Shell Companies in Nigeria on Tuesday inaugurated an ultra-modern public library worth N2.04bn to be managed by the Port Harcourt Literary Society.
Inaugurating the library in Port Harcourt, the Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, said the library was accessible to all scholars and researchers.
The SCiN provided $5m while Port Harcourt Literary Society invested $1.5m on the library.
Okunbor said the library was one out of three projects that would cost SCiN N2bn each and which would be situated across the Niger Delta to mark the nation’s centenary anniversary.
He said, “Our choice of centenary projects and this library is a demonstration of our continued belief in the future of Nigeria and commitment to its socio-economic development, especially in the Niger Delta.
“We are convinced that this library will deliver significant benefits and positively impact the lives of people while increasing access to knowledge and education in Rivers and Niger Delta.
“This library will be a component of the Book Centre that will serve as the hub of activities to promote access to information and economic growth through education and literary arts.”
Okunbor said the library was the biggest and most Information Technology-driven public library in the region, adding that the library was establish to promote reading culture.
He announced that SCiN staffers would donate books to support the library while additional “staff time post-inauguration” would also be provided for effective take-off of the library.
Earlier, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Port Harcourt Literary Society, Dr. Chidi Amuta, said the library was conceived to commemorate the recognition of Port Harcourt by UNESCO as 2014 World Book Capital.
He said the Book Centre comprises of four structures including a library; writers’ hostel, an event centre and exhibition hall and a theatre.
He said, “We live in uncertain times, and as such, the attention of youths is torn violently between the forces of new information, new modes of violence and the pull of new money.
“We believe that exposure to noble ideas through medium of books and the printed word can point our youth in a different direction away from ignorance and bestiality they see around them.”
Amuta said the library was equipped with digital facilities and multimedia channels to engage the minds of adventurous youths in the society.
He said the event centre and exhibition hall donated by the Rivers Government was still undergoing construction while other structures that make up the book centre were open to sponsorship.
Also speaking, Rivers Deputy Governor, Mrs Ipalibo Banigo, said the state government was committed to build new schools, upgrade library and other facilities at secondary schools in the state.
Banigo, who was represented by her aid, Ine Fubara, urged students and researchers to take full advantage of the opportunity offered by the library to improve their reading culture and researches.