As Nigeria recently joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 Library Day, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, underscored the importance of digitization when he called on private and public institutions to leverage Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to digitize their hard copy knowledge materials to make them more efficiently accessible to their workforce and external stakeholders.
Vast materials in hardcopies will take huge storage and display space, but digitalizing them as Danbatta urged, will make them easily and readily accessible without space constraints. It will also ensure that the library materials are safe in event of disasters such as fire and theft as digitalized materials can easily be stored, shared and their backups safely kept in different locations.
- L-R; Omoh Atesenokhai, National Secretary, Nigerian Library Association(NLA); Barr. Adewolu Adeleke, Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management, Nigerian Communications Commission(NCC); Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman(EVC), NCC; Engr. Alhassan Haru, Director, New Media and Information Security, NCC; Mr. Ephraim Nwokonneya, Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, NCC; Mr. Hafiz Shehu, Chief of Staff to the EVC, NCC; Isaac Ajibola, representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) Library; and Mr. Ayanbanji Ojo, Head, Strategy and Corporate Performance Management, NCC, at the Library Day Celebration.
Dates for Library Day vary from one country to the other, but the ideals are the same. Simply put Library Days are held in the different countries as a day for celebrating libraries and highlighting their importance in today’s society. Specific themes are picked each year and the activities could last the whole month.
In Spain Libraries Day is celebrated on 24th October every year since 1997 to commemorate the destruction on the Sarajevo National Library, set on fire in 1992 during the Balkans War. It is an initiative of Asociacion Espanola de Amigos del Libro Infatil y Juvenil (Spanish Association of Friends of the Children and Young Adults Book) in collaboration with the countries Ministry of Culture.
The Library Association of Ireland celebrates Library Ireland Week each year in November. The last edition was in 2016, with the theme was Libraries: Empowering through Online Access.
In the UK, the inaugural event of the National Libraries Day was held on 4 February 2012. Since then, events relating to the day, including author talks and competitions are organised across the country by local authorities, universities, other providers of library services and local community groups.
Library Day in UK came about largely due to the efforts of author and library campaigner, Alan Gibbons who in 2011 launched a Save our Libraries Day and proposed that the first day in February be made National Libraries Day after receiving emails suggesting that there should be a chance to “celebrate our libraries”
On 25 May 2011, Gibbons triumphantly announced that: We are delighted to launch National Libraries Day, a week of events in early February leading to a day of celebration of reading, libraries and librarians around the United Kingdom. A reading child is a successful child. A child who goes to the library is twice as likely to be a good reader and that child becomes a literate adult, a lifelong reader. There are 320 million visits a year to our libraries but we can make them even more popular.”
Since October 2017, however, Libraries Week, held 9 – 14 replaced National Libraries Day, previously held in February.
As the NCC takes the front row in celebrating the Day in Nigeria, it is the hope of many the reading culture in country will not only improve, but Nigerians would gain more comprehensively in line with the vision of organizers of the UK Libraries Week who in 2017 said the events were about “discovering the range of things you can do at your library, from play and learning for children, to managing your health, to accessing wifi and games, to finding a job, a hobby or starting a business. It’s not just public libraries – libraries of all kinds in schools, workplaces and universities have amazing services that help us all.”
Prof. Danbatta has laid the template for the pursuance and realization of that vision in Nigeria with his speech of Wednesday, June 23, 2021, when the Commission joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2021 Library Day with the theme: “Welcome to Your Library.”
At the event, held at the NCC Head Office in Abuja, Danbatta expressed dismay at the dwindling book-reading culture in Nigeria and called for a positive change of attitude in the nations’ reading culture.
The NCC boss said while ICT has helped in digitizing a large number of hitherto hard-copy books available to people, efforts must be made to access these materials as well as other hard-copy books to read. He said this has become central because the knowledge economy being driven by ICT requires reading and intellectual development for further advancement.
He underscored the importance of the library as a great resource with a variety of stocks reflecting the multi-functional structure of the Commission, the significance of which cannot be over-emphasized in the activities of the Commission as well as in a knowledge economy, pointing out that “As a regulator of a dynamic telecommunications industry, the Commission gives pride of place to library resources to ensure that it is abreast of current information, regulatory trends and international best practice in carrying out its mandate.”
He noted that it is the first ‘Library Day’ celebration holding since the establishment of the Commission’s library in 2003, noting that as an administrator and a Professor with many years of experience in the academia, he fully appreciates the role of a modern library in enabling research and new knowledge for organisational success.
Danbatta stressed that the NCC’s library was established to provide the necessary literature and knowledge materials to facilitate access to learning and dissemination of information, recalling that “The NCC library is 18 years now and it is a cutting-edge repository of knowledge and information with over 1,000 technical books in hard and soft copies aside other materials serving both internal and external stakeholders, “ and “It is a reflection of who we are, where we are and the library stock is an indication of the diverse areas of specialisation, expertise and operations of the Commission,” the EVC said.
While pointing out that various efforts have been made, over the years, to reposition the library to meet international standard, Danbatta noted that remarkable improvements have been made in uplifting the standard of the library not only in stocking it with latest useful books but also in terms of automation for easier accessibility.
He assured that “The NCC has leveraged the power of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to provide the electronic section to enhance the library information system by migrating from analogue to digital, thereby enabling access to remote databases electronically. It is a learning resource that has varieties, currency, quality and content of stock.”
He emphasised the need to reinvigorate the passion for learning, which he said, will lead to new and better ways of doing things as well as better collaborations in carrying out assigned responsibilities.
Danbatta noted that the library is critical to realising his dream of sustaining the culture of the Nigerian Communications Commission as a respected learning organisation with best-in-class employees.