Employers' Expectations of Library Education in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Library Education in Nigeria was 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 educational institutions at various levels. The first Library school was established at University College Ibadan in 1960.

Prior to 1960, 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." (Aguolu 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 in 1950, the first organized Library Training course" (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 created in 1935, introduced a training course for Library Assistants in 1956. Another turning point in the history of Librarianship in the Country was the UNESCO seminar on Public Library Development in Africa held at Ibadan in 1953. 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 at the University College Ibadan in 1960, and the second was at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1968. These institutions were built on different philosophical and professional orientations. The Ibadan Library School began with one year basic professional program leading to the award of the post-graduate diploma with the main objective of "educating the leadership for the library profession", while the Zaria Library School started with under-graduate program leading to the award of the Bachelor of Library Science (BLS) degree based on the objective of "training 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 issues of relevance of curriculum to professional practice; quality of Library School's graduates; and their competence in the field. …