Date of this Version
Reading is recognized as an art capable of transforming man’s life and his entire society. However, in the state of the World Children Report by (UNICEF,1999), it was stated that nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or write their names. The Hindu newspaper (2004) also put forward that in an age when browsing the net, playing with funky handsets and passing non-stop SMSs seem to be the order of the day, reading a book in a peaceful corner of a library has become an archaic idea for most people. While technology is slowly taking a steady control over individual lives, the reading habit is fast vanishing into thin air.” In Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly, the problems of illiteracy and the scarcity of learning resources gravely limit the opportunities people have to learn and to transmit their circumstances (Tella and Akande 2007).
Reading is a very important issue which is not only about enjoyment but a necessity; the basic tool of education (Makotsi, 2005). Reading makes way for a better understanding of one’s own experiences and it can be an exciting voyage to self discovery (Panigrahi and Panda, 1996; Eyre, 2005). It is the art of interpreting printed and written words, the most effective process of conscious learning which influences the extent and accuracy of information as well as the attitudes, morals, beliefs, judgement and action of readers (Devarajan and Gray in Panigrahi and Panda, 1996). In the African continent, the reading habit of children is waning. The cause of this has been traced to poor reading cultures of Africans generally and other notable factors like non-availability of reading materials (books). As Choudhung (1990) put it “the reading habit is best formed at a young impressionable age in school, but once formed, it can last one’s life.”
Young children acquire reading literacy through a variety of activities and experiences within different contexts. According to Sharma (1978), to know about the world and its environment, a child helps himself through reading books, newspapers, and other magazines. Based on this fact, Panagrahi and Panda (1996) explain that once the child has been taught to read and develop a love for books, he can explore for himself the wealth of human experience and knowledge. These authors went on further to say that “children missing the opportunity of getting in touch with books at this stage, find it difficult to acquire reading habits in their later years.” Dave (1977) asserts that reading is an intellectual action which is possible only if a man has formed a habit of reading and practicing it since childhood.
It can be deduced from the above that the importance of reading cannot be overemphasized and this is because reading habit plays a very crucial role in enabling a person to achieve practical efficiency. Books are the most suitable medium through which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation. Books yield their best to you if you read them at the age at which each particular masterpiece can ideally be chewed and digested (Naik, 1976). It has been pointed out that most people in Sub-Saharan Africa have less access to
books or other learning resources, and without proper access, it is hard to establish a reading culture. To Makotsi (2005), “the challenge is fundamental.” Children and adults according to him need access to a wide range of reading materials to help them acquire and maintain fluent reading skills, broaden horizons, and think independently and critically. Improving access to relevant information and promoting a reading culture are prerequisite for strengthening literacy skills, widening education and learning opportunities, and helping people to address the causes of poverty”.
The non-progressive nature of literacy in almost all African countries is more prevalent. The issue has been put forward to go beyond schooling. This is because parents who cannot read themselves are unable to help their children to read and the cycle continues. The situation in Botswana is no different from other African countries, though, the literacy level is now improving. It stands at 77 % as observed by Lauglo (2000).
School library is the one found in primary and post primary institutions where educational services are offered to patrons of the library.Cummins (2001) as cited by Adeniji (2006) sees school library as the heart and soul of the educational system,thus,the role of school library in any school in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized as the library provides the necessary impetus to all categories of learners in schools from the slowest learner in the kindergarten to the most intelligent senior in the high school through the provision of print and non print materials to aid learning.
Daniel (2004) observes that the library remains the power house of educational institution and that an education institution without a library is like a motor car without an engine and a body without a soul.Smith (2002) opines that the school library is the backbone of functional education without which academic excellence cannot be achieved.Obviously speaking, both the library and the school are inseparable twins that one ceases to function well without the other.Ironically,however,one still finds in Nigeria,some primary and secondary schools been run without libraries.Erinle (1997) stress that both the library and the school serve the same purpose to achieve a common goal; that the school educates the student through the help of teachers while the library on its own offer tutorial lecture materials to aid verbal classroom teaching which is referred to as silent function of providing materials for the pleasure of students.
The library therefore complements the school by encouraging private study,which is required by students and teachers who want to attain an academic height.The school library thus, stands as a symbol for the truthful expression of man’s knowledge and experiences.The extent to which many young people will be creative,informed,knowledgeable and exhibit the trait of a well cultured individual within their own years will be shaped by the boundaries of the content of the library resources available within the support of the school.The school on its own cannot achieve the laudable goals of Nigeria education without the library (Gbadamosi,M.& Omotayo,B.1995).