Public libraries: Agents of peace in a nation: The Nigeria perspective
Peace is a virtue which every nation should embrace to actualize sustainable development. The case of conflict and instability in Nigeria is one among many nations of the world. Nigeria today is a nation saddled with high level of political instability, social and religious mayhem, corruption and high level of insecurity. It is a country where social, religious and political factors have for many years created deep and violent sectional divisions between communities in the same country. These sectarian violence and racial tension among many communities and states has led to sporadic violence and disorder which has claimed many lives in Nigeria. Thus, the study investigated the role of Public libraries as agents of peace in a nation using Nigeria as a case study. Descriptive survey research design was employed for the study. A total of ten functional public libraries from the five Eastern states of Nigeria were purposively selected for the study which comprise fifty (50) Library staff from the libraries under study. Structured questionnaire was used as an instrument for data collection. Data collected were analyzed using simple percentages, mean statistics and Bar chart for representation of data. The result of the data revealed that Public libraries can be used as agents to promote peace through the information and knowledge they disseminate to the populace. The data collected proved that the Mobile library which the Public library use for information dissemination and delivery to communities help to provide adequate information to people in the rural communities as they go on preaching the gospel of peace and harmony among individuals. The use of films to portray the dangers of insurgence in the society to the people help to speak to people’s minds. This opportunity is provided for every individual without bias to gender, age, social or political affiliations. It was also observed that lack of reading culture and adequate fund militate against these laudable services of the Public library. Therefore the study recommends that government at all levels should see the need to equip the Public library with adequate and current information resource/ facilities in addition to providing relevant staff to carry out these responsibilities of advocating for peace in the communities, states and the nation.
Key Words: Peace, Library, Conflict, Nigeria