agencies, NGOs, communities and individuals.

Also, in this era of Reality Shows, shows in reading and literacy underscoring the values of libraries can be sponsored on network or national television stations by corporate organisations. Still on the role of the entertainment sector, Nollywood can have what I call “Nollywood Year of Reading (NYR)” where films and soap operas are devoted to Reading and Library. The NYR can come up every 5year or 3year to start with. 
And finally, reading campaigns by libraries, librarians, and library associations in addition to the efforts of the National Library of Nigeria must be taken with alarming seriousness. Sponsorship deals for such campaigns can be sought and reached with companies and renowned brands or even famous personalities such that Library and/or Reading Ambassadors are signed on to a library promotional campaign.

If we begin like this, and take some of these measures, the library cum reading culture will have good fate and the outcome will be enormous. Perhaps, just like in America, investment in Nigerian libraries may become another “leverageable investment” that the National Assembly “makes across national budget”.

As for me, my decision has long been made: I can build a community public library for Ijan-Ekiti, my hometown. I can do so much more. You can support me to do just these.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Nigeria: Concerning Library Culture or is it Reading Culture? Part1

Model, Headquarters of the National Library of Nigeria that is under construction
This past week, at the tail end of May 2017, two events happened simultaneously mid-week. One in the USA and the other here in Nigeria; both concerning one theme- library/literacy. All these happened at the time my mind was preoccupied with library development in Nigeria. While in the USA, the President of the American Library Association (ALA) Julie Todaro, Ph.D., was in the last few days of her dogged fight against congressional cut in library funding for FY2018, Prof L. O. Aina, a former National President of the Nigerian Library Association (NLA) but present CEO of the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) marked the year 2017 reading promotional ritual. And as the tweeter handle of the NLN made several tweets of the key points of his reading, I remembered coming across ‘’reading culture in Nigeria is poor’’ https://twitter.com/Librarygovng. This coincided with my blog post few minutes earlier titled “Supporting FY 2018 Funding for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program: the Plea of a Foreigner” where I compared the excellent reading culture of the Americans with the near nil culture of reading on this side the Atlantic. You can imagine how happy I was to be so corroborated by such an authority in Nigerian and African library science scholarship. So, it is a fact that Nigeria has poor reading culture. Although, the National Librarian went on to underscore the values of reading to leadership and national transformation but I quickly interjected the tweet reads by replying to one of the tweets thus: ‘’Reading culture cannot thrive without library culture’’ https://twitter.com/adegbilero.
There I began to query myself, is there any phrase in library lexicon as library culture? What is library culture? But something told me that I might be right from the tweeter reactions I got for my tweet; the Like, Retweets and all that. But really, what is library culture? Which one do we really need, library or reading culture? I will, thus, attempt to solve the puzzle I have tasked my mind to answer.  
Culture, in its presumptuous and generic sense connotes the total way of life of a group of people. Applying this to reading or library, a very convenient and unequivocal sense may be discerned for reading culture or library culture. But if giving definitional explanation is what this writ is all about, it may as well not worth the effort you have committed to reading it this far. Howbeit, it need be said that such basic note of understanding need be resounded.
My thought of library culture sends me back to the Spring of 2016 when with four other early career librarians from Bangladesh (Shaharima Parvin), the Philippines (Rhea Jade Nabusan), Kenya (Penninah Musangi) and Serbia (Zeljko Dimitrijevic) including my humble self from Nigeria (Idowu Adegbilero-Iwari) under the prestigious Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Fellowship programme explored library and experienced librarianship in the USA for a period of one month. This we did, among other things, through interactions in trainings, presentations, visits to libraries, museums and archives across the states of Ohio (host state), Illinois, Indiana and Washington, District of Columbia. There and then I saw what I call library culture. 
Library culture, apart from the traditional way of life of libraries, is more rather than less the total way of life of the people or the society the library serves in relation to the library. It is obvious what gallant attitude and disposition the American society have towards libraries. The people could rarely live without libraries. A community is not complete in America without the library.
Albany Public Library
There just must be somewhere for the kids, teens, the youth, working class people, scholars, displaced people and just any human to go in the community to study, train, learn new technology, host events, learn government principles, pick up forms, explore historical events and archival events, freely use the internet, borrow books and now equipment and have fun generally. That is the nature of the modern American libraries. No wonder the libraries are no more principally about books but space for knowledge acquisition, creation and recreation. Modern information structure is hyper in nature and it is beyond what is printed in black and white. Information comes in different formats and now in different ways; and the more visual and / or handy or rather interactive the better for today’s information users. The multimedia and hyperlink nature of electronic information available through the World Wide Web on the Internet has further challenged libraries to double up on their services. These, have all been adequately and continued to be so taken care of by so many libraries in the US.
The design and architecture of libraries justifies the high premium placed on libraries.
Atrium of the Columbus Metropolitan Library
The support of the American people and government can only result in librarians’ creativity and innovation such that library users are now consider as customers who must be duly satisfied. Satisfied with comfort; satisfied with convenient services and structures; satisfied with aesthetics and beauty; satisfied with efficient and effective librarians. The library seems to always be ahead of the people, creating pleasant services to ultimately keep them coming to the library or using library services. Little wonder, that libraries now circulate (loan out) items more than books. These include: bicycles, sewing machines, mobile internet modem, and other technologies. Libraries now have space for creation and fabrication such as Makerspaces or Fablabs. Libraries have spaces for babies and nursing mothers. They possess such facilities for training and meeting. Such times for oral tradition and narratives (story telling). And as the American people sip the precious flow of library’s juicy offerings, the libraries are inundated with crowd of knowledge lovers and a reading people. Such is the library culture I meant to talk about.
A burgeoning library culture that does not leave out business, corporate organizations and wealthy elites where everyone sort of get really involved in one of the most critical sector that has remained ubiquitous across varying seasons and eras of human civilizations. There are countless endowment funds for various library projects across the country. Apart from the multi-million dollars congressional annual Federal Budget for Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) under the LSTA Acts, state governments also have annual budgetary provisions for libraries in millions of USD. These are not without endowment from foundations and corporate businesses. The Carnegie Corporation of New York is a foremost and the leading global force behind libraries, library education and librarians. Their footprints are in libraries across the US and almost all the continents of the earth. The Mortenson Company has also committed fat bags of dollars to the course of library and librarians both in the USA and offshore. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also taken deep love for libraries with rich supports globally. This is to mention but a very few. This is the library culture I meant to say from the onset of this essay and the reason for my thesis that “reading culture cannot thrive without library culture”.
To finally delve into the value of the library to the Americans, the Corporate Committee for Library Investment (CCLI) recently described the library as “very much critical national infrastructures: ubiquitous, indispensable, and economically essential. In canvassing for federal funding for libraries, CCLI further submitted that “library funding may be among the very best yielding and most leverageable investment that Congress makes across the entire Federal budget”. Their position can be easily understood given the following mind boggling statistics:

§  There are 25% more public libraries in the United States than Starbucks;
§  Each year, America’s more than 120,000 libraries of all kinds are visited 1.4 billion times nationwide (averaging to about 4 million visits per day or 2,663 visits per minute);
§  Those many millions of visitors come to modern libraries to borrow books, but also because libraries do (and have for decades been doing) so much more:
§  100% of libraries offer free access to the internet;
§  97% help patrons, including particularly veterans, complete government forms online;
§  90% train children and adults in computer literacy and other online skills;
§  73% aid patrons with job applications and interviewing skills;
§  68% help users use databases to find job openings; and
§  48% provide entrepreneurs and small business owners with online resources.
      Source: CCLI, 2017 at https://www.fundlibraries.com/ccli-letter

All these point to why the library culture of the American society is ably witnessed in its people’s love for reading.
Unfortunately, both the reading and library culture of the Americans sharply contrasts with Nigerians’. There is a common saying that “if you want to hide anything from a Nigerian, keep it in a book”. It is that horrible. The Nigerian National Librarian, as mentioned earlier, had once and again echoed the obvious, that reading culture is poor in Nigeria. The other obvious I need not mention is the poor library culture. According to a report of the Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria (LRCN), there are only 253 public libraries in Nigeria in addition to the 25 branches plus the headquarters of the National Library of Nigeria; altogether, 279, less than the 481 branch locations of the 251 Public Library Systems in the state of Ohio alone. And to put it into proper perspectives, the 279 public libraries and NLN branches are meant to serve over 170 million people in contrast with over 1993 public libraries and 2 branches of the National Library of South Africa to serve 54 million South Africans. These are just figures (quantity) and no mention of features (quality). You may as well spare me that ado. My guess is that you will agree with me that the point has been made that Library culture in Nigeria is abjectly poor.
library development in nigeria
Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta

Save for recently reported refurbishment effort of the Isolo Public Library by the Lagos State government in conjunction with Zenith Bank Plc under the bank’s “Adopt a Library” scheme, the renascent Akwa Ibom E-Library, the Kenneth Dike Central e-Library in Awka, Anambra State, which are government efforts; and save for a very scanty private individual efforts like the only notably known Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State, which are all modern; it is hard to imagine the state of public libraries in Nigeria. That said, must we continue to mourn this poor culture? Certainly, NO! We must act or rather make people act and promptly too.

Continue to read from Part2 here
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