Libraries in Kenya: Kenya has a network of libraries at school, college and Government departments. Some public universities – Nairobi, Kenyatta, Moi and Egerton – have large libraries that have been established over the years. The country has also specialised libraries, at research institutes and museums.
Some Main Libraries and Documentation Centres in Kenya
Kenya National Library Service (KNLS)
It si a state corporation that runs the largest public library system. Launched in 1965, the Kenya National Library Service board opened its library in 1967. The objective of KNLS is to promote a reading culture by providing library and information service countrywide.
Currently, it has a library in every provincial headquarters and other major towns.
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KNLS has 15 branches that include Embu, Eldoret, Garissa, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Nyeri, Nairobi and Thika.
KNLS has over one million books. Plans are under way to digitise its services to allow readers to search and to locate books before making a trip to its facilities.
The joint initiative by the KNLS and the mobile phone provider Safaricom that will cost Kshs1.4 billion will be completed in 2014. It will enable readers to access both online and hard copies. In accordance with Vision 2030 of providing educational services to all, KNLS is expected to open branches in all counties.
KNLS also has plans to expand its catalogue of books in Braille to cater for the blind. This category will include books with large print and talking English, French, German and Spanish.
Macmillan Memorial Library
It is the largest public library in Kenya and is part of the KNLS library network. It is located in Nairobi Central Business District and has a collection of 275, 000 items that include books, reference materials, maps and slides and reels of microfilm.
University of Nairobi Library
The University of Nairobi has the largest collection of academic books in the country. Its Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library has more than 500, 000 items that include special collection of theses and dissertations, volumes of books, maps, aerial photographs and unpublished reports.
The Institute of Development Studies Library is depository of alll academic papers produced by researchers and fellows and affiliated research institutions. Chiromo Campus Library has over 70, 000 books and 13, 000 periodicals, most of them in sciences.
The Medical School Library has more than 30,000 books and a wide range of peiodicals and journals. The university’s Law collection centre has more than 15, 000 volumes.
American Cultural Centre Library
The library is estimated to have about 15, 000 books in a wide range of subjects that include economics, literature, social sciences, ecology and environmental studies.
The library has a regular supply of international and local newspapers and magazines.
National Museums of Kenya Library
It is estimated to have a collection of between 15, 00 and 20, 000 books and more than 60, 000 reprints of East African Natural History. It has stocks of unpublished reports theses and dissertations, most of them kept in archives.
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Library
The library is known for its rare collections of old recordings and sound archives. It has a large collection of films and video recordings. The Nation Media Group and the Standard Group both have print and electronic libraries.
United Nations Library at Nairobi
The sergio Vieira de Mello United Nations Library at Nairobi is the former UNEP Library and Documentation Centre. It is a joint initiative of United Nations agencies based in Nairobi, led by the United Nations Environmental Programmme.
It has a collection of over 60, 000 classified titles that include reference materials, books, documents, scientific journals, videos and official documents of relevance to a variety of United Nations Organisations.
More recent materials are available in the library database and are classified using an in-house classsification scheme. The library maintains a list of newly acquired books and periodicals. It is popular with staff members of the United Nations specialised agencies, students, researchers and civil servants.
Kenya Scientific Information and Documentation Centre
It is the official depository for the theses and dissertations done in Kenya or based on research about Kenya. Most of the items are on agricultural and animal husbandry, medicine, energy, natural sciences, engineering and technology. The centre has the largest scientific and technological literature in the country.
Kenya Law Reports
Kenya has a comprehensive database on law reports. The library is maintained by the National Council for Law Reporting, a state corporation that has the mandate to publish Kenya’s official law reports and decisions of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, and the High Court of kenya.
The corporation in collaboration with Google has established an online access to archive parliamentary debates. Now one can access online historical and current records of the debates of the Kenya National Assembly and previous parliaments dating back to 1960 and coming forward to present. The corporation has also digitized over 100 years of the Kenya Gazette, the official publication of the Kenya Government.
Libraries in Kenya – Other Libraries
There are other libraries and documentary centres, most of them established by universities, embassies, international organisations and media houses. Others are specialised libraries whose scope is of interest to professionals and researchers.
They include the British Institute of Eastern African Library, The Central Bank of Kenya Library, the East Africa Herbarium, French Cultural Centre Library, the Goethe institute Library and the High Court of Kenya Library.
Research organisation – The international centre for insect physiology and ecology library, international livestock research institute library, the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute – also have libraries that are well-stocked libraries in their fields of specialisation.
Other libraries are at the Kenya Conservation of Music, the Kenya National Assembly and the World Bank.
Other Libraries in Kenya
Other libraries in Kenya are at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music, the Kenya National Assembly, UNEP and the World Bank offices.