Sat. May 18th, 2024
Reading culture should be encouraged

Cacheblog stoutly opines that Librarianship can be a fascinating and profitable enterprise! Its entrepreneurial value can not only be realised through book lending but also through other allied educational services.

In discussing the trouble with multiple streams of income in a previous article, I tried to enjoin my compatriots to rebase our monetized culture and consider rediscovering an appreciation of value as well.

This way, value would become a necessary consort of national currency. Entrepreneurs in our economy would consequently comprise those who would be willing to render needed services or develop products that add value to the lives of others in exchange for cash or other valuables. This is the way we would build a value-centered society.

Anytime one spends money, it should be in exchange for value and not just a vain show of monetary figures that give no satisfaction. Therefore, products and services should give satisfaction to end users in return for payments.

This way, value would become a necessary consort of national currency. Entrepreneurs in our economy would consequently comprise those who would be willing to render needed services or develop products that add value to the lives of others in exchange for cash or other valuables. This is the way we would build a value-centered society.

An instructive lecture I attended several years ago opened my mind to the point that the most needed commodity in Nigeria today is information; quality information.

Information that empowers, actuates and prospers the receiver. The public lecture was packaged by Professor Samuel Olobaniyi for the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Distinguished lectureship series, with Dr. Ayo Teriba as guest speaker.

In his presentation, Teriba calmly led his audience to share a view that the economic down turn (at the time it was yet to be tagged a recession) Nigeria faced was unlike any other because it should have been easily surmountable.

In his view. it also presented an opportunity for the repositioning of the economy- encouraging diversification, clued-up regulatory activities by Government, private sector participation and Foreign Direct Investments.

Although the audience was learned, they showed obvious astonishment at some of the facts and figures that were rolled out in support of the speaker’s position.

I had the same feeling 25 years ago when I hosted the Solid Minerals Association of Nigeria on a TV show to discuss Nigeria’s gemstones endowment.

I was awed to realize that Nigeria had extensive occurrences of precious stones which were being mined and pawned off by other African nationals who did not add value to their finds before smuggling them out; nor did they add value to Nigeria through payment of royalties.  

It dawned on me that Nigeria’s information factories need to be fortified to produce the quality of information on Nigeria’s available resources and opportunities that would stir her people, especially the unemployed youth, to action.

This is where entrepreneurial library services come in. The entrepreneur is said to be a solution provider. He noses out an area of need and takes the risk of setting out to meet the need, even if it means beating an untrodden path.

Typically, libraries provide space where people can read, study or meet for knowledge sharing. They also inspire readership. A poor reading culture is arguably one of the reasons that libraries are few and far between in the country.

Where they exist at all, they hardly contain relevant materials that would interest and empower readers. Based on response to some of my write-ups and those of other contributors on the AM Business platform some years back, there is a growing hunger for information on business opportunities in the country.

Discerning entrepreneurs who are professional librarians can take up the challenge to develop alternative public spaces that would feed these hungry minds. Such libraries could also include hackerspaces that would enable like minds to come together and, through consistent interactions, start new enterprises.

Currently, there are hardly meeting places for networking where young people could read up on ideas, conference and inspire one another.

Our existing public libraries could also embrace an innovative approach to make their services socioeconomically relevant at these times. Such provisions would arrest the pervading herd and drift culture of today to groom the productive culture the nation now desires.

Imagine where every street in Lagos has a library and hackerspace the way we have places of worship. Such constructive spaces would provide youngsters and other upwardly-oriented minds with studious environments where they can engage in other equally beneficial activities apart from sports and entertainment.

In return, this would trigger a readership culture that would stir young minds to explore new ideas. The generation that would break out of the extant inertia to unlock new economic possibilities would have to be cultured in such purpose-made environments.

I imbibed a reading culture early through the activities of entrepreneurial librarians at the public library near my primary school, Library Avenue Primary School Umuahia in the early 1970s.

They packaged and sold readership to us by organizing activities that drew young people to come spend enjoyable time with books. We had film shows, quizzes, debates, role plays and other educational activities that kept us gainfully occupied on weekends and during the holidays.

This was a subtle recruitment into a readership club. As members, we could also borrow books to read at home.Libraries could be positioned within shopping malls, events centres and other public spaces to offer alternative activities to people who wish to build their minds.

We need to take hold of the minds of our youths and steer them to productive learning and not just school and leisure.

A mind that reads wide is versatile and readily open to new ideas. They can raise revenue through membership subscriptions, sale of products like books and video and through sponsorships.

By Jennifer Ihuoma Abraham

Jennifer Abraham holds a bachelors degree in English Language and Literature and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. She has practiced journalism since after her national youth service assignment in 1989 as an independent TV producer/presenter and magazine editor; focusing on entrepreneurship, personal and community/natural resources development. She has attended broadcasting courses sponsored by the United States Information Service and Science Reporting Workshops with the African Technology and Policy Studies Network. She is also a teacher, a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ and has partnered with NGOs, Government Agencies and individuals to promote philanthropic causes.

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