From Reading Room to Public Library; A Case of Okene Library

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Library as we all know is a place where books and other information materials are acquired, organized, preserved and disseminate to meet an informational needs of every users.

Reading room is an outreach centre build to perform library functions in a small scale size. While public library is a library built to provide information for the generality of people irrespective of their ethnic background, gender, religion and other social status.

From the above assertion, it has been clearly stated that library is an integral part of the society and a hub that every other activities revolves around in the society because of its uninterrupted informational services. 


According to history, library has been in existence since the time immemorial with reference to the ancient Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria where traditional rulers likes King Ashurbanipal, Francisco 1 and 2 and King Ptolemy II who completed the plan of his father and built Alexandra library in the ancient Egypt had libraries attached to their castles that contained war records, discoveries, businesses and sacred collection. Most of these libraries started in form of reading rooms and later metamorphosize to public libraries to day.

Yogesh Bajpai (2013), sees reading room as:
“(community reading room) libraries for the small villages where immediately the public libraries cannot be created.” The Author also gives some tips to know the book donation programmes to meet the requirements for Public Library Service at the initial stages.”

The history of Okene Public library is not different, it was discovered that Okene public library started as a reading room in 1940 at the Okene Area court built by HRH Alhaji Ibrahim Atta Onoruoiza under the then Native Authority to provide information for the people and serve as reference and research centre.

Book boxes were sent to the reading room from Kaduna the regional headquarters’ and experts were as well sent to check the activities of the reading room to know the challenges facing the reading room for a better solution. Other collection that made up the place were the legal proceeding of the said court, memoirs from traditional palaces and religious collections formed the nucleus of the reading room.

The centre was first maned by Mr Lawrence Onumoko and several library personnel. As a matter of fact, to day the reading room had metamorphosed to what we called Okene Public Library during the reigned of Alh. Nasiru Abdullahi Soso as Okene Local Government Chairman who built the downstair of the building and later completed by Hon. Salihu Otaru Ohize.

Today, the library is a pillar that hold Ebira kingdom with unique collections that cater for Ebira cultural heritage, western education, religious books and other materials for aesthetic uses.

Despite being obsolete, particularly its collection on western knowledge, the library is still an information resources and reference point centre for Ebira sons and daughters.

Conclusion and Recommendation

The essence of this work is to alert communities the importance of public library to mankind. And that those who sees it as a mighty and rare project are right, but a mighty and rare project that can be started with little or less capital.

This study however called on community stakeholders to give priority to public library and sees it as a catalyst for fast community transformation rather than the way they view it.

– Adabara A. Abdulhadi

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