CHILDREN’S CENTRE LIBRARY (CCL)
The Children’s Centre Library (CCL) was founded by the University Women’s Association in 1978 as the first component of a comprehensive educational, recreational and developmental facility for children and youth.
For the first eight years the CCL operated from a small room loaned by the Department of Health and Physical Education.
In 1987 it moved into its permanent facility, a wing of the Madam Hulder Iwuanyanwu Children’s Centre Building donated by Chief (Dr.) E. C. Iwuanyanwu in memory of his mother. 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.
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 entre Library is primarily intended to serve children and youth between the ages of 3 and 18. Its facilities are open upon payment of a small registration fee, to both the children of university staff and of the wider Nsukka town community. 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 schools in Nsukka and its environs with a view to encouraging reading, information literacy, and library awareness in schools. This outreach extends the library’s resources and services to primary school pupils in the area and helps develop school libraries. In addition, CCL has established a library in the Nsukka prison and assisted in developing one in Awka prison, encouraging use and conducting literacy promotion workshops for the inmates.
The Children’s Centre Committee of the University Women’s Association oversees the day-to-day running of the library. Twenty of the current members are librarians, while the rest are educators and professionals in varied fields, all with a strong commitment to library service. For the first ten years of operation, members of the committee and community youth volunteers maintained the library and its services.
Since 1988, their efforts have been supplemented and professional assistance provided by the Department of Library and Information Science of the University of Nigeria, for which the library serves as a teaching laboratory. Library science students use the CCL for their practical exercises, which involve all technical and public services as well as story hour and outreach to schools.
The University of Nigeria has provided the library with additional personnel such as a librarian, clerical assistant and cleaner through the Department of Library and Information Science. The university also deploys National Youth Service Corps members to assist the library.
Story Hour -One of the oldest activities run by the CCL is the Saturday story hour. Over the years this activity has taken various forms, consisting of storytelling, reading aloud, poetry, songs, puppet shows and games. Storytellers include members of the Children’s Centre Committee, youth corpers, university students, or other volunteers. Numbers vary from 10 to about 90 children of the ages 3 to 12 years. One extended series, Stories Around the World, used folk tales and stories of everyday life, photographs and songs to introduce Ghana, the Caribbean, East Africa, Italy, the Middle East, and East Asia. Story hour also leads into activities like puzzle making, lego and maker spaces.
Reading Clubs – The library has also organized reading club activities. Notable is the Football/Reading Club initiated by Ngozi Osadebe to promote reading by linking it to football team membership. Three members moderated discussion of books on issues facing young people, examples being Stepping Out by Cheryl Obele (Nigeria) and Bongani’s Secret by Gail Smith (South Africa). See Publications for abstract of article by Osadebe
A reading club for younger children was organized by Ada Udechukwu to encourage voluntary reading, foster creativity, and increase awareness of the variety of reading materials, other than stories, available in the library. The club considered folktales, poetry, biography, and nonfiction literature, and wrote and illustrated original stories. Reading promotion activities also form a regular part of vacation programs.
Women organized their own book club, which discussed Nigerian novels as well as classics of American and English literature (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee and Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin). Among Nigerian titles were Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Adichie; Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala; Graceland, by Chris Abani; and Say You’re One of Them, by Uwem Akpan. For further discussion of book club titles, see Book reviews and Newsletter #15.
Virtual Projects – The Library has participated in international virtual projects. Examples are a Virtual Summit on water in which children from the United States, Nigeria, Sweden, India, Philippines and other countries studied issues relating to water by communicating online, sending digital photos, accessing video clips, calculating water usage, and sharing ideas and experiences. The project culminated in a global summit during which the Children’s Centre gave a powerpoint presentation on the problem of water scarcity in the Nsukka community.
The second, in gave children the opportunity to share Amadi’s Snowman (by Katia Novet Saint-Lot, illustrated by Dimitrea Tokundo), a picture book about an Igbo boy who discovers the value of reading, with children around the world. Members of Children’s Centre and children from Central School I in Nsukka discussed the book, shared favorite books and life experiences with children in India, the United States and other countries.
The Children’s Centre Library has active outreach programs to local primary schools and prisons. It has hosted a number of conferences and workshops for teachers and school library personnel. Click on Outreach for more information.