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Public library stakeholders meet in Awka

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PUBLIC library has been described as a key and very essential institution for achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Charles Esimone stated this at a two-day Conference of National Librarian Chairman and Directors of State Public Library Boards In Nigeria, themed ,”The Roles of Public Libraries in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals”.

The event, which was hosted by the Anambra State Library Board, held at the Prof. Kenneth Dike State Central E-Library, Awka.

Represented by Prof  Nkechinyere Nwokoye of the Faculty of Arts, UNIZIK, Prof. Esimone, who is also the Chairman of the occasion, noted that it is in the library that people can see and read books that will equip them with the necessary information they need, to contribute and effectively play their own part  in achieving the SDGs. He noted that information and knowledge needed to achieve these goals are already in books, which people cannot access, except they go to the library to get and read the books.

In her Address of welcome, the Director, Anambra State Library Board, Dr. Nkechi Udeze described public library as “the people’s university” and institution primarily concerned with providing resources and service to meet the information need of individual citizens, irrespective of educational attainment, religious and political affiliations.

Udeze, who noted that the modern day public library administration has gone beyond the traditional mentality of “sit at a place and watch our users come to us”, called on public library administrators to rise up to their duties.

She also highlighted some challenges facing the public library, to include poor funding, inadequate manpower, obsolete information services, non-vibrant multimedia and ICT gadgets and facilities that could lure the citizenry to the library, among others, while also calling for interventions in those areas, to enable the public library perform optimally towards achieving the SDGs.

Earlier in his opening address, the National Librarian/CEO, National Library of Nigeria, Prof. Lenrie O. Aina said the event was aimed at exposing the roles of the public library in achieving the SDGs and building the capacity of leaders of public library to drive their services towards achieving the SDGs which were set up by world leaders in 2015 to address world’s main development challenges, and which are to be achieved by 2030.

He appreciated Anambra State Government for accepting to host the conference, noting that their choice of Anambra as the venue and  host of the 2020 event is because of the state’s calmness and the development of public library services in the state. He further announced that the period of the conference will witness the concretisation of arrangements to see to the commencement of the presence of National Library of Nigeria in Awka, the state’s capital.

Speaking at the event, the Special Guest of Honour at the event and Executive Governor of Anambra State, Governor Willie Obiano, represented by the state’s Commissioner for Anambra State Housing Development Corporation, Arc. Mike Okonkwo, noted that education is one of the top priorities of the current administration in the state.

He noted that the state government flagged off and also commenced its tree planting campaign at the state’s Central Library, where, he also noted, the state government decorates and beautifies every Christmas season.

He reassured of the state government’s continued support to library development in Anambra State, as, according to him, the role of library in the educational and general development of every society can never be overemphasised.

The state’s Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba said the government was making plans to make the state library number one in the West African.

In their separate remarks, the state’s Head of Service, Harry Uduh (represented by Mr. Godson C.Ifeanyi; ); the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Secondary Education, Dr. Paul Ifeanyi; and former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Chief Dike Ndulue, described library as a very important institution in  society, calling for all hands to be on deck, to enable public library play its role in achieving the SDGs

The MD/CEO, Anambra State Advertising Agency (ANSA), Chief Jude Emecheta, who noted that he is a regular user of the public library, appreciated the state’s library and its management for being exemplary, and called for actual digitalisation of the library.

On her own part, the Vice President, Nigerian Library Association, Princess Dr. Uju Nwafor-Orizu, charged librarians to step out of their offices to make impacts on the communities and society where they are operating, by endearing the library to the people, without which the library may fail in its role of contributing towards achieving the SDGs.

The event featured thematic paper presentations by some scholars and librarians, including Dr. Nkem Osuigwe; Dr. Airen Adetimirin, Mrs. Neemat Days Abdulrahmim and Dr. Ezra Shiloba.

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