Fati, O. I. and Yelwa, Idris (2019). Public Libraries and access to information in Plateau State, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal).
For successful post-2015 development agenda, rural communities and individuals need to be given access to, made to understand and encouraged to use and share accurate and relevant information to solve problems and make better decisions, thereby promoting sustainable development. In the recent times, there have been various campaigns and advocacy for access to information especially for rural dwellers and hitherto, a lot of rural inhabitants are not being reached. The study reviews the responsibilities of libraries in ensuring that rural inhabitants have access to relevant information. It also reveals the status quo at the Plateau State Library Board (PLSLB) as regards the cause of access to information by rural inhabitants in Plateau State, Nigeria. Qualitative research design and a case study research method were adopted. Data were collected from seven members of staff of the PLSLB head office in Jos, three members of staff of the PLSLB outreach office in Pankshin and eight rural inhabitants through in-depth interviews, focus group discussion and inspection of PLSLB facilities at the head office and the two outreach libraries. The findings of the study revealed that, other than a few students who come to the libraries to read, PLSLB does not provide any need-specific information dissemination service to the rural inhabitants. The reasons for this were linked to negligence on the part of Government, non-approval of budget, non-implementation of budget (where it is approved) which generally result in lack of funds, extremely dilapidated facilities, obsolete resources and shortage of staff. These challenges were evident in the shabby infrastructural state of the libraries especially the outreach libraries that are supposed to closely serve the rural inhabitants. The respondents made pathetic calls for assistance. In conclusion, some recommendations were made as possible solutions to the challenges that were relayed.