Bridging the digital divide: the potential role of the National Library of Nigeria
National Library of Nigeria as the apex library of the nation and committed to freedom of access to information and promotion of lifelong learning has the potential role of bridging the digital divide affecting the country, thereby enhancing Nigerians participation in the information society. Provision of access to information resources, dissemination of information and provision of means of communication supports every sphere of human endeavour and enhance the citizens’ opportunity to participate in life-long learning and education. In the digital age, the ability to effectively use information and communication technology is seen as one of the basic skills required to live a meaningful, enlightened, and productive life. The phrase “digital divide” has been applied to the gap that exists in most countries and particularly in developing countries, between those with ready access to the tools of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and those without such access or skills. This study focuses on the potential role of the national library of Nigeria in bridging digital divide. Causes of digital divide were enunciated, which include low income and other financial limitations, low level of education/ low literacy/ illiteracy, infrastructural barriers, literacy skills barriers, economic barriers and content barriers, state of ICT infrastructure and lack of adequate investment in the society that support the new technology, linguistic diversity, or language barrier. Others include political instability, lack of coordinated government initiatives and lack of proper ICT infrastructure; geographic and economic causes; poverty and poor infrastructure, corruption and bureaucracy, and poor planning among others. The place of the national library in bridging digital divide were discussed, which among others include provision of internet connectivity; provision of local content and national portals; playing leadership and advocacy role in soliciting funds; active involvement in library legal/regulatory matters; active involvement in policy agenda and moral/ethical framework for professional practice. The study concludes that appropriate measures should be taken by the apex library so as not to avoid total neglect of the poor who do not have access to information and communication technology at this digital age.
Keywords: Digital divide, Bridging, National Library of Nigeria