The Kafanchan public library was opened to the public on 18th March, 1975, making it the oldest public library in Southern Kaduna, Nigeria. It serves a population of 4,564,100 in the 12 local Governments of zone 3 in Kaduna State. The Covid pandemic however showed that the library had lost a lot of its relevance in providing a conducive study environment and access to new academic publications. This has led to a sharp drop in its clientele.
By upgrading it to a digital library, it will not only provide more people with the opportunity to access it, it can also provide higher levels of digital literacy to the people making use of it, which aligns with 48percent.org’s values. We therefore decided to contribute to this project.
Can you explain your project in a nutshell?
Fantsuam Foundation recognizes that the Kafanchan library can regain its critical status and role if it is upgraded to an e-library. This will enable its present resources to still be relevant while additional resources are brought in to meet the needs of the large population of its potential users.
Kafanchan e-Library ambassadors
Can you explain why there is a need to digitize the library?
Kafanchan Library is the only library of its size in zone 3 of Kaduna State. Its central location and Government recognition and management, makes it amenable to upgrade. This avoids the large expense of starting from ground zero.
The nearest e-library to Kafanchan is two and a half hours by road travel, in Kaduna. The cost in time and convenience of accessing that library makes the upgrade of the Kafanchan public library an attractive and feasible option. In addition, due to budgetary constraints, an upgrade of the Kafanchan library to an e-library status is not a priority for the government.
What digital skills are needed to be able to digitize the library and how will these skills benefit the library staff and users in the future?
To be able to digitize the library, we have set up several different training programs. The first is digital skills training within computer appreciation, MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint and internet utilization. We also need to ensure that the library staff know how to operate the tools, which is why we have an Online Tools Training program. This program provides training in graphic design, photography, website design, coding procedures, and film and video editing using PCs and smartphones.
Lastly, we have offered Cyber Hygiene Training. This training was of particular interest to the participants because it exposed them to both the opportunities and possible pitfalls in the use of the internet. Their effective use of the internet for academic purposes requires their basic awareness of their responsibilities to themselves and to other users of the library.
Digital Literacy Training to staff and users of Kafanchan public library
What impact will this project have on the community?
Kafanchan was among the first communities that embraced western education in the 1930s. Over the years, this has led to the establishment of educational institutions from primary to tertiary levels. However, several unfavorable political developments have led to neglect of the development of these academic resources.
The ongoing economic depression and the continued growth of the digital economy is helping to shift focus back to the upgrade of educational facilities in order to ensure that the graduates are given skills that make them fit for the marketplace.
This project is an opportunity for Kafanchan to develop into an education and digital hub in the region. The project is benefitting from the reputation of Fantsuam Foundation as a significant player in the digital economy of Kaduna State.
The Kafanchan Public Library can also facilitate the digitization of the old and valuable records of the traditional institutions, the local government, judiciary, important historical events from families and individuals, etc. The digitization of such records and documents will protect them from environmental degradation, such as attacks by insects, destruction by fire, or thefts. Individuals and families who have important documents which can be of historical value are encouraged to present them for digitization at the Kafanchan library.
The attainment of the status of a digital hub for Kafanchan will start with the transformation of the public library into an e-library. This requires some social engineering with dynamic community participation, engagement with social influencers, religious and political leaders.
This project provided an opportunity to engage meaningfully with the Kaduna State Library Board for the upgrade of the Kafanchan public library. The various awareness-raising activities and designation of individuals as Ambassadors of the library, as well as social media reports highlighted to the government that the library could no longer be ignored.