Managing Disasters in University Libraries in South East Nigeria: Preventive, Technological and Coping Measures

By Ugwuanyi, Richard N. C.; Ezema, Kelechi C. | Library Philosophy and Practice, July 2015 | Go to article overview

Managing Disasters in University Libraries in South East Nigeria: Preventive, Technological and Coping Measures


Ugwuanyi, Richard N. C., Ezema, Kelechi C., Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

The dramatic increase and the unprecedented damages caused by disasters in recent past have become a cause for national and international concern. Over the past decade, the number of natural and human induced disasters have relentlessly risen and had considerably inflicted unquantifiable strife and injury on their impeccable victims. The unpredictability of their occurrences, how they occur and which one occurs, first has been a great concern to individuals and organizations world wide. Disasters are situations whereby environmental phenomena or armed conflicts produce stress, personal injury, physical damages or economic disruption of great magnitude. They are regarded as an overwhelming ecological disruption, occurring usually on a large scale.

The sporadic hits of disasters in different segments of the society have not exempted libraries, especially academic libraries where a great amount of national wealth is stocked. In a world of copious digital technologies, university libraries have enough shares of disasters. University library disaster has to do with any event that directly or indirectly affects the smooth administration of a university library by disrupting its normal services to its users. It is an unexpected event which puts library resources or collections at risk. According to Alegbeleye (1993), disaster occurs in a library when any event causes a sudden removal of records and documents from accessibility and use. He further argues that libraries are very prone to disasters. Man-made disasters include armed conflicts, wars, terrorism and fire while natural disasters encompass floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

University libraries have remained the incontrovertible seats of wisdom, and the basis for cultural continuity and knowledge dissemination. The endemic damages by disasters in libraries, whenever any of them strikes, leave the affected library in a deplorable condition. No matter how the threats appear, or how they influence university libraries, the ability to safeguard and preserve their collections should be uppermost in their policies. The key to achieving this goal lies in preservation management that enables long-term planning and reasonable decision making.

Disaster management encompasses all management issues necessary to deal with incidents that threaten library buildings, collections, services and human lives. Since university libraries of today are technology-driven, many nascent disasters are evolving. For instance, changes in energy systems and lack of electricity supply endanger traditional library materials, just as digital materials are useless without energy supply. No university library is immune to these disasters; depicting that any of them could befall any university library any moment since it is totally inescapable without appropriate control measures.

It is stating the obvious that university libraries in Nigeria are poorly funded. These libraries depend solely on government grants for their survival and development. In the face of poor funding and uneven development of university libraries across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, disasters both natural and man-made appear to be another major threat to the existence of these libraries. In almost all the university libraries in South-East Nigeria, there have been reported cases of mutilated and stolen books by delinquent users and also cases of volumes of books damaged by rainfall. It becomes imperative from the foregoing that a study on disaster management be carried out with a view to identifying the preventive, technological and coping measures that are in place for disaster mitigation in university libraries in South-East Nigeria.

Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of this paper are to:

1. Ascertain the types of disasters that occur in university libraries in South East Nigeria

2. Examine the extent to which preventive measures for disasters have been in university libraries. …

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