In an effort to preserve information resources that are weak and deteriorated due to age and usage, the Federal Government of Nigeria has commenced the digitization of the 57-year-old National Library of Nigeria (NLN) and the automation of its services in line with the global standard.
The digitization of most of the weak heritage at the National Library is aimed at preservation, increased availability, and wider accessibility by leveraging information and communication technology.
According to reports, the information resources in the National Library were already weak and deteriorated due to age and usage which forced the government to begin this process.
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The New National Librarian and Chief Executive of the National Library of Nigeria, Professor Chinwe Anunobi last year, stated that her administration will leverage Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to reposition and raise the standard of the NLN which was established by Act No. 6 of 1964.
Following her one year in office, Prof. Anunobi, who spoke recently while briefing newsmen on some of her milestones, disclosed that so far, progress has been recorded in the last one year in the efforts to reposition the National Library of Nigeria for effective and efficient services.
She described her effort so far, as building bridges to connect the old and the new, by leveraging technology. She further revealed that while digitization activities are ongoing, the development and deployment of the National Repository of Nigeria (NRN) is about 70 percent completed.
In her words, “The National Library is about 57 years old with a consequential sixty years old information resources. Hence, it is not out of place that some of the information resources are weak and deteriorated due to age and usage.
“To salvage and preserve them, we engaged in the digitization of this weak heritage aimed at preservation, increased availability, and wider accessibility leveraging information and communication technology.
“We hope to achieve completion and commissioning for public use by the end of November 2022. The NRN houses in electronic form, all Nigerian heritage that has been deposited from inception to date by authors, printers, or publishers, in compliance with the legal deposit law.
“We have deployed KOHA library automation software for cataloging and classification in National Library. On April 4, 2022, we launched our Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), the window for all the resources housed by the National Library of Nigeria.
“This will enable users to virtually check for the materials we have, and their exact location, without physically rummaging our shelves”.
Anunobi further added that the NLN would be accessible by every Nigerian and beyond, regardless of status, qualification, or location, saying the digitization was not only designed to increase the visibility of Nigerian intellectual heritage but also to enable creators of this intellectual heritage to have a return on their investments.
She, however, appealed to media, and newspaper houses particularly to deposit e-copies of their publications with the NLN to ease the digitization process, explaining that the digitization of archival information would commence from the strong room in Lagos.
This is a highly commendable move by the federal government to digitize the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) because a lot of publications in Nigeria are not being read beyond the shores of the country due to the dearth of materials online.
Also, digitizing resources in the library will not just preserve them, but also make them available to the public in an easier-to-access mode.