State of Libraries in Nigeria By Kọ́lá Túbọ̀ṣún
There is, arguably, not a more irksome question about Nigeria today than the ubiquitous “do Nigerians read?” It is something you hear in magazines, from visiting expatriates, historians, or foreign journalists, and it is one arrived at by the poor educational outcomes from Nigeria’s educational institutions and the failing publishing industry.
The answer to the question is varied, but is certainly not a clear “no”. Government corruption that has made it hard for local publishers to thrive, or for imported books to be affordable to buy is one of the most pervasive causes of a lack of adequate and qualitative reading materials. So, over many generations, libraries and bookstores have become empty rooms providing nothing more than reading tables. At the University of Ibadan, which I attended, its main library, called the Kenneth Dike Library, which used to boast of up-to-date textbooks and reading materials for students, became notorious for the lack thereof.
This is similar across many of Nigeria’s institutions, from primary to university level. Not only are there no public libraries with up-to-date books that can benefit students, the libraries within government funded institutions have also become a shell of themselves. Some of them don’t even exist at all, and all the students get are reading rooms. The proliferation of the internet would have been a welcome solution, but access to the internet isn’t affordable either, so students grow up with insufficient education, hampered by lack of access to relevant information.
Writer | Teacher | Linguist