Worried by the sliding reading habit among Nigerians, particularly the younger ones, a Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Prof. Adetoun Omolola Idowu, has for umpteenth time raised the alarm and lamented what he describes as “appalling reading culture” in the country.
This was as he regretted that reading culture is gradually phasing out, while the delight is in social media. “Is the library still relevant as a resource to our educational system?”
Prof. Idowu, asked while delivering the 200th inaugural lecture of the university, and sought urgent reversal of the trend by the federal, state and local governments.
The don, therefore, challenged educators and other key stakeholders, especially Librarians to be up-to-date, committed, visionary and resourceful in their duties in the collective quest to raise the bar of reading culture in the country.
As a way forward, she recommended that: “primary and secondary schools should not be registered by the Ministries of Education in various states and at federal level without functional libraries and trained librarians on their staff list.
When this is done, quite a huge number of Library and Information Science graduates could then be employed to provide effective library service to our teeming youths.”
The inaugural lecturer also recommended that all academic libraries should be automated; saying that this has become the current trend in the discipline, while also advising that all academic library facilities should be equipped with anti-theft gadgets so as to reduce loss of expensive and scarce materials and resources acquired by the library.
To encourage readership, especially among the youths, Prof. Idowu stressed the need for academic libraries to be flexible enough to accommodate the yearnings, needs and nuances of the younger generation of users, who are technology savvy.
She said: “The youths want to study and conduct research under conducive and sophisticated electronically controlled environments that are comparable to what exists in developed countries of the world.
“Such clients want to eat, drink and talk and discuss among themselves in the library. It is recommended that spaces/rooms should be created in new library buildings to allow for this innovative flexibility.”
Besides, the inaugural lecturer also urged all ministries and agencies at the three tiers of government to establish in-house library and documentation units to cater for the records management of their information resources, saying this would go a long way to enable them to acquire information resources for the day-to-day running of their activities.
To stem unemployment of graduates in the library discipline, she urged them to always think out of the box by embracing and putting into use the numerous entrepreneurial skills they had been exposed to in the university.
Similarly, the lecturer asked Nigerian universities to introduce and integrate other courses in entrepreneurial skills training into the Library and Information Science curriculum with a view to making their students self-reliant and dependent in future.
On girl-child education, Prof. Idowu charged the government at all levels and other stakeholders on the urgent need to encourage and fund the project in order to lift the girl-child, adding that women in different associations and groups should be fully involved in the venture.