THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICES TO THE PEOPLE OF CROSS RIVER STATE
Concept of Public Libraries
The concept of public libraries is the same all over the world as the library which carters for the whole public. Ikokoh (2003) asserts the public as a library provided wholly or partly from public funds and the use of which is not restricted to any class or persons in the community, but it is freely available to all. From the observation made by Ikokoh, it is clear to see that the public library is fully created with the public in mind, as it is not restricted to particular persons. Its doors are opened to children, adults, disabled and even the illiterate ones with the sole aim of providing the community with their information needs which will thereby enhance the level of their education.
Types of Public Library Services
The public library, as seen earlier, deals solely with the public. Therefore, there is bound to be different needs by different individuals. It opens its doors to everybody in the community and also renders a variety of services some of which are as follows.
Naustion (1984) asserts that illiteracy has been regarded as an enemy and evil which keeps people in darkness, bound to their tradition and superstitions it makes people resistant to change and new ideas and therefore isolated from progress. From this observation, it is clear to see that reading habit is not in the culture and nature of Nigerians, therefore, the public libraries offers various services that will r each to the public no matter where they are and also give them much interest in reading and research.
Ikokoh (2003) noted some key services that are offered by public libraries, they are as follows:
- Adult literacy service
- Public library extension services
- Provision of Informational needs
- Recreational Activities
According to Ikokoh (2003) the adult literacy service are services offered to adults who did not further their education. This service is rendered by means of providing reading materials for the adults or even organizing adult literacy classes to improve their educational standard.
Public Library Extension Services
This is the process of reaching out to the people in the rural communities and proving them with information materials either on a weekly or monthly basis. This type of service is rendered mostly for users who claim to be too busy to come to the library.
Provision of Informational Needs
The public library provides the public with information on the various needs of the public which could either be in politics, agriculture, cultural or even current affairs. It is responsible for providing any kind of information to people of different profession such as framers, hairstylist, teachers, doctors, businessmen and women etc to improve their various professions.
It also provides recreational materials for light reading, which could be fictional or non fictional materials. The public library encourages recreational activities by organizing film shows and reading sections for mostly children.
Okeke (1979) in his contribution emphasized that public libraries have the obligation of making their services available and possible to all irrespective of age, sex, race or creed etc.
Kantumoya (1992) also asserts that the public library can offer community information services to people in the community, irrespective of their colour, class, race or creed. He further emphasized that the public libraries should be able to provide information about the community and the people in it, in order to assist the government who might want to establish community development projects. With the proper knowledge on what the community needs, the government will be able to improve their standards of living, and the community will also be able to know what the government is up to.
The public library also provides services to the children. Ikokoh (2003) asserts, that all public libraries should be able to provide a children section for the community, in order to meet the needs of the children, this could be through the provision of recorded information from others, which will help them grow into adulthood and also provision of information on the culture and history of the community, which will keep them aware of where they come from and their past experiences and leaders as people as a whole.
Roles of Public Libraries
The role of public libraries cannot be overstated, it is a very important aspect of our every day lives. Public libraries has been considered as the root of quality education because it deals with all members of the society. A good public library must have abundant and varied collections of books and non-books materials to meet the needs of users. The role that public libraries play in the community are numerous, some of which where observed by some researchers.