By Cyriacus Nnaji
Crimmd Library situated along Ejigbo/Idimu Road in Lagos was opened in 2004 with just less than 100 books, but today the library has over 30,000 books and 36,000 photographs in the museum section. The major idea behind the establishment of the Library was to encourage Nigerians to reinvent interest in book reading.
Raphael James the Founder of Crimmd in an interview with The AUTHORITY explained how the idea of Crimmd Library came about a�?When I finished my university and a couple of place I worked, I observed one thing and that is, most graduates are not learned, and I wondered what happens to those not bothered to go to the university.
a�?When I came to Lagos I started my Centre for Research, then I had a business centre attached to it, and I observed that most young people came to the centre with their brothers, sisters or nephewa��s GCE or WAEC certificates; they would demand for tip-paste. They would tip-paste the names out then write their own name, make photocopy and they either use it to go and look for Job or admission. And one question I keep asking them is if you use somebody else certificate, can you defend them? Then I tried to work on a solution to help them and I thought the best way to do that is provide a place where they can go and read.
a�?And this concept of setting up a library came up, of course it is not common in our society, I remember when I started a lot of people saying o boy are you okay, and you are even running a library free. How are you gonna make money and all that. But I keep telling them that my aim wasna��t to make money, my aim is to see if I can correct that wrong in the society, so far between 2004 and 2018 I think I am proud of what I have done so far,a�? he said.
A publisher of two magazines, James said a�?My library has been able to produce medical doctors, Engineers, young guys who have either used the library to sit for their GCE, their JAMB, their WAEC and most of them are doing well out there.
a�?I run what has been described as the largest photo Museum in Nigerian history with over 36, 000 photographs, I have a skill centre where I train women, which I started in 2006. By March 2018 we have trained over 3,000 women free.
a�?The library is a general public library from Kindergarten to graduates, you see young people, you see elderly ones; we have books covering practically every discipline in the library.
The Photo Museum was aimed to preserve Nigerian History, so we have photos of everybody that has been somebody in the making of Nigerian History from 1884 to date. We have over36, 000 photographs.a�?
James gets his photographs using cameras, tour across the country. He has visited 26 states, 312 Tourist sites, National Libraries across the country, he reshoots photographs and buys biographies. a�?I should say I am the highest Biography collector in Nigeria, I have over 200 biographies of prominent Nigerians. At times I go on the net when I am very sure the name is correct we go for it too.
An author of several books, he update his library almost on weekly basis
James has received 95 awards, including the award for the most reliable man in Africa, which was given to me from China, it was an open competition from over 729 participants across Africa, where he represented Nigeria and won the Award.
On the importance of the library he said a�?I believe that if we have one library on every street in Nigeria, Nigeria will become a great nation, because the Library is the source of intellectual power. It is a place you can work in and by time you spend one or two hours, you gonna come out with additional knowledge to what you have.
When asked how the internet has affected running his Library he said, a�?I dona��t think it has had any negative effect, because I have seen a lot of cases people come and they are doing a research work and they would say we have been on the net and we couldna��t get the material
James also said he has donated to the society over 24,000 as of February 2018, a�?two weeks ago I bought 4000 books which I intend to give out to society, the aim is to encourage more libraries to have books encourage public schools, where students cannot afford to access reading materials.
On sponsorship, he said a�?Since 2004 till date I have not collected one Naira from anybody, individual or organization have sponsored me or assisted. I do my private job whatever come in as resources I have this formula I divide it into three, one third goes into what I do, one third for the family and the other for miscellaneous, that is how I have been able to sustain the place since 2004 till date. Though he admitted that he has gotten book donations from Rotary International Isolo and several authors.
James also spoke on how he has been able to sensitize the people on the existence of Crimmd a�?We hold several programmes. On the World Book and Copyright Day we hosted the President of International Association of African Writers and Scholars, who came in from United States of America, where we encourage young people to read; since 2004 we have Valentine Reading Programme, we make book donations; we conducted a research work on how people read in Lagos State and the result of which was sent to the Lagos State Government and Ministry of Education which I felt could help them in their planning. This year we started what we called Ijabu gari Book reading, where we encourage people to come and drink gari with fish or coconut depending on what you want, breakfast book reading, Palm wine book reading during which time we have fun but while we are having fun the whole concept is to encourage reading habit.
He said biggest challenge of the library is space, a�?We need some where bigger, not just money, if can give us a bigger space we will really appreciate that.a�?