Library and Information professionals are agreed that the catalysts that will empower Africa in her quest for development are information and knowledge. The increasing openness and globalization of the world economy has further made it clear that organizations must lever information effectively to achieve their objectives and stay competitive. The response has been a further pressure on professionals to perform and demonstrate their relevance to their organization's bottom line.
Realizing that access to information and flexible learning are what would differentiate them for success, professionals are turning to libraries for support for their personal and professional development, especially with the dearth of support from other quarters. However, as information becomes more rapidly available in non-book sources, which could be accessed electronically using new and emerging technologies, the relevance of a largely traditional Nigerian library to a highly mobile and constrained segment of its clientele is in question.
As in other parts of Africa, low levels of literacy in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Nigeria are perpetuated by limited access to computers. Yet, over 75% of organizations in Nigeria put emphasis on possession of demonstrable ICT skills as a requirement for employment. Therefore the need for relevance and employability has recently driven professionals to seek ICT skills training where available, especially in libraries that provide it free of charge.
The use and availability of ICTs in Nigeria
Organizations that are major employers of professionals in Nigeria spend about 478 billion naira annually on ICT and will be inclined to spend 1.6 trillion naira in the near future. Although of the over 120 million people in Nigeria, only about 0.6% have access to a PC at home, the pace of ICT uptake is increasingly encouraging. Nigeria is quickly becoming one of the destinations of ICT product providers in Africa, second only to South Africa. In the last seven years, the number of licensed full internet providers has grown from 3 to 160, 40 of which provide access in real time. With more than a quarter of organizations having a web presence, more professionals have access to the internet (NICT, 2003).