Libraries in general and public libraries in particular, play an important role in all aspects of societal development especially when viewed against its users, which consist of all categories of people in the society. Public library has been defined variously. Many see it as a place built for the collection of books and other printed resources and the personnel to provide and interpret such resources as required to meet the information, research, educational, recreational, cultural and aesthetic needs of the varied users and it is usually financed with public funds.
Public libraries in Nigeria have gone through a lot since the 1960s but what however remains constant is the inability of the Libraries to adequately satisfy their communities at the various stages of their metamorphosis and this is the consequence of long period of neglect and lurk worm attitude of governments towards public libraries.
Through the Beyond Access Project in Nigeria and with support from IREX, Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YiSHDA) is building a network of 36 Public Libraries across the Northern Region of Nigeria with the aim to create a sustainable platform that will help develop public libraries to function effectively and thereby transforming them into a unique hub for national development.
The CEO of YiSHDA, Joseph Emmanuel Yaba emphasized that since Nigeria is in the dawn of a new era for development and change, therefore it is time to lay a foundation by mainstreaming developmental programs/activities through the public libraries for the benefit of the general public because libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination and they open up windows to the world and inspire people to explore, achieve, and contribute to improving their quality of life.
YiSHDA continued partnership with IREX on the Beyond Access Project in Nigeria has created better opportunities and platforms to impact more people and, communities across Nigeria and has also aided YiSHDA to achieve her goals as an organization. As IREX continues to work and partner with YiSHDA we will build more sustainable networks and reach out to areas where we are yet to have impact. We will create new ideas and promote optimal development that will produce equal opportunities and better futures for all people in Nigeria Joseph added.
Joseph also suggested some few recommendations with a view to re-positioning public libraries in Nigeria. That Governments at all levels must ensure the minimum standard required for public libraries to provide effective and efficient services is adhered to and it should cuts across staff, services, structure, equipment, policy and management. The public libraries must as a matter of urgency re-assess the information needs of their community. This is even more imperative now that the library users have developed more needs which are constantly changing. The Governments must be committed towards public library development and also ensure adequate and timely release of funds for the libraries to be comfortable in discharging their responsibilities to the society.
Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YiSHDA) is a not-for-profit and non-governmental organization that has carved a niche for itself in the design and implementation of programs targeted at young people with special focus in Education, Development, Empowerment and Mentorship. It is the mission of YiSHDA to advocate for policies and programs that have the potential to impact positively the lives of young people especially in the areas of Education, ICT4Development, Civic Engagement, Business/Enterprise Development and Environmental Sustainability.