Nigeria public library service to rural areas: libraries in Niger Delta states.

Author:Ebiwolate, Posigha Bassil


The fundamental aim of libraries is to provide timely, accurate, pertinent, and reliable information for their users. According to Olowu (2004), librarians are devoted to improving access to information, and satisfying the user is paramount. There is a growing recognition that library services, particularly in public libraries, are an integral part of national socioeconomic development and improvement of the general quality of life (Kibat, 1990). Public libraries in Nigeria are part of the government, in terms of administration and budget procedures. The establishment of public libraries in Nigeria, however, has been mostly limited to urban areas. That has resulted in illiteracy and ignorance among young people in rural areas. In Nigeria, a majority of the population lives in remote areas. Some of these areas are only accessible by boat, donkey, or bicycle. The inhabitants of these rural areas are without education. The library can have an important role in the advancement of knowledge. This role can be effectively carried out with well-structured and well-planned library services. Library services, including the packaging and repackaging of information, have been provided in Nigeria for many decades (Iwhiwhu, 2008). Unfortunately, a number of problems inhibit the provision of efficient library services in rural areas of the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. These include lack of physical infrastructure, lack of information and communication technologies (ICT), illiteracy, language barriers, poverty, etc.

Library Services in Rural Areas

Library services in the former Bendel state, which is the present day Delta and Edo states, was very important in the history of public libraries in Nigeria. It set the pace for many public libraries in Nigeria. The former Eastern region, which was part of the Niger Delta, also provided library services for adults, children, and schools. Through grants from UNESCO, mobile library service was provided to serve primary and secondary schools and reading rooms. In 1967, the region was split into seven states (Abia, Anambra, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Enugu, and Rivers states, and in1996, Ebonyi and Bayelsa). Despite high expectations, library services did not develop widely in these areas.

Bookmobile Service

Bookmobile service was introduced in Nigeria by the regional governments in the 1960s and 1970s. The level of success varied. According to Okiy (2004), mobile library service was launched in order to extend library services to everyone in Bendel state, irrespective of location. By the end of 1977, this service had a fleet of five vans with a total book stock of 12,500 volumes. The vans operated 220 service points in 140 towns and villages. Other library services provided by the state library service included prison and hospital trolley services, films for children, and reference services. Unfortunately these services are no longer in existence in the Niger Delta states. Research conducted in rural areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland...

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