Insurance coverage in Nigerian academic libraries.

Author:Adekanye, E. Ademola


Insurance is a method of coping with risk. It lowers uncertainty about the economic cost of loss-producing events. The insurer, for a fee, promises to reimburse the insured for losses. In a university library, the administration must take a realistic view of security and recognize that, although prevention is better than cure, insurance can help rectify a security breach or help the library recover after a disaster or accident.

Libraries must consider the problems and catastrophes that might occur. As libraries differ, so their insurance requirements will differ. The insurance market is vast and changing; hence, it is advisable to seek expert advice from a professional insurance intermediary to ensure that adequate protection is obtained. The responsibility for acquiring insurance varies from organization to organization. The library administrator, however, has responsibility for ensuring that the library functions as intended. Library administrators must make sure that the library is adequately insured. Librarians have invaluable knowledge and expertise to impart to insurers. Insurance coverage for libraries generally involves damage to materials, business interruption, theft, personal accidents, and motor vehicles.

Material Damage

Objects capable of being damaged or destroyed can be divided into stock, equipment, and building. Stock and services are the lifeblood of any library. Regular inventory of the collection is very important. Certain books and manuscripts will be more difficult to replace than others and some may be irreplaceable. It is necessary that all parties to the insurance contract agree on the method and extent of coverage. The book collection might be assigned different levels of coverage:

* Routine: fiction which is easily replaceable and can be insured on an indemnity basis (replacement value less than purchase price)

* Valuable books replaceable only with difficulty; such books would be insured on a reinstatement value (urgent replacement value as new)

* Valuable irreplaceable books; such books would need to be covered on an agreed value basis and an authenticated valuation provided at the outset to avoid problems in the event of claim.

The coverage discussed above relates to risk on the premises, but many items are loaned out and consideration must be given to covering them while they are away from the library.


Information and communication technology (ICT) equipment like computers, telecommunication facilities, etc., are fast becoming an everyday tool of the book trade and it is important that special ICT equipment coverage is sought. The need to purchase backup for hardware and software and to ensure coverage for the recovery of important data makes it mandatory to have comprehensive insurance coverage for equipment. Appropriate insurance coverage should be also considered for all general library contents (other than books) such as furniture, shelving, typewriters, and photocopiers.


It is important to ensure that the insurance value selected is accurate and adequate. It is normal to insure buildings for their replacement value, i.e., replacement as new. The insurance value should take inflation into...

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