Rivers: Public Library Deteriorates, Questions Over P’Harcourt’s Reign As World Book Capital

Rivers State Library Complex, Port Harcourt PHOTO: ANN GODWIN

Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital was last year named the world book capital by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

This was in recognition of the quality of its programmes to promote books’ reading, and the dedication of all players in the book industry. But with the current state of things in the beautiful schools built by the former Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s administration, and the  State library, one is tempted to ask question of the impact of the reign to the State.

A visit to the State library in Port Harcourt showed a well-renovated complex, but with obsolete materials in it. The library is also suffering from shortage of manpower resources, as there are no adequate personnel to attend to the readers.

Lamenting over the ordeal of the library, one of the senior management staff who pleaded anonymity said, “there is no electricity in the library, because we could not pay our bills. We have not received overhead cost in the past ten months, we are just using our wisdom to do things here” The staff regretted that the library did not feel the impact of the city’s reign as the world book capital.

He said,” By UNESCO standard, this library edifice ought not be just beautiful outside, but inside as well. It supposed to be well equipped with books and adequate workers.

What is our gain in painting a structure, but no sheet called book since the reign” “The whole celebration started at presidential hotel, and ended in the same hotel. Is that progress? It’s so pathetic the condition we are subjected here.

Before and after the reign, the library supposed to be updated with books and other important things” “The electricity company cut us off because we have no money to pay.

Are we neglected  because we are not generating funds? But we are raising quality human capacity development. It was disheartening that in the past eight that former Governor Amaechi was in office, he did not visit here, but Governor Wike on assumption of office sent five-man committee-the new Rivers vision sub committee on education led by Prof. Owate to come here for an assessment.

We see hope but there is urgent need to recruit more staff and release of overheads to enable us keep the place going,” the staff added. Some students at the library expressed satisfaction on the flashy look of the edifice, but stressed the need to update it with books.

Queen Udoh, who is preparing for an exam, told The Guardian that she goes to the library with her own books as there are no current books in the shelves.

On his part, Felix Chima said, “the Library is good and better than what it used to be in the past, but there is need to update it with books”.  Port Harcourt, the home to the annual Garden City Literary Festival is also having challenges in maintaining the model primary schools that attracted world’s attention.

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Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital was last year named the world book capital by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


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