I have met few persons who just don’t like visiting their school, church or public libraries. I have also had conversations with parents/guardians who are desperate to ensure that their kids enjoy reading and are educationally sound. I haven’t relented in my attempt to make my friends understand that the kind of library you nurture can attract you to always consult its resources. If you have a mere collection of books covered with dusts on rickety shelves, then do not complain to me again that reading feels boring to you.
First you need to make your home or private library a healthy and attractive special unit/department in your house. Call it a sacred table or room or shelf if you want.
At this point I want to believe you already have a clue on what am driving at. Yes, you are right! It’s a topic most of us care less about. We are Nigerians aren’t we? We want to prove to the world that “we aren’t lovers of books.” But that is such a wrong impression. I want to quickly stress on the need for a “Home/Private Library.” My evening with Mandy hopefully will give you a proper understanding of the need for a home library and why we should develop a good reading culture either as an individual, a family or a group.
A True Story
Mandy is a young lady I met recently at a social gathering. She seems to be one of the smartest young ladies I have ever met. We have had relevant discussions on phone calls and chats, but just recently she invited me over to her house. She lives in her father’s mansion with her three siblings. I almost thought I was in a 5 star hotel when the gate was opened and I walked in.
She quickly introduced me to her family and also to her dog (nitty). They were all sunning their bodies at the poolside. I said hi to everyone and she walked me into the living room. Mandy informed me that their house had 11 rooms, and each of the bedrooms had a personal bathroom in it except the study room. A “study room?” That caught my interest. I smiled and requested to see their study room. My expectations were very high, and I couldn’t help but scream inside my heart when she opened the door and all therein was a fragile plastic table and a plastic chair in a very spacious room almost the size of my College Library. I swallowed all my curiosity with a deep breath, and finally asked; “You mean you waste all this space just for a table and a chair, and you call it a study room?” She smiled at me and we walked back to the living room. I didn’t feel comfortable anymore until we got really busy discussing about her study room and the need for a Home Library.
Now, dear reader, you have probably followed my story to this point, but let me advice, continue from this point forward carefully and find out the details of my conversation with Mandy:
Me: Wait a minute, have you ever heard of Home or Private Libraries?
Mandy: I think so
Me: Ok, are you aware that a Home Library could be one of the best comfort zone or room in a house/home?
Mandy: Hmm, meaning?
Me: Meaning a residence, whether local or modern (of this nature) should have a home library for relaxation and personal growth of family members and even visitors. Regardless of the fact that you have a study room or even books at different cupboards in your house, a home library can help children and even you to get a little farther in school. I once read the ALA updates on a recent study by researchers at the University of Nevada and UCLA entitled: “Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success: Books and Schooling in 27 nations”. It concludes that having a library of 500 books at home gives children an educational advantage over those who don’t. The study abstract states, “Children growing up in homes with many books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation and class. —Now, Mandy, you must know that Home Libraries encourages discussion amongst family members and this helps in providing more information, develop vocabularies, broaden horizon and like I said before, personal growth is achieved in the family.
Mandy: Really? But I never assumed it this way. Is it really possible that we could bring or create libraries in our homes? Moreover I hardly patronize my school library services. I am not a library freak and we all have our books in our drawers but do come to read in the study room.
Me: That is where you get it wrong dear. You can make your study room reflect your family’s scholarly culture. Make it a way of life for everybody, where books are regarded in high esteem and read and enjoyed. I really wished I had something like this growing up. You do not have to turn your home library to look like your school or community library. First start with this mindset, that a library is “an organized collection of information resources?” In other words, your mission should be on how to organize information resources, which comprises of your Textbooks, E-books, Credentials, Photographs, Musicals and Video Files, etc. either in your drawers/shelves, mobile phone/computer system. All these are information resources. As small as this your collection could be, there is a possibility that when you do not organize it well, accessing them and finding a particular information to solve a problem or meet a need would pose a major challenge to you.
I am not surprised you claim you are not a library freak. Tell me, is there anyone born to be a library freak? You consult libraries because all your information needs can be met in a library. Who doesn’t need information? It is very possible that you and some others out there do not patronize libraries because:
· the environment is not conducive enough
· library registration and procedures seems tedious
· of the strict and shushing nature of librarians
· of library rules and regulations
· proximity (distance), etc.
If peradventure one of these is your excuse, then my dear, transforming your study room to a Home Library sounds like a better deal.
Mandy: Okay, I get where you’re driving at now, you are beginning to sound very patriotic and professional, “Mr. Chartered Librarian”.
Me: That’s not exactly true, I do not intend to sound too professional so I don’t get you bored. You just need to realize that managing a home library could be one of the beautiful treasures in a home and the good news is that your home library do not necessarily have to be extravagant or very expensive before it provides an enjoyable reading experience to its users. To me I don’t think there is a special design to adopt in establishing your own library. A good family or home library needs:
· Cooperation: from each member of the family, especially dad and mum, they need to provide the necessary funds, while you and your siblings needs to in cooperation donate your books and preserve them by shelving them properly in the library.
· Time: to search, acquire and catalogue (record) information materials that will be relevant and be of interest to family members (readers). Just like my mum, she isn’t a scholar, but I’ll tell you, that Evangelist never sees a book and takes her eyes of it, she acquires it and increases her book collections even though she doesn’t read them all.
· Space: to keep, preserve the materials and to study.
Mandy, bear this in mind, your parents do not have to be scholars to achieve this, all they need to do is sponsor the project, read and esteem books and encourage the love of books. I once read that Anna Quindlen wrote: “I would be the most content, if my children grow up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves”.
Mandy: Wow, this is beginning to get really interesting. Though you’re quite formal, but it’s working, I feel the vibe already and I must inform my dad about this, but first mum has to hear this.
(She quickly jumps up to approach her mum in the kitchen and sold the beautiful idea of transforming their Study Room into a Home Library. Her mum was quite audible and I could hear her say… “Na today day break for your eyes…? Anyway, when you are ready, let me know, I can only give you N30,000 to get it done, you can go and meet your father for the rest.” …and Mandy runs out of the kitchen excited back to meet me.)
Mandy: Mum likes the idea and I want to start right away, but seriously I do not know what I will need or how to go about it. Can you please advise me… pleeeeease?
Me: Alright here is the deal, this isn’t my first time to propose to anyone about the relevance of libraries, you are a dear friend to me and I can only give you a few tips to consider before you start setting up your library or better still you can contract me to carry out this task for you.
Mandy: Oh yea, leaving the job for you surely sounds better, you are the professional and I guess you have been trained on this, am just a law student, what do I know about setting up a home library?
Me: Do not sound that way all of a sudden, I can still give you tips to setting up a private/family/home library. With these tips you would be able to convince your dad and even encourage your friends on what would be needed. For your space as I have seen, you will need:
· two beautiful shelves with a unique design, well-furnished to be anchored to the wall or standing on the ground.
· 3 reading desks and comfortable reading Chairs. Be careful on the choice of your reading chair, it should be a chair you can sit on comfortably for hours. A long relaxation cushion would be classy.
· a computer workstation. You need this to create a database or an online catalogue for your information materials. It would also enable you connect to the internet and download relevant e-books.
· a good illumination to limit eyestrain. Use overhead lights instead of lamps.
· a library ladder or stool if your shelf is too high.
· up to date dictionaries, atlases and other reference books.
· Library Signages
My dear, it’s getting too late, and I do hope your dad gets interested in your proposal, I would have to take my leave now.
Mandy: Oh no, please stay for dinner.
Me: I want to, but I have to go, I am glad I came here today not just to say hi, but I have shared an invaluable information with you about the need for personal/family libraries. Think about all I have said. Transform your family with a home library, develop the reading culture and you will find out that your younger ones would appreciate it in future.
That we didn’t have the opportunity to be encouraged to read always doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage others. Go and check what King Solomon says in Proverbs 3:27.
Mandy: How sweet! I have never had a beautiful opinion on libraries like you have revealed to me today… I thank you very much and promise you, I will share this with my friends
(She walks with me to get a cab and we said goodbye. What an evening with Mandy.)