Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dear Senator Gbenga Ashafa: National Library of Nigeria and the State of Nigerian Libraries

Dear Senator,
You have left me with no other word than to say thank you for living true to the title your membership of the Nigerian upper legislative chamber confers on you having distinguished yourself. Distinguished Senator Gbenga Ashafa, you have painstakingly considered and called the attention of the nation to a somewhat conspicuous but seemingly vague national matter: the Nigerian library sector. Everything else is often mentioned and discussed in this country but the library. This accounts for the singular reason why the construction of the headquarters of the National Library of Nigeria has taken more than a decade to do unto no reasonable conclusion. The bad effects on cost, national literacy and development have been well articulated in your motion. The flimsy manner we handle national education and literacy which alarmed you only won us a poor record as the least reading country in the world. We are grateful for your foresight by seeing the invisible and beaming light on the obvious but somewhat hidden national menace. By this singular action of yours, you have distinguished yourself sir and I am left with no option than to confer on you the title of a Library Hero of Nigeria (LHN).

When I became puzzled but happy by your action, I traced and found that you originated from Lagos State; a state that, under the leadership of H.E. Akinwumi Ambode, has taken library development and education to enviable heights. Apart from having one of the largest numbers of public libraries, they recently partnered with Zenith Bank to develop public libraries. The recently modernized Isolo Public Library is a notable example of the government’s commitment to seeing through its “Adopt a Library initiative”. Lagos seems to get everything happening for them in the most progressive manner in all sectors. They are raising their shoulder high above the rest. With its western orientation of service to humanity and its pace of development, at times you wonder if Lagos is a separate country. While one would pray for Lagos to continue to prosper and also have shining lights and considerate people in leadership positions, the other states and the federal government should learn from the Center of Excellence.
The Federal Government and all state governments should consider educating the Nigerian masses as the most worthy calling of governance. Educating the masses is far beyond what the few privileged ones will learn within the four walls of our already remiss classrooms. It is more of what they will glean from a functional library system which can best be described as a public university. The public library is the citadel of learning for all peoples. This is what obtains in developed climes. I have  spoken much of this in my article titled “Journey to the Largest Library in the World and the Need for a Library-Conscious Nigerian Society”. Needless to reiterate, click to read and see where we should be heading as a country. But the call to modernize our libraries and turn them to community hubs, city centres or village squares is herein resounded. In a poster accepted for presentation in the AfLIA conference of May 2017 in Yaounde, Cameroun, I recommended how, a good public library serving as community hubs can fast-track personal and national development. I propounded there those things the modern library should do to fulfill that purpose. And as agreed to by other scholars and practiced abroad, the library should offer the following services: see poster

Having said that, without the support of everyone: government, communities, cities, philanthropist, librarians and the people, there is no way these can be achieved. I made recommendation for what everybody can do in the article titled "Nigeria: Concerning Library Culture or is it Reading Culture? Part2" which also can be clicked and read to safe writing space. However, in the light of distinguished Senator  Gbenga Ashafa’s heroic motion on the floor of the Senate, I wish to reiterate a key point here. The point is on the role of the National Assembly. Apart from the investigation the senator’s motion has birthed, the current momentum should be geared towards enacting the Library Fund Acts. This Act will provide for the establishment of Library Development Fund with fiscal empowerment like TETFund to fund library projects across Nigeria. All library types especially public libraries should be able to access this fund. The fund should also create special competitive grants for individuals, NGO, communities to compete for in order to implement innovative library projects. I can always shed more light on this. This practice is obtainable in serious-minded reading nations.

Dear Senator, that is the next step, beyond building a national headquarters of a library, which is just a building. You can always count on librarians to work with you in this matter dear library hero. God bless us all.  


Adegbilero-Iwari Idowu
The call to apply for the 12th EIFL PUBLIC LIBRARY INNOVATION AWARD is open.
Public and community libraries in developing and transition countries that use digital technology (ICT) to improve lives with special focus on achieving any of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are encouraged to apply.
Prize of the Award: cash USD1,500 and kind.
Application closes January 11, 2018.
More information here

Monday, November 6, 2017

This Unnecessary "War" Against YouTube by Academics

Adegbilero-Iwari, Idowu
As a library and information science (LIS) professional, I felt so embarrassed last Friday emerging from an academic parley, staff training sort of , where some of the scholars (mid-old) condemned the contents of YouTube tagging it as "nonacademic", can not be used to teach students, or should not be recommended to students. This tongue-lash was a response to a lecturer (vibrant) who narrated how he used YouTube to teach his classes. I felt like this is a huge step backward to the early days when Google itself was discountenanced in academic arena. Even, without thanks to Google Scholar, the story has changed. Everybody wants to look for his missing bedspread on Google.

To safe your useful time, suffice it to say that, YouTube is the real deal even for academic learning! YouTube is described to offer wide range of user-generated and corporate media videos. Its content includes "video clips, TV show clips, music videos, short and documentary films, audio recordings, movie trailers, live streams, and other content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos" (Wikipedia).
There is hardly anything in the world today you can not learn on YouTube. From artisans to artists, well-meaning professors to renowned universities, just anybody or any body, have YouTube channels through which they perform, teach and share vital information.  Just like any information source, it behoves the user to verify facts where doubts arise. But to say the least, YouTube is a great learning media, fantastic aid to teaching and a complete platform to master just anything that appeals to You (YouAnkara, YouFashion, YouLecture, YouSongs, YouWorship,... YouAnything).
For instance, Stanford University, one of top 5 universities in the world, has near 700,000 subscribers to its YouTube channel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare has over 1.3 million subscribers; while Yale University's channel is subscribed to by near 100,000, its online learning platform, YaleCourses has over 500,000 subscribers which is in close relation to Harvard University's. These are the universities that rank highest at any time by any ranking system. So, it is extremely strange and absolutely unnecessary to hurl such reprimand on the academic capability of an iconic Web creation. Whereas I seek not to defend the self-defending YouTube, because it will be a baseless effort, the learners of this generation know where their information lay and the rich sources like YouTube to explore in order to get them.
My admonition to those of us in the LIS profession is that we should focus on information literacy and/or digital literacy to prevent being unwittingly awakened to unnecessarily bickering on whether the Web and its search engines (Google, YouTube, etc.) have taken the place of libraries or not.

1. American Library Association 
2. Wkikpedia
3. YouTube

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Library Activism101

African libraries, especially public libraries in Nigeria are still in crude form. Governments and communities don't even seem to have a place for libraries in their policy planning and implementation. The library sector is rarely considered in public discourse. This must change. We must take it upon ourselves to drive change in this critical sector of human society. That Nigeria with over 170million people has less than 1000 public libraries is no more a comfortable story to tell. Libraries must fill up the streets of Nigerian towns and villages. It is possible! And we must couple with advocacy library activism.

VREs and the Open Era: Open Science Framework for Research Collaboration and Visibility

According to UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the Virtual Research Environment (VRE) is a set of online tools and other network resources and technologies interoperating with each other to support or enhance the processes of a wide range of research practitioners within and across disciplinary and institutional boundaries.
The Open Science Framework, developed and maintained by the Center for Open Science (COS), is a collaboration tool that provides free and open source project management support for researchers across the entire research lifecycle.
Follow the link to read my presentation on Open Science Framework at Redeemer's University, Ede, Nigeria during the 2017 International Open Access Week OSF

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee: Available Online

Concerning salvation and living the christian life, there are so many noises and dusts everywhere built around the failings of people to simply grasp what God did by JESUS CHRIST: His Cross, His Blood and His Resurrection. And the one book that sets the records straight is that written by Watchman Nee (1903-1972)THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE majorly based on the revelations gleaned from the book of Romans, The Holy Bible. 
From the simple to the confused, the weak to the unstable, and even you unbeliever, it is time to live a victorious, glorious and an assuring life through faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the Cross. The Normal Christian Life will be found for you a material that gives immense help in the bid to live the normal life God has purposed for you. Luckily, it is freely Available online: Click to read

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Blood of Christ Chapter 2: The Cross of Christ Chapter 3: The Path of Progress: Knowing Chapter 4: The Path of Progress: Reckoning Chapter 5: The Divide of the Cross Chapter 6: The Path of Progress: Presenting Ourselves to God Chapter 7: The Eternal Purpose Chapter 8: The Holy Spirit Chapter 9: The Meaning and Value of Romans Seven Chapter 10: The Path of Progress: Walking in the Spirit Chapter 11: One Body in Christ Chapter 12: The Cross and the Soul Life Chapter 13: The Path of Progress: Bearing the Cross Chapter 14: The Goal of the Gospel

Thursday, August 31, 2017


You came so hard with forces so ferocious
In a manner we rarely see, you stormed Texas
With shivers you put Louisiana on edge
You ravaged Houston, flooded the streets and blasted her flora

The rampant storm that rendered the houses rustling
And the people homeless, for safety scampering
Shelters were shattered by you, children crying
And miles and bridges in rumbles you left

You broke the addiction of Addicks
She spilled her waters that boats plied the watery roads
And the cars of Houston were submerged like submarine
Monuments were moved ashore by your rivers

Austin and Washington could not but answer your thunderous call
As compassion flurried from all of earth
Prayers and vigils from distant lands to strengthen
The gallantry of men and women on ground, lives to rescue

You have left a trail and a tale that will long be searched and told
Now you must go away and let alone
The city of my love that hosted my feet for four hours
When she admitted me to the nation that put her trust in God

You have done your part, now the people shall arise
Their bits to do with courage; and steel themselves
To turn the gory story that Harvey has told
To a tale of glory the world shall ever tell

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

INASP/UNESCO Open Access Week competition

INASP is hosting a competition to provide small contributions of $500 for up to 10 successful applicants towards the costs of organising Open Access Week activities. The winners will also have the opportunity to share their Open Access activities via the INASP and UNESCO website, newsletter and the networks and all applicants might use to share ideas and get feedback.
Your activities might include: 
  • Creating greater understanding of Open Access or the Open Access movement
  • Increasing wider awareness and use of institutional repositories
  • Promoting and providing training in Open Access resources
  • Showcasing the open source software being used
  • Using the opportunities provided by Open Access policies to create, share and improve access to information and electronic resources
  • Having fun with your own competitions or displays
Open Access Week is an opportunity for the academic and research community to learn more about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in Open Access developments. For more information, see

Application Deadline: Monday 28th August 2017
Successful applicants will be notified by: Friday 1st September 2017
Winners’ reports must be submitted to INASP by: 17th November 2017

For sample OA Week event, see Adegbilero-Iwari's winning activities for Elizade University, Nigeria at Elizade University 2016 Open Access Week Events

Friday, July 21, 2017

#Force2017 call for abstracts: What could you contribute to the most innovative event in scholarly communications?

Changing the Culture

This year’s Force11 Conference takes place in Berlin from 25-27 October. It will focus on Changing the Culture as a theme to guide discussions. The event is intended to create new partnerships and collaborations, and support the implementation of ideas generated at the conference, and in the FORCE11 working groups.

The #FORCE2017 Conference aims to contribute its fair share to changing the scholarly communications landscape.

We focus on dialog rather than monolog, on diversity both on-stage and among the audience. And we plan a program geared towards turning past experiences with---and future visions for---scholarly communication, into concrete next steps.

Check out the line-up of confirmed keynote speakers, and if you think you could add to the program please propose your story today.

"It was really pleasing to be reminded of just how cool and exciting 
it can be at the cutting edge of scholarly communication.” - 2016 delegate
Key dates and info
  • 31st July: Earlybird registration 
  • 15th August: Abstract submission (posters, demos, sessions)
  • 25-27 October 2017: Conference dates!

Venue: Kalkscheune, Berlin

Conference Chair: Martin Fenner; Program Chair: Daniel Mietchen

Visit the main website for more information:

Still on Reading Culture: Consider the Reading Habits of Highly Successful People

Adegbilero-Iwari, Idowu
According to Sandra Wu "Some of the world's highest achievers have one thing in common: it isn’t a high IQ, nor is it an incredible lucky streak, but their appreciation for reading. Books were their most profitable investment."

Billionaires who read their ways to wealth and fame:

1. Warren Buffett spends 80% of his day reading. 
2. Elon Musk reportedly learned how to build rockets by reading books
3. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world and a lifelong bookworm, reads about 50 books a year
4. Mark Zuckerberg invited the whole world to join him on his quest to read a book every two weeks in 2015.

Wouldn't you rather start honing your reading culture or build your kids' early?
And a quick reminder to Nigerian authorities, Library culture, a prelude to reading habit, still matters. Click to see what library culture means here and this too

The above are tips from a rich site I stumbled upon.
Read more at: Blinklist Magazine

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Library Services Platform: Are Nigerian Libraries Ready for Change?

Failure to innovate will result in a diminished role for libraries as the next phase of digital information evolves- Marshall Breeding
With the above  assertion by Marshall Breeding I wish to task and engage Nigerian librarians on innovation and adaptation to change. Apart from God, change is generally believed to be the only permanent thing. This is proven to be true across ages and seasons. The ever evolving field of Library and Information Science (LIS) is one of the most dynamic as a result of its perennial interface with changing technologies and changing socio-eonomic dynamics of the human race. So, it is convenient to come to the conclusion as Breeding's which engenders constant innovation and planned or strategic change for our libraries to remain relevant especially in this age when virtually anything can be googled. Asked, way back 2005, "Where do you typically begin your search for information on a particular topic?", 89% of the respondents (college students) chose search engines of which Google (62%), and a gracious 2% chose library websites, according to an OCLC research. This brings us to the issue of libraries versus the Web and more so, Google. 
Luckily, however, there is steady rise in library patrons' preference of digital resources and complementary shift in library resource acquisition from the ubiquitous paper to electronic. Well, not all libraries but, most libraries in developed countries are shedding the weight of print collections in favour of growing digital collections. The reasons are obvious. The Millennials which constitute much of today's information seekers and users are digitally oriented; they are digitally woven with mobile gadgets such as tablets and smartphones to get avalanche of information on the go. All these have serious implications for libraries who are key players in the  information world. No doubt, libraries are ubiquitous, they are essential treasures of human civilizations and must remain so even in the digital age.
It has been found that technologies only evolve to the gains of libraries and the information community all across history. Prof Iyabo Mabawonku, a renowned LIS scholar, in her recent inaugural lecture titled "From Tablet to Tablet: Information, Media and Technology Acceptance", highlighted the role of technology in human communication from the eras of cave paintings, cuneiform or clay tablets up to today's era of handheld mobile tablets. Libraries have always leveraged on these technologies to fulfill their purposes to the society. As computers were never a threat to libraries  at the onset of computing but rather ushered in the eras of computerisation and its succeeding and subsisting phenomenon, automation, this rapid web era should not also pose so much of a threat.
Much of early library automation efforts were based on server/client computing model with its consequential challenges which have now constituted major limitations. Many of such limitations of the now ageing library automation systems generically known as Integrated Library Systems or Library Management Systems (ILS/LMS) not limited to but include:

  • core focus mostly on print materials and traditional workflow processes
  • labour-intensive implementation and maintenance
  • loosely integrated environment
  • cost intensive
  • too many demand of other technologies such as discovery systems, ERM, link resolvers, etc as add-ons
  • complex serials management 
  • limited OPAC, which is still much like the card catalogs from which it evolved
  • inability to link with other library and institution systems such as student portals, institutional repositories, ETDs, etc
All these and many more have added to the pressure already created by preference of library users for Google and the rising e-resources collections of libraries which in the words of Jane Burke,  VP of market development for ProQuest, "we’ve reached a tipping point where collections are predominantly electronic." There was therefore need for a more robust and unified library automation system that can handle much, if not all of these issues in one system. This led to the development of new products which Marshall Breeding generically termed Library Services Platform (LSP).
Library service platforms are first web-based, multitenant library systems which operates largely as Software as a Service (SaaS) on the cloud computing architecture for the unified management and discovery of all kinds of library resources. With the cloud, much of the burdens  and cost  for system implementation and maintenance are drastically shed. The other features or benefits of the LSPs, especially OCLC's WorldShare Management Services (WMS) launched June 17, 2013, now used by over 500 libraries across the world are:
  • unified electronic and print resources workflows which also streamlines and automate management of e-resources
  • saves cost, especially cost of software and server acquisition and maintenance
  • inbuilt discovery service
  • visibility of libraries on popular search engines
  • intuitive data analytics
Apart from the OCLC, other major players in library technologies have developed their own LSPs:
All of these products apart from FOLIO are already in use by hundreds of libraries across the world. Even though, LSPs are termed future technologies in NMC Horizon Report 2017 Library Edition, to be adopted in two to three years' time, it is already in use by aggregated thousands of libraries globally as shown in the Table below. 

Library Services Platforms Adoption

Ex LibrisAlma43406
Innovative InterfacesSierra Services Platform123495
OCLCWorldShare Management Services79303
SirsiDynixBlue Cloud Suite Enterprise150538
Social Library53179
eResource Central168329
*Intota Assessment, the first module of the new system, released in November 2013
Numbers represented here were reported to us by associated vendors
A lot of things (figures, product name, owner/vendor,...) must have since changed. E.g, ProQuest have acquired Ex Libris, that means, with Alma. 
The only library so far reported in Africa to have deployed a LSP is Stellenbosch University Library with Ex Libris' Alma. I am not sure if a library in Nigeria has adopted any. The reasons may not be far fetched.
Apart from the fact that not all libraries in Nigeria, even academic libraries, have automated with the ageing or dying ILS/LMS, the challenges of libraries here seems to be pseudo-different from those beyond the sea which have necessitated the development of the LSP. To confirm the above is the fact that, our workflows are still largely traditional having to do with large and increasing volumes of print resources. This is a reversal of global trends. What the global community of information seekers and users are looking for is electronic. And this, unfortunately, is not to say that information seekers and users in Nigeria are not clamoring for electronic resources. In fact, just like the troubling statistics shared above, their first point of call for information is the Web (Google). So, it may be that the library is doing them a strong disservice due to whatever may be the reasons chief of which may not be unconnected with funding and the poor library culture I once wrote about. However, there are reasons to heave a deep sigh of relief given the recent interest and emphasis of the National Universities Commission on e-resources in university libraries. Whichever way, libraries in Nigeria will have to innovate and prepare for this inevitable change that the LSP have brought. The question, really is, not if Nigerian libraries will embrace LSP, it is a matter of when.
The when must however not be seen as later as projected by the NMC Horizon Report but NOW as I passionately desire. Now, because it is an opportunity for us to leverage on the inevitable cloud computing model making waves today. There are lots to benefit from the cloud: no hardware, no software obsolescence nor maintenance hassles, no update worries, no qualms on technical know-how or personnel, and many more. NOW, because it is an opportunity for many "unautomated" libraries to start on great footing. NOW, because we must bridge the tech gap between us and our counterparts offshore. NOW, because we must complement our political presence and gains on global library affairs (e.g. Dr Victoria Okojie, recently elected 2nd term as IFLA Governing Board Member 2017-2019) with adoption of modern library technologies and practices to the benefit of our users and the library sector. How may Nigerian libraries prepare for this change?
Nigerian libraries may have to decide critically on whether to build (use open source LSP as FOLIO) or buy (vendor-based like WMS, Alma, BLUEcloud,...). As LSP is a maturing library system, it is important to choose a matured platform or according to Breeding, it is important to choose a company that will survive. So, I counsel that:
  • libraries set up review teams to begin to assess the various platforms
  • they can ask for pricing information
  • they can explore the possibility of a consortium or consortia since LSP are multitenant based and are good for resource discovery and sharing 
  • they can interact with colleagues abroad and get their honest opinions of the platforms they are using
  • they can join the FOLIO community to be involved in its development before eventual release; it may just work like Koha
  • the Nigerian Library Association can also set up a national level task committee to review this imminent change and trends in the profession
Are Nigerian libraries ready for this change? Yea, if the counsels are heeded, Nay, if they are ignored. But as for the LSPs, they are here for good; the future has come!

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. 

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... 

1. "Albert Einstein - Biographical". Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 14 Jun 2017. <> 
5. Zaria Gorvett
6., 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’’ 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’’
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

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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