EXPERTS in the book value chain that included the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP), librarians and booksellers have stressed the need for collaboration across the book value chain for the common good of all book lovers and the country. This call was made while presenting preliminary survey on the 774 Book Clubs and Libraries/ Reading Infrastructure in all local government areas NBRP in the country by members of at the recent Nigerian International Book Fair (NIBF) 2022 in Lagos. Members also called for more inclusiveness in the development of libraries and reading spaces in the country.
The survey covered Abia, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory in the past six months. In a 10-point communique released shortly after the event, the members noted that the inclusiveness must examinee concerns like demographic spread of end users (children, teenagers, adolescent, youths, adults and the elderly) and whether existing offerings adequately serve them properly and respectively.
The communique which was signed by the network’s General Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Okoro, also urged stakeholders in the book clubs, reading promoters, libraries and book ecosystem to make more materials available to users and in a cost-effective manner, stressing that Nigerian public libraries should explore the use of open source tools, Open Educational Resource (OER) materials and books that are openly licensed.
While appreciating the place of data in planning for enhanced fortunes within the Nigerian books ecosystem, the network, however, insisted that there is a need to further interrogate the current nationally branded data regarding the total number of public libraries in Nigeria, which has been put at 316 with a view to either validating or updating it.
Welcoming the NBRP move to undertake full country survey on the state of reading infrastructure that spans the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, stakeholders affirmed that it is most important that enhanced public-private partnership in relation to the establishment, effective utilisation and management of public libraries in Nigeria must be encouraged.
As a practical step, they canvassed fitting synergy operations that would see libraries opening their doors to book clubs to use their premises as venues for their reading promotion activities. They also advocated bridging the current gap in readily accessing materials in distant communities by use of mobile libraries.
Further, the network affirmed that NBRP should facilitate development of a framework for setting up book clubs, which should be made easily available to the general public, noting that mentors should also be recruited and deployed to provide guidance for those that intend to setup new book clubs.
Specifically, members agreed that a survey be equally carried out on the quality of human resources in the public library system in Nigeria in order to ascertain existing limitations, gaps and move to correct same through training, retraining and improved roles-fitting.
The participants also lent their voices to the broader thrust of NIBF 2022, namely addressing challenges with book piracy and affirm their support for the Copyright Bill presently before the National Assembly as well as efforts to ensure the coming into being of the long-overdue Nigerian National Book Policy.
Conclusively, the stakeholders also endorsed the NBRP 774 Book Clubs and Libraries Project, an initiative to ensure the establishment of at least one book club and library in each of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria and call for cooperation across all levels to see this comes to fruition.
Notable participants at the session included the National Librarian/CEO, National Library of Nigeria (NLN), Prof. Veronica Chinwe Anunobi, lead presenter of the report and Chair of NBRP’s 774 Book Clubs and Libraries Project, Prof. Felicia Etim, report reviewer and Director, African Libraries Institutions and Associations, Dr. Nkem Osuigwe, President, Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, founder, Uyo Book Club, Dr. Udeme Nana, Secretary General, Committee for Relevant Art, Mr. Toyin Akinosho and President of Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria, Mr. Richard Mammah, among others.