Nigerian university libraries still in bad shape, despite gulping billions

BY WWW.ALLAFRICA.COM - Oct 26, 2019 at 3:20pm 100

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In October 2016, over 200,000 books, journals and periodicals turned to dust when the University of Jos Library, Naraguta campus, was gutted by fire.

However, three years later, with a donation of over N700m from the Federal Government, as well as books from over 300 donors - individuals, groups and organisations, the university is rebuilding and restocking what was once lost.

So far, the library now has over 100,000 books, and is ensuring it is fully digitalized upon completion.

Our correspondent, who went round the four-storey library complex, noticed it was still under renovation. New computers, chairs, inverters, reading tables as well as other props and electronic devices were in the process of installation.

The school librarian, Dr Stephen Akintunde, said book donations were still ongoing as 31 books had been donated by the Dean, Faculty of Dental Sciences, on the day Daily Trust visited. He said the library takes inventory regularly, adding that about N10m is spent annually to maintain the library and a medical library at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH).

It was gathered that approximately 87,000 students use the library monthly, giving a breakdown of 3,346 students daily during working days.

At the Plateau State University (PLASU), it was observed that the library serves the faculties of Arts, Social Science, Management Science, and Natural and Applied Science with a designated hall area used as e-library.

At the time of the visit, the library records showed that a total of 127 students had visited the Faculty of Arts section, 60 students had visited that of Management Science and Social Sciences while 109 students had visited the Faculty of Natural and Applied Science.

Speaking on the state of the library, the Librarian, Dr. Alfred Michael Obaje, said the inventory of the library was done last in December last year and that the library can boast of 20, 875 books.

"We are a young university and most of our books and equipment are still new and in good order. We have good and hardworking staff, about 16 of them, apart from Corps members and IT students," he said.

The librarian said the school received 5,250 books supply which cost about N12m last December when the state government released the funds, adding that they were also expecting some latest publications from TETFund.

The library has 102 computers in the e-library section and it cost N19m for a full subscription to the online database annually.

The University of Abuja library has about 130,633 volumes of books, 21,023 volumes of periodicals and is subscribed to five databases and has over 30 open-access databases.

However, some students said more needs to be done to make it more user-friendly.

The Chief Librarian of the University of Abuja, Dr Ifeoma Roseline Echezona, said the central library operates a faculty-based library service and all are manned by the university librarian.

On e-library, she said: "If you don't have the university's email, you cannot use or access it. It was configured in such a way that the university wants every student to have its official email to help keep a record of the number of students using our materials. We have e-library and the university spends N30m on subscription."

"Because of the paucity of fund, we don't have to wait for the university to do everything for us; I go out and look for donations from all the UN agencies. At times, we go on our own to solicit for materials."

She, however, stressed that many Nigerian students now rely more on their mobile phones to search for materials for their assignments.

In Ogun State, some of the university libraries visited are that of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB); Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) Ago - Iwoye and Tai Solarin University (TASUED) Ijagun.

Most of the libraries are not stocked regularly. At FUNAAB, the 700-user capacity library has 75, 879 volumes of books and subscribed to five different e-resources packages.

"We have current books in the library; though a library is a growing organism and therefore, we keep updating the resources from year to year. Despite the dwindling university funding, we still acquired 546 volumes of books last year apart from e-resources," the University Librarian, Dr Feyintola Onifade, said.

The librarian, however, said the library has not been allocated the 10 per cent annual budget allocation due to lack of fund from the Federal Government but it gets a fair share of the university's overhead cost.

The Tasued library, with 500 sitting capacity, has about 27,927 volumes of books and 2,917 journal titles. And for the E-book, E-journals, there are over 3,000 titles.

Similarly, the OOU library at Ago-Iwoye has 125, 000 volumes of books; 12, 300 foreign journals and about 30, 000 local journals. It was learnt that the library has an 800-user capacity.

At the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) library in Agbani, Enugu State, the Chief Librarian, Dr. Ifeanyi Ezema, said the university library has virtually all the necessary facilities a modern university library should have, including the e-library.

He said the e-book database has over one million e-books, adding that the 'injector alone' which is one of the databases used in the ESUT library, has more than 500,000 e-books and over 350,000 e-journals.

Ezema said: "I want to tell you sincerely that fund is our major challenge. The budget for the university library is not commensurate with what it ought to be. This is because we have over 20,000 students in addition to our researchers and lecturers. Now, if we should have a good budget, we will be thinking about more than N500m in a year. But we can't do that because we don't have the financial capacity. We run a budget within the limit of the available resources the university can afford.

Our reporter observed that the ESUT library lacks essential facilities such as fans or air-conditioners that ought to make the library more convenient for users.

The University of Port Harcourt Library now known as Donald E.U. Ekong Library was established in 1975. With the completion of the ultra-modern permanent building for the library at the permanent site, all branches of the library relocated to the present building in 2008.

The library which started with a stock of 3000 volumes and 78 periodicals now has a collection of 150, 000 volumes according to the university's librarian, Dr Susan Umeozor.

Dr Umeozor, who spoke to our reporter through the University's Public Relation Officer, Dr William Wodi, said the library has about 4000 journals and 1,800 e-journals.

The library has 2000 seating capacity and has served as a depository for the United Nations Publications.

The Bayero University Kano (BUK) library is the oldest among university libraries in the state. Established in 1964, the library underwent different phases of development and transformation from College Library to University College Library and finally University Library.

It has eight branches apart from the main library which is on the new campus. The last inventory of the library was taken on October 14, 2019, when the last supply of materials was made.

Head of the Information Resources Development Department, Malam Muhammad Yusuf, told Daily Trust Saturday that the library takes its inventory the moment new information resources arrive.

"As you can see, this is a new supply and we are currently processing them. The last book to be processed is the one with number 0265,103, and that is to say we currently have 265,103 hard copies of books spread across all these branches of our library," he said.

Malam Yusuf said the university library acquired its information resources either through direct purchase, donation, or exchange, adding that purchases were made either through TETFUND budget or the university's budget, all of which are on an annual basis.

The library has both old and current books, including books as current as those having a 2020 copyright as seen by our reporter.

With a total of 167 staff strength and a capacity of 3220, the library serves an average of 1200 users daily as explained by the Head of User Services Department, Muhammad Kabir Usman.

At the newly established Skyline University, Nigeria (SUN) based in Kano, the library has a total of 8362 books for the programmes offered by the university, as well as over 220 local journals.

He said the inventory is taken every quarter according to the calendar of the library and at the end of the year, there's a consolidated inventory.

Meanwhile, at the Yusuf Maitama Sule University (YMSU) Library, Daily Trust Saturday observed that the library, which was built and furnished by TETFUND, is relatively new and has standard facilities to serve users.

In terms of resources, however, the management was reluctant in granting permission to access the information, as a formal written request was demanded by the Registrar which was submitted and assented to by the Vice-Chancellor, but the permission was not forthcoming as our reporter was asked to return a number of times.

Similarly, at the Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil, the permission to get access to the library was not granted as at the time of filing this report.

At the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), some of the students encountered at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Library, bemoaned the fact that the library has no functional wifi.

Pauline Okafor, a 300 level student of Pharmacy, described the university library as "a noiseless library," adding that "when you are here, you concentrate because the environment is very serene for reading."

But Pauline is unhappy that each time she is reading in the library and feels like easing herself, she is denied access to the toilet facility in the library.

The University Librarian, Prof. Chinwe Ezeani, is in charge of the library comprising the Nnamdi Azikiwe Library in Nsukka main campus, the Law Library at Enugu campus, and the College of Medicine Library at UNTH Ituku Ozalla, Enugu.

Prof. Ezeani said the students are not denied access to the toilets, but insisted that they use the facility under proper supervision to ensure that they are kept clean after use.

On the malfunctioning wifi, Ezeani said the problem is currently being addressed by the management of the library because the internet is key to the e-library service provided by the university library.

"It was not there before now; it just started. Right now, the university is doing something about it. The problem has to do with our internet provider. The university is on it and very soon, it will be rectified," she said.

Meanwhile, speaking on donating books to universities, the Director of Information at the National Universities Commission (NUC), Dr Ibrahim Yakassai, said it is not the responsibility of the commission to give books to universities, though it gives out books to them when they receive from donors.

On books being obsolete in the libraries, he said, "that is not true because during accreditation, we look at four key areas, and a university must get 70 per cent in those areas before they get full accreditation.

"Before we accredit a library, we look at the total number of books in a particular subject, how current the books are and its e-Library (E-resources). If those are lacking, it means that the programme is not likely to get full attention.

Also, the Acting Director of Public Affair, TETFund, Gbenga Arolasafe, said one of the key areas of intervention in tertiary institutions is library development and that every university, whether state or federal, gets a uniform amount yearly based on available funding.

In 2015, N50m was given to each university for library development. In 2016, N34m was given, in 2017, N30m and then N20m in 2018. He, however, said there are conditions to be met before the money could be accessed.

The Kwara State University (KWASU) Malete secured a TETfund window of N3billion for the state-of-the-art library which was recently commissioned. The giant structure, houses over 30,000 books.

KWASU library coordinator, Dr Florence O. Ajani, explained that there is usually a periodic check of books in the library and mostly whenever there's going to be accreditation by the NUC.

The last purchase of books for the KWASU library was in the second week of October while they were preparing for accreditation by the NUC, and more than 1000 books were purchased.

According to Ajani, most of the current books are some published in 2018 and 2019, while the library also has 78 functional computers with hundreds not in use yet.

At the University of Ilorin, taking inventory is a regular exercise because of NUC and council accreditations.

The University Librarian, Professor Abdulwahab Issa, said the university usually acquires books at two levels of TETfund and from the personal purchase by the school.

"TETfund has wide funding window of opportunity for institutions and we are utilising it well. We recently purchased some books and journals in hundreds of thousands for accreditation of 42 of our programmes by the NUC.

"We just exited the 2011/2014 window of the TETfund that runs into N200m while books worth over N50m were purchased. The 2015/2018 TETfund intervention is in progress and we expect nothing less than N100m out of which 70 per cent will be allocated to purchase of books and journals. That doesn't stop us from buying for other exigencies that may arise before we get that of TETfund," Issa explained.

"The e-library is a one-stop centre that is accessible to students and lecturers with their login details known to them. And the e-library is stocked with materials subscribed to from EPCOHODE express, science direct, Emerald insight. The university is also on the verge of going on Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) and it would be driven on KOHA software, which will make their materials available to online users."

The University of Ilorin library has over 160 staff, cutting across academic staff, officials of the library, library assistant, library attendants, and library supervisors.

Facilities at the Kaduna State University library are in good condition. This may not be unconnected to the fact that the university is new.

Head of Customer Service of the library, Mr. Abubakar Mustapha, said the school can maintain the library due partly to the support it gets from TETFUND.

"Each year we get funds from TETFund to purchase hard copies of books to support teaching, learning, and research in all tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

He disclosed that this year, the school library was supplied with more than 14, 000 books from the fund while the library also gets donations from international universities.

The school has a different building for e-library while the school library has two reading rooms that can take about 300 students each.

At the University of Lagos (UNILAG), students were seen in almost all the sections of the library, including the basement, other floors and the e-library.

Our reporter observed that the e-library called MTN is equipped with computers as well as internet facility, which the students described as very fast.

MTN Foundation had in 2005 under its Universities Connect initiative donated a digital library to the University of Lagos, Akoka.

The fully furnished and air-conditioned digital library, it was gathered, was equipped with 128 networked computers, running on Microsoft 365, which was donated by Microsoft Philanthropies and also equipped with an alternative source of electricity for a seamless digital library experience.

UNILAG was the first institution to partner with MTN Foundation on the Universities Connect project.

Some students interviewed, however, told our reporter that many of the books in the main library are old.

The University Librarian, Dr Yetunde Zaid, who was busy at the time our reporter visited, was reported in one of the national dailies on May 2019 to have said that the co-existence of the old and new resources is what makes up a library. "We cannot do away with our old collections, the older the collections, the better it is for disciplines such as humanities," she had said.

She also said that the UNILAG library's collection size has grown to over 509,719 volumes of books and 708,319 print journal titles in the main and faculty libraries in Akoka campus. "This is excluding the print resources in the College of Medicine, Idi-Araba.

At the Lagos State University (LASU), our reporter observed students reading comfortably as an officer walks around from time to time to make sure the students comply with the rules and regulations of the library.

The University Librarian, Mr. Okusaga T. Oludare, said that inventory of books is done regularly in the library. "In terms of supply, we buy from time to time. As I speak to you, we have some consignments we acquired through TETFUND and they are coming in piecemeal," he said, adding that there are over 100,000 books in the library.

Our correspondent who visited Kenneth Dike Library at the University of Ibadan, reports that even though the well painted four-storey building is massive with Information Communication Technology (ICT) section, but students lament the obsolete and archaic books on display.

The varsity librarian, Dr. Helen Komolafe-Opadeji, in a chat with reporters in Ibadan recently, said the management of the institution deserves commendation because the UI library is as old as the university; a little above 70 years, adding that "there's no information resource that is outdated, though, in a university/academic community like ours, premium attention is paid to acquisition of current information materials for learning, teaching and research."

Komolafe-Opadeji further said: "The varsity library has a rich electronic library. We subscribe to very expensive academic information database such as Emerald; Science Direct; Proquest, Springer, etc. Through these databases, library users have access to thousands of research outcomes such as peer-reviewed articles, books, conference proceedings, clinical trials and many other information useful for research and learning," she added.

On the solution to the noticeable shortcomings, Komolafe-Opadeji said, "the library could do more if properly funded by the federal government. However, it is erroneous to believe that a university library will have all the information needed by the users.

"No library globally is all-sufficient, hence the need to collaborate and form a consortium to serve our library users the more. This is one of the best practices in developed countries. Nigerian universities are already exploring the concept for adoption," she submitted.