Libraries as Potential Key Players in Nigeria’s Economic Diversity and Exchange Rate Solutions

By Adebowale Jeremy Adetayo,
Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria,

Muhammed Jamiu Soliudeen,
Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti. Ekiti State,

Arinola Oluwatoyin Gbotoso,
Federal College of Agriculture Akure Ondo State,

and Oyekanmi Gabriel Okediji,
Federal College of Education Iwo Library, Osun State.


As Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria grapples with systemic challenges including exchange rate volatilities, rising inequality and pervasive poverty constraining inclusive growth. This paper explores the overlooked potential of public libraries to address these multidimensional issues through their expansive reach, accessibility and community trust. Specifically, it delineates five pathways of impact: providing access to economic data and research to inform policy decisions; fostering financial literacy among citizens through workshops on personal finance and exchange rate mechanics; supporting entrepreneurship and export competitiveness with tailored advisory services; catalyzing grassroots advocacy coalitions to drive equitable growth reforms; and forging strategic partnerships with diverse institutions to integrate interdisciplinary perspectives. By highlighting these avenues for libraries to collaborate with academia, industry, government and non-profits, this analysis underscores the merits of increased investment into library infrastructure, technology access and programming to maximize their development contributions. It calls upon policymakers to formally recognize libraries’ change-agent role across literacy promotion, business enablement, community mobilization and localizing policy solutions.

I. Introduction

As Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has tremendous economic potential, endowed with abundant natural resources, a large consumer market, and a youthful, entrepreneurial population. However, systemic challenges including inadequate infrastructure, human capital deficits, institutional weaknesses, corruption, and overreliance on crude oil exports continue to constrain inclusive and sustainable growth (World Bank 2024a). Income inequality is rising in Nigeria and over 40% of the population live in poverty (Adegboyo, Keji, and Fasina 2021). Persistently high unemployment fuels socioeconomic tensions, while volatile exchange rate fluctuations driven largely by global oil price shocks undermine macroeconomic stability (Ewubare and Ushie 2022; Nwamuo 2022).

For instance, in May 2023, Nigeria underwent significant economic changes. The removal of gasoline subsidies was announced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu during his Inauguration Speech, leading to increases in Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) prices nationwide. This was coupled with exchange rate reforms, which saw the naira devalued due to the decision of the federal government to collapse the foreign exchange market into a single Investors and Exporters (I&E) window. The value of the naira fell by as much as 98% (Addeh 2024). The naira hit a historic intraday low of 1,250.5, approaching its parallel-market rate of around 1,450 per USD (Trading Economics 2024). This has further eroded consumer purchasing power, leading to economic hardship for many Nigerians (Lifted 2023). In response to these challenges, many Nigerians has urged the Federal Government to address the economic hardship that Nigerians are going through (Wahab 2024; Diokpa 2023). There have been calls for a national dialogue on solutions.

Public libraries represent inclusive institutions which can foster greater understanding of complex socioeconomic issues while providing support to vulnerable groups impacted by exchange rate volatilities and rising cost of living. As trusted information hubs, libraries can raise awareness on policy trade-offs, empower communities through upskilling and advocacy programs, and catalyze innovative grassroots initiatives targeted at driving structural transformation and resilient growth in Africa’s largest economy.


This article aims to highlight the potentially significant role libraries could play in addressing Nigeria’s economic diversity and exchange rate challenges. Through examining libraries’ multifaceted contributions across domains – including providing access to economic information, promoting financial literacy, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, fostering community engagement, and advocating policy reforms – it seeks to underscore their transformative potential in shaping Nigeria’s economic future. By objectively analyzing libraries’ diverse initiatives and collaborative efforts, the piece emphasizes the importance of increased support and recognition of their contributions to economic development in Nigeria.

II. Libraries as Hubs for Economic Information and Research

A. Providing Access to Economic Data and Research

Libraries have over the years cultivated expansive collections spanning books, academic journals, statistical databases, policy reports across diverse economic aspects including trade, fiscal planning, exchange rate modeling, and socioeconomic development. For instance, libraries in many parts of the world provide access to several global and domestic economic databases containing current and historical data on GDP growth, sectoral performance, employment, and articles from eminent scholars. Some of these libraries include ESCAP Library Databases, providing ADB Data Library, AidFlows, Asia-Pacific SDG Gateway, APTIAD, and CEIC Data; World Bank Open Data with global development datasets; and DBnomics, aggregating public economic data from various sources (ESCAP 2024; World Bank 2024b; DBnomics 2024).

University libraries also house thousands of peer-reviewed journals, working papers by professors, and data-rich releases covering multifaceted economic issues (Columbia Business School 2024; Columbia University Library 2024; Zibani, Rajkoomar, and Naicker 2022). By subscribing to resources like JSTOR, ScienceDirect, and EBSCO, libraries enable students, faculty, policymakers and citizens to access latest empirical research on topics ranging from trade competitiveness, impact of oil price shocks, subsidy reforms, exchange rate management and more.

B. Role of Librarians in Facilitating Research and Analysis

Beyond access provision, librarians can play an active role nurturing a culture of rigorous scholarly inquiry within the economic domain through dedicated assistance in navigating resources. They can provide one-on-one guidance on searching trade journals, accessing statistical tables, critically evaluating data sources, and employing analytical frameworks in research projects. Librarians can also curate research guides, online tutorials in quantitative methods, and customizable course reserves for economics students (Evans 2022; Corrall 2012).

Ongoing collaborations with academics to organize workshops on various topics can help students and early career researchers develop specialized skills for their fields. Some librarians may hold advanced degrees in various subjects, potentially including economics. These librarians could serve as peer mentors, reviewing working papers and helping to build scholarly networks (Atkinson 2018; Rossoni, de Vasconcellos, and de Castilho Rossoni 2023; Pothier 2018). By serving as research process advisors grounded in the field’s concepts and methodologies, librarians thus amplify patrons’ capabilities for intellectual breakthroughs and academic excellence.

III. Libraries as Community Information Centers

A. Informing the Public about Exchange Rate Developments

Libraries can play an indispensable role as information hubs keeping citizens abreast of unfolding exchange rate dynamics and associated impacts on socioeconomic conditions. Many libraries showcases daily newspapers. For instance, the National Virtual Library of Nigeria links to daily newspapers like Blueprint, BusinessDay and Business Hallmark. which feature analyses by experts on factors driving exchange volatility including oil price shocks, dollar shortages, and CBN reforms (National Virtual Library of Nigeria 2024).

Furthermore, libraries can also actively boost public awareness through current awareness bulletins, knowledge centers, workshops and lectures translating complex dynamics like currency devaluation, parallel market premia, forex reserves adequacy for patron comprehension and planning. Specifically, university libraries can organized a lecture series in collaboration with economics faculty explaining exchange rate stability challenges, with past presentations covering the impacts of external debt burdens and options like currency hedging mechanisms for citizens. By serving as forums for engagement between policymakers, researchers and the public on exchange rate issues, libraries foster greater economic transparency and empower citizens.

B. Educating Individuals on Economic Concepts and Implications

Libraries in Nigeria should recognize that citizens often lack an understanding of basic economic concepts like inflation, purchasing power parity, and foreign exchange risks – concepts that are essential for personal welfare amidst price volatility induced by exchange rate fluctuations. To address this gap, Nigerian libraries could institute programs such as book reading clubs focused on titles that demystify economics for lay audiences, as well as workshops on topics like personal financial planning, saving strategies, and optimizing household consumption in inflationary environments.

Libraries around the world, acknowledging the importance of economic literacy, have introduced various programs to educate the public on these matters. Offering structured learning content that has been pre-tested for accessibility across devices like mobile phones, tablets, and PCs, these initiatives include assessments, explanatory videos, and self-paced online courses. Such programs tend to have contributed to increased economic knowledge across diverse demographics nationally. It is generally accepted that library-backed economic literacy initiatives can lead to improved financial decision-making abilities (Kiszl and Winkler 2022; Liu 2004; Smith and Eschenfelder 2013; Alvarez 2021; Rea 2020). By promoting grassroots economic empowerment in this manner, libraries play a crucial role in furthering social inclusion and development.

IV. Libraries’ Role in Promoting Financial Literacy

A. Initiatives to Educate on Exchange Rate Mechanics and Currency Valuation

Sound understanding of exchange rate determinants, currency valuation models, and associated economic implications are indispensable for individuals to harness opportunities for international remittances, investments abroad, and offshore education savings plans amidst FX uncertainties (Chinn 2006; Khan et al. 2002). Libraries globally, including those in Nigeria, can be at the forefront of empowering citizen familiarity with sophisticated financial concepts through primers on topics like inflation-adjusted real effective exchange rates, the Big Mac index for purchasing power parity, and complex drivers like the Dutch Disease phenomenon associated with overdependence on oil exports. For instance, there are examples of institutions organizing workshops on financial risk hedging. One such example is MONECO Financial Training, which organized a two-day workshop titled “Interest Rate Risk Hedging Workshop.” The workshop covered a detailed analysis of the process of interest rate hedging, from the measurement of risk through to detail on the products used to hedge (MONECO 2024). Such workshops can draw on lectures from financial experts, simulations, and a final project on constructing optimal investment portfolios across jurisdictions, catering to participants from diverse educational backgrounds.

B. Empowering Individuals to Make Informed Financial Decisions

While information access constitutes a crucial first step, the true test of financial literacy is in enabling prudent decision making by individuals to secure their future well-being (Lusardi and Messy 2023). On this front, Nigerian libraries can introduce personalized services like extended one-on-one counseling through dedicated finance desks at select branches as well as remote advising via web conferencing platforms. Guidance can be provided for needs assessment, managing cash flows under inflation uncertainties induced by naira devaluation, exploring high yield savings vehicles, forex denominated investments for asset diversification and risk management using derivatives like forwards and swap contracts which may be previously unfamiliar to average citizens. Outreach services like these delivered by specially trained finance librarians can help individuals nationwide optimize complex trade-offs for household balance sheet strengthening.

V. Libraries’ Support for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

A. Providing Resources and Guidance on Navigating Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Navigating the complex contours of exchange rate volatilities is an immense challenge for Nigerian enterprises which must contend with the headaches of imported input price fluctuations, foreign customer invoice settlements and overseas expansion strategies (Uche and Effiom 2021; Akinwolere 2021). Recognizing this capability gap, leading libraries have an opportunity to step up with tailored advisory services to guide businesses on effectively responding to currency swings, similar to what other organizations provide. For instance, groups like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Silicon Valley Bank offer extensive resources – including guides, advisory services, and risk models – to assist companies in managing foreign exchange exposure (ICAEW 2024; Silicon Valley Bank 2024). These resources can prove instrumental in helping businesses navigate the turbulence induced by exchange rate volatilities. Workshops can also be conducted by industry experts on specialized topics like tariff restructuring, leading indicators for the naira outlook relative to the dollar, simulations on optimizing export payment terms, and cost-effective hedging products suitable for small businesses.

B. Fostering Collaboration and Innovation within the Business Community

Beyond advisory initiatives, libraries can also serve as spaces for networking, fostering connections (Adetayo et al. 2023; Ismail and Chi 2018) between entrepreneurs, mentors and innovation ecosystem players to boost productivity and bottomlines. For instance, the Thomas Yoseloff Business Center at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), part of the New York Public Library, is a premier business library. It offers an array of free resources for those interested in personal finance and investing, small business, financial research, and career services. The Business Center provides premium electronic resources and services for businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to established businesses seeking expansion, and for job seekers, from entry to executive levels. It also offers WiFi for access to e-books and for research onsite. Database Computers are available to access the Center’s premium electronic databases for research in business, finance, and market research. They also offer virtual consultations with a business librarian who can assist in choosing the best databases for research needs (New York Public Library 2024).

VI. Libraries as Catalysts for Community Engagement and Advocacy

A. Hosting Public Forums and Discussions on Economic Challenges

Libraries can serve as inclusive spaces that bring together diverse groups to engage in candid deliberations regarding pressing economic adversities facing local communities. For instance, the Dallas Public Library in Texas, USA, launched a scheme in 2013 to do more for the homeless people that were using its facilities to access the internet, read books, and to get some “respite from the streets.” Its Homeless Engagement Initiative has since enrolled thousands of the city’s homeless people in learning, mentorship, and life-skills programmes. Libraries in Norway host programs like library-based language cafes and conversation circles to assist with the political integration of immigrants. Libraries are also adapting to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have continued to serve the needs of their communities, both online and offline, by reconsidering how they can work with local people to support their goals and aspirations (IFLA 2020; Fleming 2019; Martin 2022). These illustrate how libraries around the world, are actively involved in hosting public forums and discussions on a variety of socio-economic challenges. They serve as hubs for learning, innovation, and collaboration, playing a significant role in promoting awareness and understanding of various issues. Nigeria can take a cue from these and these efforts can contribute to the development of more informed and empowered communities.

B. Driving Collective Action Towards Policy Reforms and Economic Development

In addition to hosting discussions, Nigerian libraries can mobilize social capital and coalitions to actively advance equitable growth policies tailored for community needs. For instance, modern libraries have become hubs of community growth, connecting to broad civic agendas, and boosting local economies by developing small businesses and the workforce (Library Systems & Services 2022; DeLong 2024). They conduct various programs and workshops that provide resources and support to aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses. These initiatives help identify key challenges in business formalization, access to credit, and exporting. The insights gained from these programs are often shared with local government bodies and used to inform policy decisions. By aligning advocacy efforts, research outputs, and administrative aid with community preferences, libraries enable participatory decision-making for responsive economic reforms to foster inclusive welfare.

VII. Libraries’ Partnerships and Collaboration Efforts

A. Collaboration with Academic Institutions, Government Agencies, and International Organizations

Libraries have actively cultivated partnerships across institutions to integrate diverse perspectives into developing holistic solutions for economic challenges. For example, Cuban libraries collaborated with the National Centre for Sexual Education to disseminate key materials and support to communities. German libraries worked with adult education schools to support learning for newcomers. Meanwhile, Swedish libraries partnered with the Helsingborg Digitalisation Department to establish Digital Centres with a broad educational program. Libraries have also formed partnerships focused on health. In Ghana, libraries convened the Health Ministry, NGOs, churches, and community leaders to provide sexual health information to youth. In response to rising homelessness, some public libraries have expanded services beyond traditional offerings. Toronto’s libraries doubled as shelters while UK libraries pioneered “warm banks,” providing warmth and resources to those unable to afford energy bills (IFLA 2024). Many libraries also reach out to corporate sponsors to fund bookmobiles, offering branding and logo placement opportunities. Others provide Do-It-Yourself workshops on Saturdays on various topics like gardening, knitting, and bicycle repair, often sponsored by relevant local businesses (Library Strategies 2017).

B. Fostering Interdisciplinary Perspectives for Localized Solutions

Libraries can orchestrate inclusive spaces for collaborative solutioning on economic growth barriers by convening diverse stakeholders. For instance, a Regional Economic Development Roundtable could be hosted at the library, inviting policymakers, businesses, NGO representatives and academic researchers. Key municipal officials, small business owners and prominent citizen group leaders would assemble to debate local challenges and co-create tailored interventions.

The opening session would have urban economists outline research on lagging productivity metrics while civil society members share poignant community stories, putting a human face to the data. Concurrently, thematic breakout discussions could delve deeper – urban planners brainstorming infrastructure upgrade financing; social enterprise enablers workshopping local skills development programs with ed-tech startups; and sustainability advocates exploring partnerships with manufacturers to pilot clean production techniques.

Each group thereafter presents their ideas to the collective. Government representatives from economic planning agencies, statistical bureaus and skill councils then integrate insights towards designing holistic policy solutions spanning infrastructure upgrades, vocational training, innovation ecosystem stimuli and small business formalization reforms. By synthesizing multisectoral inputs through collaborative analysis of ground realities, community-centric growth interventions can be realized.

VIII. Conclusion

A. Recap of libraries’ multifaceted role in addressing Nigeria’s economic diversity and exchange rate challenges

As outlined in this paper, libraries are poised to make vital contributions addressing Nigeria’s pressing economic challenges spanning exchange rate volatilities, rising inequality, and structural bottlenecks constraining inclusive growth. As trusted information hubs and centers of community engagement, libraries can play a multifaceted role across several key domains. These include:

1) Serving as repositories of economic data, research and analytical capabilities facilitating policy decisions and business planning

2) Boosting economic and financial literacy among citizens through workshops on topics like exchange rate mechanics and personal finance

3) Supporting entrepreneurs through networks and advisory services on financial planning and export competitiveness

4) Fostering inclusive community dialogue on economic reforms as well as catalyzing grassroots advocacy coalitions to drive policy changes

5) Leveraging strategic partnerships with academia, industry, non-profits and government to integrate interdisciplinary perspectives into devising innovative solutions

B. Call for prioritizing library infrastructure and inclusion in policymaking

As Nigeria looks to foster resilient and equitable growth progressing towards its development goals, stakeholders must prioritize increased investment into library resources, technology access and infrastructure expansion countrywide. Funding can be unlocked by identifying sponsorships from impact-oriented corporate partners and development agencies. Furthermore, given immense repositories of hyper-local insights, librarians should have formal representation in national and state-level economic advisory committees alongside researchers and industry leaders. By embedding libraries within local policymaking machinery, communities can drive grassroots-focused reforms addressing ground realities. Nigeria’s future prosperity hinges on empowering each citizen to achieve their highest economic potential – and libraries constitute crucial platforms to realize this vision. Decision-makers must formally recognize libraries’ role as catalysts of economic change by boosting investment and forging sustained partnerships.


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