Christmas is a time of cheer and hustle, of Festivities, many occasions and celebrations too.

Can we also make it a time to catch up with books we thought we should have or could have read throughout the year? Or a time to relax and immerse ourselves in new books.

Why read during the holidays? Reading books, novels inclusive, stimulates the mind and helps one work through ideas especially those one that appear elusive, right there on the edge of our consciousness yet difficult to grasp! As we read, we encounter experiences, situations, locations & lines of thought that help to smoke out and solidify those elusive thoughts. Reading acts as a brain tonic, triggering off the imagination as we follow from the beginning, the middle and end of stories, memoirs and treatises. This helps the brain to learn analytical skills of cause, action, reaction and consequences. And we really do need to sharpen these skills for 2018!

Reading helps to create empathy as we gain understanding of the way of life people in other climes and situations different from ours. Empathy is a necessary ingredient for building inclusive, peaceful Communities. We do need more of that in Nigeria!

Christmas is also a time of different types of stress for people. Reading reduces stress. Pheew!!

Nigerian librarians under the aegis of Library Advocacy Group have selected an eclectic mix of easily downloadable books. Starting from tomorrow 17th December right through to the end of the year, the Group will release ebooks by 4pm every single day. Please note that the books are being made available under the fair use principle of copyright provisions and not for commercial purposes. You may follow us on Twitter @NigLibrarians

Or use the following hashtags to connect with us and ensure you don’t miss any of the ebooks! #RARN #RelaxAndReadNaija #15DaysChristmasReading

Do feel free to give us a feedback!


Why do we need Libraries in communities?
Librarians, academicians and a few might understand and appreciate the importance of Libraries in the society. However there are so many that do not recognize that or probably they’ve forgotten! That’s what advocacy is all about- pointing out to people, reminding those that have forgotten of the exclusive niche that libraries have in education, literacy and in promoting democratic, sustainable and progressive societies.
Libraries help build reconciliation in societies ravaged by hate and animosity. How? Misinformation breeds misunderstandings and hatred. Libraries always have information that disproves rumours and half-truths. Libraries give access to information that helps to understand and place the diversities in the world in clearer perspectives. Libraries serve as neutral gathering places in so many societies where people come from ‘different sides of the track’.
Many voters in African democratic societies do not understand issues at stake in elections. They are swayed by ethnic and religious affiliations & bonds. Illiteracy and a surfeit of ‘fake news’ enables this situation. Libraries in communities encourage adults to learn, they have newspapers that the citizenry can read to get information instead of over-reliance on rumours. Most importantly, African libraries are organising to explore avenues of holding ‘citizenship education’ classes in all public and community libraries across the continent. People will be taught and given access to resources that will help them understand the importance of the ‘office of the citizen’ in democratic settings. Young people will understand why having a voter card and using it, determines their future, the different communities will be taught why voters apathy is a silent but fast and efficient kill her of democracy. Citizens will be taught how elections are all about ‘our country’ first before personal gains.
Equity and equality are core issues for the female gender in Africa. Libraries in our different communities assist the girl-child, the young mother, the mature wife, the elderly women to learn, to further their education, to acquire new skills, to have access to health information, to understand the place of hygiene in child rearing amongst other important things.
These amongst so many other reasons is why I advocate -to create awareness and perhaps lead to policy changes that will reposition Libraries. Again, the Advocacy is to draw people to Libraries. Many give the excuse that we are an ‘oral people’ and not a reading people. That is most inconsequential. Why? Libraries are not all about books and reading. Libraries in different societies are for building communities, for helping people create a ‘better life’ for themselves.
I call on librarians to talk about libraries. It is our duty as librarians to always let the citizenry know what libraries stand for. I call on all Library users to promote libraries. We need Libraries to survive, to thrive and blossom in our different communities. #PublicLibraryLove #ProudlyLibrarian

Budgetary allocations of a government are clear pointers of its policy thrusts and interests. Obviously, the Nigerian government is enamoured with books, newspapers, other reading materials and library accessories as can be seen in the allocations to different offices in the 2016 budget (/ However, the Library, especially, the National Library that is statutorily empowered to acquire, process, organize and keep books and other reading materials for the general public seems to be somehow shortchanged. A cursory look at the analysis shows that what offices receive for books, newspapers and library accessories appear to be higher than what is given to the National Library for the same purpose! This is a trend. It is also a signpost of the misunderstanding of roles of libraries in communities. A government that starves a National Library of adequate funds for acquisition of reading materials and modern technologies for information creation, storage, organisation and dissemination does not understand that the national/public library is the common man’s university. Well funded libraries help to squelch rumours and false news as they stock newspapers, magazines, reference books and textbooks as well as technologies that will help people access accurate information online. When those in authorities allocate huge sums for newspapers, books, magazines, shelves and computers without allocating a higher percentage of such to the national/public library it is a sure sign that the nation will become top heavy and ‘thin down’ in accessing of accurate information. For a nation with demographics such as ours in Nigeria where those in high posts and offices are not up to 10% of the population, that is borrowing and courting trouble. When the masses do not have free access to newspapers, news magazines, books and internet in libraries, then conjectures and half truths will rule! Every nation needs information for development purposes. Libraries provide access to accurate, relevant and timely information. A nation at whatever level of governance that starves the library of funds for acquisition of information materials and technologies is fighting itself and promoting stunted economic, educational and social growth.

The Public and Community Libraries Section of AfLIA (African Library and Information Associations and Institutions) hereby invites all Public and Community Libraries in Africa to participate in a Continental Display Fiesta with the theme – ‘My Africa Your Africa Our Africa’ from 24th April to 13th May 2017.

Rules – What to do
1. Do a display of books and other information resources, textiles, pictures, paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, farm implements, cooking utensils or any other materials that depict the culture of the Library’s community and which identifies them as a people.
a. To do this effectively – gather information on the history of your community
b. Consult, engage and collaborate with the community Elders, Groups, Town Unions etc.

2. Open a FaceBook Account for your Library, search for AfLIA Page and African Public Libraries Network on Facebook, submit the pictures of your display there. Properly label the pictures for easy identification and collation. You are expected to submit a minimum 20 pictures but not more than 30!
3. Open a Twitter account for your Library, follow @AfLIACon and submit the pictures of your display there.
4. Open a YouTube account, record the Display with the theme conspicuously shown, record the visits , upload and send a link to AfLIA Page and African Public Libraries Network on Facebook and to @AfLIACon on Twitter.
5. Optional – You may organize a cultural day- Talks, Music, How to make local handicraft etc based on the Theme, record and submit as stated in 2-4 above.

1. The Executive Committee of the Public and Community Libraries Section of AfLIA (African Library and Information Associations and Institutions) will judge the pictures based on
– Innovativeness
– Acuity
– Exactitude
– Community awareness and participation
2. Winners will be announced during the closing Dinner at the AfLIA Conference in Yaounde, Cameroon. Plaques, certificates and commendations will be presented to the winners.
This Continental Display Fiesta is predicated on the fact that libraries drive the progress of global and continental Developmental frameworks. UN 2030 Agenda Goal 11 Target 14 harps on strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritages while the 5th Aspiration of AU 2063 Agenda highlights the need to build strong cultural identities and preserve our common heritage, ethics and values as a people.

International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) sub-Saharan Africa

Information has been identified as the main driver of national development. Information-poor communities speedily lose out in the 21st century information society as they lack opportunities for advancement, learning and interactions that would transform their lives. It has been globally recognized that public libraries where they are functional, even with a few resources can transform the lives of individuals and entire communities as they deliver information services and expose people to opportunities to better their lives economically, educationally, socially and even health-wise. This is most achievable when those public libraries properly identify and profile their user communities, assess the needs of the communities and come up with innovative ideas which may be entirely new ways of serving the communities or a reworking of traditional library services.

Building a critical mass of librarians in the sector who will understand the place of innovative services in different communities then becomes most crucial, more so in Nigeria. With Nigeria’s background of oral tradition, librarians in the country’s public libraries need above-the-average skills and push to promote a culture of reading as well as demonstrate that these libraries have the resources to help achieve literacy, to conduct research and that they do grant access to technologies for information creation and dissemination.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) supporting Global Libraries (GL) has resolved to not only turn public libraries into engines of development in their various communities but also to foster a crop of innovative leaders in public libraries. This core of professionals will then develop public libraries into development hubs central to the growth and well-being of their user communities. Thus, they initiated the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI). The programme strives to bring together librarians in public libraries all over the world to help them create networks that will boost collaborative innovative services, the testing of new ideas of what public libraries can achieve as well as nudge them into partnerships and initiatives that will bring about favourable government policies for public libraries. At different times there has been convening of INELI- ASEAN, INELI Balkans, INELI-India, INELI- Latin America, INELI-MENA and INELI-Oceania.

Working in partnership with the African Library & Information Associations & Institutions (AfLIA) which is the continental platform and voice of libraries, librarians and other information professionals in Africa, BMGF GL, will for the period of April 2016 to March 2018 endeavour through online and physical training and activities to create a continental pool (Nigeria inclusive) of future public library leaders . These trainees will learn how to steer innovative services, lead the advocacy and push for enactment of library-friendly policies all over the African continent even as they align public library services with government priorities, community needs and global and regional development agenda. Furthermore, this is expected to spawn information services for pre-school children, students at all levels of education, lifelong learners, tech start-ups, workers, the unemployed, small and medium scale enterprises, artisans, farmers and also the unread to live better lives. Again, these public library leaders would be expected to create initiatives for the collection of local content (indigenous knowledge) and help make them globally accessible as is targeted by AU 2063 Agenda. The ultimate goal of all these is to transform lives and make Africa – my Africa, your Africa, our Africa a better sustainable society with equal opportunities for growth and development.

The first convening of INELI for Sub-Saharan Africa (INELI SSAF) was held from 30th June to 4th July, 2016 at Entebbe, Uganda. A total of thirty two librarians (future innovators) from Benin Republic, Gambia, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe were present. Mentors for these emerging leaders were each drawn from Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya while Botswana and Uganda contributed two mentors each for the programme.

Under the capable hands of the Management Committee of INELI-SSAf (Gertrude Kayaga Mulindwa, Helena Asamoah-Hassan, Buhle Mbambo-Thata amongst others) lessons on the three pillars of INELI namely – leadership development, innovations and networking were delivered. The innovators had opportunities to introduce themselves, their communities, their daily tasks and challenges. They also interacted with their mentors, asked a whole heap of questions and the networking and sharing took off, pronto! Global Libraries Debra Jacobs and Darren Hoerner were there not only to guide the interactions but also to enrich the whole programme with their vast experiences in INELI programmes worldwide.

A day was set aside to visit the City Library in Kampala under the management of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). The library showed a great fusion of the modern and traditional modes of library and information services. The library has computers and free access to the Internet yet books in the Reference Section were under lock and key because of incessant thefts due to a thriving market for second hand books in Uganda! A community library in Nakaseke was also visited. The library has a radio station through which it broadcasts content-rich information in the language understandable to farmers and entrepreneurs. The library also hosts quizzes and contests for school children which they also broadcast. This boosts readership of course. The library also has E-readers which it takes round to different scheduled schools. The information materials in  the library came mainly from Boo Aid International.

What took the breath of the innovators and mentors away was a member of the management committee of the Library – Madam Rhoda! She could be right in her 70s with limited education yet she represents women in the community on the Library Management Committee. She inspires women to use the information available in the library to change their lives and those of their families. Her integration into service delivery in the community library despite her age and any educational limitation is a model for all public libraries in Africa to emulate. Her presence as a member of the team that welcomed the innovators, mentors and management committee of INELI-SSAf spoke volumes of equity, equality and what women can achieve in the continent of Africa in partnership with public libraries!

To stir up imaginations and new ideas for innovative services, round-table talks were held amongst the mentors and the innovators on the place of libraries in the modern society, how to mobilize communities to use and support public libraries, the role of public libraries in the preservation of the history of their communities, how libraries can support other community workers in different areas including health, sanitation and education amongst others, how to use the social media to advocate for public libraries and how to effectively measure impact of the library and information services so that the institution can be fully understood as a solid contributor to national development.

Public libraries have been lifelong partners in the development of communities all over the world. With the take-off of INELI-SSAf, African public libraries are on the right path to impact lives, position themselves as partners for sustainable development in all their communities and most importantly help their users to recognize and use opportunities available through access to information so as to create better lives and societies throughout the continent.


Information for national development

Information has become a key resource for national development. Nations without income yielding natural resources can thrive profitably on the creation and transfer of information. Increasingly, nations are using and relying on information to gain competitive edge rather than just natural resources and cheap labour. However, a nation requires literate, educated and skilled manpower in order to generate, transfer and use information as the main grid of it’s economy. Literacy is central to most human, technological, economic and political developments. Literacy helps to give expression to creativity.and innovations and is the main key to generating, applying and spreading knowledge. No country can foster development without a literate population. Multinational bodies are most unlikely to invest heavily in any country with low literacy levels anyway!

Libraries are all about literacy – reading, writing, gaining competence, skills and knowledge in every field. Whether the Libraries are in schools or in communities or in offices, prisons, hospitals, homes or in factories, the institution stands for information, knowledge and lifelong learning. For any nation to participate fully in the knowledge economy, adequate attention must be paid to libraries. Libraries most often signify that ‘thin line between civilization and barbarism’. Continuously evolving technologies have placed libraries on their toes as librarians now not only have to use these tools to disseminate information but also have to teach their user communities how to use them thereby inculcating inclusiveness and mass ‘education’.

Investing in libraries now will give communities and nations the backbone to learn, be literate, create, transfer and use information. This would grow the economy, create jobs and attract investments – national development! Ignoring libraries – leaving them dilapidated, underfunded and unrecognized is a sure step to retrogression and stunted national development!


I believe!

I believe in books. I believe in print and electronic books. I believe in access to information.

Most of all, I believe in libraries.

I believe that Libraries are places to engage, learn, interact, connect and discover.

Yes, I believe in libraries!!