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THE SIERRA LEONE LIBRARY BOARD
My organisation The Sierra Leone Library Board is functioning as a public library and national library. The objectives of the library are as follows:
- Principle advisor to government on library policy and information issues.
- Collects, preserves and makes available an important part of the documentary heritage of Sierra Leone.
- Makes available an authoritative record of Sierra Leone publishing.
- Coordinates the availability of national information resources.
- Delivers information.
THE PROVISION OF PUBLIC LIBRARY SERVICE
The provision of public library service by the Sierra Leone Library Board serves the following main purposes:
- To support and reinforce programmes of adult and basic education.
- To provide effective services for children and young people, including requisite services for schools.
- To provide much needed information and reference services.
- To promote and stimulate reading for pleasure and recreation.
- To provide where needed adequate services for special groups.
The Sierra Leone Library Board is presently showing progress in almost every sphere of its activities: books, staff, buildings, and professional services amidst recent problems the country went through; to be specific the nine years rebel war. The steady improvement in the security situation has ignited fresh hopes about the country's development prospects. The Sierra Leone Library Board rehabilitated the Children's library and the conference room at the headquarters library in Freetown in December, 2001. The rehabilitation was funded by the Library Board. Also on the 10th of November, 2001, the modified and rehabilitated regional library of southern Sierra Leone was handed over to the Sierra Leone Library Board by the National Commission for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. Funds for the project were provided by the World Bank. Throughout the nine year rebel war, the Sierra Leone Library Board continued to provide effective library service in two regional libraries and the headquarters library in Freetown as well as the branch libraries of Kissy, Kabala, and Bonthe.
In the regional libraries of Bo and Kenema and the headquarters library in Freetown, the traditional lending, reference and children's services are in operation. There is a current average of 350 users who make use of the services of the headquarters library in Freetown every day. Similarly current statistics show that between 500 and 600 volumes of books are in circulation every week. These figures are encouraging considering the fact that we are just recovering from the nightmare of war. The headquarters library, which is a reinforced concrete frame structure on two floors with a floor area of 15,000 square feet and a book capacity of 100,000 volumes, has a Board room and a foyer with a sitting capacity of 100. All book handling, storage, distribution, cataloguing and classification is done in Freetown. In addition to its traditional role the Sierra Leone Library Board is seeking by any means to increase the usefulness of the public libraries in Sierra Leone through extension services. Extension services formed an integral part of the entire library services. In these services, quiz and drama competitions, exhibitions, conferences and film shows are organised. Others include library services to schools and assistance to institutions or organisations wishing to set up new libraries. Also, the Sierra Leone Library Board is supporting NGO's, Area Development Associations, schools, and tertiary institutions with books donated by partner organisations like Book Aid International. Hopefully Sabre Foundation will soon come in to underpin the book programme in Sierra Leone. This contribution partner organisations are making and will be making is in consonance with the importance of the availability of information to everyone. The Sierra Leone Library Board considers this essential for people to make independent decisions in all areas that affect their daily life. Current economic development and success in Sierra Leone has a strong link with good information framework.
Finally, I wish to thank members of the staff of Sabre Foundation and Ghana Book Trust for making my trip to Ghana in order to attend the conference Dialogue of African Partners possible. I assure you all that our partnership with Sabre Foundation will yield the required result. I thank you.
Sallieu Turay, senior librarian, Sierra Leone Library Board.