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This research into the history and development of the Nigerian School Library Association, (NSLA), aimed at finding out and analyzing the circumstances and factors that necessitated the founding of the association and to establish its relevance. The Association experienced initial resistance arising from misgivings over its relevance as a professional association separate from the existing Nigeria Library Association (NLA). Though the NSLA has since been officially recognized and been operating as a professional association, the necessity for founding the NSLA has remained a subject of debate in academic and professional circles.

 The research being a historical research involved the collection of data from primary and secondary sources. These included existing documents on the subject of study, conference papers, newsletters, minutes of meetings, and interviews from members of the executives.

 The research revealed that the need to cater for the peculiar interest of the teacher librarians, who are involved in school library development but are not fully recognized by the NLA was a significant factor in the founding of NSLA. It also reviews the objectives, achievements, challenges and set backs of the Association during over thirty years of its existence and operation as a professional Association. The research found that the NSLA has proved to be a rallying point for school librarians and other persons with bias for school librarianship. It has proved to be a formidable and relevant professional Association in the very crucial area of school library development in which it now serves as the NLA’s touch bearer. It pointed out areas of weakness of the association requiring action for better performance and recommends certain remedial actions, among other things, conscious and sustained membership drive and enlightenment, membership review and fund raising projects aimed at improved revenue.


Background to the study

School libraries are libraries operated in primary, secondary or

 high schools, technical colleges or trade schools and teacher training colleges. Such libraries and media resource centres are widely acknowledged to be critical to effective teaching and learning in these schools. They not only provide the learning resources for the total educational programme of the school but help pupils and students acquire skills in reading, observing, listening, thinking and communicating ideas (Opeke 1994). The former Universal Primary Education (UPE) and the current Universal Basic Education (UBE) programmes of the Federal Government underscore the vital role of school libraries in the effective implementation of the programmes.

It is pertinent from the foregoing that school librarianship is a very essential component of any sound educational programme and as such, the professional commitments and programmes of librarians must pay considerable attention to school librarianship.

The school librarian is a person who is professionally trained in librarianship and in charge of the school library. Elaturoti (2001) described the school librarian as the professionally and qualified staff member responsible for planning and managing the school library. The designation used for the school librarian varies from one country to another. In countries like Canada, Sri Lanka, Botswana, and Hong Kong they are called teacher librarians while in United States of America they are called school library media specialists and in the Great Britain they are referred to as school librarians. (Hannesdottir, 1998). 

The development of school libraries has been traced to the mid 1800 and early 1900 in countries like Canada, Japan, the Nordic countries, United Kingdom and the United States. During this period, libraries were established to provide supplementary materials to support classroom instruction, encourage reading and the enjoyment of literature.

These early attempts at establishing school libraries however, represented isolated efforts, as systematic development did not occur until the second half of the 20th century.

In the United States, for instance, school library development was first promoted in the 1800s.  Around 1895, some high school principals and directors of public libraries in various communities began to create school libraries. There was steady expansion of high school libraries, but elementary school library developed rather slowly gaining prominence only after the Second World War. Changing ideas in education provided the impetus for school library development. New ideas about children education and reading resulted in the move to introduce elementary school libraries in Sweden around 1900.

Many school libraries were established in Japan as a result of the new educational movement of the 1920s. Elementary school teachers led a movement to set up classroom libraries in the rural areas.

Denmark made important provisions for state support of elementary school libraries in 1931. This was followed up by a 1937 School Act which incorporated library work into the educational plan.

Systematic and widespread development of school libraries took place by many countries after World War II. The development was spurred by the attainment of independence in many Asian and African nations. Educational expansion and re-orientation, leading to school library development took place in countries such as Jordan, Malaysia, Nigeria and Tanzania. In Nigeria, school libraries developed slowly in the early years. Some government schools and a few mission schools had good libraries but other schools had none. This was due to poor financial situation of mission schools and the commercial orientation of privately owned schools. Lack of reading culture or library background also hindered school library development in Nigeria (Dike, 1991).

Professional associations supported the establishment of school libraries. At the international level, two associations are highly prominent in the involvement with school libraries. These are the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) and the school libraries section of IFLA. The International Association of School Librarianship (IASL) which was founded in 1971 grew out of the World Confederation of Organization of the Teaching Profession (WCOTP). The aims of this association are to provide an international forum for school librarianship and to encourage worldwide school library development.

The school libraries section of IFLA came into being in 1976. It was concerned with integrating effective school library use into teaching and learning. Early projects related to establishing school libraries, promotion of voluntary reading and teaching, information concepts and skills were carried out by the school libraries section of IFLA.

Active national associations for school libraries have also grown in recent years. In the US, School Librarians were first organized as a section in the ALA in 1914.This section later became an autonomous division, American Association of School Librarian (AASL) in 1950. The ALA and AASL were responsible for providing guidelines and standards which defined the direction for school libraries in the U.S

The Japan School Library Association provided awards for distinguished school library activities and research. The association ran concepts for picture books and book reviews prepared by school pupils. It also provided training opportunities for school library staff and published handbooks and textbooks.

The first major project that provided the initial impetus to school libraries in Nigeria was the federal library service which started in 1964. this was part of a UNECSO pilot project on school libraries in Africa that involved the establishment of model school and college library services. Various professional Associations played significant roles in the development of school libraries in the country. First was the West African Library Association (WALA), which championed the smooth running of school libraries, especially through organizing conference on school library development. These conferences paved the way for the rapid development of school libraries such that by 1960, mobile library services were provided in schools as part of the Regional Library Board Services in Eastern Nigeria (Ogunsheye, 1998)

With the break up of WALA, the Nigeria Library Association (NLA) was born. It succeeded the West African Library Association in the course of school library development. The Western division of the Association organized conferences with themes that centered on school libraries at which teachers in charge of libraries, both in primary, secondary and teacher colleges, participated, thereby creating a forum for teachers and librarians to rub minds on issues bordering on school libraries.

The Eastern Nigerian School Library Association (ENSLA) was founded in 1963 under the chairmanship of Geoffrey Cleaver. The Association busied itself with the organization of refresher courses for teacher librarians. The British Council had also been very active in the improvement of school libraries through the sponsorship of occasional training seminars for teacher librarians mainly in the East and also in the other regions of the country. These courses and seminars had played an important role, historically, in arousing interest in school library development. These organisations, though acting independently, had in different ways contributed to the initial establishment and growth of school libraries in Nigeria.

The Nigerian School Library Association (NSLA) was founded as a professional association for people who have special interest in the development and effective operation of school libraries in Nigeria. The idea for its establishment came at the close of the International Association of School Librarians (IASL) conference which was held in Ibadan in 1977. The formation of a national association for school librarians was muted by participants at the conference. A proposal for a national association which will incorporate all the state branches was made by Professor F.A Ogunsheye. The proposal was unanimously adopted by the participants who also initiated action towards its immediate implementation. Nigerian School Library Association (NSLA) had its inaugural conference on October 28, 1977 at the Faculty of Education, University of Ibadan. Officers were elected to run the affairs of the association with Profs. F.A Ogunsheye and D.F. Elaturoti as the president and secretary respectively.

          Statement of the Problem

It is now over thirty years since the NSLA was founded, yet the justification for the founding and the relevance of the Association have remained a subject of argument. The question has been raised whether it was necessary to establish separate Association for school libraries when the Nigerian Library Association (NLA) was already firmly rooted and has established the school library section which ostensibly catered for the peculiar interests of school libraries.

The argument regarding the necessity for and relevance of the Nigerian School Library Association, perhaps results from the absence of a systematic research into and documentation of the circumstances of the founding of the Association and its historical link to the Library Association that pre- dated it.

As long as the argument about the relevance of the NSLA persists, the Association risks being distracted from its focus and denied the cooperation, understanding and support of relevant stakeholders that is vital for its growth and success. An investigation into the activities of the NSLA, its achievements during the years it has existed and an assessment of its impact on the development of school libraries and school librarianship in Nigeria is likely to aid the resolution of the argument.

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study was to trace the origin and development of the NSLA, with a view to  providing a justification for its existence  and resolving the argument about its relevance as a professional Association. Specifically, the study attempted to examine

1 What circumstances led to the founding of the NSLA?

2 What are the objectives of the NSLA?      

3 To what extent has the NSLA been able to achieve its objectives?

4 What problems has the NSLA encountered in carrying out its mission over the years?

 5 What has been the relationship between the NSLA and NLA and other professional associations?

6 What are the contributions of the association to school library development in Nigeria?

7 What are the prospects of the association?

Significance of Study

This study, being an up to date documentation of the history of NSLA, will serve as a point of reference to students and researchers interested in the evolution of the NSLA as an important institution in the development of  school libraries in Nigeria.

The study will also equip the current and future executive officers and members of NSLA as well as those interested in its affairs with adequate information on the evolution of the Association and thereby enable them to be focused in the pursuit of its founding objectives and the challenges it faces at the present time. Above all, if this effort results in a better appreciation of the purpose and relevance of the NSLA and the resolution of the argument regarding its existence, it would have paved the way for a more focused future and support for the Nigerian School Library Association.

 Scope and Limitation of Study

The study covers the history, development and challenges of the NSLA as well the activities, achievements, problems and prospects of the Association from its inception to date.

It does not extend to development and activities in the wider library environment in Nigeria except in so far as they relate to the activities of the NSLA.

 Research Questions

The research was guided by the following research questions which attempt was made to answer.

1       What circumstance led to the founding of the NSLA?

2       What are the objectives of the NSLA?

3 To what extent has the NSLA been able to achieve these objectives?

4 What problems has the NSLA encountered in carrying out its mission over the years?

5 What has been the relationship between the NSLA and NLA and other professional associations?

6 What are the contributions of the association to school library development in Nigeria?

7 What are the prospects of the association?

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