Communique of the 774 Book Clubs and Libraries/ Reading Infrastructure in Nigeria Preliminary Survey Presentation at the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria Joining Event at the Nigerian International Book Fair 2022 on Friday May 13, 2022
Desirous of the need to conduct a contemporary analysis of the state of reading infrastructure in Nigeria at the moment as a veritable plank for planning and executing impactful reading promotions activities in the country, the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Culture Promoters in Nigeria, NBRP undertook a preliminary survey covering Abia, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory across the past six months. At the close of the exercise, stakeholders in the book clubs, reading promotions, library and books ecosystem were invited for the report presentation session that took place at the Nigerian International Book Fair 2022. The session ended with the following resolutions:
1. Stakeholders appreciate the place of data in planning for enhanced fortunes within the Nigerian books ecosystem and applaud NBRP for undertaking this initiative.
2. Going forward, stakeholders also called attention to the need for more area-specific focus to be paid to the question of ensuring greater inclusiveness in libraries and reading spaces development in the country through examining concerns like the demographic spread of end users (children, teenagers, adolescent, youths, adults and the elderly) and whether existing offerings adequately serve them properly and respectively.
3. To make more materials available to users and in a cost-effective manner too, Nigerian public libraries should explore the use of open source tools, Open Educational Resources, OER materials and books that are openly licensed.
4. Against the backdrop of emergent research findings, including that contained in the current NBRP preliminary survey, there is a need to further interrogate the current nationally branded data regarding the total number of public libraries in Nigeria, which has been put at 316 with a view to either validating or updating it. Along this line, stakeholders welcomed the expressed desire of NBRP to proceed on to undertaking a full country survey on the state of reading infrastructure that spans the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and encourage that everything be done to ensure that it is successfully conducted.
5. Stakeholders affirm that it is most important that enhanced public-private-NGO partnership in relation to the establishment, effective utilisation and management of public libraries in Nigeria be encouraged. As a practical step, they call for fitting synergy operations that would see libraries opening their doors to book clubs to use their premises as venues for their reading promotions activities as much as is practicable.
6. Stakeholders encourage that revamped and innovative measures be introduced to get books to end users through the use of mobile libraries and similar expressions to bridge the current gap in readily accessing materials in distant communities.
7. Stakeholders also endorse the NBRP 774 Book Clubs and Libraries Project, an initiative to ensure the establishment of at least one book club and library in each of the local government areas in Nigeria and call for cooperation across all levels to see this come to fruition.
8. Stakeholders also affirmed that the NBRP should facilitate the development of a framework for setting up book clubs, which should be made easily available to the general public. Mentors should also be recruited and deployed to provide guidance for those that intend to setup new book clubs.
9. The importance of collaboration across the book value chain was also reiterated. Stakeholders affirmed that being a shared ecosystem it is imperative that they work together for the common good of all and the nation.
10. In addition to the work being done on the state of reading infrastructure, it was also agreed that a survey be equally carried out on the quality of human resources in the public library system in Nigeria in order to ascertain existing limitations and gaps and move to correct same through training, retraining and improved roles-fitting.
11. Stakeholders present at the session also lent their voices to the broader thrust of NIBF 2022, namely addressing challenges with book piracy and affirm their support for the Copyright Bill presently before the National Assembly as well as efforts to ensure the coming into being of the long-overdue Nigerian National Book Policy.
Notable participants at the session included the National Librarian/CEO, National Library of Nigeria, Prof Veronica Chinwe Anunobi; Lead Presenter of the Report and Chair of NBRP’s 774 Book Clubs and Libraries Project, Prof. Felicia Etim; report reviewer and Director, African Libraries Institutions and Associations, Dr Nkem Osuigwe; President, Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Mr Dare Oluwatuyi; Founder, Uyo Book Club, Dr Udeme Nana; Secretary General, Committee for Relevant Art, Mr Toyin Akinosho and the President of the Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria, Mr. Richard Mammah
General Secretary, NBRP