In the Kenneth Dike Library (KDL) University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, an increasing number of students who were “mistakenly” locked in overnight clearly showed the need for extended hours access to a learning space. To address this, the library created a 24/7 reading and studying room; it’s currently the only place where students can have reliable access to light and energy during the night.
Before this reading room was set up, a sample of random interviews with students who studied late at night revealed that some of them lived off campus in accommodations where reading and learning space is a luxury. Even those living on campus did not have a place to study after the library closed at 22:00.
One of the reasons for this is the challenge of energy supply. According to World Bank statistics, about 40% of Nigerians do not have access to electricity. Those who do experience constant power outages.
Furthermore, with the staff and student population rising from 50 students and 17 staff in 1948 to 45,000 students and 3250 staff in 2019 it was clear that, in order to meet the needs of the academic community, the spaces available in the library had to be reconsidered.
Experimenting with converting space in the 70-year old library facility proved to be challenging. Past updates have seen the library converting reading spaces to computer laboratories and shelving to reading spaces because of collection turnaround and changing needs.
In order to make this learning space a reality, the library has overcome many challenges. Most notably the lack of constant power supply, provision of adequate security and staffing, and accommodating diverse users (undergraduate, postgraduate and distance learning). As well as the closure of the original reading room that had run for three years before closing down due to technical difficulties.
In 2018, the 24/7 reading room was re-opened, with an expanded space to accommodate 500 students. The reading room service provides users with electronic access to materials on all the programs offered in the University. On average, 409 students use it daily and students no longer “mistakenly” get locked in!
A user remarked: “The 24 hours service is commendable and shows that the University is working assiduously to bring the library to conformity with global standards.”