By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Before we delve into the issues proper, it is imperative we know what a library is and its types.
A Library according to Merriam Webster dictionary refers to a place where books, magazines, and other materials such as videos, musical recordings, are available for people to use or borrow.
There are basically three types or forms of library, depending on its usage. One, you have the private library which is not open to public use but to selected individuals.
Secondly, you have the public library which is open to all and sundry. The third is the E-library which is an emerging form.
Now, we can discuss the topic proper as to how the Cross River State library cries for help.
A public library is essentially a service to members of the public which serves to inculcate the age long culture of reading and aids in information gathering, enquiry, research and other general studies.
It is one that is accessible by the general public and is generally funded from public sources such as taxes, with the mandate to serve the general public’s information needs rather than the needs of a particular school, institution or research population.
It is an invaluable structure in the society which requires constant attention in terms of proper equipping, upgrading and overall maintenance because of its pivotal role.
However, owing to various factors, many of such structures have not been able to keep up with the quality services expected of them.
They tend to fall short of basic requirements such as resource materials, functional infrastructure, enabling environment, etc. One of such example is the Cross River State Library Complex.
Situated in the heart of the city of Calabar, the State Library which has been in existence for decades has become an object of intense ridicule over the years as one of the poorest facilities found in the State capital.
The level of degradation, starting from its dilapidated physical structure to the outdated resource materials, is greatly alarming especially as it was meant to serve as a memento considering the history behind it.
The fallen walls, rusty shelves, dust covered books, broken windows and years of no electricity, makes it look more like an abandoned project than a functional State public facility.
How did we get to this point where the State Library Complex became so ramshackled?
Surely, this did not all happen in a day. It is clearly a case of overdue neglect by the designated authorities.
The Cross River State Public Finance Management Law which regulates the financial management of all arms of the State Government to ensure that the revenue, expenditure, assets and liability are managed sustainably and efficiently, has made certain provisions to cover the security, effective coordination, transparency, accountability, and sound management of such facilities.
However, from the look of things, the Ministry of Education in Cross River State has failed in its responsibility as regards the sound management of the Library Complex and it resources which should be a precious asset to the State especially in the area of propagating its over 30 dialects, customs and traditions.
Although this issue has been over flogged in the public space, it still remains a major issue of concern to me, considering the fact that there have been numerous complains and outcries in the public space which seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
Whichever way, the authorities in charge need to know that the library is in dire need of infrastructural rehabilitation as well as proper maintenance to correct the existing impression that it’s an eyesore.
In this vein, the Ministry of Education should give a thought to restocking the library with current research materials relevant to the academic needs of students, researchers and the general public.
Also, they should be aware of the changes occurring in the world today where the focus has shifted from the hard copy to the virtual/soft copy or E-library as it’s formally called.
This is the age of technology, where information is just a click away thanks to the advent of search engines such as Google, Yahoo search, Bing, etc, which have made research and information sharing possible on a wider platform.
Therefore, as much as the print medium as a source of information is valuable, it is gradually becoming a second option in comparison with the electronic medium.
More people now tend to subscribe to the electronic medium as it is easily accessible, less cumbersome and more effective.
In light of this discovery, the Cross River State Government should consider adopting the electronic library system.
Also known as a digital library, the E-library is concerned with that body of knowledge relating to the collection, organization, storage, distribution, retrieval and utilization of digital information materials.
It is one that is internet accessible in order to ensure the availability of much more content online.
The Government should make a conscious effort to ensure that the structure is E-library fitted instead of just stacking it with more books.
This way, it will encourage and motivate students, researchers and other interested members of the public to visit the library more often even from the confines of their homes with the help of an internet enabled device.
Keeping in mind the global warming situation in the world and Cross River State in particular, the use of books is not advisable as it encourages the hewing of trees.
Upgrading the State library system to E-standard will go a long way in curbing or combating global warming.
It is easy to make bountiful promises of good intensions but the value of these promises lie in their fulfillment.
The administration of Senator Ben Ayade has indicated great interest in Education as one of its primary investments.
Therefore, the library as an avenue for the increase of learning should not be neglected for this long; instead the State Education Ministry should have it on their priority list, mounting the necessary pressure to ensure the rehabilitation of the State Library.
This will contribute to the much needed thrive of the educational sector in the State especially as the governor and his deputy are both reputable academic professors.
Margaret John writes from Calabar and reports for CrossRiverWatch.
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