What A Library Is Not

School Library

“School Library”

On Twitter today, someone put up the picture on the right as an example of a school library in a Community Secondary School he visited. In his words,

This public school doesn’t have a dedicated room for library, when asked during an assessment this is what I was shown as their library. Thx

[Source: @lanredavido1]

Grrr…! How else would one describe that kind of library if not appalling and horrific?

I want to sound it loud and clear that, “that thing up there is not a library, please…”

Some clarifications please. A medicine chest in your restroom is not a pharmacy. Is it? A bag of tools where you keep spanners and plugs is not a mechanic workshop. Is it? A dispensary where people go to for pain killers is not a hospital. Is it? Some books on shelves in your house is not a library either. No, it is not! It is a personal collection of books. Likewise, when schools gather books in cartons, and put them up for display only when supervising authorities come for assessments, that does not mean they have a library. Also, when communities keep books on shelves that people occasionally visit to read from, that is not a library either! So, what is a library?

A library is a collection of information resources that are selected, processed according to professional standards, and organized for easy retrieval of information contained therein. It is not a volunteers’ task, rather it is done by professionals who are trained to practice the science of librarianship. This insidious allusion to every collection of books as a library is so wrong, demeaning, and robs Nigerians the knowledge of the power and essence of libraries!

Even, libraries are going beyond just collecting, processing and organizing information resources. They are becoming learning spaces and flipped classrooms in this era of blended learning. They are analyzing and repackaging information for the schooled and unschooled. They are becoming information hubs where people do not only access information, but generate knowledge in various formats. They are run by professionals who have the required competencies to manage information resources and meet the requirements of their user communities.

Please, let’s stand corrected. Libraries are not mere shelves holding books or other information resources, and queuing up in some organized patterns under the care of any person or community. If you need libraries in your offices, schools and communities, please ask a librarian to help you out. Feel free to contact the Nigerian Library Association, or reach out to professionals on this platform. Yes, you may do your book drive and fundraising activities for libraries, but it takes the input of a librarian to make such become a functional, serving and purposeful library.

Author: Dr. Nkem Osuigwe

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