April 22, 2018

Libraries in Lagos: A Shameful Situation

By LJ Staff

North Americans were reminded of the parlous state of libraries in Iraq by the heartbreaking diary of the director of the Iraq National Library and Archives. Now, a journalistic account of libraries in Lagos, Nigeria reminds us that libraries in the Third World often lag sadly behind professional standards. According to Tunde Awe’s account in the Vanguard of Lagos, "Regrettably, almost all the vital sectors of our national life are in a state of abject decay due to corruption and low value of the national currency which has resulted in low funding or outright neglect of library services."

Bookmobile service in rural areas is a "thing of the nostalgic past." The Lagos Central Library, long deteriorating, is being torn down, though the plan to rebuild it remains murky. Academic libraries can’t afford current books and journals. As for the National Library, staffers rely on typewriters, as they lack computers, and they must make phone calls to confirm basic information which Internet access could provide. An inscription on the wall of the Lagos Central Library, undergoing demolition, states, "Libraries are forever," which may be cruelly ironic.