American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa
MALIS, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, 2000
Photo © 2014 Michael Pilla
In 2011, Amed Demirhan took on his second library-building mission: the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, the capital city of Adamawa, a largely rural state on Nigeria’s northeast border, where educational opportunities are limited. His task was to reinvent the young but traditional library as a 21st-century facility.
Demirhan knows how to work in challenging conditions. In 2006 he established the academic library at the University of Kurdistan-Hewler in Erbil, Iraq, the country’s first independent English-language university. For five years he oversaw that library’s resources, staff, and budget.
Within a year of arriving at AUN, Demirhan had completely revitalized the library. He trained the local staff, increased library services, hours, and space, and educated faculty on its new resources. Vitally, he also provided a new vision—“99 percent of your library is electronic.”
Demirhan’s AUN e-Library Project expanded the library’s collection of ebooks from 1,889 to 45,442. He halved the number of print items but increased the overall number of items by more than 200 percent. He replaced a suite of library equipment—scanner, desktop computer, laptop, copier, video camera—with a smartphone. He introduced mobile reference services and developed library apps.
Demirhan’s vision is also policy: since 2012, the library does not buy print material unless it is required by the Nigerian National Accreditation Commission (NUC), or for curriculum needs if an e-version doesn’t exist.
For these results, Demirhan was awarded an American Library Association Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Project (2013) and an award from the Committee of University Librarians of Nigerian Universities (2012).
Fluent in English, Kurdish, Swedish, and Turkish; functional in Spanish; and literate in Arabic, Demirhan has trained hundreds of people on modern library practices. In his two years in Nigeria, he’s taught some 200 educators, librarians, and administrators how to locate and critically evaluate online learning resources (including e-textbooks), both proprietary and open access. He truly speaks the language of libraries.