Only five out of the 120 university libraries in Nigeria can meet the scholarly needs of a university community, former president the Nigerian Library Association (NLA), Professor Lenrie O. Aina said at the weekend.
The professor of library and information science at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) who spoke this in Ilorin, while delivering the 132nd inaugural lecture of the institution said “globally, the ranking of a university depends, to a large extent, on its library. A highly ranked university will necessarily have a quality university library. It is the repository of information and knowledge. The library is the intellectual heart of a university system.”
Delivering the lecture entitled: nformation, Knowledge and the Gatekeeper, Prof Aina said “In the past, the National Universities Commission (NUC) made it mandatory for federal universities to spend 10 per cent of their budgets on their libraries. Unfortunately, many universities, in the last 20 years have ignored this directive. “Rather than spending on university libraries, they are more engrossed with webometrics ranking of universities. No serious university anywhere in the world will focus on webometrics, because what it measures is the presence of a university on the internet, that is, ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ content.
“In the Nigerian context, these rankings have no value, if the university libraries are not enriched with adequate library stock and first class services.”
He emphasized that “special libraries in Nigeria are above average, as one can boast of many standard special libraries. Most libraries attached to international and private sector organizations are of high standard but libraries attached to research institutes and government departments are just like other government controlled organizations.
“As for public libraries, we do not have any standard public library in Nigeria. What we have are just reading rooms. A public library is supposed to serve all categories of users earlier mentioned. As president of NLA, I was so worried about the pathetic state of public libraries in Nigeria that the council set up a committee in 2011 to see how public libraries could be revitalized.
“The state of public libraries in Nigeria, according to the committee’s report, is unwholesome. Today, there is no public library in Nigeria that serves kindergarten, artisans, and the majority of the masses who cannot read or write. Similarly, standard school libraries are just not available.”