By Chinelo Chikelu
… To Support Small Virtual Libraries for Inmates In 2021
The National Library of Nigeria NLN, has gone electronical with its 2020 nationwide reading campaign.
The decision to take the campaign to television and radio stations, the Chief Executive Officer CEO, Prof. Lenrie Aina, of the apex library said is in respect of the ongoing pandemic which demands social distancing as a means to curb the spread of the SAR COV-2 virus.
Aina who noted that the pandemic has negatively affected the library said in addition to closing down for a period of seven months, which ate into its 2020 reading campaign, the library rendered limited service.
He was however, optimistic that Nigerians has been reading throughout the lockdown and thereafter. While he has no statistics to back up that statement, Aina argued that when people have nowhere to go and unable to embark on social engagement the next best thing is to read.
And watching the television could form part of reading.The ensure the public’s engagement with its electronic reading campaign, the library has engaged celebrity bibliophiles to feature in its collaborative programmes with popular TV and Radio programmes including Channels TV Book Club programme, AIT’s Kaakaki Show, and NTA’s The Good Morning Show. Guest speakers have also been arranged to speak on the importance of reading in various radio stations across the country.
Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka kicked off the campaign, on Tuesday with Channels Bookclub, and several other bibliophile celebrities as former NTA presenter and journalist, Eugenia Abu, library owner and voracious reader, the state Chief Justice of Katsina State, Musa Danladi Abubakar, the Secretary of the Elders Forum, Borno State, Bulama Gubio, and Hon. Steve Azaiki, founder of the Azaiki Library, a subsidiary of the Azaiki Foundation in Yenegoa.
Addressing the importance of private and community libraries in the education of the masses in the pandemic times, the Chief Librarian said communities’ libraries fill in gaps left by national and state-owned libraries.
In foreign climes, community libraries kept their population entertained, informed and engaged with books to read and latest updates on the publishing world during the global lockdown and amid an ongoing pandemic.
Aina said the library encourages the establishment of private and community libraries through support by way of book and computer donations in addition to embarking on partnership projects with them.
He applauded the role of community libraries such as the Azaiki Library in Yenegoa and the Raji Oke-Esa Memorial Library in Iseyin, Oyo State, while urging other individuals committed in establishing community libraries to take action.
“Once one is committed and starts something like that, if they approach us, we partner with them because that is the ideal, for every community to have a library. Government finances us sufficiently and we try to reach out to people, just as we are doing today supporting the Nigeria Correctional Services, to support those libraries with books and shelves,” said Aina.
With COVID-19 rapidly ushering in and entrenching the knowledge and digital economy, traditional jobs are becoming extinct, while traditional job spaces are overhauled. Many nations such as Nigeria are being force to either catch up or be left behind.
Addressing the role of the apex library in shaping the present digital and information economy, Aina said the library has digitised its government publications including gazettes which are accessible online.
Earlier this week the library had donated books worth N1.85 million to Nigeria Correctional Services for inmates. Affirming, however, the need to prepare the inmates for the new economy awaiting them in the future Aina said, “next year, hopefully, we will try to see how we can provide a small virtual library for them, so we can buy databases for them to keep them connected and online,” he concluded.