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Stakeholders harp on repositioning libraries to meet SDGs in Nigeria

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, stakeholders have emphasised the need to pay adequate attention to public libraries and information centres in Nigeria.

The stakeholders made the call during a 2-day Conference of Chairmen, Directors of State Library Boards and National Librarian in Nigeria, held at Prof. Kenneth Dike E-Library Library, Awka, the Anambra state capital.

Orient Daily reports that the conference was themed, ‘The Roles of Public Libraries in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’, and attracted experts across the country.

In a lead paper presentation titled, ‘Public libraries as inclusive spaces for sustainable development’, Dr. Airen Adetimirin, from the University of Ibadan, stressed the import of public libraries in information dissemination, while charging librarians to regularly conduct needs assessment of library users.

She reiterated the need to eschew users’ bias in public libraries, noting that public libraries should be an inclusive space accommodating all group of persons in society.

In a remark, the Director, Anambra State Library Board, Dr. Nkechi Udeze, noted that information was critical in achieving SDGs, and remarked the singular role of libraries in providing ready access to information through electronic and print resources.

Udeze called on library administrators to be more strategic in taking literacy awareness to communities instead of waiting for users to visit the public libraries. She stressed the need to develop programmes to bridge the gap preventing users from accessing libraries.

She listed poor access to information and resources, non release of capital budget to facilitate the maintenance of public libraries, poor funding, inadequate manpower, as challenges facing public libraries in Nigeria, while tasking policy makers to begin seeing public libraries as an indispensable tool towards attainment of SDGs.

In an address, the National Librarian of National Library, Prof. Lanrie Aina, said the theme of the conference focused on 17 goals, with 169 targets popularly known as Sustainable Development Goals, set up by the world leaders in 2015, to address world’s main development challenges to be achieved by 2030.

“The conference is aimed at building the capacity of directors of public libraries who are at the helm of affairs of driving the services of their libraries and the chairmen of the board of the state library boards, who are politically inclined to drive and garner the necessary support to the libraries.

“If SDGs are to be sustained, the citizens need to be informed through selection, processing, organising, and dissemination of resources, hosting local forums where people can discuss problems such as community, health, education, environmental issues and climate change”, he said.

In a remark, the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba regretted that people mostly access libraries during examinations, describing it as a misnomer. He said the state government was concluding plans to provide digital literacy to Anambrarians, which, according to him, would help them access modern books and journals using phones.

“To continue playing a leading role in education, adequate attention must be paid to library development”, he said.

Earlier, the chairman of the occasion and Vice-Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone, FAS, described the theme as apt and timely, stressing that library was necessary to achieving the SDGs and development of a nation.

Esimone, represented by Professor Nkechinyere Nwokoye of the Department of Linguistics, Unizik, decried that students barely visit libraries unless they were given assignments, even as he called for attitudinal change.

The Vice President of Nigeria Library Association (NLA), Dr. Uju Nwafor-Orizu had, in a remark, warned librarians to brace up in the discharge of their responsibilities, remarking the need for library administrators to become more innovative in domesticating literacy in their communities.

Technical sessions, paper presentations and goodwill messages formed the high points of the conference.

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