Public Libraries as a Rural Extension Agent


The extension service of the public library is a special service provided by the public libraries for the people living far from the branch library and it requires special attention.

The investigator ventured into the field of literature in the field under review and some of the works received are mainly information materials in monographs, journals, newspaper and magazine.

The objectives were to examine some of these materials in relation to the research work topic.

Literature therefore presents a record of the achievement of human race. The literature of a subject is its foundation. Some literature has been written on the extension service of the library in general, but not much has been written on the extension service of the public library in particular.

Therefore, in making review of the extension service of the public library, I consider the following subjects.

  1. Local or rural information service of the librarians.
  2. Outreach service of the public library.
  • Means of the maintenance of the extension service for its continued existence.
  1. Method of operating book mobile/users needs.



According to Aboyade (2001), the public library is established to provide material, which communicate experience and ideas from one person to another and make them easily and freely available to all people. The public library is a local centre of information that makes all kinds of knowledge and information readily available to its users.

It is established, supported and funded by the community, either, through local, regional or national government or through some other form of community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and service; it is equally available to all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, religion, language, disability, employment status and educational attainment.

Peter Mann (2000) did remark in the local information and local studies, the public librarian provide materials about the history of their country or locality. There is a huge range of material available including country and parish histories, maps, photographs, drawing and records and newspapers. In some cases the main local history collection will be in the country library so you should check this at your local branch. Library services are also using technology to these services, making it easier for users to locate interesting information for local and national collection.



The public libraries brings the library to those who cannot come to the library via service like homebound delivery of materials, mini branch libraries and programs in retirement homes, schools community and civic, groups can also utilize the library’s outreach service for programs and speaker community meeting.

The outreach service department strives to create and implement library programs that are inclusive and culturally responsive to traditionally marginalized populations. The services offered are usually outside the library district building and are provided in both English and local language.

They work with the local organization to reach communities that are geographically isolated from library services, individuals economically stressed and communities that are culturally isolated.

The New York library helps non-English speaking and other immigrants understand and interact with the culture, government and educational system of the United State. Classes are for people who want to learn and improve their English.

The extension service or outreach service include:

  • Service to the underserved: The library service are organized for schools and visit to children libraries in arrangement with teacher librarian.

During weekend, extension services are organized with lessons on the use of library inform of film shows, stories reading and language study for children, library services are brought to the door step and these are to achieved by mobile library that carries books to service points such as school, hostels, hospitals, local government headquarters and prisons as well as retaliation centres. Quick unlike in the days before now, information is now taken to the door step of all, those it may be useful to, it also benefit the blind, this is because in a situation where the public library could not provide reading material or other alternative to the blind because of cost. It should obtain suppliers from the national library or from the talking book service for the blind. Public libraries provides service to the patients in hospitals, hospitals staff, books, newspaper and periodicals one served to the patients, medical and nursing staff. In order to excel in these other activities, the library service did well by establishing a specialist certificate in hospitals librarianship and public manuals of guardians for hospitals and prison librarians.

Public librarians can carry out such service through its mobile service and individual visit by its staff. Small loan collections, charged from time and operated by prison staff officer can so, and it has been found that the books were well used and well of great value to prisoners Gufta, Sushima (2004:5).

The library has ceased to mean a store where books are kept, checked, secured and locked, rather a modern library may contain some other items like films, audio-visual cassettes, records, pictures and micro films and the materials are always at the users convenience. She went further to say the libraries are not trying to serve their clientele at their door steps with the use of mobile library and that special type of library which is set up at the rural area is called community implementation centres, community library or rural information center.

Also according to Platt (1999:24) in his libraries is colleges of education “opened at the underserved as well as the handicapped should be provided with adequate information so as to keep them abreast of the current situation of things with the society and to make them have a sense of belonging.

Maidment W.R. (1996:111) stress that, every year some  enterprising librarians introduces a new extension of his service, sometimes simple and expensive schemes are provided, like grave send collection of dig sand puzzle for mentally handicapped children.

Current awareness service can be another type of extension service of public libraries. This is done by production of pamphlet containing information on library holding in one or more subject areas.



        The best exhibition public library can boast of his having the display of its important publication available at any point in time. And to make the library a very attractive reading system. It can also be called the current awareness services of the public library. The library can only achieve this display near railway station lobbies of government building and hospitals Onwurah (2014:35).

Before the idea of display were introduced clienteles, including the underserved find it difficult to know the holding of a library. As soon as this idea was originated, people from the rural communities began to have more idea of what the library material is all about. This display contain new publication on specific subject at the level of the reader.

Data, S.A. (1977:15) opines library display as a small exhibition of books usually one or more related subject and sometime around the library.

The aim of such display is to make the library perform kind of current awareness service (CAS) the important place where those display are done are windows of shops and lobbies of hotels.



Some communities are situated in a remote area that they can only know the current information through local collection development.

Local collection by definition is being out and tracking down any publication relevant to the field of the readers.

The public library is for the benefit of the community that establish it therefore, top on its collection should be;

  1. Local history materials like play, folktales, drama, depicting the culture of the community being served.
  2. Music scores emphases on the art of people
  • Mounted illustration, frame, production of paintings and important festivals, ceremonies and other occasions of the locality. All these are methods of information knowledge education recreation, aesthetic appreciation and cultural enjoyment.




The other techniques of information dissemination outside the use of books and non-book materials include the use of public address system employment of the service of the villages, town criers, the use of posters and media houses.

The techniques were not known before because the rural communities have not expressed their feelings for all the services. When it was realized by the outreach section or units it became good tools for more extensions information dissemination. The public address system are sometimes placed on cars, while they move about. But the most traditional address systems are sometimes good tools for more extension.

Traditional method of information dissemination in most Nigeria communities include the employment of the service of town parliament, places of worship, cultural festivals, meetings, market places and chance mating on the way to form rivers spring and farms.

Important notice are usually given in a well decorated poster and pasted on conspicuous places. The poster attracts the attention of anyone who passes by the place and provides a lot of information. Information is also disseminated through the media such as television and radio station and newspaper houses. Sometimes relevant information is composed as sings and poems and recited at intervals through the media houses, public gathering and meeting. This is known as slogan, slogan is very effective means of disseminating information. In conclusion, one does not need to be in school before he could be provided with relevant information for overall human visit the library.



To operate a book mobile will involve a lot of arrangement. The arrangement will focus on the route, the availability of material and resources, first is the fraud, before a book mobile can be put into effective use, fund must be available for the purchase of books and preparing of mobile van, No mobile library van operate without the necessary fund required to carry out its function.

Normally, before practicing this mobile library service the route with the book mobile will visit, will first be mapped out by the branch librarian, the librarian or his deputy will visit the route area and schedule the running time with them, i.e. duration of stop time and delivery.

The practice the person have to register and provide his or her profile with correct address. During operation pamphlets, serial publication like journals together with audio-visual material are carried along. In the remote areas of the community, these materials are displayed and people, especially farmers, schools, Hospital staff are taught the importance of these materials. At times farmers who need information on their career assemble together at the service point to be educated more by the mobile staff.

In the village where large percentage of the entire population are not aware of current information about deadly diseases like AIDS, Tuberculosis etc. the mobile library carries some important pamphlets and books were there is current information on these diseases. The rural people are explained the importance of these books and need to buy them, like on Onitsha Divisional Library, the mobile library has book depot at Dennis Memorial Grammar School, where people use to purchase those materials. All these are some method of operating book mobile.

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