Mr. Lawrence Ade, a regular user of the library, told Daily Trust that though the sitting capacity of the library is okay considering the operating hours when most workers will be at their work places, but that the books are old. “I have never used any of their books because the books look old and outdated. Though I cannot tell whether they have recent books in the store but the ones displayed on the shelves are very old,” he said.
He advised that the old books be replaced with new and current ones so that they can get more patronage.
Another reader who uses the e-library, Abdullahi Isa, said many people patronise the library and that it has a lot of books based on individual fields or areas of study but that majority of the books are obsolete.
He said: “Some of the books have been there for the past two to three decades but they were able to open the e-library where you access any kind of book. There are about 20 computers in the e-library, so if you cannot find the hard copy of a book you want, you can get the soft copy at the e-library.”
On the operation of the e-library, he explained that it is more like a consolidated programme where they offer computer programmes. “So you can be able to register for the programme which cost N5,000 for five months. There are a lot of benefits attached to it. Once you pay, you will have access to the internet facility, computer programme and also access to the e-library. For those who are already computer literate, because they can gain access to the e-library, you will pay N1,000 on a monthly basis, some pay on quarterly or bi-annual basis,” he said.
Though the library is supposed to open from 8am to 8pm, it was gathered from readers that the library closes latest by 6pm. “From 5.30pm, they will start telling you to pack our things and get ready to go out of the library,” a reader said.
However, the Director of the Library Board, Mr. Abdullahi Musa, said that they have both new and old books but the problem is that the society is dynamic and there are many publications coming out.
“It is not easy to keep pace with developments and changing trends of books. If you buy some books this year, by the end of the following year, you will see new editions of the books,” he said.
He however stated that most of the new books they have in the library are kept and are given to readers on request. “What we do is that we display the list of books we have in stock so that those who need any of them can request for them from the officer in charge. We don’t display the new books on the shelves because we have problem of mutilation and theft.
“Some books can be so scarce in the market, so much that some people can do anything to cart them away. In view of this, we try to conscientise our workers to be security conscious and to make sure that readers are checked so as not to go in with any foreign book as well as not to go out with any foreign book,” he said.
While noting that the state government is a regular supplier of books, he said that they also get donations from organisations and multinational donors among others. He stated that the state government having realised the dynamism of learning decided to venture into e-library, and that the functional e-library is the first phase with the second phase to soon commence.
In the e-library, he confirmed that there are about 20 computers and that with the e-library, users can gain access to over 300 million copies of books, which he said is almost competing with the conventional library.
“There is also adult lending, which deals with mature readers who come to borrow books from the library to go and read at home. We lend out books before but we don’t do that again because people are no longer trustworthy,” he further explained.
The library director disclosed that there are nine functional branch libraries located in nine local government areas of the state including Zaria, Ikara, Birnin-Gwari, Giwa, Saminaka, Kachia, Kafanchan, Zangon-Kataf and Jaba.
Mr. Abdullahi Musa said that the state government is making effort to have functional libraries in the 23 LGAs of the state.
“We have started making contact with some of the LGCs and they’ve promised to include in their SURE-P programme the provision of library services,” he noted
On the sitting capacity, he said it is for about 500 people. “In the reference library, we have sitting capacity of about 200 readers, the same thing at the adult section while the children have sitting capacity of about 100 readers.
A major challenge facing the library is erratic power supply. “We only have a small generator, which cannot supply power to the whole library,” he also said.
This is also one of the reasons why the library closes before 8pm because if there is no light, the whole place gets dark and also considering the security challenges bedevilling the State and the country at large. So if there is a big generator, it will solve that problem and people will be able to stay longer.,”
Another challenge he said is shortage of manpower, which he said is as a result of searching for greener pastures. “Library workers prefer to work in Academic library rather than public library because University or Polytechnic libraries pay better salaries and as a result we are left with middle labour force and para-professionals and they too are in search of better pay. We also have retirement, in fact about three people will retire at the end of this month, so we are in dire need of manpower,” he stressed.