BusinessDay

ZODML launches Nigeria’s biggest free e-library in memory of Zaccheus Dibiaezue

The Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries (ZODML) has launched Nigeria’s biggest online library titled, ‘You are Limitless with www.zodml.org’ on Thursday, February 24, at the Freedom Park, Lagos besides its 44 physical libraries across the country.

Ifeoma Esiri, chairperson of Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries on her New Year address, said the goal of the organisation is to inculcate and encourage young minds and students on the need for self-learning habits as exemplified by Zaccheus Dibiaezue.

She reiterated the commitment of the organisation to availing reading materials to Nigerian students to boost their reading culture.

“After extensive consultations in 2020 we concluded that we needed to phase out our previous work of establishing libraries in local government primary schools and serve a different demographic.

“Our efforts last year were consequently focused on developing a robust online library that would support the new direction of our work – the provision of free access to digital resources through which young Nigerians, particularly those attending public universities, may obtain information and learning tools to acquire knowledge and thrive in their studies and future careers.

“This shift to creating a significant online library catering primarily to public university students was concluded during the year,” Esiri stated.

Esiri disclosed that the idea for the e-library is a fall out of the Covid-19 pandemic experiences which almost rendered the physical library goal useless.

“As we enter a new year, unsure of what it holds in store for us, I feel it is a good time to reflect on the past year and what we achieved.

2021 was a very difficult year for us as we grappled with the constricting effect of the pandemic. Our community library and offices remained closed during the first quarter of the year; this resulted in our canceling our plans to establish libraries in more correctional centres across the country,” she said.

The chairperson explained how ZODML has made available over 300,000 online resources and 2,455,488 resources at its various community libraries.

According to Esiri, “ZODML is committed to providing learning and self-development resources to attain our long-term impact of a Nigerian population that has achieved academic excellence and built a culture that recognizes the importance of self-learning and its ability to build, support, and enable communities. In order to get our services to thousands living in underserved communities, we rely on the generous support of individuals and corporate organisations. Your support helps us keep our services free. Find out the various ways in which you can get involved with ZODML’s work.”

ZODML is a non-profit organisation established in 1999 to celebrate the legacy of Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue, who thrived on self-learning education and career through the help of the community library available to him.

Born in 1914 to Igbo peasant farmers in Ifitedunu, Anambra State, Nigeria, Zaccheus was the fourth of eight children.

Read also: Education has become transactional and a box-ticking exercise in Nigeria – Alutu

Showing signs of academic excellence from an early age with a hunger for knowledge and education, Zaccheus would hawk fruits after school to buy oil for the lamp he used to study at night.

The premature death of his father when he was in primary school brought his formal education to an abrupt end but as the self-learner that he had become, he successfully passed the examinations required to join the colonial civil service.

He joined initially as a tax clerk but later became a policeman rising quickly to the rank of Inspector. Fuelled by a desire to pursue formal education abroad, he was once again through self-learning, discipline, and tenacity able to pass the examinations required to study at the best English universities.

He went to England in 1952 to study Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science and simultaneously enrolled at Lincoln’s Inn where he sat for and passed the English Bar exams. On his return to Nigeria four years later with his young family, he set up a legal practice. He then went on to become the first company secretary of one of the largest Nigerian banks at the time, African Continental Bank (ACB); executive chairman of the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation; Commissioner of Finance and commissioner of agriculture in the East Central State.

Esiri noted how glad the organisation is to be able to provide relevant resources and services at the disposal of Nigerians in the honour of Dibiaezue, and how pleased ZODML is to have been able to enrich its collection with the addition of 2,289,653 digital resources from JSTOR and 151,000 from Research4Life.

“We are most grateful to both institutions for their generosity,” she said.

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