Govt advocates disaster management plan for libraries
The Federal Government has called on stakeholders in the library and information science sector in the country to develop a working document for effective management of libraries, to protect the library facilities and resources from destruction during emergencies and disaster situations.
The call became necessary in view of the escalating terrorism and security challenges that the country is grappling with today.
Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Hindatu Abdullahi, while speaking at the induction of the 2015 set of certified librarians in Abuja, said that libraries play very crucial roles and therefore should be protected against disasters.
She encouraged librarians to think up workable strategies to ensure that libraries were safeguarded, saying that all precious and valuable resources and other infrastructure in the libraries should be preserved from potential disaster or risk.
“I therefore call on the library and information science professionals in Nigeria to develop a disaster management plan for libraries in the country… This plan has become expedient because there are documents that are very key to a nation’s life and very important that when such documents are lost or destroyed, it becomes impossible to replace them. There should be immutable strategies to keep them intact.”
Abdullahi, who noted that damages have been done to libraries by protesters during periods of unrest in different parts of Africa including Alexandria, Egypt, and in Mali, where these facilities have been torched. Libraries, according to her, hold sensitive historical and important documentation hence the need for a plan that is not only proactive, but preventive.
She said that when such a plan is ready, it would be made available to all libraries in Nigeria to adopt.
The Registrar/CEO of Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria, Dr Victoria Okojie, acceding to the call for a disaster management plan for libraries, said that at the global level, librarians have already set a process in motion.
According to her, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), headquartered in Switzerland is promoting a risk register for documenting cultural heritage.
“IFLA aims to pinpoint unique, irreplaceable documentary heritage collections from individuals and communities that are of value to a region, but also to the world so that in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, such information will help secure their safety,” said Dr Okojie.
She therefore, encouraged libraries in the country to take advantage of the opportunity to register their collection, assist in raising awareness on the importance of risk mitigation planning, and provide adequate staff to respond effectively in case of disasters.
Dr. Okojie who was recently appointed an advisor to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Memory of the World Programme, lamented that Nigeria has no entry in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
She challenged all librarians, archivist and museum specialists in the country to, as a matter of urgency kick-start the process of registering Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage in the register.
Former Nigerian Ambassador to Poland, Sam Jimba, a certified librarian called on libraries in Nigeria to digitise their contents.
“Since the new users of the library are continuously relying on digital information formats, libraries must importantly engage in retrospective digitisation projects,” he said.
“We must make this a core component of our annual budgets because we run the risk of having collections that are stack up in the libraries, which will no longer be used.
The National Library of Poland, for example, holds collections dating back to the 16th century. There is currently a digitisation project (which is supported by the federal government) that aims to digitize all the special collections of the library before 2020.”
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