Stakeholders in Education sector and Library management have emphasized on the need for improvement in reading culture towards promoting lifelong learning and socioeconomic development.
The charge was made on the occasion of the World Book Day celebration of the Professor Festus Aghagbo Nwako (PFAN) Library, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka held on Thursday, 20th April 2023 at the University Library Basement.
In his opening remarks, UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, FAS, highlighted the importance of reading good books emphasizing that one who fails to read in a day is moribund and may lose touch with realities of time. Prof. Esimone who was ably represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Frederick Odibo informed that the advent of sophisticated mobile phones have made it difficult for people to read books.
Esimone pointed out that the importance of picking and reading good books from the library cannot be overemphasized as reading is essential for one’s mental, physical, psychological and social wellbeing. The scholar said that Ndigbo lost some of her cultural heritage because the then custodians could not put it down in a book.
Esimone also revealed that by the end of the year, UNIZIK High School will have a modernized digital library to aid reading and other academic exercise for students of the school. He eulogized the University Librarian and her team for their innovation and commitment towards enhancing Library and Information services in the institution while also commending the University Librarian for her contributions towards the growth of education in the institution with the donation of books to the UNIZIK High School.
In her speech, the Chairperson of the occasion and Honourable Commissioner for Education in the state, Professor Ngozi Chuma-Udeh stated that the significance of the World Book Day is to celebrate education and books. Prof. Udeh who was represented by Dr. Bryan Udeh informed that education cannot be talked about without resourceful books.
“Education cannot be fully defined without emphasis on availability of resourceful books as resourceful books and other academic materials have been a part and parcel of Nigerian society. Books play a wide range of service in understanding of culture and a means of inculcating moral ethics and values,” Udeh said.
The scholar harped on the need for continuous reading as resourceful books offer essential needs such as modulating interaction with people, modulating human’s reaction and actions, understanding philosophies and bringing stability to mankind.
In her remarks, the University Librarian, Dr. Stella Ngozi Anasi stated that the World Book Day is a day celebrated annually in United Kingdom and Ireland on every first Thursday in the month of March but in other countries around the world it is celebrated on the 23rd of April annually. She revealed that the day was first established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1995.
The University Librarian informed that the motive behind celebrating the World Book Day is to encourage people to read books, appreciate literature and protect the rights of authors and publishers. Anasi also said that the day highlights the importance of education and the role that books and reading play in promoting lifelong learning.
“Books play a significant role in inspiring us to follow our hearts and overcome our mind difficulties like anxiety and fears. They also promote great learning which also contributes to being a good human being while giving us good moral values which include being helpful, kind and thankful for the things we have,” Anasi stated.
The University Librarian posited that books and libraries are like Siamese twins as books cannot be talked about without libraries. She also revealed that in Igbo language, libraries are called “oba akwukwo – meaning “barn of books” which captures the intertwine relationship between books and libraries.
“Library is the custodian of books and other written documents in diverse formats. Libraries play important role in education and development of the society as they acquire books and other reading materials, organize, preserve and disseminate them to the users,” She asserted.
On her part, a former Director at Anambra State Public Library Services, Dr. Nkechi Udeze harped on the importance of reading as vital to one’s growth and development. She admonished students to imbibe the culture of reading by visiting the library always. She advised them to make meaningful use of their time always by studying hard and eschewing vices such as examination malpractice.
Other events as part of the colourful celebration was poem renditions presented by Chikanyima Ezeno, Sandra Ezigbo and Chukwudubem Okeke all from UNIZIK High School. Prize presentation to the top three winners of the Essay writing competition on ‘Library strategy for promoting reading culture among undergraduate students’ won by Kosisochukwu Emordo with Vivian Chuke and Margaret Morah emerging first and second runners up respectively and consolation prize to Laura Chinecherem Ezeabata.
Also as part of the celebration was donation of books by the University Librarian to UNIZIK High School Library and cutting of the world book day and anniversary cake.
Also present at the event were the Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the State Ministry of Education, Mr. Nnaemeka Egwuonwu; Personal Assistant (PA) to the State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Chinwoke Mba. Others were staff of the PFAN Library and students of the Department of Library and Information Studies.