Idea of Setting Up National Library of Nigeria

The idea of setting up National Library of Nigeria began with the role of the Nigerian Division of West African Library Association (WALA) whose efforts and activities were more directly connected with the realization of the dream for a National Library of Nigeria, a dream that dated back 1930s.

Following the recommendation of the Nigerian Division of (WALA), which later became the Nigerian Library Association in 1962, a Library Advisory committee was established in the late 50’s.

This Committee was charged with finding a way to aid the government in bringing to prominence the intellectual foundations of its policies, creation of a national bibliographic centre and to provide an arena for the promotion of knowledge.

On the attainment of independence, the Nigerian government embraced the idea of a National Library as proposed by the association.

The library would have the responsibility to assemble, maintain and extend a collection of books, periodicals, pamphlets, newspapers, maps, musical scores, films and recordings and such other matter as the Board considers appropriate for a library of the highest standing.

The Ford Foundation of America agreed not only to finance but also provide the necessary expertise for a feasibility study. The survey recommended a National Library of Nigeria, thus backing up the recommendation of the Library Advisory Committee. Dr. Carl White, a distinguished Scholar/Librarian, was appointed to come to Nigeria in February 1962 to assist in setting up necessary technical personnel for the National Library.

Thus, in September 1964, the government passed the first legislation. The National Library of Nigeria came into existence by the National Library Act passed in September, 1964. This Act was later replaced and substituted with the National Library Decree No 29 of 1970; the decree was partly enacted on the advice of the board which wanted to expand the library to other state capitals in order to create a network of repositories of knowledge. The headquarters of the library was moved from Lagos to Abuja in 1995 due to the change in the country’s capital.

The national library is a grade “A” parastatal and the apex library in the country. It is the giant memory of the nation, her intellectual store house and data bank for learning and remembering process. It is the Vanguard of library development and information services delivery, advising institutions, organizations and MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) at all levels of government on library development.

However, the general direction of policy instability due to the military incursion to power sometimes created an imbalance between the intellectual memory of prior policies and the intellectual foundation of a new government.

The idea of setting up National Library of Nigeria also stays afloat intellectually to receiving copies of books published in the country by both the government and private authorities, it is today one of the largest repositories of knowledge in the country.

The idea of setting up National Library of Nigeria is also to collects books on contemporary or new ideas from international organizations.

Its responsibilities also include the issuance of the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) to publishing organizations, a process which is today cumbersome in the absence of appropriate enabling technology at the regional offices.

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