21 December 2016

Hafiz Adewuyi

UNILAG library - A co-working space in Yaba that might not have crossed your mind

It's the third day of my annual leave from work today. I'm creating this post from within the University of Lagos library (third floor). For the past two days of my vacation, one of my top goals has been to find a conducive and affordable space where I can work from. By definition, such a place would have in the minimum: good air conditioning, a non-obtrusive environment and constant supply of electricity for my devices. WiFi would be a welcome plus, but if not available, I can live with tethering from my mobile phone, which provides WiFi with a speed I can live with.


THE OPTIONS I HAD CONSIDERED
  • CcHub, Sabo Yaba
I don't have a business. I'm a wantrepreneur, not yet an entrepreneur as I don't have much to show for my many ideas. Membership of CCHub for an individual attracts an annual membership fee, which was N30000 for a quarter the last time I checked (that was some years ago). I just checked now and membership is N52500 per quarter. Sorry, all I need is a couple of weeks and then maybe access on random Saturdays.

I briefly considered reconnecting with a couple of people I know who run their businesses from CcHub and then, apply to be an ad-hoc member of their team for a couple of weeks. But then I thought that would be going too much out of my comfort zone, plus, no one in this category owes me any favour, unfortunately. I should practice value-driven networking more actively because then I will have a larger bank of options in times like this. 

On a positive note, I gleaned from my short research on current pricing at CcHub that you can actually earn free access to CcHub's 6th floor by completing a couple of challenges here. Essentially, you will have to contribute ideas, research or some other kind of brain-tasking work that helps advance a CcHub cause. Not a bad idea, I would say. Pretty fair deal.


  • LitCaf at Ozone, Yaba
I first came upon this place when I went to Cafe Neo at Ozone two weeks ago. It's in one silent corner of the complex. Of course, I had heard and read about it several times before, but that was my first time there. I looked in through the glass doors and I would say the occupancy was pretty high for a Saturday evening.

So, this Monday, I visited the website and found that it did not contain any information on becoming a member. If this info is actually there, then I guess I'm due for a crash course titled: "Navigating 'modern' websites for dummies". On the bright side, I was able to get a phone number off of the footer of the website, but it turns out that the MTN number has been "currently switched off" for the past two days!

I know they run monthly subscriptions here, because some years back when they were pretty new, they were offering monthly membership at a deeply discounted price of 2000 naira on Dealdey. Original price as at the time was 15000 naira. My intention was to call in and after explaining my current situation in spotless accuracy to the respondent, ask them if I could get access to their space on a daily membership basis. My budget was 500 naira per day, even though I was willing to add a few 100s as I understand a lot has happened to the naira since the days of 15000 aira. 

Now, the only option I was left with was to visit their office to make my enquiries. I was hesitant to do this because I had little interest in going in that direction if the response was going to be negative. Also, I think negotiating over the phone is convenient and gives me an edge. I have a nice and convincing voice :)

I would have had no choice but to go there though if things had not worked out at UNILAG library this morning.

  • My former employer's office at Alagomeji
No. I won't be the ex who never moves on


  • My current workplace at VI
"Damn; get a life, please"! I would be perfectly understanding of my colleagues' plight if this was all they said to me all day at the office.


MANAGING FOR THE PAST TWO DAYS
Doing any serious work at home is near to impossible for me. Hence why I always seek to find my way out of the house whenever I intend to get any useful work done. For the past two days, I made do with an outdoor space in the faculty of engineering at UNILAG. It's called the "dubbing centre" and is the first public seating area you will encounter if you enter the faculty from the front. The dubbing centre is outfitted with 240v AC sockets, of which quite a good number are still functional. 

On getting there early this morning, I found the space occupied to capacity, which meant that I had to look elsewhere. Seeing as I was determined to get to the end of my workspace problem today, I decided to keep looking. I walked around the rest of the engineering faculty, then on to the Faculty of Business admin, in which I had helped myself to a lecture hall one Saturday evening about two months ago. Unfortunately, today was not my lucky day. All the classrooms were locked. 

As I walked out of the faculty, it occurred to me that I could approach the guys at the university library to see what offerings they had for non-members of the University community who needed access to the facility.

STUMBLING UPON THE UNILAG LIBRARY
At first, it seemed like an absolutely ridiculous idea and I was so sure there was no way this was gonna work out. However, the more I thought about it, the more reasonable it seemed. After considering it for a couple of minutes, I concluded that the potential benefits of trying far outweighed the disappointment I would feel from getting rejected, so off I went, marching towards the library with a positive spirit.

Once there, I approached the porter at the library entrance and let him know I was neither staff nor student but I wanted access to the library. Without much ado, he directed me to the admin office of the library. There, I met with the admin officer (Majek) who was straight to the point and very helpful as well.

JOINING THE UNILAG LIBRARY AS A MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC
Upon request, I told him what I do for a living and that I am employed at it. For an employed professional, below are the requirements for becoming a member of the library:

- a valid identification card. I would recommend you have both a nationally recognised ID like a driver's license and your company ID card at hand

- proof of address e.g. NEPA bill. He did not mention this but I saw it on the library website, so better safe than sorry

- letter of recommendation from your place of employment

- annual membership fee of 5000 Naira only


JOINING THE UNILAG LIBRARY AS AN ALUMNUS
Fortunately for me, he went on to ask me if I am an old student of the university, to which my answer was a "yes". Just being an old student stripped away most of the requirements for a regular professional. In this case, all I had to do was sign up at the UNILAG office of alumni and endowment as an alumnus. 

Requirements Be a UNILAG alumnus (B.Sc, M.sc or Ph.D, don't ask me about Diploma), two passport photographs, 2000 Naira cash and your memory

Procedure (Roughly one hour)
-  Pay 2000 Naira at Ecobank to "Alumni" account. Once you walk into the Ecobank branch on the ground floor of the same building which holds the alumni office, tell the guard you want to pay for alumni and he'll furnish you with the correct account number and name

- Take your deposit slip to the alumni office at the top floor of the Ecobank building. You will need to remember your:
  • Name
  • Matriculation number
  • Degree and course of study e.g. B.Sc Mass Communications
  • Year of graduation
- Once your bank-stamped deposit slip is received, you will be required to fill a form with basic information, the most important of which are listed in the previous step. You will also have to locate your name in the convocation booklet from your year of graduation. Woe betide you if your name was mistakenly omitted during printing

- After a few minutes, the process will be complete and you will be handed an alumni sticker, a stamped form that certifies you as a valid alumnus of the university of Lagos and your deposit slip

- Make a few photocopies of the stamped form for keeps as the original will be retained at the library

- Proceed to the library's admin office and present your newly earned alumni certificate plus one passport photograph. Your library access card (valid for a full calendar year) will be ready in less than five minutes and from then on, you will be good to go!!!

UNILAG LIBRARY OPENING HOURS
Monday to Saturday: 8 am to 10 pm
Last Saturday of the month: 2 pm to 10 pm (I don't know if this will still apply as environmental sanitation has been cancelled in Lagos)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE UNILAG LIBRARY
Air conditioning: This isn't great but there are several powerful fans that help to get the air around. I would score air conditioning at 6/10; you can live with it but it's not that great. I'm not sweating at least, and it's much better than the natural sauna that my house would be right now

Power: Not a lot of functioning sockets. I'm currently on the third floor and everyone in the library as far as I can observe is drawing power from one socket, of course with the help of several extension boxes. I've been here for about five hours now, and the power has gone off twice, the longest of the two sessions being about 20 minutes long

Internet: I don't know yet if non-members of the UNILAG community can access the WiFi but from what I observed, the speed is nothing to write home about. Thankfully, I am armed with my own WiFi from my phone

Ambience: The fans are quite noisy but otherwise, you can have your peace as everyone is well behaved. You won't want an African mother in the person of the library attendant to be on your case now, would you?

Convenience: All the toilets within the library are designated "staff only", unfortunately. This leaves you with a block of toilets just outside the library building. I will give the toilets a rating of 2 out of 10, because I'm kind of a nice guy. You can imagine the rest.

That's all folks. I know this was pretty long, but I want to believe every line of it was worth reading because it was full of valuable information for the intended reader. I would be happy to hear from you if this post was a lifesaver for you. 

Send me your good wishes in the comments section below. They make my heart glad, even though I like to pretend not to be a believer in wishes. I mean, seeing a hundred different but identical "happy birthdays" on a Whatsapp group just has a way of desensitising you to wishes, dunnit?

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