Librarians charge children to engage in better reading culture

Eme Offiong, Calabar

Librarians have charged parents and teachers to inculcate in children a culture of reading books other than those recommended in school curriculums.
Some Librarians and child educators gave the advise during the flag off of a Readership Promotion Campaign lead by the National Library of Nigeria, Cross River State branch.
The Stakeholders, in each of their messages, opined that reading a variety of books and articles will better position the children to cope with current global development strides.
Reading Challenges
The Keynote speaker and an academic don in the Department of Library and Information Science, University of Calabar, Professor Olu Lawal decried the poor reading culture among the people, noting “only  40 percent of Nigerians were literate enough to communicate in English.”
According to Lawal, “about  three million graduates in the country have poor reading skills. Even students of tertiary institutions lack good reading skills. I therefore commend the National Library of Nigeria for initiating this campaign to encourage not just children, but Nigerians in general to start reading again.”
Professor Lawal, who spoke on the theme ‘Working together to build a virile reading nation: challenges and strategies’, maintained that the nation cannot grow its industrial and other sectors of the economy with the present low literacy rate.
He argued that the patronage of social media by young people in particular, was significantly responsible for poor reading habits.
The Professor of  library and information science stated “While the reasons for poor provision of library infrastructure and materials are not quite germane, developments in the evolution of Information Technologies and the consequent patronage of the social media were to add significantly to poor reading habits in the society beyond scholarly levels.”
“The poor financing of education generally with the concomitant tampering with school and university curriculum in the bureaucracy that enveloped learning at all levels, greatly influenced by political engineering of societal values, has led to near abandonment of schooling in search of wealth,” he pointed out.
He urged all stakeholders including the political class and most importantly parents, to perform beyond mere rhetorics and revive the culture of reading.
Community Libraries
Goddy Ettah, the State Commissioner for Education, in a remark said “Governor Ben Ayade had begun the process of establishing libraries at the community level. Besides providing libraries in our secondary schools, we intend to make sure that at least, we have libraries at each local government headquarters for all.”
Ettah, who represented the State Government at the event, said that the aim of establishing libraries at the community level was to enable students and people in the rural areas develop the culture of reading and understanding government programmes and policies.
He further said that funds would be made available for the renovation of the Calabar Library, which was currently dilapidated.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer, National Library of Nigeria, Professor Lenrie Aina who was being represented at the ceremony by the Deputy Director, National Library Abel Odigba said “the absence of a good reading culture was a barrier to national development and international competitiveness.”
“It is in the light of this that the National Library of Nigeria, which is the apex library in the country, commenced the initiative to undertake the Readership Promotion Campaign since 1981,” he explained.
Omolayo.A