‘Library without digital upgrade cannot sustain relevance in 21st century’

Mrs Olaniyi Adegoke, Acting Librarian, Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos, says no library without digital upgrade can sustain its relevance in the 21st century.

Adegoke made this assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.

She said that with the increased influx of Information Communication Based (ICT) contents, digital upgrade was imperative to attract and retain the patronage of the present generation, who are subconsciously attached to ICT.

According to her, Library has gone beyond just being a physical building that it used to be because we are in a century were most things are ICT driven.

“For example, in some foreign countries, we now have virtual libraries where people sit in their homes and access any library in that part of the world.

“We are also upgrading in line with the trend; our college library now has a website where you can log in to access our materials but you cannot access the content.

“By accessing the material that you are interested in, you can then visit the library to access the content.

“We also run a server based E-platform, which is regularly updated at our college; we also liaise with book vendors and proprietors to get the latest versions of their materials, both in hard and electronic copies.

“We ensure that the materials in the library are up to date and the authentication verified, so as to be sure that our users are getting the latest of the electronic materials and not the plagiarized ones,’’ she said.

Adegoke urged library operators to relax on some traditional rules and restrictions guiding the library, in line with the 21st Century demand.

She said that the college library has relaxed on some of such restrictions and rules by creating a relaxation room for its users, while urging other operators to follow suit.

“In the relaxation room, students make or pick their calls, receive visitors if they have any and can eat.

“We also have a flat screen television that enables users to relax and watch strictly news, as well as keep abreast of happenings in the society.

“If such facilities that make students comfortable and take timeout while reading or doing research works are there in our libraries, our students will have no excuse not to use the library.

“Meanwhile, in some libraries, they now have software that deactivates the users phone once inside but we thought that the moment most users know they cannot make calls, they may be discouraged to come and use the facility,’’ she said.

Adegoke said that in spite of the influx of ICT and information on social media, the role of libraries and librarians in the society could not be displaced.

“The advent of the ICT, social media and restriction in the library gives users the idea that there is no need going to the library when one can access information with ease from home.

“Also, because the internet gives you a lot of junk alongside the information you seek and you have to start sorting yourself, most users still have to visit the library.

“This is because the purpose of the library is to allow you get particular information at the right time and to use it promptly for the particular demand.

“The librarians in the libraries would have separated such irrelevant materials because the libraries are classified; that is the role of classification and cataloguing in the library,’’ she said.

However, Adegoke said that following the upgrade of most libraries to digital, the importance of electricity could not be over-emphasised.

“Poor electricity supply in the country has made most libraries to start using generating sets which consume fuel and diesel.

“It requires a lot of funds to buy diesel to power library electronic gadgets; this has been a major challenge of the 21st library and the college authorities,’’ she said.

The acting librarian lauded the Federal Government for supporting the library through its intervention fund.

She, however, called for more funding as the facilities required to put a modern and standard library in place were capital intensive.

Adegoke also urged the government to train and re-train librarians to keep abreast with operations in a modern library.

She explained that such courses would help library officials to know how to tailor library materials toward the needs of the users.

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