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1.1 Background to the Study
The public library is established to provide materials, which communicate experience and ideas from one person to another and make them easily and freely available to all people. The public library is a local centre of information that makes all kinds of knowledge and information readily available to its users. It is established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some other form of community organizations. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services. It is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, disability, employment status and educational attainment (Aboyade, 1984).
The public library is regarded as the local gateway to knowledge, providing a basic condition for lifelong, independent, decision-making and cultural development of the individual and social groups (IFLA/UNESCO), 1995). (IFLA, 2001) also defines public library as “an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some other forms of community organization”. (IFLA, 2001) further opines that a public library provides access to knowledge, information and works of the imagination through a range of services and is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, physical and mental limitations, economics and employment status and educational attainment. (Conable, 2012) opines that every citizen should have equal right of public library services, buttressing the IFLA position on public library services.
The public library is a social institution which is tied to the political and social realities of the communities where it is situated. As the name implies, this is a library that serves the public. UNESCO (1966) defines public library as “Those which serve the population of the community or region free of change or for a nominal fee. It is a library designed to serve the generality of the people. According to Ode & Omokaro (2007), Public libraries are established, owned and funded by the government either state or federal governments at the state capitals and with branches in the local governments headquarter. According to Oduagwu (2002) public libraries that serve the public are supported by government subvention, local rates or charges. He went further to explain that public library is often regarded as a poor man’s university. Its clientele is heterogeneous devoid of race, status, rank, bias as to who would avail of its services. It stocks every conceivable item that would add knowledge, education, research, information and cultural needs of the society.
In Nigeria today, each of the 36 states kin the country including Abuja has a public library board established under the public library act as united kingdom (UK), but here in Nigeria, library board of states is established by edict or laws made by the states legislators. Public library funding refers to making money available for the day to day running of the library. Funding here deals with making money or funds available to public libraries.
Public library funding generally refers to the various ways by which funds, capital or finances can be derived for the smooth running of the library. It involves the money available or allocation to library for running its day to day activities. However, the funding and financial allocations to public libraries have remained poor for decades. Public libraries need adequate resources to run their services, pay and hire personal, provides current information, arrange, organize and monitor both human and materials resources. Nigeria is a developing country and its society is not a reading society. Nigerians do not appreciate the importance and needs of public libraries and the services it offers and this problem reflect in the level of funds allocated to it by the government. State government subventions which constitute about 80% of public library fund are grossly inadequate. This inadequacy is because of the political instability and bad economy of the country Ulu, (1997). Late release of fund by the government is another problem, this means that things cannot be done when required. All the plans of public library are hampered by late release of fund. Another problem is the existing infrastructural facilities in most public libraries which are inadequate. Their reference materials are too old. There are no rooms for serious readers especially those carrying out research works.
Lack of appreciation by policy makers in government is one of the problems. This shows that the public libraries in the nation are not given due recognition they deserve, and this is traceable not only to the non-quantifiable nature of library services but also the misconception given to libraries by government to get off these problems. There must be a re-orientation on the part of the policy makers in government to accord the public library the recognition it deserves. According to Egbulonu (2002), he said that these problems have adversely affected the public library services and its operations. The result of the impending global economic situation on the other hand has drastically affected the attainment or achievements of basic standards in funding the libraries.
From the history of public libraries in Nigeria, the problem of funds has remained an intractable phenomenon. The Nigerian Library Association (NLA) is worried by the poor funding of libraries generally but public libraries in particular. Therefore the Nigerian Library Association has organized several conferences that highlight the problems of poor funding of public libraries and need for improved funding. This conference suggested and recommended widening the sources of funding public libraries rather than depending on government funding only.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In many public libraries, the budgetary allocation is not always released as when due, and this in turn delays the implementation of the programs of these libraries when funds are eventually released. There is inadequate funding of public libraries by the state government which is suppose to provide about 80% of the funds required by the public libraries. Shortage of funds has resulted in shortage of relevant text books as currently being experienced by users who are in need of the materials. Inadequate provision of funds has prevented the provision of current materials needed by the staff and clientele in public libraries.
Thus, the challenge of this study is to determine the effects of poor funding of Benue State Library Board Makurdi, and to suggest alternative sources of funding of Benue State Library Board Makurdi.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The fundamental purpose of the study is to determine the effect of poor funding of public library in Nigeria: A case study of Benue State Library Board. The specific purposes are as followed;
1. To identify the major source of funding of Benue State Library Board.
2. To identify the alternative source of funding of Benue State Library Board.
3. To examine the effect of poor funding of public libraries on literacy level
4. To identify the implication of poor funding on staff morale of public library in Nigeria
5. To identify problems associated with inadequate funding of Benue State Library Board.
6. To proffer solution on how to overcome inadequate funding of Benue State Library Board.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to guide the study;
1. What is the major source of fund for public library?
2. What are the other alternative sources of funds available to Benue State Library Board?
3. What are the effects of poor funding of public libraries on literacy level?
4. What are the implications of poor funding on staff morale of public library in Nigeria?
5. What are the problems associated with poor funding of public libraries in Nigeria especially Benue state public library board Makurdi.
6. What are the solutions on how to overcome inadequate funding of Benue State Library Board?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of this research will hopefully be of immense benefit to the following; professional librarians, library users, governments, policy makers, stakeholder in the education industry and researchers.
The study will be significant to professional librarian as it will enable them to seek for ways of sourcing funds for the development of public libraries. It will also be of significant to government as it will enable them to budget more funds to public libraries. The study will also benefit students of library and information science as it will enable them has first class information in the subject area. The findings of this study will also benefit policy makers and stakeholders in the education sector as the study will enable them make policies concerning the public libraries. And finally the findings of this study will serve as a springboard for other researchers who may want to carry out further research in the subject area.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study is exclusively on the effect of poor funding of Benue State library board Makurdi.
1.7 Operational Definitions of Research Concepts
EFFECTS: Is a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause. It is also a state of affairs that is produced by a cause.
FUNDING: Is the act of providing financial resources, usually in form of money, or other values such as effort or time, to finance a need, program and project, usually by an organization or government.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES: It is the most easily accessible library collection to all categories users as it may be found both in the major cities and at the grassroots levels, with no restriction to its use on the bases of race, profession, status, sex and among others.
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