CHILDREN’S CENTRE LIBRARY(CCL)
The Children’s Centre Library (CCL) was founded in 1978 as the first component of the Children’s Centre Project of the University Women’s Association at the University of Nigeria. For the first eight years the CCL operated from a small room loaned by the Department of Health and Physical Education. In 1987 the library moved into its present permanent site in the Madam Hulder Iwuanyanwu Building. The development of the CCL and its continued growth are due, in the main, to the efforts of the university women and generous support from the university administration and community, alumni and outside donors. Presently the library has a collection of over 10,000 books, magazines, maps, audiovisual materials, clipping files and computers. It also houses a research collection of African children’s literature and reference materials for the Psycho-Educational Testing Service and other scholarly use.
On its inception the CCL set itself four goals:
· To encourage reading and the enjoyment of books,
· Help users develop information and learning skills,
· Offer literature and learning materials reflecting Nigerian culture and environment,
· Provide resources for meeting the varied needs of children and youth.
The Children’s Centre Library is primarily intended to serve children and youth between the ages of 3 and 18. Its facilities are open to both the children of university staff and of the wider Nsukka town community, upon payment of a small registration fee. University students, researchers and the general public are also free to use the library for reference purposes. Since 1988 it has served as a teaching laboratory for the Department of Library and Information Science, University of Nigeria. In recent years the CCL has established links with several schools in Nsukka and its environs with a view to encouraging reading, information literacy, and library awareness in schools. In addition, it has established a library service to the Nsukka prison.
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The Children’s Centre Committee of the University Women’s Association oversees the day-to-day running of the library. Six of the current members are librarians, while the rest are educators and professionals with a strong commitment to library service. Members of the committee and community youth volunteers help to maintain the library and its services.
Technical assistance is provided by the Department of Library and Information Science of the University of Nigeria, for which the library has served as a teaching laboratory since 1988. Library science students use the CCL for their practical work, which involves shelving, processing and cataloguing of the collection, maintenance of books and other materials, and handling of the circulation desk. Students also assist with story hour and outreach services.
The University of Nigeria has provided the library with some support in the area of personnel, in recognition of the library’s contributions as the teaching laboratory for an academic department and a public service to the community. In 1988 the university administration deployed two support staff, a typist and a cleaner, to the Children’s Centre. That year also saw the start of an annual deployment of one or two youth corpers as part of the National Youth Service Corps programme. The position of librarian was established under the Department of Library and Information Science in 1997 and in October 2005 employed a new librarian to oversee its teaching lab at the Children's Centre. The university also deploys National Youth Service Corps members to assist the library.
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The CCL is housed in one wing of the Madam Hulder Iwuanyanwu building. The library occupies a fairly spacious long, rectangular room, which is arranged in two basic sections. One section holds the circulation desk, the main circulation shelves of fiction and nonfiction titles, a large seating area with tables and chairs, and the card catalogue. The other section holds the reference area, which houses reference books, magazines and periodicals, the clipping files, the picture and map collection, other audiovisual materials, and the African Children’s Literature Research Collection. A workroom is attached to the main library room. It provides storage space for books that are yet to be processed for circulation or are in need of repair and workspace for technical processes. Recent donations have been used to acquire new furniture and equipment, including computers, video equipment, a keyboard, shelves, cabinets and display furniture. In 2005 the children of Edith Ihekweazu furnished an alcove for the African Children's Literature Research Collection in her memory.
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Yearly circulation statistics indicate a high level of activity in the library. Annual records show that library usage has historically been higher during the morning hours of operation than in the evening hours. This is due to the fact that, until a few years ago, the middle and upper primary grades of the staff school attended school in the afternoon. This is the very age group that makes the most use of the library. With the staff school and most schools moving to one shift, Saturday hours have become more important. Greater overall activity is recorded during the months of July-September, when most children are on their long vacation from school. Analysis of borrowing patterns throughout the year reveals that users prefer fiction titles and use the library primarily for recreational reading. In addition, the CCL’s reference collection provides an important resource for secondary school students researching for school project assignments, university students, researchers, and parents.
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