April 23 is International Day of the Book or World Book Day according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This day has been set aside to promote reading, publishing and copyright. In Nigeria, Lagos, there is a non-profit organization in Ikoyi with the vision of a Nigeria in which everyone has the ability to educate themselves.
Named after the first secretary and legal adviser of the African Continental bank, Zaccheus Onumba Dibiazue Memorial Libraries (ZODML) was founded in 1999 with grants from the widow and daughters of the late Zaccheus. Zaccheus Dibiaezue was said to have risen from his farming background to becoming a legal adviser through self-learning and access to libraries. In his honour, ZODML provides all of their services for free.
There is ZODML’s BookCorner Project which brings books into underserved state secondary schools to sustain the interest in books and reading ignited in the students through the Secondary School Reading Programmes. Each BookCorner consists of two bookcases stocked with 400 titles covering various writing genres – fiction (a mixture of classics and current bestsellers), biographies and autobiographies, poetry, drama, books dealing with social issues (covering teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, the environment e.t.c ), reference books (dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, etc.) and academic books – as well as a large round table and four chairs. The receiving school nominates a prefect and two vice prefects from among the students who will run the BookCorner. ZODML staff visit the schools once a month to evaluate progress, update the book collections, and award reading certificates to the most active borrowers.
Another of their project is the Oasis Library Project. ZODML establishes libraries in local government primary schools to provide pupils in these schools with a space in which they can discover, learn, and grow. These libraries stock fiction titles and subject textbooks (many written by Nigerian authors), as well as resources for teachers. A variety of learning and literacy activities take place at the Oasis Libraries, for which each school schedules an hour-long class period to ensure all pupils gain access to their resources. National Youth Service Corps members are assigned to Oasis libraries to work with the pupils, and ZODML partners with teachers and parents to support their efforts and build community involvement.
The Catch Them Young (CATHY) Programme of ZODML is a monthly reading program designed to encourage a love of books and reading among local government primary school pupils aged 5 to 11.
Then there is the version for older students, ZODML’s Secondary School Reading Programmes connect pupils from 18 state government schools to Nigerian writers. A selection of these students are each given a book to read and then invited to the Community Library to discuss the book, writing, and issues relevant to young Nigerians with its author.
The community library boasts of over 22,000 books and audiovisual materials available to over 6,000 patrons to read and borrow lovers. Library card holders have access to internet and study areas, ZODML is a comfort place for knowledge seekers.