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12-year-old Kebbi library in dire need of renovation, upgrade

The Kebbi State library has become a shadow of itself. Few people now go to the once elegant and functional edifice to read or embark on research activities, Daily Trust on Sunday gathered.

The library was established in 2006 during the administration of Senator Adamu Aliero and commissioned by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo. The once elegant edifice now has outdated reading materials and dilapidated structures.

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From inception, the library was stocked with relevant and updated reading and research materials, including books and journals for public use.

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One of the old staff members of the library recounted, “When it was opened, many people used to come here every day to read newspapers, books, as well as do research works, but today, only few people come at intervals.”

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Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that it was designed and made to function as an electronic library, but 12 years after, it is still struggling to find its feet among modern day libraries as it is still analog.

Abdullahi Yaro, who spoke to our correspondent, said he and others who sometimes use the library were worried over its present condition. “We are really worried that the only library in the state capital, Birnin Kebbi, is in this bad condition. We are left in a bad situation whenever we need materials for our research works. The books in the library are outdated. Government has to urgently come in to save the library,” he said.

The library has five branches spread across the four emirates in the state – Birnin Kebbi, Jega, Argungu, Yauri and Zuru. All of them need to be renovated and made functional to meet modern day needs. To make its branch in Birnin Kebbi functional, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu recently directed that it should be converted for the research works of Islamic scholars, thereby making it an Arabic and Islamic library.

When our correspondent visited the library, located along Patrick Aziza Road in Birnin Kebbi, it was observed that in every department, the ceiling had completely caved in. The two abandoned toilets in the upper floor of the building was also an eyesore.

Although it still maintains its bookshelves and sitting arrangement, many of the reading materials at the library need to be updated.

Speaking on the condition of the library, its acting executive director, Zakare  Zubairu said, “The condition of the library and the reading materials in it are its major challenges. The library has stayed for a long time and it needs renovation.

“We wrote to the state government on its physical structure, and from all indications, they are willing to do something about it. Measures are being taken to put things in place here, and within a short time, it will be fixed so that it can wear a new look. It will be renovated completely. Steps are being taken on book supply to the library. The governor has asked us to write on whatever we need for the library. We have done that and we are waiting for government to respond.

“Concerning its branch in Birnin Kebbi, the governor wants to convert it to Arabic and Islamic library, where all the works of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, Sheikh Abdullahi Gwandu and those of other renowned Islamic scholars will be stocked for those who might want to do research work on them.

“Since its takeoff we have had the plan to make it an electronic library. We have made a formal request for that, bearing in mind, the technology and advancement that have been introduced to the running of a modern library. It is part of our request and submission, and the state government is ready to work on it. The library has all the required sections – reader services, assertion and processing. The bookshelves are distributed according to the subjects. The attendants are responsible for putting back the books to their respective shelves for use the next day,’’ he said.

Zubairu said that with the ongoing efforts to renovate the library, they would stock it with current reading materials. “We belong to the National Library Association and we meet once in a year. By December we will meet in Sokoto to discuss the issues of our libraries.

“The Federal Government established libraries in all the states except Kebbi. We recently had the Readers Education Association in Kebbi State. The library association has requested for a land to establish a national library; and work on the construction will start soon,” he said.

Speaking further on the state of the library, Zubairu said, “Now people get anything they want in their tablets and ipad phones. Once they have the Android they can easily click to Google and get whatever information they want easily. This is why some people don’t come to the library, not because of its present condition. Students from various institutions still come here because they need to make references to some research works and assignments. They need to consult many books, journals and newspapers to do that. The patronage is still high. Recently, we received over 15 students of Library Science from the Federal Polytechnic, Birnin Kebbi. They will be here for a period of four months. Each week, we send them to different departments in the library to be acquainted with what they learnt theoretically in the classroom so that they can apply it practically.”

On whether the library is understaffed he said, “Yes, understaffing is what is happening in every organisation. It is not peculiar to the state library. Both the federal and state organisations are understaffed. We also need more staff if we can get.

“What we need are current books and materials. Everyday, people are writing books, journals and other materials. For us to be a modern library we must be up-to-date.”

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