Namibia Digital Repository

The need and use of community library services in Namibia

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The need and use of community library services in Namibia


"The overall aim of this study is to investigate the use of community libraries in Namibia. The study aims at finding solid data on the actual use of community libraries, who needs them and what do they need them for. Main questions addressed in the study are as follows: (i) Who are the users of Namibian community libraries? (ii) For which purposes do people use the services provided by community libraries? (iii) In which ways do the users´ demographic characteristics relate to the purposes of use? (iv) Which are the main usage patterns of the community libraries? (v) What are the needs for the development of the services of community libraries based on the suggestions and problems experienced by library users?

The study was carried out as a survey in three community libraries in North-Central Namibia. The libraries were chosen to represent community libraries in the previously disadvantages regions to represent the majority of Namibian population and provide information on emerging user needs and usage patterns. The empirical data on demographic characteristics of all users and services used in those libraries was gathered during six days in October-November 2003. The data was analysed using frequencies of variables and a their cross tabulation.

The working hypothesis of the study was that Namibian community libraries have changed from the pre-independence Anglo-American model of recreational and cultural institution and lending library mainly used for leisure reading and borrowing out fiction and hobby type of books, to a primarily educational institution. The hypothesis was clearly supported by the data on the users and usage patterns from the case libraries. Almost 70% of the users in the three case libraries were learners and students. Community library was mainly used as a learning place, to study and do school work in the library. The other main functions used by varied groups of the community were photocopy service and public ICT access. Although lending continued to be a way of using the library it was not the major usage pattern. 64% of users did not borrow books and only 1.5% of clients used the library only for borrowing. The main usage pattern of the community library as a study place and the most popular resources: textbooks, photocopy service and public ICT access, were interpreted to respond to important educational and socio-economic needs of Namibian communities. "


Ritva Niskala


University of Tampere




Bernard C. Moore


PDF File




M.A. Thesis



Ritva Niskala, “The need and use of community library services in Namibia,” Namibia Digital Repository, accessed April 22, 2019,

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