Tag Archives: Nigeria

Accessibility of Library Facilities by Wheelchair Users: The Case of Libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria

Article Authored By: Christopher Nkiko, Jerome Idiegbeyan-Ose, Promise Ilo, Ifeakachuku Osinulu, & Goodluck Ifijeh

Reviewed by: Leslie Archuletta, Stephanie Murakami, Jessica Roesch, Meghan Soucier, and Kacy Wilson

Link to article: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/4189/

Article Synopsis

Accessibility is an important commitment that libraries must make in order to ensure diverse and differently-abled users who can benefit from full utilization of library resources. This study examines libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria in order to understand inaccessibility of wheelchair library users. The researchers made personal observations of library buildings which were photographed. The findings of this study indicated that wheelchair users’ needs were not being met. There were no ramps and users often needed to be carried up steps. The desks and shelves were too high and the bathrooms did not have toilets which were wheelchair friendly. Recommendations were then made in order to address the severe lack of thought when designing for differently-abled patrons.

International Perspective

This article represents an international perspective from the standpoint of investigating wheelchair users’ needs at libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria. In addition to Nigeria, the study speaks to libraries in the United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore. The article explains that libraries in developed countries such as the ones listed above have made strides in order to ensure all patrons have access by building ramps and ensuring that circulation desks are able to accommodate wheelchair users. However, the one question which is not answered is: How can international libraries and associations in developed countries help less developed countries? While Nigeria is currently not meeting access needs for differently-abled patrons, perhaps with more developed countries paving the way and greater access to resources, more consideration will be taken when designing their libraries. The article’s recommendations to redesign, enact laws, and for the differently-abled to form groups places responsibility amid a variety of people. Ultimately having equal access to information is a right of all individuals and is important to make sure the differently-abled are included.

Research Questions
1. Is the library building accessible to wheelchair users?
2. Are the heights of the circulation desks accessible to them?
3. What challenges do wheelchair users face when accessing the library catalogues?
4. What challenges do they face when using the library shelves?
5. What problems do wheelchair users face when using the restrooms in the library?


The assessment was made using qualitative methods. Visits were made to 42 institutions/ facilities in both the public and private sectors. These observational visits took place over a six-month period from February to August 2017. No more than three hours maximum were spent at the institutions/facilities. Observations were recorded on a Surface Pro laptop equipped with Job Access with Speech software. In addition, data sources such as Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Observer and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) were used. This research was presented through colonial and post-colonial frameworks.

Findings and Conclusions

Accessibility for differently-abled patrons within Nigerian libraries is very limited. Studies found that most library buildings are not wheelchair accessible and are poorly designed for patrons with disabilities. All of the universities located in Nigeria were found to have non-functioning lifts or ramps for their disabled students to use. Universities that had more than one floor were inaccessible for wheelchair bound patrons as well as the visually impaired. This limited the amount of information that could be accessed by their differently-abled patrons. While designing the libraries and universities, there wasn’t any consideration that included patrons with disabilities.
The studies that were done by Nkiko et al. (2020) proved how inconvenient it was for patrons in wheelchairs to navigate through the rows of the libraries. Several of the buildings contained numerous flights of stairs and/or spiral staircases that were inaccessible for wheelchair users. Among the poorly designed buildings, many of the library’s circulation desks were too high for wheelchair-bound patrons to reach. Not only was the height of circulation desks too high, but the card catalogs and the bookshelves were inaccessible as well. This forced wheelchair users to ask for help if they needed an item located on the top shelf. In addition, Nkiko et al. (2020) found that there weren’t any toilets in the bathrooms designed for wheelchair users. The toilets were not designed for people with disabilities that may struggle in using a standard toilet.
After the libraries and universities were built, Nkiko et al. (2020) discovered that several countries are faced with financial hardships. This may make it harder for countries to update and upgrade their libraries to accommodate wheelchair users. People in wheelchairs should be able to move comfortably and freely within the library and reach all parts of the library. Patrons in wheelchairs should be able to gain access to information without having to struggle through the library to get it. If Nigeria chooses to build new libraries in the future, they need to ensure that wheelchair-bound patrons are included in planning and implementing the design.
Nigeria needs to start by updating the libraries they have first by providing ramps at the entrances, moving materials that are unreachable, creating a circulation desk that can be used by all, and adding toilets that can be used by patrons with disabilities. Accessibility to information should be accessed by all individuals, creating spaces that are inclusive for everyone will increase the value of the library. In the end, the government should pass laws to help their underfunded libraries enhance their facilities to accommodate not only the wheelchair-bound patrons but the differently-abled patrons as well. Punishment should be doled out to organizations that break these laws. On the other hand, the differently-abled community should form pressure groups to influence their government in providing access to libraries for everyone.

What American Libraries Can Learn

In the United States, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Universal Access, 2020) address many of the challenges experienced by wheelchair library-users. Although the work of Nkiko et al. (2020) focuses on libraries in Nigeria, it teaches us that all libraries, even when facing financial difficulties, should at least have the following available for wheelchair library users:
• automatic entry-doors
• ground floors equipped with all the facilities and resources available to other library users
• special shelves constructed to house information materials for wheelchair users
• adjustable toilets
• catalogue cabinets that can be consulted while seated
• accessible circulation desks

On a grander scale, the work of Nkiko et al. (2020) stresses to American libraries that inequitable access of differently-abled users is an international issue. No solutions are offered in the work of Nkiko et al. (2020), but common practices put forward by the American Library Association include participating in international relationship roundtables, involving oneself in causes like the Endowment Campaign, and establishing a sister library (IRRT, 2020). In conclusion, greater collaboration is needed between countries so that everyone can utilize the many tools and resources available at the library.


International Relations Round Table (IRRT). (2020). American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/rt/irrt/irrtcommittees/irrtsisterlibrary/sisterlibrary.

Nkiko, C., Idiegbeyan-Ose, J., Ilo, P., Osinulu, I., & Ifijeh, G. (2020). Accessibility of library facilities by wheelchair users: The case of libraries in Lagos State, Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal). 4189. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/4189/.

Universal access: making library resources accessible to people with disabilities. (2020). Retrieved October, from https://www.washington.edu/doit/universal-access-making-library-resources-accessible-people-disabilities.

Access to and use of public library services in Nigeria

Reviewed By: Morgan Barker, Mary Calo, Michelle Reid, James Rice, Heather Waisanen, and Kaitlin Watkins

Link to article: https://sajlis.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/1639/1474


This study examines the factors that hamper access to and use of public library services in Nigeria – both urban and rural (Salman, Mugwisi, & Mostert, 2017). Obasi (2015) noted low development of the country’s public libraries with limited branches, lack of information and communication technology (ICT), a shortage of human and information resources, and inadequate rural information networks. Nigeria’s public library system was originally established in 1952, during the colonial era. In 1953 public libraries were placed under the control of a state agency created by the Nigerian government. Initially they were seen as a tool for continuing education for children who exited school at an early age and for remedying educational system deficiencies (Obasi, 2015). However, after Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the unstable economy and political structure led to a decline in quality of service. Several challenges have hampered use of the services, including inappropriate reading materials, inadequately trained staff, high illiteracy rates, the lack of a reading culture, and irregular electricity supplies (Harris, 1970; Salman, 2006).

This case study seeks to establish levels of access to services and facilities offered in Nigeria’s public libraries, gauge the use, and satisfaction of services. Based on the data the authors extrapolate the lack of support for public libraries in the country and offer eight recommendations to address these issues with the overall goals of better serving all Nigerian libraries and fulfilling the roles designated by IFLA’s Public Library Service Guidelines (Koontz & Gubbin, 2010).

This article showcases an international perspective through a lense of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948), the IFLA Public Library Service Guidelines (Koontz & Gubbin, 2010), and the IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto (1994). The authors also compare their findings with studies from around Africa, Singapore, Kuwait, China and West Bengal (India).

Research Questions:

The article considers the following core research questions:
What are the current levels of access to library services, and facilities in Nigeria?
What factors (if any) obstructed access to, and utilization of public library services in Nigeria?
Were library users aware of the depth, and breadth of services available to them?
Were there any patterns of library service utilization that could be identified?
Were library users satisfied with the library services they were aware of?
Secondary research focus:
Expanding the study to include the views of current librarians, to give the study a broader perspective.


The authors used a case study approach in order to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. The case study included questionnaires administered to 394 registered library users (out of a countrywide total of 29,277), and interviews conducted with 12 librarians. The library users were chosen using convenience sampling while the librarians were selected based on their positions as the highest qualified from each of the branches. Due to multiple limitations faced by the authors, nonprobability sampling was used throughout (Israel, 1992). The authors used a purposive sample of libraries, as a truly random sample was not feasible due to both large distances between locations and personal safety concerns. Using a purposive sample of extremes, they selected one State Board library and one rural library from each of the six regions in Nigeria. Because nonprobability sampling was used, it is not possible to generalize the results of the case study to the entire population of library users in Nigeria with a measurable degree of certainty. However, the consistency of results across the twelve libraries does provide a high level of confidence, particularly for male library users (who made up 85% of the convenience sample). Library non-users were excluded in this case study.

Findings and Conclusions:

The authors conclude by focusing on main service drivers – awareness and access. The study, however, excluded marketing elements used in Nigeria. The impact of marketing would have provided context for types of users being spoken to, what services were being advertised, etc. For example, the authors found that the majority of respondents were students, male, and highly educated. Marketing materials could provide a broader look at what the authors highlight as government responsibilities, in regards to library services. The author’s concluded that development and empowerment of the population is an especially critical goal. Those who are not male, students, or educated may not see any relevant means to access services – as awareness campaigns may not be structured to meet their needs. A needs analysis is a critical component mentioned by the authors, as a comprehensive respondent pool would add validity to these efforts in Nigeria.

Takeaway – American Libraries:

This study poignantly revealed several challenges to Nigerian libraries’ ability to successfully provide relevant services to the general population. Not surprisingly, rural libraries are impacted more than urban libraries. Barriers to access include an overarching lack of awareness from the public as well as irrelevant, outdated, and limited library materials. Usage and user satisfaction remains closely tied to access, and therefore these barriers significantly reduce libraries’ ability to impact the community. Though Nigeria may seem to exist worlds apart from the United States, many of these same barriers to access exist for marginalized communities served by public libraries found within this country. Similar to Nigeria, rural libraries in the United States are granted fewer resources resulting in less available, often outdated materials. Much like in Nigeria, U.S. libraries tend to direct services and materials towards the privileged populations and through a white lens. This practice overlooks the specific information needs of marginalized populations; increasing barriers to access and reducing overall usage and satisfaction from the general population served.

Libraries within the United States may benefit from careful consideration of the results found within this study. First, the recommendations call for community engagement, critical and specific community information needs assessments, and collaboration from community partners in program and service development. This call to action requires increased library outreach, partnership, and actively listening to the voice of the population served. Second, libraries need to be funded consistently across states and populations. Without financial aid, libraries are unable to provide the services and materials necessary to support their communities. Finally, library staff must engage in continuous education focusing on cultural competency, the specific needs of the population, and the most effective ways to reach that population in meeting identified needs. Though conducted in Nigeria, this study, once again, highlights the critical importance of a deep knowledge, respect, and collaboration with the community. Only then will libraries establish a culturally relevant practice and service to the population served.

Harris, J. (1970). Libraries and librarianship in Nigeria at mid-century. Paper delivered at the Nigerian Library Association Conference. Lagos. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED053768

IFLA/UNESCO. (1994). IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto. Retrieved from http://www.ifla.org/publications/iflaunesco-public-library-manifesto-1994

Israel, G.D. (1992). Sampling the evidence of extension program impact. University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences PEOD5. Retrieved from: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pd005

Obasi, N.F.K. (2015). Indices of access to information in nigerian public libraries and citizens’ political participation. Retrieved from: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Salman, A.A. (2016). Provision and utilisation of public library services in nigeria. [PhD thesis]. University of Zululand.

Salman, A.A., Mugwisi, T., & Mostert, B.J. (2017). Access to and use of public library services in Nigeria. South African Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 83(1), 26–38.

Women in Prison and Their Information Needs: South – South Prison Libraries Perspective

Reviewed By: Traci Willard, Maida Paxton, Amanda Mellor, Maria McCord, Alyssa Key, and Annie Andrew

Link to article: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/1640/

Article synopsis:

In their 2018 article “Women in Prison and Their Information Needs: South – South Prison Libraries Perspective,” authors Sambo and Ojei investigate incarcerated women’s information needs in Nigeria’s South-South prisons. The study used a descriptive survey and interviews by prison staff to determine incarcerated women’s information needs in the South-South prison system and how those needs were being met. Sambo and Ojei found that the incarcerated women had generally not received education beyond secondary school. Previous research studies demonstrate the importance of educating prisoners so they can lead productive and fulfilling lives in prison and especially upon release. This study determined that the prisoners faced multiple problems including, but not limited to, sexual abuse, lack of access to healthcare and medical information, and lack of time for interaction with family and friends outside the prison. The women did not feel their information needs were being met. The incarcerated women were especially eager for more medical information and information about prison security; and most women surveyed found the prison’s library was not adequately meeting their information needs. Thus, the authors conclude that there are various improvements that can be made to the conditions in women’s prisons in Nigeria to ensure prisoners’ information needs are being met; especially when it comes to incarcerated women’s needs involving better and more comprehensive medical information, contraception, and people and resources outside of prison.

Description of how this article represents an international perspective:

This article provides an international perspective from outside of the United States by focusing on incarcerated women’ information needs in Nigeria at South-South Prison, among other regional prisons. It offers an opportunity to observe how this population’s information needs are impacted by their marginalized position within their country, as well as their country’s unique position in the world. Although Nigeria is considered a developing country, the universal information needs and personal challenges identified by respondents likely mirror those of incarcerated women in developed countries like the United States (Investopedia, 2019). Consequently, the international perspective this research offers can point to new ideas for providing programs and policies that meet incarcerated women’s information needs in the U.S.

Core research questions:

The authors identified the following research questions they sought to answer through their surveys and interviews:

1. What are the information needs of the women in prison?
2. What are the condition of the South-South prison libraries?
3. To what extent are the South-South prison libraries meeting the information needs of women prisoners?
4. What are the challenges confronting women in prison?

(Sambo & Ojei, 2018, p. 3)

Combined, these questions point to research that will lead to a broader understanding of the information landscape in the prisons profiled as well as the corresponding information needs, behaviors, and challenges of the women in this setting.

Methods used to answer the research questions:

The research methodology involved the researchers providing a descriptive survey questionnaire to 356 inmates in six prisons throughout the country. The option for an interview was available, led by three research assistants who were also employed as prison staff. However, it is unclear which prisons the research assistants were located at or how many interviews were conducted. Survey respondents were selected using purposive sampling, which according to Babbie (2016), is when those selected are anticipated to “be the most useful or representative” of the research goal (p. 187). Data collected from the 306 completed surveys were analyzed using inferential statistics, which suggests the findings derived from the sample are representative of the general population of incarcerated women in Nigeria. The researchers were successful in attaining a high response rate of 86%, determined using percentages, which reduced non-response bias.

Findings and conclusions:

The questionnaires and interviews Sambo and Ojei (2018) conducted indicate the top information needs of women incarcerated in the prisons were medical, education, and security information, with nearly all respondents (98%, 97%, and 97%, respectively) selecting these topics as information needs (p. 8-9). Other information that was prioritized by respondents related to life after prison, spiritual and moral information, and financial information. Respondents indicated they most frequently accessed information through counselling (73%), family and friends (67%), church or mosque (67%), and physicians or nurses (58%). Prison libraries were counted as one of the least used ways of meeting information needs with only 14% of respondents claiming to use the library as an information resource (p. 9-10). This finding is unsurprising considering that 70% of respondents indicated their prison library was “inadequate” for meeting their needs (p. 9). Respondents reported several problems facing them in prison. The most frequently reported problems were congestion and lack of hygiene, poor funding, and lack of medication and healthcare (p. 10).

Sambo and Ojei (2018) drew several conclusions based on the comprehensive data from their study. They concluded that there was a need to improve information access in these prisons, including a need for improved prison policies and programs by federal, state, and local governments, particularly those that are “specifically tailored to the needs of women” (p. 11). They recommended equitable access to health care and resources, confidentiality, preventative medicine, and vocational training. They acknowledged that if prison libraries could meet more of these needs, women would be more prepared to integrate into society upon release.

What American libraries can learn from global practice about designing services for diverse populations:

American libraries can obtain a greater understanding of the issues other libraries face and learn about global practices by reading about research conducted in other countries. By learning about issues with prison libraries and prisoners’ needs in Nigeria, American libraries can expand their research to determine whether their prison populations have the same information needs and library resource deficits. Sambo and Ojei found that incarcerated women in Nigeria had many unmet information needs and the prison library resources were inadequate, which may overlap with prisoners’ experiences worldwide. By working collaboratively, librarians worldwide can identify universal issues, share creative solutions, expand their professional network, and work to improve services for incarcerated women desperately in need of high-quality, accurate, and timely information resources.


Babbie, E. (2016). The practice of social research (14th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Investopedia. (2019, August 2). Top 25 developed and developing countries. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/updates/top-developing-countries/.
Sambo, A. S. & Ojei, N. L. (2018). Women in prison and their information needs: South-South prison libraries perspective. Library Philosophy and Practice, 1640, 1-14. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libphilprac/1640/