Marketing Public Library Services in Sierra Leone


The concept of instituting marketing principles to non-profit institutions such as library and information Services is no longer a controversy. Organisations operate in an environment of change. Today we live in a global market for many goods and services in which technology, purchasing power and many factors change on a regular basis. One of the key functions of marketing is to find out how these changes affect clientele’s wants and needs and to develop organisational strategies and plans that will ensure that the library meets these challenges (Dransfield and Needham, 1995). It is therefore not surprising that public librarians are joining the marketing bandwagon. This article explores the marketing activities in the operations of the Sierra Leone Public Library services.

Public Libraries

A Public Library is funded wholly and partly from public funds and the use of which is not restricted to any class persons in the community but freely available to all. It is a major agency of enlightenment for adults, providing for children the recorded experiences of others which will help them grow into adults.

Usherhood (1981) defined Public Library as an organization established, supported and funded by the community, either through local, regional or national government or through some form of or other community organization. It provides access to knowledge, information and works of imagination through a range of resources and services and equally available to members of the public community regardless of race, nationality, economic and employment status and educational attainment.

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB)

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) was established by Ordinance in June, 1959. The setting up of the Board was envisaged in the Government’s White Paper on Educational Development in 1958 and its functions outlined therein as follows:

• To provide a national/public library Service;
• To support and reinforce programmes of adult and fundamental education;
• To provide effective services for children and young adults including requisite services to schools;
• To provide much needed information and references services;
• To provide where needed adequate services for special groups, that is women and girls, language groups.

The Central Library is designed to give public services to Freetown and also to function as headquarter of the National/Public Library services and to provide accommodation for a growing collection of book and non-book materials in the country. It does all technical processing of stock for the Regional and Branch Libraries and has an Adult Lending Reference and a Children’s department.

Libraries are charged with responsibility to provide information service to support educational, recreation and personal endeavours of the members of their respective communities and the Sierra Leone Library Board is not an exception to that. The following services are provided at the Sierra Leone Library Board to Clientele:

Children Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides information services to children by the provision of books and other materials for children which are often housed in a special section known as the Children’s Library. A special service for children known as child orientated educational programme specially designed for younger library users is included in the children’s library services. They also provide services to children through storytelling, drama/play and reading aloud.

Book Borrowing and Lending Service

The main task of Sierra Leone Library Board is to provide the public with access to books and periodicals. The Sierra Leone Library Board typically offers access to a variety of books which are available for borrowing by anyone with the appropriate library card.

Current Awareness Service

At the Sierra Leone Library Board, current awareness service is aimed at bringing to the notice of potential users, newly available documents and information services. This is done by collating information and producing new secondary sources, circulating current periodicals or other documents acquired and producing and distributing one or more forms of bulletins.

Selective Dissemination of Information

A more personal information service is being run at the Sierra Leone Library Board in which the library constantly notifies library users about particular information/materials matching them in a profile of the information needs and research pre-occupation of their clientele. This is done by either bringing references to relevant items to the notice of their clients and by obtaining copies and then supply the documents themselves to library users.

Outreach Services

The Sierra Leone Library Board provides outreach information services which is committed to developing library outreach programmes for non-users, the undeserved, and people with special needs in the communities in restricted areas.

Computer and Internet Services

In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, information resources and government services are being provided online by the Sierra Leone Library Board. This is done by providing access to the Internet and public computers for users who otherwise would not be able to connect to these services.

Library Marketing

Marketing is often viewed as a set of strategies and techniques that belongs to administrators outside of librarianship. But, librarians are also involved in the marketing process. The essence of marketing involves finding out users needs and want, then setting out to meet these needs.

Marketing according to Weingand (1995) “can be viewed as a process of exchange and a way to foster partnership between the library and its community” (p.296). In order to maintain the relationship between the public library and the community, marketing strategies have to be employed as effective tool.

Marketing in the public library means more than simply promotion or selling. It is more concerned about user needs. Marketing the Public Library is a social and managerial process by which products and services as well as values are exchanged in order to fulfill individuals or group needs. Marketing refers to those instruments through which information, both raw and processed, are transmitted to its members. Promotion or campaigning is but two activities in the broader exercise of marketing

Planning Library Marketing Programmes

The continued existence of libraries, if not their survivals, may well depend upon the use of marketing and planning strategies, communicated through effective public relations, to significantly alter the perceived role and position of the library in society.

In a real sense, Public Relation is the promotion component of a full marketing plan of library programmes. It can be seen as the communicated module which serves the promotion function; conversely, it may be easily depicted as a philosophical relationship between library and community which serves as a guiding light for promotion activities.

Both communication and research skills serve well in the marketing planning process of which Public Relations is an important component. Specific skills and knowledge are also needed in marketing planning programs for libraries. It goes without saying that both ongoing marketing planning and programmes, and in particular, how the needs of different groups of users differ from each other. Library and information services are complex entities, as are the human users and potential users of these services.

Planning, promotion and campaigning are but all activities in the boarder exercise of marketing. User studies therefore, have a very wide range of uses in relation to the planning of library marketing programmes of a service. They contribute in the planning, promotion and development of library services. In their contribution they help in the understanding of different user group behaviour and their needs, and can assist in effective campaigning and planning process.

Three steps to planning library marketing programmes are:

• Knowing what your beliefs are and therefore what you want to achieve;
• Communicating these beliefs as practical objectives to the people with whom you work, in order that these objectives can be fulfilled; and
• Creating a vehicle which allows this to happen. This can only be achieved by defining the basic components and through organization.

Methods of marketing in Sierra Leone Library Board

Book Displays and Exhibitions

Displays and exhibitions are widely used in most public libraries as a marketing strategy to sell their products or items. The SLLB displays jackets of new books which are not yet included in the lending department for easy access by users and to increase usage. It is also a means of drawing the attention of users and non-users to particular aspects of library resources and services.

Printed materials and Publications

In order to make a very good image of the public library and for public librarians to establish better communication between the library and users, publicity programmes are put in place by the management of the Sierra Leone Library Board through news release. The management also considers annual reports and newspapers as basic publicity techniques. Publications such as bibliographies, guides and brochures are used by the library to communicate with the wider public.

Public Relations Office

Public relations according to Usherhood (1981) is concerned with gaining of public support for an activity, cause, movement or institution. It is a process that furthers mental understanding and cooperation between a government; or any organisation and its various publics. The Sierra Leone Library Board has a Public Relations Office charged with the responsibility to enhance a smooth system of communication.

User Education/Readers Advisory Service

This could be described as training a group of users in the effective use of the library and its resources. It is used to stimulate the users to make greater use of the library and introduces library staff to clientele who might be reluctant to seek their assistance. This is the principal means through which library staff can learn about readers’ needs, opinions and habits. Good communication with readers enables staff to inform and influence readers.

The Media

These involve printed and audio-visual forms of communication and any necessary equipment to render them usable. The Press, radio and television are important means of publicising information service, since they offer potential of reaching many people from all walks of life. The media are cultivated so that messages are distributed with regularity. Publicity mechanism such as news releases, special events and brochures can also be employed.

The Social Media Groups (SMG)

The Sierra Leone Library Board makes use of the Social media groups such as ‘Facebook’ and ‘Watsapp’ as an effective way for publicity in order to put their messages across to users of their services.

Challenges of Marketing Library and Information Services at the SLLB

A lot of challenges have militated against the effective planning and implementation of library marketing programs at SLLB. The following are some of the challenges:

• Inadequate Staff: Although staff numbers have been maintained, the ratio of professional staff is very low. The library is manned mostly by paraprofessionals who mostly lack the skills to plan and implement marketing programmes.

• Finance: The library depends heavily on government subsidy. The government has no specific or substantial funds for the running of the library thus the library administration has to foot most of the bills that have to do with marketing. The irregular flow of funds has served as a barrier to the progress of marketing library and information services at the SLLB.

• Lack of standard printed materials and publications: The SLLB lacks most standard printed materials and publications due to poor planning of marketing programmes. This negligence has made the library handicapped of public relations tools in the form of printed materials and publications such as newsletters, questionnaires, diaries and calendars.

• Displays are improper and exhibitions seem almost absent: The library depends mostly on donations and most of the books are acquired without jackets. Therefore displaying book jackets in inconsistent. In fact exhibition programmes are yet to survive as they are only recently introduced. The library lacks relevant display and exhibition materials to mount these activities.

• Inability to organize frequent Radio Programs: The SLLB lacks media communication facilities. The library cannot frequently organise radio programmes on its own because of lack of funds. The absence of radio programmes stands out as an acute problem to the progress of marketing programs in the library.

Conclusively, marketing is the instrument that libraries use to transform their aims and objectives into operational plans of action. In most developing countries’ public libraries such as the SLLB, marketing strategies cannot operate properly due to the existence of bottlenecks in planning programmes. Good marketing programmes actualise the plans and measures necessary for the achievement of goals and objectives.

Efforts Of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan For Public Library Legislation And Service- A Review

Dr. Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan was a visionary who realized the importance of library legislation for the promotion and development of library movement in India. He was a far-sighted person fully devoted to the cause of library and information science. He was fully aware regarding the role of libraries in the enhancement of education in any society. He understood the impact of educational advancement for the development of country and the effectiveness and utility of libraries to promote education.

In 1924, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan visited a number of public libraries during his stay in United Kingdom. These visits enabled him to study the system, functioning, funding and services of various libraries. As a consequence he was convinced that library legislation alone would provide a systematic, well-knit and efficient public library service. Since public libraries are informal agencies of education, therefore it is obligatory for a welfare state to provide, maintain and develop a network of public libraries to meet the needs of the masses. A public library being essential a peoples’ institution is to be maintained out of public funds, which have to be collected most equitably. Only the government has got the power and authority to impose and collect taxes through legal sanction, hence library legislation is essential to collect the library cess. Thus it is apparent that it is imperative for the government to enact library legislation for the establishment and smooth functioning of a network of public libraries to cater to the educational needs of the general public.

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan was the first person in India who ever thought about the need for library legislation in 1925 after returning to India from England. He drafted a ‘Model Library Act’ and presented it for discussion at the First All Asia Educational Conference, which was held in Banaras on 27-30 December 1930. The participants of the conference were fully convinced with the advantages of draft legislation and the views of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan. This ‘Model Library Act’ was published by the Madras Library Association during the year 1936. He later on amended the draft Act twice- once in 1957 and again in 1972. This Model Library Act was introduced in the shape of Bill in the Madras Assembly in 1933, through Mr. Basher Ahmed Sayeed, the member of the Assembly an enthusiast of public library system.

Salient features of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan’s Model Library Act are: –

Except the Kerala Public Libraries Act, 1989, all the Acts, which have passed in India during the years 1948 to 1990, have the influenced of Model Public Libraries Act drafted by Dr. S. R. Ranganathan.

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan made persistent efforts for getting the library Acts passed by various States in India and dreamt of having it a land of libraries. He prepared a number of Model Bills for various States. Following is a list of them: –

He also prepared a Model Union Library Bill in 1948 and redrafted it in 1957.

India got the first Public Library Act through the ceaseless efforts of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan. For the first time the Public Library Act was passed by the Madras Legislature in 1948. There is an interesting story behind the success of getting the Library Bill enacted in the third attempt in 1946 although the two attempts made earlier had failed. The first attempt was made by Janab Basher Ahmed Sayeed when he introduced the Bill in Madras Legislature in 1933 but it could not get through as the Madras Legislature was dissolved in 1935. A second attempt was made in 1938 but later on the World War-II began and the Bill could not be adopted. In 1946, Mr. Avinashalingam Chettiar, who was an old student of Dr. S. R. Ranganathan, became the Education Minister in Madras State. One day, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan took a copy of the Model Library Act and went to meet the Minister at his house after his usual morning walk. The Minister was surprised to see his “Guru” early in the morning and enquired about the purpose of his visit. Dr. S. R. Ranganathan replied that he came to demand his “Gurudakshina”. When the Minister promised to offer the same, Dr. S. R. Ranganathan gave a copy of Model Act and expressed his wish to have it enacted into a law during his tenure as Minister. Mr. Avinashalingam Chettiar piloted the Bill and got it enacted in 1948.

A Survey of Collection and Services of Medical College Libraries

A Survey of Collection and Services of Medical College Libraries in Uttar Pradesh: Prospects, Problems and Proposal for their Modernization


Libraries are the soul of any research or academic institution. They form the most vital forum of education, especially in the field of technical education. Due to the rapid pace of development taking place in various fields of science and technology (S and T) it become imperative for the libraries to remain up-to-date with the latest advances in technology so that the dissemination of information becomes efficient, quick, feasible, economic, accessible and useful.

The utility of a library depends largely on its collection. Therefore, it is very important that utmost care should be taken to select and maintain a good and strong collection of documents such as books, periodicals, hand books, reference books, dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias and various other related information. Building and developing a library collection able to meet the needs of users, such as scientists, students, research scholars and others adequately is a major task of a good library. The quality of services provided and the satisfaction of the users depend a great deal upon the kinds of collections made available. A comprehensive, balanced and up-to-date collection is to have documents of different types in various physical forms to satisfy the informational needs of the users.

The basic aim of a library is to provide efficient services to its users. Therefore, user satisfaction should be the main goal of a good librarian. This goal can not be achieved unless and until the library management has got a clear idea about the user needs and demands. The library should be well-equipped besides having a good and strong collection of documents. Variety of services should be offered to cater to the needs of its users. Latest and up-to-date technology should be adopted in order to provide better services.

In the modern era of information explosion which has led to the evolution of multidisciplinary domains in the different fields of S and T the user demand and expectations have grown tremendously. In order to meet this challenge the library should be well equipped with the modern tools of information storage and its retrieval so that the right information is made available to the right user at the right place and at the right time.

With the advent of computers and Internet a transformation is taking place in the information infrastructure leading to the development of digital or electronic libraries. The latest advances in the field of information technology, telecommunications, software, networking, multimedia and scanning technology have produced a revolutionary change in the field of library and information technology. Networking technologies have resulted in the creation of virtual or on-line libraries which are immensely popular with the users and proving to be a boon for the society as a whole due to the instant access of information anytime and anywhere in the world. Thus the barriers of time and space have been shattered and the vast world has been reduced into a “global village” where anyone can have immediate access to the information of his/her choice by using the techniques of computer software, networking and scanning technologies.

A digital library may be defined as an electronic version of a traditional library where all the information is stored and preserved in digital form. In a digital library the data accessed includes non-text information such as photographs, drawings, illustrations, works of art; streams of numeric data (satellite information, cosmological data); digitized sound and moving visual images and 3 D representations (holograms) besides traditional text based information.

There are many Allopathic Medical Colleges in Uttar Pradesh where digitization and networking of libraries can give a big boost not only to the enhancement of the quality and standard of services available in the hospitals but also help to a great extent in the promotion of medical studies and research. But the implementation of this process of digitization and networking of libraries depends a great deal upon the role and attitude of the librarians towards this comprehensive process for its success.

Review of literature

Many sources of information both published and unpublished have been consulted to develop a clear concept of the proposed study. It has been observed that the digitization and networking process in the field of library and information science has helped to a great extent in the effective and instant dissemination of right information at right cost at right time to the right user.


The objectives of the proposed study are as follows:

1) To assess the role and attitude of librarians in the success of the digitization and networking process in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

2) To study the size and nature of collection in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

3) To examine the level of digitization in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

4) To study the methods employed for digitization and networking in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

5) To study the existing library services and facilities offered by the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

6) To study the digitization and networking process in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

7) To study the effectiveness and efficiency of the digitization and networking process in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

8) To assess the demand and popularity of the digitization and networking process in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

9) To study the problems and challenges faced by librarians in the process of digitization and networking in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

10) To make suggestions for improvement in the process of digitization and networking in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.

11) To discover the limitations in the process of digitization and networking in the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.


This study will be based on the survey of the libraries of the Allopathic Medical Colleges in Uttar Pradesh. For this purpose the libraries of only those Allopathic Medical Colleges are included which have been approved by the Medical Council of India (MCI) to run MBBS course of study and entitled to award the degree of MBBS and other degrees related to Allopathic Medicine and Surgery. The names of such Allopathic Medical Colleges selected for the proposed study are given below: –

  1. S.N. Medical College, Agra.
  2. G.S.V.M. Medical College, Kanpur.
  3. Institute of Medical sciences, B.H.U, Varanasi.
  4. Moti Lal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad.
  5. Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh.
  6. L.L.R.M. Medical College, Meerut.
  7. Maharani Laxmi Bai Medical College, Jhansi.
  8. B.R.D. Medical College, Gorakhpur.
  9. Santosh Medical College, Ghaziabad.
  10. Sardar Patel Institute of Dental and Medical Sciences, Lucknow.
  11. Era Lucknow Medical College, Lucknow.
  12. Subharati Medical College, Meerut


A hypothesis may be considered as a tentative generalization of the problem under investigation. It is meant to provide the researcher with an opportunity (prior to the actual data collection) to predict the results of the study. A hypothesis is an expectation about events or a shrewd guess or a prediction of the results of the study.

As hypotheses are predictions, therefore, these are formulated before the collection of data. No hypothesis should be formulated once the data are known.

The following hypotheses have been formulated for the proposed study: –

1) The libraries of the Allopathic Medical Colleges in Uttar Pradesh are having a rich collection of documents.

2) The Allopathic Medical Colleges’ Libraries are providing a variety of services to their users.

3) The libraries of the Allopathic Medical Colleges in Uttar Pradesh are facing certain problems.

4) There is an urgent need for the modernization of the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in Uttar Pradesh according to the latest techniques such as digitization and networking of libraries.


It is planned to adopt the following method for the completion of the proposed study: –

1) Literature Search: – It shall be done by consulting the vast literature existing on the subject of digitization and networking. For this purpose different books by noted authors as well as journals and seminar papers will be studied thoroughly.

2) Questionnaire: – In order to conduct the proposed study the most important tool for the collection of data is the questionnaire. Therefore, a comprehensive questionnaire shall be designed to collect all the important and relevant data. This questionnaire shall be sent to the librarians of the concerned libraries. After obtaining the filled questionnaire the data shall be analyzed and interpreted according to the objectives of the proposed study.

3) Library Survey: – It is planned to conduct library survey for a systematic collection of data concerning libraries, their activities, operations, staff, use and users, at a given time or over a given period.

4) Interview of Librarians: – In order to collect the accurate data and obtain the views and opinion of the librarians of the concerned libraries it is also proposed to conduct personal interviews of the concerned librarians.


The following may be the utilities of the proposed study: –

1) It may be helpful in finding out the problems and difficulties faced by the librarians of the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in Uttar Pradesh.

2) It may be helpful to the concerned authorities in the effective implementation of the digitization and networking process.

3) It may be helpful in finding out the prospects of the adoption digitization and networking process of the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in Uttar Pradesh.

4) It may help in finding out the solution to some of those problems, which are retarding the progress of the digitization and networking process in the libraries.

5) It may be helpful to the libraries of Allopathic Medical Colleges in resource sharing and connecting with each other via networking.


The proposed study will be divided into seven chapters, which are as follows: –

Chapter – One Introduction

Chapter – Two Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Allopathic Medical Colleges in U.P.: An overview.

Chapter -Three Allopathic Medical Colleges’ libraries in U.P.: Present status and functions

Chapter- Four Digitization and Networking process in libraries and information centers: A brief background.

Chapter-Five Present status of digitization and networking process in the libraries of Allopathic Medical colleges in U.P.

Chapter-Six Comparative study of the status of the digitization and networking process in the libraries of Allopathic Medical colleges in U.P.

Chapter – Seven Conclusion and Suggestions.