Dr Adebambo Oduwole, the Librarian, says with the quantum of resources available in the library,
LASU students have no excuse not to excel
From the Lagos State University’s (LASU) Librarian, Dr Adebambo Oduwole, came some good news recently, that with the awesome amount of academic resources available in the University’s Library, “LASU is clearly at the forefront.” He was not bluffing. When The Intellectual approached him the other day for an update, the Librarian already had the answers at his fingertips.
Dressed in a brown suit with a brown tie to match, Oduwole’s confidence was easily noticeable, as he removed his glasses in what looked like a deliberate gesture to have a direct eye contact.
“When you want to talk about teaching and research,” he began, “the library is the place to achieve those objectives. I became the university’s Librarian in 2014 and I want to tell you that we have been moved from being just an ordinary library to a very high pedestal.
“When I came on board, I discussed with the Vice Chancellor and we were able to have access to the largest electronic database in the whole world, that is, ScienceDirect, through the Association of Vice Chancellors. We got it for five years on subscription and presently on campus, once you are connected to the LASU internet domain, if you go to www.sciencedirect.com, you will have free access to over 2,500 electronic journals cutting across all subject areas.
“We got that last year and somebody from ScienceDirect in the Netherlands, came to train our faculty on how to use it. We are taking it off from there, because we cannot train everybody at once. The idea is to go faculty by faculty. We are going to invite the academic staff and train them on how to use this database. Then, we would move a little bit lower and begin to train final year students, since they are the ones writing their projects. We want them to know how to use the database for current affairs.
“We also have access to Jstor, which is a journal storage right here on campus. It’s a fantastic database covering several years back. We also have access to scopus which is a citational database. For example, if you are looking for a particular subject, once you put it there, it’s going to list a lot of citations on that subject, where you can read the abstract. Once the abstract is useful to you, you can then get the full text through ScienceDirect.
“So, we have a combination of three databases right here on campus for free, for the benefit of our faculty and students. The excuse that you don’t have access to current affairs in those days and that is why you are not publishing does not exist anymore. We expect that academic staff members would update their knowledge on the current trend in their respective fields.
“Let me also talk about the Law library. Of recent, we installed 150 computer systems in the Law library to serve as the e-library. Presently in that Law library, there is a particular database called lawpavilion, and right on this campus, you can have access to that database which cuts across court cases, supreme court cases, court judgments in Nigeria and almost all over the world. We have this major tool to teach our students.
“Also, this is a young library, only 30 years old, I have always encouraged my staff to update their knowledge. We have Librarians that are on their PhD programmes. You know that they are in the academic environment and so, they don’t have to lag behind. They are on sponsorship and that is to improve service delivery to the university environment.
“Before I became the Librarian, the university had money with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) which it had not been able to access since 2009. I spoke with the VC, we sat together and I can tell you by the end of this week, we are having the approval in principle, to spend N65 million to improve our services across all our libraries: our Engineering library in Epe; the Medical library in Ikeja, the Communication library in Surulere, here in the main library as well as the Law library.
“The library is growing and let me use this opportunity to say that maybe by the end of the year, hopefully, there is a gigantic library project embarked upon by the state government that would be almost completed if not completed. It is close to the senate building and it is the single largest library in West Africa. It is a very big project and we are on it.
“So, I am bold to say that, even all over Nigeria, in terms of library services, in terms of access to electronic databases, LASU is at the forefront. In Law, there were other databases that they request for, like LexisNexis, and there is another one they also requested for and we have acquired those databases. LASU Law faculty has been in the forefront. The Law library is the best in Nigeria. It’s a role model so we are providing the resources.”
On the library’s budget and how often the shelves are replenished, he said: “We don’t just acquire books. The idea is for the end user, faculty members and students, to recommend texts for the library to acquire. I have a list from the faculties. They send us a selection of titles. When they send their recommendations, the Librarian would send a letter to all Deans, asking for what things they want us to buy. Then they would make their recommendations. From there, we look at the budget and see what we can accommodate.”
But does the Librarian get any feedbacks from the end users, the students? “Yes,” Oduwole said. “We encourage students to give feedback. We have a suggestion box in the library and my phone numbers are available for them to send me text messages.”
He continued: “One student sent a text to the VC this morning saying: ‘sir, can you please extend library services to Saturday?’ The VC forwarded the text to me. I now replied the VC, saying, ‘sir, we open on Saturdays, except on environmental sanitation days and public holidays.’ So, we are here Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Students have the VC’s numbers as well. When there are issues, you only need to send a text.”
On the rivalry between academic and non – academic staff, the Librarian explained that there was no such thing between Librarians and the teachers. He said: “If you are talking about the status of a librarian among the university staff, that issue was resolved in 1970, where the university librarian was regarded as an academic staff. So, the librarian is judged or promoted based on the same platform, same recommendation, same number of papers submitted by academics in the academic community.
“A university librarian’s position is a professorial one. We have librarians that are professors. I am also looking forward to becoming a professor. We are recognized as partners in the progress in the university because without the library, I can assure you there would be no accreditation, and the whole programmes would be grounded.”
On what legacy he would like to leave behind, Oduwole said: “I was lucky to be trained abroad and I know what it means to have a library. I want to be remembered as the librarian that provided access to content from anywhere all over the world.
That means creating a virtual library for LASU, where students right inside their rooms can say, ‘I want to check a book, I want to download an article for my project or a faculty member would say, prepare this book for me, I want to pick it up tomorrow and everything will be available in the library. I want to be remembered for that, as the librarian that made things possible electronically.”