The increasing availability of technology is eclipsing the conventional library setting where users visit to consult books and maximize its potentials. With the eclipse, the huge passion they demonstrated in deploying it for readings, research works and other purposes has drastically gone down. This is as a result of dependence on ICT facilities, iPhones, the internet as well as other technology platforms. While e-library which has taken the centre stage thrives, physical libraries have plummeted due to declining usage, especially by students and lack of funding. Daily Trust Saturday examines the trend across some states.
Pundits believe that though conventional library could not be phased out because it still commands relevance, the internet and the birth of e-library had taken the centre stage of library tradition and usage, mainly because they have eased learning and access to research materials.
While making a case for sustaining the conventional library, they advised that out of vogue library materials must be obsoleted and replaced with modern ones.
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Recall that recently, the National Library of Nigeria organized a readership promotion campaign in its continued efforts to revive the declining reading culture among Nigerians. The theme of the 2021 campaign which took place at the National Library, Katsina State office, was: “Building a Nation of Readers: Share Your Story.”
In Kano, library patronage is at a low ebb. But with a view to sustaining its relevance, the Kano State Library Board said it had taken a step to maximize its potentials by keying into technology and ICT facilities to attract more users.
At Bayero University, Kano, our reporter had an encounter with students who do not even know the way to the university’s library, despite being a conspicuous complex in the school. Some of them who said they only knew the location of the facility, admitted that they had never visited because they believed they could access books and other materials through their mobile phones.
A library attendant, who asked not to be named, however said the level of patronage from students is impressive especially during exam period.
Fadila Ibrahim Shuaibu, an IJMB student at the Yusuf Maitama Sule University, said she did not visit the library because according to her, it is no longer equipped as they used to be while her colleague, Mukhtar Imam, said he frequently visited the library to study and carry out research.
“I hardly find what I am looking for. That brings down my morale to visit the library,” she said. “I visit the library frequently because there, you find a variety of information. Whatever you are looking for is there, even fun,” Imam said.
Muhammad Suleiman Abdullahi, a lecturer of Hausa Language at Bayero University, Kano, said the technological devices, “though a kind of a blessing in disguise, affect and change our attitude to real readings.
“In books, there are no pop ups, notifications or regular unwanted updates. But here – where students and teachers spend most of their times nowadays, we are battling from one page to another, from one notification to another, from one game to another, from one WhatsApp page to another, from one video to another and before you know it, you have wasted hours.”
A writer, Bello Sagir, said he hardly visit the library in recent times; not because of phones or the internet but because most of the libraries are poorly equipped.
“The academic libraries in our state universities help, but their restrictions on entry are the problems to many external users,” he said.
The Executive Secretary of the Kano State Library Board, Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bichi, said the drop in the utilisation of libraries, especially reading culture and reading habit, particularly among the youths started even before the emergence of the modern ICT facilities.
“The question is, what are the young ones reading? Are they reading for development purpose or for fun or leisure? The ICT facilities has affected positive reading because the negative aspects are much,” he said.
He said the only solution was to mitigate measures like what the Murtala Muhammad Library in the state is doing by introducing the positive use of ICT to library users.
“My investigation revealed that most users don’t know that they can access books, academic journals and other information through their phones.
“What we do is that we establish young readers club where we meet every Sunday and teach English, Computer and Information Literacy in three classes where students are exposed to educational databases. With the programme which is mostly free, they can download and access the knowledge and information they are seeking.”
In Katsina, most students of tertiary institutions that spoke with Daily Trust Saturday said they rarely visited libraries because they rely heavily on their cell phones for research.
Muhammad Bashir, a level 300 student in Al-Qalam University, said: “I go to the library only when there is absolute need to do so. In Computer Science, we have some textbooks. But if I don’t have any of the books, I would collect from a friend or colleague. So, I go to the library only when I cannot get what I want online via my handset or textbooks that I have.”
Muhammad Salim, a student of the same school, said, “We have both e-library and the conventional library. But I don’t visit them often. I usually go to the library during exams because the place is silent and conducive for reading.”
Tasi’u Kabir, a student of Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, said there were students who visited the library regularly, while there were others that had never stepped in to their school library.
“I visit library once in a while. I am not used to studying there as I often fall asleep there because it is always quiet. So, I prefer reading in the lecture halls or an open space that is lively,” he said.
Recall that recently, the National Library of Nigeria organized readership promotion campaign in its continued efforts to revive the declining reading culture among Nigerians.
The theme of the 2021 campaign which took place at the National Library, Katsina State office, was: “Building a Nation of Readers: Share Your Story.”
In two tertiary institutions in Dutse, Jigawa State, findings by our correspondent showed that use of library by students to carry out their researches have been on the decline not only due to the advent of technology but also because of the general decline of reading culture, especially among the youths.
Abdulkahar Muhammad, a 2021 National Diploma graduate of the Jigawa State Polytechnic, Dutse, and Suhaila Sani, a 300 Level Computer Science student at the Federal University, Dutse (FUD), are some of the students that never use the library.
Muhammad who studied Technology and Management at the polytechnic said that though he knew the values of library, he never visited it untill he graduated especially because his course did not require project writing.
But Sani admitted that she only visited the library during examinations or whenever she had tests because she leveraged on her mobile phone for research and information for her academic works.
Isaac Salifu, a HND student of Economics, Binta Muhammad Dankawu, Safiya Peter (National Diploma students at the polytechnic), Amina Ado Muhammad, a 300 Level Biology student as well as Khalid Mahmoud Ibrahim, a 200 Level Economics student of the Federal University, Dutse, said they preferred library because of its numerous advantages.
Dr Ahmed Mohammed, the FUD librarian and his Jigawa Polytechnic counterpart, Ahmed Chamo, said students’ use of library had declined over the years not only because of advent of technology, especially phones and other electronic appliances but due to poor library habit in their secondary school days.
Abdullahi Yahaya, the Head of Reader Services at the Jigawa State Library Board (JSLB), said the decline in the use of library pose a great threat to production of future quality minds.
He expressed an urgent need to stimulate passion for library and inspire increased knowledge especially because of the level of educational advancement in the state when compared to other states in the country.
He said libraries should not be phased out since people who appreciated their values still visited them.
Students in Rivers State said they still use library despite the advent of the internet. A student of Rivers State University, Izuchukwu Oforji, said: “Despite the advent of internet, I visit library because of its quietness and convenience for studies, research for assignments as well as other academic works. There may be a particular book one might need, but might not find it on the internet, but could be found in the library.”
A student of National Open University, Peter Timothy, said: “Conventional library is still very important for learning. I visit library to look for materials that I can’t find on the internet. I use both to achieve whatever I want from a library. It’s not everything one needs that one can find on the internet. I find it easy to carry out further research in a conventional library. Library also gives one the advantage of using the quit ambiance to study.”
At the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, as well as Niger State College of Education, Minna, they admitted that they could not recall the last time they visited a conventional library because they did most of their assignments via the internet.
Ahmed Mohammed, a PhD student in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Business Studies, Federal University of Technology, Minna, said he did most of his research works with online materials because the work which focused on “Public Entrepreneurship,” was a new field in academics.
“Internet has been thriving in the western world for several years. But it was not in practice in Nigeria. So, if you don’t go to the internet now that we have it here, you would hardly get existing relevant materials on the topic in the conventional library,” he said.
Zainab Abdullahi, a 400 Level student of Mass Communication at the IBB University, Lapai, Niger State, said: “I don’t really visit libraries. I do my assignments using my phone. The use of mobile phones is more flexible. I buy materials online for use. With about N1,000 and N1,500, I can get good materials online depending on how bulky they are.”
A 300 Level student of the Department of English, Niger State College of Education, Minna, Moses Ajassa, said he seldom visited library could do so only when he had a project. He expressed preference for the internet which, he said, was more advanced because it guaranteed quicker access to information. He added that he lost passion to visit his college library due to outdated books.
Adebayo Comfort, a student of History, University of Ilorin, said: “I do my assignments with the help of materials from the department. I don’t have any problem with the library. I go there and read if I want to.”
Ayobami Abisola, an ND graduate from Kwara State Polytechnic, said he had never visited the school library because of availability of handouts.
A parent in Kaduna, Sa’adatu Musa, said with the advent of internet, her children no longer needed to go to the library since they could access research materials online. She, however, urged her older kids to visit conventional libraries where they could access many books that students needed to gain additional knowledge.
Paul Andrew Kumsat, another parent and teacher in Kaduna said: “Contrary to many people’s belief, the internet can be a very good source of academic materials that can transform one’s education beyond the library,” he said. As great as a conventional library is, its resources are limited, no matter how well stocked up a library is. Therefore, students should be allowed to explore other options such as the internet,” he said.
Dons differ on conventional, e-libraries
A senior lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Science, University of Ilorin, Dr Kamal Omopupa, blamed students, schools and government for poor passion for conventional library.
“When we were in secondary school, we used to have library hours which encouraged us to use the library. It served as a training ground for us. But nowadays, most of relevant materials that students need to read are no longer in libraries like before. In the 80s, here in Ilorin, during my secondary school days, they used to bring a mobile library to the front of the emir’s palace where we would go and read and borrow books,” he said.
He added that students only visited the library when they had assignments, tests or examinations. “Even then, they only read their notes and not library books, while others came to socialize and enjoyed the serene environment,” he said.
Omopupa added that even though most libraries now had e-resources for all standard books, while most books in private universities came with e-copies for download and reading at one’s convenience, only a few students endeavoured to take advantage.
“As the HOD of my department, we acquired over 3,000 titles of e-books in 2019. But the students didn’t touch any. They would tell you they were reading with their phone while they were just socializing and browsing the internet and not for academic purpose,” he said.
The Director of Studies, Legend International School, Minna, and lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Dr Kamar Hamza said: “Students read nowadays just to pass examinations and tests, but not to solve real life problems. Internet materials are just emergency things. They are not well written. The challenge is, if libraries are available, lecturers access those books and ask students to go and review them. Through reviews, you can get students to contribute to knowledge and they will get those materials from the real source even though there are also books on the internet.”
However, Associate Professor, Gbolahan Bolarin, of the Department of Mathematics, Federal University of Technology, Minna, who said he did most of his researches online, said a lot of library articles were available online via e-library platform.
“So, you don’t need to go to the conventional library to access materials, except old books that are not e-copied or those that, by trying to convert them to e-copies, would amount to copyright infringement. Those are the ones you would be compelled to access,” he said.
He urged the need to make libraries more digital to ease access of materials by students and researchers.
A chief lecturer in the Department of Public Administration and Management and Director, Strategic Planning and Development, Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Dr Ibrahim Zubairu, confirmed low utilization of conventional libraries by students and researchers.
He said it lowered the standard of education as most assignments done by students via the internet were copied. “The Internet doesn’t bring out originality in students. Unlike in our time when we went to libraries and buried ourselves in books to take opinions from various sources, nowadays it is smartphones which have lowered the standard of our education,” he said.
Former Dean, School of Communication, Fati Lami Abubakar Institute of Legal and Administrative Studies, Dr Mohammed Aliyu, said lack of utilization of conventional libraries had contributed to poor education standard in the country because students no longer considered library as a reference centre and would rather google information and lift them for academic works.
He decried the lack of updating and regular stocking of libraries as factors that discourage researchers and students from using library.
In Ogun State, apart from the tertiary institutions’ libraries, some of the libraries available for the public use are the state – owned Simeon Adebo Library, Kuto, and the National Library, Ake, both in Abeokuta, the state capital.
Our correspondent gathered that only a few writers and students still use libraries in the state due to poor reading culture, advent of global e-libraries as well as poor conditions of some libraries.
A source told Daily Trust Saturday: “The e – library at National Library, Abeokuta is not working.”
A library user and student, Ola Michael, also said: “The National Library in Ake, is not living up to its status of a National Library.”
The state’s chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Paul Oni, said an appreciable number authors and serious minded students still use libraries in the state.
He called for the need to digitalise libraries effectively to allow users have access to educational materials with ease and within a limited time.
“That’s the in-thing now. You can sit in your house without buying a textbook and get a PhD. This is because everything is online. This is an area we have to get them to be aware of, instead of the physical books that we are doing now,” he said.
In Edo state, students no longer use libraries for research and assignment due to the advent of smart phones.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the state’s library has not been functioning as the building housing it has been designed for other purposes. The library has been relocated to the state Ministry of Education with less impact.
A student, Mustapha Raheem, said: “I don’t go to the library for research work or for any assignments. I use the internet through my phone. Whatever you need is on the internet and our library is not functioning well.”
The 200-level student said most of the libraries in the country didn’t have current books.
He added that Edo State had no functional library.
Another student, Joe Osamudiame, said he never considered library any more because of his smart phone.
“Going to the Library for an assignment is a waste of time for me because I can get every research or assignment done through the internet,” he said.
Clement Adeyi (Abuja), Salim Umar Ibrahim (Kano), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina), Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse), Victor Edozie, Port Harcourt, Abubakar Akote (Minna), Abdulkadir Shehu (Kaduna), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Peter Moses (Abeokuta) & Usman A. Bello (Benin)