The Botswana National Library Service was established in September 1967 by Act of Parliament (National Library Service Act No 29, 1967). It was officially opened by the first president of the Republic of Botswana the late Sir Seretse Khama on the 8th April 1968. It was one of the seven departments in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. It is headed by the director, who reports to the Permanent Secretary through Deputy Permanent Secretary responsible for culture and social welfare matters.
Preserves the national literary heritage and provides public with information services for educational, research and recreational purposes through lending and reference services.
To be a world class library and information service centre.
The department currently has six (6) mobile library service points, at Serowe, Letlhakane, Tutume, Selebi-Phikwe, Francistown and Gaborone.
The service is intended to bring service closer to the people who have no means of accessing library services, such as the prisoners, hospitalized as well as Primary Schools in very remote areas.
The service is provided to members residing in areas which are more than eight (8) kilometers away from the nearest public library. A member is allowed to borrow up to four (4) books at a time for a period of four (4) weeks. The loan period is renewable on condition that the materials in question are not in demand.
The library staff assists library users to locate information within and outside the library. This is done on the spot by attending to users queries which are satisfied through information available or through a referral system. Reference materials or sources are used in the library only and may not be borrowed or loaned out.
Library members may request for books which are not available in the library. Efforts to obtain those books from other libraries are made through Inter-Lending Loan System (ILL) which is cooperation between the National Library and other libraries, nationally, regionally and internationally.
The Department plays an important role through Public Libraries in introducing reading; other educational and social programmes availed to young children. Through a variety of activities such as Art, storytelling, video shows, indoor and outdoor games, computer training, the library develops children’s intellectual, artistic and emotional responses to the world around them.
ISBNs are assigned to monographic publications and certain types of related products that are available to the public. Examples of types of monographic publications to which an ISBN shall be assigned are:
This division exists to procure information sources locally and internationally for all service points, organise information for easy and timely retrieval (cataloguing and classification), coordinate stocktaking and withdrawal exercises, manage serials, coordinate Inter Library Lending (I.L.L) and provides ICT services.
Bibliographic Support Services is made up of three units and these are:
This division is responsible for identifying, collecting and managing literary works published / produced locally, about Botswana, by Batswana as well as any publication about Botswana but produced externally. It aims at addressing the following functions:
Public library is one of the biggest divisions in the Botswana National Library Service. Its mandate is to provide information and knowledge free of charge for the purpose of research, education and recreation. The division is responsible for provision of library services to the public in general. Both members and non members are free to have access to their libraries. The service is provided through branch libraries, Mobile libraries and Village Reading Rooms, Lending services, Postal Services, Reference services, Educational services, Capacity Building and Recreational programs, Community Information services as well as provision of free internet services to the community. The division harbors’ 33 Public Libraries, 6 Mobile Libraries and 65 Village Reading Rooms.
The library is housed within BNLS headquarters and provides service to all disable people but emphasis is on the visually impaired group. The materials kept are in braille, large and standard prints, and audio visuals. LSPD works in collaboration with other government departments and non governmental institutions locally and internationally that provide services to people with disabilities. Services provided are;
The divisions mandate is to coordinate government and donor funded library projects as outlined in the National Development Plans with the view to ensure that they are carried out within time and budget. It is concerned with infrastructure development within the department, so that library buildings, furniture and equipment are developed for better service delivery. The division is headed by Principal Librarian I assisted by Librarian II. Activities performed in the division include amongst others;
A union of library clients, reading and learned together, sharing what they read to encourage other to read. This club enhance reading, writing and promotes a culture of reading among clients. This club targets Youth and Adults.
This programs targets school pupils. Public Librarians work together with teachers to assist students to attain their home works using the library and its information sources. This program supplements the school curriculum and enhances learning among pupils. It also assists to improve pass rate of students every year.
This program is implemented through Sesigo Project, and it targets Youth only. Youth are taught basic computer skills like processing simple documents like business plans, spread sheets. They are also inducted on internet browsing/searches, Skype, and other related ICT topics.
Library Services for People with Disabilities (LSPD) situated in BNLS headquarters works with BNLS outstations to loan visually impaired clients braille materials to read for the purpose of education, leisure and recreation. These clients are based in Gaborone, Motswedi Rehabilitation Centre and other places with people with visual impairment. Most of these clients are registered as postal service customers.
This is a tailor made program established in Molepolole. Its users are physically and mentally challenged children of Annes Stein School in Molepolole. These students perform art and craft activities like painting, drawing.
Bana ba Dinonyane program is established and based in Jwaneng Public Library. This program targets Dinonyane Primary School pupils. These pupils are physically and mentally challenged. Library staff read books to them on periodical basis. Some of the students can borrow books and read on their own.
Mochudi Public Library works with Library Services for People with disabilities (LSPD) to loan visually impaired students braille materials to read for education, leisure and recreation. Public Librarian then monitor impact realised from services offered.
Based in Ramotswa, Life Line is a youth programme geared towards transforming the lifestyles of youth. It gives them a platform to open up for one another and to be free to discuss issues of their concern particularly issues of health, Alcohol and Drug abuse, a Library as an information and recreational institution and personal development . The youth have embraced this programme and those who have been members since its inception are quite happy about its progress and the empowerment they have received so far.
Life Line Objectives:
This programme was conceived and initiated in collaboration with the District AIDS Coordinator’s Office in 2009. It kick started on the 13th February 2010 through the assistance of the Peace Corp Volunteer; Dr. Christopher Doran. The programme is progressing very well and it is co-facilitated by the Library and the Department of Arts and Culture.
As part of BNLS mandate, BNLS employees market the library through story telling. Children are gathered in one place and told stories. Story books are read to children and stories are shared with the group. These stories assist in guidance and counselling. These stories also improve minds of young people.
This program encourages young children to be future artists. They draw and paint pictures using pencils, colouring pencils and crayons. It also brings children together in the library for learning purposes.
This program is an educational program. It also assist in character building of individual clients in endeavour to share and learn about various ailments, such cancer, tuberculosis, prevention of HIV/AIDS infections. It targets both Youth and adults.
A global development project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is a partnership between the Government of Botswana ACHAP, as the grantee contracted by the Gates Foundation and the Government of Botswana represented by the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) through the Botswana National Library Service (BNLS) where implementation of the project takes place.
The project trains library staff on the use of computers, basic troubleshooting as well as how the platform (computers) can be used to generate new services (library) and make public libraries the e-government access platform. All professionally trained librarians will equally be trained to become project advocates and carry out monitoring and evaluation of library services, taking user feedback into account.The library staff are further trained to become trainers of users (the public) and are projected to have trained 40,000 such users over a four year horizon on basic computer essentials and the use of the Internet.