Dibiaezue Libraries: A Reading Place For The Community
ZACCHEUS Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries (ZODML) located on the highbrow Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, is a free reading place for the public. It provides users books, Internet access and reading rooms.
A community-oriented not-for-profit organisation, ZODML, in addition, runs library services in 10 public primary schools in Lagos Island, book corners in some secondary, and prisons.
Librarian, Stephen Aminehi, was on hand to speak about the library and its activities during a visit by this reporter during the week. According to him, the idea of the library was conceptualised in 1998 and it became fully operational in 2001 as a channel for Nigerians to access information and learning tools to acquire knowledge.
The library is an initiative borne out of the desire to promote reading culture among Nigerians by the widow and children of the late Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue, and keep alive his legacy of self-development that saw him acquire good education despite challenges he faced right from childhood.
Dibiaezue, who died in 1975 was born in 1914 to a farming family and had his early education at St. Steven’s Primary School in Ifite Dunu, Anambra State, Nigeria.
The premature death of his father led to discontinuation of his formal education, as he was needed at home to support his family. However, through self-learning he was able to undertake and pass examinations for employment in the colonial civil service.
He studied privately and sat for the United Kingdom universities’ matriculation examination and read Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), while he also simultaneously prepared for and passed the English Bar examinations.
A tour of the place showed different categories of users ranging from young children to adolescents, and adults making use of the facility. The environment was quiet, neat and serene.
Even the children’s section was silent as they buried their heads in books. It boasts modern and elegant furniture, including those suitable for young people. The library is fully air-conditioned.
It is open Monday to Saturday, and the users cut across various strata of the society. It stocks books covering a wide range of subjects such as fiction (both local and foreign authors) school subject textbooks, computer, self-development books, languages, medicine, nursing among others. They can borrow books to take home or read there.
Aminehi informed that over 100 people use the library on a daily basis. There are different sections catering for various interests and needs of users.
These include Recreation Centre that houses CDs; Internet Island with computer systems; Young Adult Section having textbooks on various subjects, including past question papers for candidates sitting for Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board and Secondary School Certificate examinations; and Newspaper Stand.
It is currently running a holiday programme targeting young readers on activities tagged, “Pick and Read,” “Computer Training,” “Drawing,” “Puzzles,” and “Get Someone to Read,” every Friday.
The young library users pick any and have someone guide them on their choice of activity. ZODML is also currently going beyond the public primary schools in Lagos Island to move into schools on the mainland part of Lagos.
At the moment, it is introducing a programme called “Dear Time” in some selected secondary schools on the island. Its “Catch Them Young (CATHY)” programme is a monthly reading event designed to encourage love of books and reading among primary schools pupils.
Aminehi noted that reading culture in Nigeria is poor and that is why the library is constantly targeting young people. “Reading culture in the country is poor but we are getting there gradually.
That is why it is working to catch them young, not when they are adults and have their habits already formed.” ZODML has over 20 full-time staff, as well as a number of volunteers, interns, and corps members, who have interest in the self-development of Nigerians and work hard to achieve the organisation’s goal. The organisation works with the local council and support it receives from people.