American University of Nigeria to Open Award-winning Library

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American University of Nigeria will open the doors to its groundbreaking multimedia library this May. Home to Africa's largest e-book collection and one of three libraries awarded the Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects by the American Library Association last year, the "smart library" will be a world leader in the use of e-books and tablets to make education more accessible, sustainable and equitable for the next generation of Nigerian leaders.

The American University of Nigeria (AUN), winner of one of three international awards given out by the American Library Association (ALA) last year for Innovative International Library Projects, has announced the opening of its new bricks and mortar “smart” library, scheduled to open in May 2014.

“While the new library will not be the biggest university library in the world, it will be among the smartest,” said Margee Ensign, president of AUN. “Here in Nigeria, we cannot just focus on traditional education. To make education accessible and less expensive, it has to be about technology.”

AUN is leading the movement toward digital libraries around the world. In selecting AUN for its Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects, ALA pointed to AUN’s creation of a “digital library model for other libraries that is affordable, sustainable and increases availability of resources for users.” At 210,000 e-books and e-journals, accessed using tablets, e-readers and other devices and available to students and faculty 24/7 regardless of location, AUN’s e-book collection is not only Africa’s largest, but also significantly larger than that held by most universities in America. In 2012, AUN students downloaded more e-books per capita than most American and European students.

According to AUN’s Amed Demirhan, director of Library Services, “the new home for the AUN’s library will advance the application of information technology to organizational structure, space and collection.” Mr. Demirhan, who started the first digital library in the University of Kurdistan, Iraq, explains that AUN’s “smart library is basically like a smart phone. It’s multi-functional, efficient, has more services and because it deals with e-resources, it doesn’t require as much space. Instead, we have space to add more services that were once taken up by hardcopy books, resulting in greater efficiency and effectiveness.”

AUN provides all of its students with laptops or tablets, campus-wide wireless access and electricity around the clock. Incorporating technology and innovation to the library’s structure, space and collection, AUN’s new library is designed to support their digital e-library, from the staff to the furniture. A traditional library would have required three times the physical space for books and twice the staffing to manage them. The innovative new building will have less traditional seating, replacing stationary tables with more comfortable chairs to accommodate mobile users. Even the library staff structure has been transformed to complement the pivot to a smart digital library. For example, the serial coordinator position has been removed as AUN subscribes to all serial publications online, except for those required by the Nigerian National University Commission.

AUN is a recognized global pioneer in electronic education, championing e-learning as a model for higher education in the developing world that controls costs, while creating greater access to resources for the wider community. AUN’s communities already benefit from the smart library, which has been actively collecting and encouraging the use of open access resources. In 2012, the library trained 147 faculty and administrative staff from the Federal College of Education in Yola and 20 faculty members from Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola. In 2013, 34 AUN Academy’s secondary school teachers received training, and this year the library has trained 39 faculty and administrators from Adamawa State School of Nursing and Midwifery. The transition to a digital library furthers AUN’s stated community development mission by promoting open access resource use, institutional collaboration, and outreach throughout the region and nation. AUN believes that open access to resources is the best investment for expansion of global education and development.

“Nigeria is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, with population doubling every 30 to 35 years. With such fast rates of population growth, technology will be crucial meeting the need to educate and train Nigeria’s youth. Education is the key to helping people provide for themselves and their families. It’s the key to making Nigeria and the world a better place. We’re already seeing the results of our e-learning in our students and graduates. AUN’s new smart library will advance learning faster throughout our nation and the continent as a whole,” stated Ensign.

AUN’s innovative new library will open in May to serve as a model of how innovation and technology make learning affordable, sustainable, efficient and more accessible.


About American University of Nigeria

The American University of Nigeria was established in 2003 by Nigeria’s former Vice President, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar. Conceived as Africa’s first Development University, its mission is to promote service learning and to educate leaders who will be prepared to tackle the development issues of Nigeria and Africa. The university offers an American-style education modeled after the curriculum of American universities, using the latest in Internet technology and e-learning resources.


Conover + Gould Strategic Communications is sending this information on behalf of the American University of Nigeria. Additional information is on file with the Department of Justice, Washington, District of Columbia.

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Greg Howard
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