A visit to major libraries in Lagos reveals that visitors to most libraries are getting fewer by the day even as some of the libraries are no longer well stocked to accommodate latest publications on different subjects. Investigations further reveal that most visitors do not come until almost mid-day and only few spend more than an hour at a stretch.
This was the trend at the at Agege Local Government public library, Lagos, when National Mirror visited last week.
A source disclosed that the library is now being used only by secondary school students, especially those preparing for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
According to the source, both adults and youths whether employed or unemployed are rarely seen there.
One of the few visitors was Yussuf Yinusa, a school certificate holder. He confided in National Mirror that visiting the library was not a common habit as he prefers reading at home.
“I only come these days because I will soon be writing Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and I need all the materials I can gather so that I will be well prepared,” he added. Similarly, Adeola Arikawe a student of the National Open University, (NOUN) visits the library only when he has an assignment which involves getting references he may not be able to get from the internet.
While admitting that the library is well stocked he however told National Mirror it is still not a place he would like to visit all the time. “I don’t really like to come to the library but since I started a programme at NOUN, I do come here for materials,” he said.
For Mosunmola Adegbite a university student, the library has been replaced by the internet. According to her, she does not even see any reason to visit the university library not to talk of the public ones.
“Why do I need to go to the library when I can Google what I want from the internet,” she asked National Mirror. She added that the era of Information and Communication Technology has reduced, if not stopped people especially students from going to the library.
“I use internet to search for information so I don’t need to go and sit in a library all day when I can get the information in few minutes.” Indeed, the apathy about the use of the library seems to have attracted government attention.
Speaking at a programme, recently, the Supervising Minister of Education, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike who was represented by the Deputy Director of Library and Informatics in the Ministry, Irene Mbanefo attributed poor reading culture as the reason why students no longer patronize the library saying reading is an imperative for personal development and productivity therefore students need to engage in it to enhance their intellectual development.
Speaking with National Mirror, a staff at the National library, Yaba, who demanded anonymity said people especially students still come to the library but they might not be many because the library is a research library not like public or institution libraries.
“I know we are on track, you might not see people in a large number here because this library is meant for research for the future not something like what we have in tertiary institutions,” he said. However National Mirror also spoke to a few Nigerians who still believe in the relevance of the library.
For instance, Mr. Mubashiru Ojo, an accountant, told National Mirror he prefers the library for detailed information from books to using the internet. Mr. Ojo, a Masters student on ICT says the use of the library is essential for detailed information especially for those involved in research activities.
Also, The librarian, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, (AOCOED), Ijanikin, Mrs. Omotayo Oluwole toldNational Mirror that students still use the library but if they have their way, they will not want to come.
“This is an academic institution so the students need to visit the library because their lecturers will always give them assignments and they cannot buy all the books.” She said.
“The internet cannot take the place of the library because a lot is attached to its use. You need electricity to power the system which is not regular, you also need a modem and working on the computer system for a long time can damage the eyes.”
Oluwole urged that Nigerians, especially students, should not replace the library with the internet because information got from books are more relevant than the junks, sometimes obtained from the internet.
“People should also know that all the information on the internet are uploaded by we librarian, it is just that we are silent about it and you cannot get all what is contained in a book on the internet,” she reiterated.
An educationist, Mrs. Iyabo Onibokun said, in Nigeria today, reading culture of students is very poor and this has made the patronage of libraries to be affected negatively. She said before now, students in Nigeria can compete anywhere but now, it is not so as secondary school learners cannot write well which is attributed to their poor background in the reading culture which is a carryover from their primary school through the secondary and up to the university level.
She advised that a class should be devoted for reading so that this can be part of the children as they grow older. (National Mirror)