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ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICES ON THE LITERACY LEVEL OF NIGERIANS

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ABSTRACT

This study was intended to assess the impact of public library services on the literacy level of Nigerians. This study was guided by the following objectives; to know if public libraries influence economic development. To examine the present state of public libraries in Nigeria. to know if there is a relationship between public library development and literacy in Nigeria. To evaluate the importance of public libraries to educational development. The study employed the descriptive and explanatory design; questionnaires in addition to library research were applied in order to collect data. Primary and secondary data sources were used and data was analyzed using the chi square statistical tool at 5% level of significance which was presented in frequency tables and percentage. The respondents under the study were 25 staff of national library, Kaduna state. The study findings revealed that public library services significantly influences the literacy level of Nigerians; Based on the findings from the study, efforts should be made by the Nigerian government and stakeholders in funding public libraries in other to achieve educational development.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1.   Background to the study

Public libraries overtime have proven to be a source of education. Public libraries may be owned by government, agencies or individuals who are interested in education; this is basically because of the low literacy level in West Africa and Nigeria especially. All over the world libraries are dedicated to providing free and equitable access to information for all, be it in written, electronic or audiovisual form. They play a key role in creating literate environments and promoting literacy by offering relevant and attractive reading material for all ages and all literacy levels and by offering adult and family literacy classes. They embrace the social responsibility to offer services that bridge social, political and economic barriers, and traditionally make a special effort to extend their services to marginalized people. Libraries assist in finding, using and interpreting appropriate information that opens up opportunities for lifelong learning, literacy enhancement, informed citizenship, recreation, creative imagination, individual research, critical thinking, and ultimately, empowerment in an increasingly complex world.

Dynamic and stimulating literate environments at home, in the classroom, in the workplace and in the community are essential to literacy acquisition, development and lifelong use. In many countries, people cannot imagine daily life without written information. They start the day reading the newspaper, they pass many posters and advertisements on the way to work or while running errands, they read and write e-mails and reports at work; they look through the daily mail and enjoy an interesting magazine or a good book in the evening. But in many countries of the developing world there is a serious lack of reading materials and hence a lack of reading culture.

UNESCO states that "the goal of Education for All also involves the development of literate societies in the developing world, and cannot be attained solely by providing quality learning materials to schools. If people are to stay literate, the must have access to a wide variety of written materials and continue the habit of reading in their adult lives" (UNESCO: Basic). If literacy is not placed within a functional framework of relevance and if newly acquired literacy skills are not constantly used and improved, there is a real danger that those who have acquired literacy skills will relapse into illiteracy and the huge investment in school education and adult literacy classes will be wasted. In India, "Most of the ongoing literacy programmes do not provide long-term support to neo-literates. Unless they are provided effective support through reading and learning materials, the may again fall in the category of illiterates. Here libraries play a vital role by providing reading and learning materials to them" (Singh, 2003: viii). Some of the requirements and challenges for creating a literate environment will be discussed in the following sub-chapters on oral societies, the local publishing industry, the home environment, and the school environment.

1.2.  Statement of the general problem

Illiteracy in Nigeria has been a major issue which has led to the constant decline in education, economic hardship and socio economic development.An illiterate nation is a nation that is almost certain to fail.

1.3.  Aims and objectives of the study

The following are the aims and objectives of the study:

Ø To know if public libraries influence economic development.

Ø To examine the present state of public libraries in Nigeria.

Ø To know if there is a relationship between public library development and literacy in Nigeria.

Ø To evaluate the importance of public libraries to educational development.

1.4.  Significance of the study

This work would be of importance to librarians, researchers, government and the general public in understanding the importance of library development in improving the literacy level in Nigeria.

1.5.  Scope of the study

This study is on assessing the impact of public library services on the literacy level of Nigerians with national library Abuja serving as the case study.

LIMITATION OF STUDY

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.  

1.6.  Research Questions

Ø Do public libraries influence economic development?

Ø What is the present state of public libraries in Nigeria?

Ø Is there a relationship between public library development and literacy in Nigeria?

Ø What is the importance of public libraries to educational development?

1.7.  Research Hypothesis

H0: Public library services do not significantly influences the literacy level of Nigerians.

H1: Public library services significantly influences the literacy level of Nigerians.

1.8.   Definition of terms

Ø Library: a building in which collections of books, cd’s, newspapers, etc. are kept for people to read, study or borrow.

Ø Literacy:the ability to read and write.

Ø Public:connected with ordinary people in the society in general.

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