To attain Good Governance, Leaders must Read Endlessly – says Adigun Olakanmi, an expert Librarian.
With advancing technologies displacing many spheres and styles of human living, Ademola Oladele, a Correspondent with the Public Times went to town to find out from expert; the relevance of Books Library, the challenge of Internet Technology, the reading habits of Nigerians, techniques of promoting reading habits and to further ask a host of other thought provoking questions. He interviewed a professional Librarian – Pastor Adigun Olakanmi who freely shared his views on interesting questions that were put to him. Happy reading!
Public Times: Can I meet you Sir?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: My name is Pastor Moses Olakanmi Adigun, the Director, Public Library Services, Oyo State Library Board.
Public Times: How can you describe people’s care-free attitude towards reading in these days, especially by the Youths and teenagers?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: People carefree attitude towards reading is actually a debatable topic or issue because a lot of people say Nigerians don’t read, but those of us in the book industry know that Nigerians read. The major problem is what are they reading? What is the quality of their reading and in what area? If you look at their reading portal compare with the so called Western world, put them in the same class. Nigerians will perform better. How do you prove that somebody who performs better in academy and other areas of endevour does not read? However, the problem is Nigerians don’t read for pleasure and there are many reasons for this. The economic, the environment, the government, the people is neither here nor there. So it is not correct to just blanket-ly say Nigerians don’t read. That is part of the neo Colonialism and colonial idea of people to always condemn what is ours. Nigerians are reading. If you go to our
Libraries all over this nation you will meet people there. What are they doing? Go to our school, students are there, what are they doing? As far as I am concerned, for anybody to just blanket-ly say Nigerians don’t read, that is a fallacy, it is not the real truth.
Public Times: The world has become global village, with the advent of computer and internet which make it easier for people to get reading materials on the internet. Don’t you think this factor can affect the patronage of library organization?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: Let me tell you, there is one key information I want to give you, most of those information that you read on the internet are inputted into the internet by Liberians. So library and Liberians will continue to be relevant in our society. If you go to analysis of Research, you will discover that most of the information you get on the internet are not reliable, they have not been verified, they have not been edited, anybody can just recycle, people hardly rekcon with the information from the internet. Yes you can have information from the internet as a background for you to go for further research but I want to tell you that the actual deep seated knowledge is actually inside the books. So whether the internet comes in another format or form, books will still be relevant and more so in our own society here, where a lot of things are not working. If you want to be sincere with yourself, is the internet working in Nigeria? An environment where the network is not stable, where there would be no electricity and of course when the network is not there, the internet is gone. Where electricity is not available internet is not available but with or without these things that I have mentioned, you can still read your books and gets your rooted information. So, whichever way you look at it, library and librarian would continue to be relevant in our society and in every society. As much as the internet is there in the Western world, you still see people carrying their novels in tubes, in trains, in vehicles even under the trees while they are relaxing with their books. That does not stop them from using the internet. So I want to say the internet is mere compliment. If you want deep rooted information go for books. Books that have must been edited, verified before being published.
Public Times: Due to the lack of substantial fund in the system, many parents find it uneasy to buy quality reading materials for their children. What is your organization doing to relieve these commoners that are willing to read?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: You see the economy of this nation is actually a hindrance to a lot of activities, reading and books are not exception. However, the libraries in Nigeria are making effort to fill in the gap where parents cannot afford adequate and quality reading materials for their wards and children. The libraries in Nigeria are making effort to fill in the gap, in fact, the Nigerian Library Association is particularly celebrating library week right now. You can see in green, our people are there doing rally throughout the town to sensitize people about reading and library services and I want to tell you a lot of people are begining to know the important of library services.
Public Times: We will like to know the registration processing to enable participation in this organization?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: In any library, for the purpose of control, decency and orderliness, there must be registered of users. There are various types of library. The university community registered both students and lecturers to make use of facilities provided. In the public libraries in Nigeria, they also have registration and the process has been discovered to be made less cumbersome, to be made inviting so that people will not see it as a burden and charging will be as low as possible. For example, I know in Oyo State, the library services only attract N1,000.00 for a whole year and their year is 12 calendar months. It does not matter when you start, you count your 12 months and you go there what do they require of you may be passport photograph, your guarantor because you know, in the library they afford you the opportunity to borrow their materials and there must be security for those books if the library must continue to thrive. Because, without security all the books would get finished and lost within the very short time, but they have to put the security by ensuring there is a guarantor to be held if you don’t return their book. There must be somebody that will be held responsible that is a very simple straight forward all over.
Public Times: Apart from the State Government, is there any other stakeholders that are funding your organization?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: Library service is actually social service which should be embraced by all. The public libraries in Nigeria are principally owned, financed and managed by the Government. However, Library Boards in Nigeria give room for friends of the library services in one form or the other. We have people who have on their own built e-library for specific community that is part of library services. So, I want to answer that question. I will say there are several stakeholders. The issue is how functional; how forth coming are all these stakeholders because one would have expected all the big-big companies around as part of their social responsibilities to be contributing towards library services. But their contributions are actually not encouraging as at today.
Public Times: Can you tell us the category of people expected to be members or readers in this organization?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: Everybody, when you are talking about library services, the University library is supposed to serve the interest of the students, researchers and teachers mainly. The school libraries are meant to serve the interest of pupils, teachers and other workers within that environment. We have several public libraries and good development is that nowadays, we are now beginning to have individuals building and managing public libraries. One is located in Iseyin and that library by all standards is a very good library and it is serving the community. Though a public library, everybody should have access to the library based on the condition of entry. When we are talking about the registration, your age does not matter as long as you can read; the library is for you and even, the babies, the children who are not yet of the age can also be taken to the library. Ideally, a public library is supposed to have a crèche and normally we have what we call crèche where children are allowed the usage of the library materials free of charge. They provide them toys with which to play, they provide them reading materials for the children to build that reading culture in them right from the childhood.
Public Times: What kind of reading materials should people expect in Oyo State Library?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: The library is a generalist, what I mean by being a generalist is a general purpose avenue for reading. A library ideally should contain all sorts of reading materials. Anything that can give information and let me tell you there is no book that has not got its own users and that is why the five laws of leadership; the one given us by Raginata: one of them is every book is a reader and other one is every reader is a book. So there is no material that is not useful. The problem is who the prime user of that particular material. Some materials which you may consider has been old has been obsolete is useful to somebody else to confirm, attest or the new books you are talking about so a book has no life span. The generic nature of books made it such a way that books are useful to applied.
Public Times: What advice do you have for people especially Youths and teenagers that have low passion for reading.
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: For those who have low passion or no passion for reading, I will say that they are losing a lot because reading actually make man, reading afford you the opportunity of doing better and be able to use other people’s idea; other people’s wisdom or an intellect. By the time you are using them people would think you are wise, or you are the wisest. So, if anybody is ignoring reading, I want to say such person is ignoring wisdom and of course wisdom is the principal thing. In whatever we do, we need wisdom and reading actually plays a very significant role in people’s life.
Public Times: What measures could parents or guidance take to improve the reading capacity of their ward?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: Parents should also be readers. Nobody can give what he does not have. If you read, it will be easier for you to teach or encourage your children to read. In fact without talking about it merely seeing you reading day by day would make an impression and the heart of your children and unknowingly you see them trying to be like you. So parents should encourage themselves to be readers. Secondly, we should help our children to ensure that they do not play with this concept of reading. And how can you this? When you want to give them gifts give them books. Most of us when our children are celebrating birthday, we look for beautiful hair do, beautiful dresses, we go to “Shoprite’ and others, yes, I am not saying they are not good but then all those things are ephemeral things. Such thing will evaporate with time, but if you give them a book and ensure that they read the book, you have given them an internal gift and we should do whatever that is at our reach to ensure their education is given priority.
Public Times: What contributions could your organization make to the political development of the country?
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: You see, the political development of Nigeria reading can actually make it better. When people read they have ideas and ideas will build the nation. Ideas, you know if you look at the crop of governors that we have you can easily differentiate between those of them that are reading and those of them that are not. Without sentiment you can see the clear different between them. I don’t want to mention any Governor but of some Governors that when they speak, when they talk, their approach to issues you would discover that person who has read a lot, reading helps governance. It helps followership because reading will encourage the free flow of information.
Public Times: Thank you sir for sharing your views.
Pastor Adigun Olakanmi: It has been a pleasure.