When the University began teaching in 1962, it inherited the collection and library building of the Ibadan Branch of the former Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology whose academic programme was geared to little more than sixth form work, except that it offered professional course in Pharmacy and Secretaryship.
The stock of the Library taken over by the Obafemi Awolowo University (then called University of Ife), started a very good general library covering all fields taught at the college, amounting to about 12,500 volumes and a subscription list of 176 periodicals. Backfiles existed in general for a period of 5-7 years, with some exceptions. The excellent periodical library in the department of Pharmacy possessed valuable runs of scientific journals with files in many of 10 – 20 years and in some cases of 50 years more. Other fields possessing good runs of some journals were Geography, Physics and Agriculture.
In January, 1967, the faculties of Arts, Law and Social Sciences moved to the permanent site of the University at Ile-Ife and this necessitated the division of the library. At Ibadan, the existing Library housed the collections on Mathematics, Biological and Physical Sciences, Agriculture, Pharmacy and a Law Collection for the use of evening students together with a selection of Newspapers, reference works and materials of general interest.
The collections within the faculties of Arts, Social Sciences and Law moved to the temporary library at Ile-Ife, which consisted of the top floor of The Humanities Block III, being a lobby, a large reading room, four separate rooms and a verandah. The overall area, excluding the lobby and verandah was approximately 6410sq. ft. Another room on the 3rd floor was allocated to the librarian and staff office. Owing to limitations of space, the ordering, cataloguing and processing of books were still carried out at Ibadan.
Students began working and borrowing books by 8.10 a.m. on 30th January, 1967 and normal opening hours were kept after the first week.
The remaining collections at Ibadan were moved to Ife in January 1968, but it was still necessary to keep the Ibadan library open for 14 hours daily. The physical move started on January 3rd and the bulk of the transfer was completed by the 21st January. Some 25 truck loads of books, shelves, desks, catalogue cabinets, equipment etc amounting to about 40 tons were moved.
In the first seven years of it’s existence, the library was housed in temporary and cramped quarters, which were ill-equipped for the requirements of a University library. In October 1989, it moved to its permanent building, the four floors of which covered a total area of 42,000 sq. ft., designed to accommodate 250,000 volumes and sit 800 readers.
By 1980, this building had exhausted its capacity and a North wing extension with a capacity for 500,00 volumes was undertaken. The new extension was commissioned in August 1983 and the moving of Library materials began on September 7th and ended on September 22nd, 1983.
In May 1980, a proposal to name the library after Prof. Hezekiah Oluwasanmi was made because of his abiding interest in the development of the library as a centre of learning and research and his personal, official and moral support for the library, especially in the early days. The library was named Hezekiah Oluwasanmi Library on 12th December, 1980.
The fortunes of the Library (and of library services generally in Nigeria) began to ebb with the downward turn in the nation’s economy necessitating the adoption of various economic measures, which have had a lasting effect on library development in the country. Such measures as austerity measures’ from 1977 – 1979, the ‘import license scheme’ of the 1979-83, the ‘structural adjustment’ programme, and the various foreign exchange measures, all affect the procurement of books and journals from abroad, where the major book markets are. All this led to the stunted growth of the library up till 1993 when the World Bank Project came to the rescue of the University Library structure in Nigeria. Under the project, Hezekiah Oluwasanmi Library was able to procure 15,282 volumes, covering the courses taught in the University. The position with regard to journals however did not improve much. Journal subscriptions have nose-dived from over 5000 titles in the 1970s to just over 100 titles in 1998.
The Library’s computerization effectively started in 1997 with the establishment of a general backbone and an 11-node Local Area Network (LAN). In 1998, the Library’s LAN was hooked to the Internet through the Campus-wide OAU Net while the number of PCs was increased to thirteen in 1999. The year 2002 saw the launching of the second phase of the Library’s computerization. This involved the addition of 13 PCs, 8 for Cataloguers, 2 in the Reference room for Users to browse the Internet and 3 for the heads of Circulatiaon, Reference, and Orders Sections. The second phase also saw an upgrading of existing systems, a change in the Server Operating System, a change in the Library database and the setting up of the Library’s web site. This phase is almost being completed.
So far, the Library has over 400,000 catalogue records needing conversion. We are opting for the OCLC model of re-conversion for speed and accuracy. About 15,000 bibliographic records of newly acquired books inputted into the old database, would be transferred to the new. The bulk of the Library’s catalogue remains in card format. These need to be converted into machine – readable format to enable an effective and meaningful search of the Library’s holdings online. Due to the huge financial outlay required to do this, it is proposed that 175,000 records of the most used books would ;be converted first.
The Library, in order to expand its User access to information worldwide, has made 2-point access available for Internet access by Users. The gap caused by the irregularity of our journal titles led to the purchase of Infotrac Onefile online database. Added to this, are the Ebscohost database donated by the founder of the Open Society Institute, and the WiderNet Digital Library donated by the WiderNet Program of the University of Iowa, USA. Other databases available are Hinari, OUP Online Journals, AGORA, Journal of Architectural Education by MIT Press, DATAD Online and The Federalist. All these are now available to Users campus-wide. The Library plans to expand access to database to accommodate all the disciplines including gender and development programmes. The Library’s clientele also uses newspaper as a primary resource, so we hope to embark on the digitization of the newspaper collection to enhance durability and use.