Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Professional Visibility of the Nigerian Library Association: A Report of Survey Findings

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

The Professional Visibility of the Nigerian Library Association: A Report of Survey Findings

Article excerpt

Introduction

A professional association may be a group of people in a learned occupation who are entrusted to organize or supervise the legitimate practice of the occupation. They may be institutions that regulate the activities of different professions in the teaching, research, and learning community. Because most of the professional institutions are born from the academic society, they act as learned societies for the academic disciplines underlying their professions. On the other hand, the Merriam-Webster dictionary (2010) says the word 'visibility' is a noun which means 'publicity'. Accordingly, the term professional visibility may mean that a profession has gained public attention and support.

However, this paper considers a professional association to be any group of learned individuals of a profession who organize and enforce a legitimate practice for professionals. While professional visibility expresses recognition and the general state at which a profession is perceived. In addition, a librarian in this work simply means anybody that has been educated and trained in library and information science and is presently practicing in the profession either in the classroom or in library of any type.

Statement of the Problem

People in Nigeria do not know about the Nigerian Library Association (NLA). One can regularly hear people in mention other professional associations, such as the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN), Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), etc., without including NLA. Like NLA, some of these professional bodies do not conduct certificate examinations as membership criteria other than the relevant university degree, practicing experience, and registration requirement for its membership, yet they are better known than NLA. Why?

The objectives of this paper are:

* to ascertain the visibility of NLA in the Nigerian community;

* to ascertain the reasons for the lack of visibility of NLA;

* to recommend ways of enhancing the visibility of NLA.

Literature Review

According to Harvey and Mason (1995), a professional association is a body acting to safeguard the public interest of an organization, which represents the interest of the professional practitioners, acting to maintain their own privileged and powerful position as a controlling body.

There are many professional associations in Nigeria that regulate different professions. Some of these associations administer certificate examinations that qualify membership to it, while others do not. Professional associations set ethical standards and standard of professional conducts for members, which include benchmarks and best practices.(Harvey, 2004).

The Black Herald magazine (2007) posted some of the names and website addresses of professional associations in Nigeria on the web. The internet list of the bodies counted only 89 professional bodies in Nigeria that cut across disciplines like accounting, engineering, agriculture, health, government, economics, business, environment, information and technology, etc. The list did not include NLA. The question to ask at this juncture is whether NLA is also a professional association.

NLA at a Glance

Recognizing that information is the wealth for every nation, UNESCO organized a seminar on the development of public libraries of Africa held at Ibadan in 1953. The seminar resulted in the establishment of the West African Library Association (WALA) in 1954, with one of its divisions sited in Lagos, Nigeria. Following the independence of Nigeria in 1960, WALA division in Nigeria was transformed to the country's national library in 1962. Oyinloye (1992) records that the national library began operation in 1964.

The establishment of a national library brought about the establishment of NLA as a professional association, a forum for library professionals in Nigeria. …

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