The Bi-Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting of AULNU under the theme “The Nigerian University Library System: Crossroads, Conflicts and Critical Considerations” took place in Abuja from 5th – 8th March, 2017 at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja.
The Association of University Librarians of Nigerian Universities (AULNU) formerly known as Committee of University Librarians of Nigerian Universities (CULNU), is the forum for discussing matters and formulating policies relating to University Libraries in Nigeria and advising on Library and Information Services.
Aims and Objectives of AULNU:
- To advise and make recommendations to the National Universities Commission (NUC)and the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities on matters concerning the general development of University Librarians in Nigeria.
- To formulate standards for operations and services in Nigerian University Libraries.
- To promote Library cooperation in the Country generally and specifically among University Libraries.
- To monitor the work of agencies connected with the development of libraries and Librarianship in Nigeria with a view to making recommendations or representations as may be deemed necessary.
The Opening Ceremony:
The opening ceremony was held on the 6th of March, 2017 with opening remarks delivered by a representative of the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. L.O Aina in the person of Mrs. Onuoha from the National Library of Nigeria. Mrs. Onuoha welcomed the participants to the forum and noted that the commitment of the association to making positive impact in our citadel of learning is worthy of appreciation and commendation. She also emphasized the aptness of the theme, in light of the current influx of technology at almost every point of the information chain. Thus, the need for a world-class academic library that will enhance innovation and productivity, which are the main tools that support teaching, learning and research.
There were also short remarks by the President, African University of Science & Technology, Prof. K. Nyamapfene, Mr. Omo Oaiya of WACREN and Mr. Owen Iyoha of Eko-Konnect.
The Chairperson of the association-Prof. (Mrs.) Blessing Ahiauzu, thanked all the participants especially AUST for hosting the conference. She stated that the Association would deliberate on solutions aimed at enhancing the pivotal role of libraries in the University System. She applauded the library development interventions from agencies of Government such as the NUC and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) but however bemoaned the dwindling allocation for library development from TETFund.
The Opening Keynote Address, entitled “The Nigerian University Library System: Crossroads, Conflicts and Critical Considerations,” was presented by Prof. Charles Omoekwu, former librarian of University of Nigeria, Nsukka and currently a Member of its Governing Council. He urged librarians to redefine their roles and be involved in all academic programs of the university and also organize yearly workshops for Postgraduate students to showcase the vast resources available in the university library system.
Laide Olanlokun, the NgREN Focal Point for the TransAfrican Network Development (TANDEM) project gave a presentation on the project, the impact of NRENs, her role as a National Focal Point, the need for university librarians as Institutional Focal Points (iFPs) and what would be expected of them as iFPs. In her presentation, she highlighted the need for NgREN and WACREN to partner with librarians in order to bring Identity (ID) Federations and user communities closer through Authentication, Authorization and Access Control for Research and Collaboration.
Dr. Joshua Atah, NgREN Project Manager, in his presentation spoke about the deployment of e-Learning tools and web portals, academic contents and applications, Video Conferencing facility, Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony, collaboration services and tools such as wikis, event calendars, document repositories, that will strengthen and foster collaboration within the Nigerian library community. He also educated members on the numerous ways to leverage the technology available on the NgREN platform to promote new and innovative ways of teaching, learning and research.
In a presentation titled “Developing Library within NRENs”, Owen Iyoha, General Manager of Eko-Konnect Research and Education Initiative spoke on the evolution of Eko-Konnect as a Metropolitan Research and Education Network that basically originated initially within Lagos with the goal of developing research and education networking services for the Lagos area. However, Eko-Konnect’s role over the years has extended to that of a provider of REN services due to its work with WACREN and some other activities within the European Union.
Dr. Pamela Abbott, Senior Lecturer, Information School at Sheffield University UK, presented a paper, via Skype, titled “The Role of Librarians in African Higher Educational Institutions as Central Actors in Embedding NREN Digital Services”. She spoke on information Management & Librarianship, the role of the academic library and new challenges most especially, with digitization. She also spoke on the librarian’s role as central actors in Higher Education Institutions and the support offered by NREN services to support the librarian’s role.
Omo Oaiya, Chief Technology Officer of West and Central Africa Research and Education Network (WACREN) spoke about WACREN, Research Networks in general and how the librarian community situates within their local research network. He also discussed how WACREN hopes to work together with librarians in the coming weeks and months to address the issues raised at the conference, which primarily had to do with the next step to be taken by librarians to key into the various ICT platforms intended to improve their service delivery to their constituents. He also unveiled the LIBSENSE (Library Support for embedding NREN services and e-Infrastructure) initiative, a formal program and research agenda to develop sustainable institutional support for Higher Education librarians to play a central role in NRENs. The LIBSENSE would be elaborated at the forthcoming Librarian Workshop in Abidjan from March 27 – 28 during the WACREN 2017 Conference & AGM.
In conclusion, all the speakers emphasized the need for collaborative effort by all stakeholders from various fields to develop library platforms that leverage open source software and open access, provide improved and best practices in library service provision and cloud based infrastructure services.