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Management of national libraries in Africa: a case of Uganda

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Purpose ‐ This paper aims to look at the development of the National Library of Uganda since its establishment in 2003 and what factors have influenced this development. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Ugandan parliamentary records and government papers have been used to trace the path of library development in Uganda from the 1920s to 2002 when the National Library bill was discussed and subsequently passed in Parliament. Detailed analysis is made of the National Library Act, 2003 and the establishment and development of the institution since then. Various sources on library services in Africa, and Uganda in particular, have also been consulted. The writer also draws on personal experience gained from working for the institution. Findings ‐ Many national libraries in Africa for historical reasons, convenience and because of limited resources play the dual role of legal deposit centres and public library services. The National Library of Uganda's role is slightly different in that it was established to collect and manage the country's documented heritage but its responsibility towards public library services is that of an overseer and not a direct implementer. This dual mandate needs to be understood properly, managed and balanced if the institution is to have a positive impact on the public that it serves. Originality/value ‐ This case can be used by library and information science students and researchers to compare roles and responsibilities of national libraries in Africa.
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Keywords: History; Library management; Public libraries; Uganda

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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