Students have another online platform resource that offers free services. | By Eki Toju 

The Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries (ZODML), acclaimed as the best managed private library in Nigeria, recently added another feather to its cap as it launched www.zodml.org; its new online library and website.

 The online library is in line with ZODML?s vision of providing channels through which people may acquire knowledge and improve their learning by accessing the information and learning tools offered by the library. Online libraries are fast becoming the preferred medium through which students and scholars, as well as the leisure readers access books and other information materials to suit their various needs.

 Libraries have always been the hallmark of education and its importance is not far-fetched. In the good old days, scholars and students alike depended largely on well equipped libraries for information. A few people from privileged homes imbibed the reading culture in the comfort of their homes early in life through the use of family libraries. Such people were set apart from the rest of us whose families could not afford family libraries and had to depend of government libraries located in the state capitals and select urban areas with their concomitant difficulties.

 With the numerous issues that has becomes the lots of most of the countries libraries, coupled with the coming of the Information Age, characterized by easier, cheaper and quicker access information, Nigerian students hardly visit terrestrial libraries for information gathering, much less for leisure reading. Nigerian youths have shifted focus from libraries to the internet and now spend more time on the internet than in libraries. On the internet, whether in a caf? of in the comfort of their homes, they can have access to huge amount of information. With this new development, there is therefore the need to shift these resource centers online by means of establishing online or digital libraries.

 An online library is a library in which information is stored in digital formats and accessible anytime, anywhere through the desktop computers, laptops or other portable devices with internet connection. Online libraries are easier to manage, cheaper to maintain and has a much wider audience capacity than terrestrial libraries.

 Ifeoma Esiri, Co-Chair and a member of ZODML?s Board of Trustees, said ZOD Memorial Libraries? mission is to provide channels where people, with minimal supervision, can acquire good education and empowerment by taking advantage of the access information.

 ?At the core of this empowerment is self-learning which can only be possible if there is free access to educational resources,? she said. ?Now, with the launch of www.zodml.com, students and readers in Nigeria and beyond can access our large online library and also take advantage of the various information and learning tools that the website has.?

 She listed some of the special features of the website to include a catalogue of past question papers for secondary students from notable examination bodies like the West African Examinations Council, (WAEC), National Examinations Council (NECO) and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), journals and articles, a career guide section and a special collection of writing by Nigerians living in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.

 Other features of the website, according to her, are information on every state in Nigeria ? videos clips that depict the people, culture and places of attraction and large selection audio books for kindergarten pupils and their teachers.

 Esiri also announced a bi-monthly essay competition for secondary schools as part of activities to project and drive traffic the website. In the competition, students will be required to write short essays on the learning process in their various schools. The winning entry will win a net book and a visit to Google Nigeria to experience a day of work at the search engine company.

 Reacting to the development, Ayo Obe, another member of the board of trustees and a civil rights crusader, lamented the dearth of good libraries where students can just go and have a good read in Nigeria. With the launch of ZODML?s webpage, she is optimistic that students and readers can avail themselves of the opportunity offered by the online library to learn the world as well as their immediate environment.

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