Development of Libraries in Kenya and Their Role in Economic Development

OJIAMBO, Joseph B. and KASALU, Judy S. (2015) Development of Libraries in Kenya and Their Role in Economic Development. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 78 - Library History SIG. In: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa.

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Language: English (Original)
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Development of Libraries in Kenya and Their Role in Economic Development

The development of libraries in Kenya is associated with the coming of Europeans and Asians in the 19th century. The colonialists and the Asians who settled in Kenya during this period set up libraries to support their educational and economic endeavours in the country. The Europeans set up special libraries to cater for their needs with the Asians of Indian origin later setting up public libraries. Use of these libraries was restricted to Europeans and Asians in total disregard of the information needs of Africans. The needs of the Africans were not considered until late 1948 when recommendations by the colonial government were made for the establishment of the East Africa Literature Bureau. The Bureau was supposed to encourage African authorship, publish materials in vernacular languages and establish lending libraries for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The library functions of the bureau were later split and each country established its own public library service board. This led to the creation of the Kenya National Library Services Board in 1964 in Kenya which was mandated with the task of promoting, equipping, managing maintaining and developing library services in Kenya. The post-independence era has witnessed growth and development of all categories of libraries including academic and school libraries throughout Kenya with academic libraries taking prominence. This paper analyzes the development of libraries in Kenya from the colonial to post-colonial period. It also examines the role and the impact that these libraries have had in economic development in the country. In spite of the fact that Kenya has witnessed a remarkable growth in establishment of libraries, there has been a slow development of these libraries due to economic hardships and diminished funding by the parent institutions. This has hampered the vibrant participation of these libraries in economic growth and development of the country.

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