Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2012
Library education in Nigeria is very much tied up with the general social and political history of the country. As such, those who aspired to become librarians went to Britain to qualify for the Associate of the Library Association (ALA). However, with the attainment of independence in 1960, the country witnessed the establishment of tertiary institutions at various levels. The first library school was established at University College Ibadan in 1960.
Prior to this period, the Carnegie Corporation has sponsored two studies (Margaret Wrong in 1939 and Ethel Fagan in 1940) to survey the library needs of West Africa with the view to formalizing its training program. Wrong recommended for a Library Training Institute to be established in Nigeria while Fagan recommended instead the establishment of a Regional Library Institute to cater for the whole of British West Africa. Consequently, the British Council, Carnegie Corporation and the Governments of Gold Coast (Ghana), Nigeria and Sierra Leone jointly financed the Achimota library school in Ghana, which was opened in 1944. The main objective of the school was to "improve the technical competence of library assistants and to prepare them for the first part of the British Library Association Registration Examination" (Agluolu and Mohammed 1987).
The stage for the development of library profession in Nigeria was set up with the arrival of John Harris as the librarian of the University College Ibadan, in 1948. "He was not only instrumental to the development of the University College Library, but also organized the Native Authority Libraries, the first organized Library Training course in 1950." (Dean 1966). Similarly in 1952, Joan Allen organized a course for reading room attendants under the Northern Regional Library Service while the Eastern Regional Library Board, which was created in 1935, introduced a training course for library assistants in 1956. The UNESCO seminar on Public Library Development in Africa held in 1953 at Ibadan was another turning point in the history of librarianship in the country. Aguolu and Mohammed (1987) observed that "it laid the foundation of modern libraries in Nigeria and help crystallize the concept of the library profession and librarianship itself."
Based on (Lancour 1958 and Sharr 1963) reports on library needs of West Africa and Northern Nigeria respectively, two library schools were established in Nigeria. The first was the Institute of Librarianship which was opened in 1960 at the University College Ibadan and the second was at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, in 1968. These institutions were built on different philosophical and professional orientations. While the Ibadan library school began with one year basic professional program leading to the award of the post-graduate diploma in accordance with the main objective of the Institute which has been "to educate the leadership for the library profession", the Zaria library school mounted an under-graduate program leading to the award of the Bachelor of Library Science (BLS) degree based on the objective "to train professional librarians at all levels with well rounded education up to international standard while placing emphasis on the problems facing libraries in Africa."
It apparently became clear in the mid 1970s that the two existing library schools despite their parallel philosophical orientation, cannot meet the nation's library needs. Thus, in 1977 and 1978 two additional library schools were established at Bayero University Kano and University of Maiduguri respectively. Presently, there are over fifty institutions including Universities (Federal, States and Private) Polytechnics and Colleges across the country that offer Library and Information Science programs at Certificate; Ordinary, National and Higher Diploma; Degree and Higher Degree levels. The proliferation of library programs in different types of institutions can be seen as a good development for the profession, on the other hand however, it has given rise to divergent opinions on the education of librarians especially from the perspectives of curriculum, resources, and faculty.
Content of educational programs have been in most professional fields a conflicting area either from the point of view of the practitioner or as a result of certain educational philosophy. While accepting these differences it is imperative to point out that there are some curricula elements which because of certain purposes and functions common to all libraries, can be said to be necessary components of the curriculum of all library schools. Danton (1949) and Aguolu (1985) identified the indispensable 'core' curriculum which must be embraced by any library school: cataloging and classification, reference and bibliography, collection development and library administration and organization.
The curriculum as well as the goals and objectives of a particular library school must in large measure be dependant upon the nature and needs of the libraries it is to serve. This accounted for the differences in curriculum as well as stated aims and objectives of library schools. Despite this variation, Ochogwu (1990) analyzed the content of brochures of several library schools and reported that the goals and objectives of library education irrespective of the environment and level can be summarized into four main perspectives. These are:
1. The production of graduates mature enough to face the modern challenges of information delivery services;
2. The production of graduates who will constitute middle level and high level manpower needed to carry out management of different types of libraries;
3. The production of graduates with adequate theoretical knowledge to teach in one or more areas in the field of Library, Archives and Information Science, and
4. The production of individuals who will be mature enough to identify and conduct research into any problem area of the information profession.
The importance of information resources in the education of any discipline cannot be over-emphasized. At this stage of the profession's development in Nigeria the need to focus attention on the adequacy of information resources produced locally rather than foreign is imminent. At the moment Dipeolu (1975) stated that "it is hardly an exaggeration to observe that more than ninety percent of books purchased by African university libraries emanate from Europe and America. The remaining 10% or less is published in different parts of Africa." This is a dangerous trend in library education in the country. Thus while the issue of relevance and appropriateness is emphasized, it might be difficult to embrace them entirely since majority of such resources are published outside the country. According to Bozimo (1985) "our commitment to the proper training of future generations of library professionals require that we as educators find and create the literature that will serve as effective learning tools, the literature in other words ,that is relevant to our educational purposes."
No matter how good the objectives, the curriculum and the physical facilities of an educational institution may be its fundamental excellence will depend primarily upon quality of the faculty. In any enterprise the question of personnel is one of major importance, so also in an academic institution. The faculty is of paramount concern because in every sense the faculty is the institution. Wheeler (1946) stressed further that "no master curriculum, no remarkable philosophy, no balancing of principles Vs methods, no appealing outlines and ingenious devices can possibly mean as much to education for librarianship as the quality of the faculty."