As a way of reinvigorating the culture of reading among its citizenry, the Lagos State Government through the Parks and Gardens Agency, LASPARK has entered into a partnership with a Non-Governmental Organisation, the Open Library Initiative, to reinvent the culture of reading in a greener and serene environment across some major parks in the State.
According to the General Manager of the Agency, Mrs. Balikiss Abiola-Adebiyi, the initiative was in line with the commitment of the State Government to promote learning and advance the knowledge-base of the generality of Lagosians.
The General Manager made this known while speaking at the launching of the Open Library Initiative at Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Alausa, Ikeja on Monday, 31st December, 2018.
She said that “it is imperative to state that combining recreation with reading is becoming a phenomenal among global populace and Lagos State cannot be an exception especially as pacesetter in developmental issues in Nigeria.”
Abiola-Adebiyi explained that the Open Library Project has many advantages especially in a recreational environment, noting that apart from its cost effectiveness, the initiative provides an opportunity for library to become more accessible to children and their parent in a more relaxed and conducive environment where learning will aligned with recreation, stressing that this is different from the conventional closed arena that people are used to.
She also informed that the State Government is considering the establishment of a virtual system in all LASPARK parks where users will have opportunity to study through their apps online, real time.
While appreciating several NGOs who had identified with the State Government in one way or the other, the General Manager stated that the State recognised the unique role which NGOs as partners in progress had so far played in the State’s struggle for political emancipation, economic liberation and educational development.
“We are happy to partner with the promoter of this unique project, Mr. Olaide Akanno, the Director of Service, Open Library Initiative. I assure you that the State Government will continue to provide your organisation with all necessary supports for replication of this project in all our Parks across the state,” she reiterated.
She, however, assured the private sector that the State Government will continue to provide support for Public Private Partnership for other organisations with creative and innovative mind.
Giving an overview of the mode of operation of the initiative, the initiator, Mr. Olaide Akanno, said that the NGO is starting with 5000 books in two of the States parks, the Muri-Okunola and Ndubuisi Kanu Park in VI and Ikeja respectively, adding that the books are meant to be taken free for about 2 to 3 weeks by readers Users and they can take other ones upon return.
“Initially, we wanted to operate the library via a mobile App. However, with only two locations at Ndubuisi Kanu Park and Muri-Okunola Park yet, we realised we would be overwhelmed, since the App would have been universally available.
“For now, we have to operate manually and to use the library, willing individuals will pick a Registration Form free to provide basic simple details about themselves. ” he further explained.
He advised those that would be benefiting from the initiative to guard the books jealously so that others would not be denied the benefit and truncate the idea behind the initiative.
According to him, a strategy has been devised whereby the library would have two levels of users namely: Primary Users and Secondary Users.
“Primary Users will be selected from among responsible and respectable individuals, well known to someone at LASPARK, staff of Open Library Initiative or workers in any recognisable organization or institutions. Meanwhile, each Primary User has room to accommodate 5 Secondary Users, whom he can vouch for and readily locate. ”
He stated that the idea of having primary and secondary users is aimed at guaranteeing safe handling and maintenance of the books up to about 80 to 90 percent.
Meanwhile, the General Manager has commended Lagosians for trooping out in their thousands to recreate at the Park during the last Christmas and New Year season, revealing that over 5 million fun seekers and tourists recreated at the various state owned parks during the period.
She declared emphatically that the JJT Park at Alausa has the capacity to accommodate 1000 fun seekers at a go, noting that it has become imperative for park users to make use of other adjoining parks, such as Ndubusi Kanu and Gani Fawehinmi Parks once the JJT Park reaches its maximum capacity.
This according to her would guide against stampeding and damage to park infrastructure which are always the result of over population.
In urging Residents to frequently indulge in recreational activities, Adebiyi-Abiola pointed out that adequate recreation improves individual life and as such, the various Parks provide an appealing and idyllic environment for memorable pleasure.
She however implored fun seekers to always maintain orderliness in Parks as government would not condone any criminal tendencies in and around any of the State’s parks.