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Knowledge management as development tool of library services

 By Menidin Egbo


In an inaugural lecture on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, titled: The voice of knowledge managers: library services, knowledge application and the society, Professor Blessing Esuru Ahiauzu of Rivers State University, observed that “Librarians are those who know where everything [information] can be found, they know who knows and point the information-seeker to the source of the information.The lecture put forward that knowledge management must be carried out by trained librarian personnel, in order to make meaningful contributions sustainable development.   

Professor Blessing Esuru Ahiauzu


 Librarianship, according to her, comprised the knowledge, skills and passion that provide for effective and efficient information service delivery under multifaceted, well-managed infrastructure, devoted to satisfy the needs of knowledge seekers. She posited that this background underscores the importance attached to the office of the Librarian in a university system”, even as library-based research and related services contribute significantly to global sustainable development effort.

 Dr. (Mrs.) Blessing Ahiauzu, a Professor of Library and Information Management, observed that the lay public, more often than not, regard all group of people such as the clerk or the security man working in a purpose-built library accommodation “attending to library service users as a librarian. In this respect, she further observed, some people still do not think that librarians require any serious formal education as obtaining a university degree to be a librarian.

 Professor Blessing Ahiauzu emphasized that a librarian is one professionally trained after a minimum of four years in a higher institution, pointing out that This is why in Nigerian universities, the academic qualifications of the librarian are crucial factors” of consideration in the accreditation process of any university's academic programmes by the National Universities Commission (NUC).

 Citing the Librarians Registration Council of Nigeria Decree 12, 1995 to buttress her point, Prof. Blessing Ahiauzu saw the Librarian as one who is trained in ...the art and science of selecting, acquiring, organising, describing, classifying, administering, preserving, conserving, utilising books, journals, non-book materials, audio-visual, print and non-print materialsincluding the dissemination of information and knowledge.

Among Qualifications required for the 21st century librarian, according to Prof. Blessing Ahiauzu, are: professional training after a minimum of four years study in an approved higher-learning institution; registration and certification by the Librarians' Registration Council of Nigerian (LRCN); possession of a doctorate degree (for becoming a University Librarian); being digitally competent in using information and communication technology (ICT) applications; and, being published, along with participation in national and international professional conferences.

 Defining a library as is a place of information repository value, the professor of library and information management said it is where literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use and not for sale. She added that beyond this traditional definition of the library which connotes that there is a physical building housing these materials, modern attributes have emerged to widely characterize the library institution, beyond the four walls of a block of library building.

 Today, according to Prof. Blessing Ahiauzu, the library has become a building without walls, virtual and digital, such that one can sit at the comfort of one's home and visit any library in the world, irrespective of its physical location and time, obviously referring to internet-based library services of the present century. The information management expert was emphatic about the global role internet-based library service of the present century could play to contribute to advancement of knowledge.

Prof. Blessing Ahiauzus lecture also dwelt on five main types of libraries, their sizes, depth and focus, and basic purposes. She explained that the academic library ensures that all library materials are selected, acquired, organized and disseminated for teaching, learning and research in line with the specific needs of a highly intellectual clientele.

 The school libraries on the other hand, she said, are found in primary and secondary schools and are sometimes referred to as school media resources or instructional materials centresas they serve the pupils, students, teachers and sometimes, non-teaching staff of the respective schools. They usually house for users books and teaching aids (cassettes, tapes, recording, slides, maps and the equipment for viewing or listening).

Focusing on public libraries, Prof. Blessing Ahiauzu cited the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) (1976) public library manifesto that stated: The public library, the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decision-making and cultural development of the individual and social groups. She stretched on this point of varied functions to emphasize that public libraries are built and run by the State Government, and termed as University of the Poor.

The lecture was apt to link the important universal services of public libraries to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): with Goal 4 requiring effort to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and [to] promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Special libraries, the lecture stated, are those established by organizations and industries to serve operational focused needs, with a registered special librarianheading related facilities and services to provide for development of such organizations and the society. The lecture cited examples of privately owned special libraries, including those operated by Nigerian Institute for International Affairs (NIIA), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Ministry of Defence, and the Central Bank of Nigeria.


Prof. Blessing Ahiauzu’s lecture, additionally explained the role of the National Library of a country. This fifth type of library, according to the lecture, is the nations apex body of all other libraries within a country.


The National Library of Nigeria, with the National Librarian/Chief Executive Officer heading it (as a certified professional Librarian), was established by a law that placed on it administrative responsibilities over the national bibliography and development of bibliographic services in Nigeria.


The lecture further explained that the National Library of Nigeria superintends over the Legal Deposit Law whereby every publisher in Nigeria is required to deposit at least three (3) copies of each publication with the National Library. Additionally, it is also mandated to operate a branch in the 36 states of the Federation, and has the responsibility to collect publications emanating from Nigeria, publications about Nigeria and any works authored by Nigerians in any part of the world among other national functions.


Within its treatment of the library as the voice of knowledge managers, the inaugural lecture situated library services and knowledge application as constituting significant societal value, with repository corridors for information sharing, to facilitate development enhancement for the human community.


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