22 - 25 SEPTEMBER 2009



1.    Background Information to RLRDP
-    a community based NGO established in January 1990
-    membership is open to rural libraries & information resource centres
-    current membership :
*    300 rural/school school community libraries
"    12 donkey drawn mobile cart libraries
"    120 book delivery bicycles
"    25 Gender, Youth HIV & AIDS Resource Centres

2.    Authority & Management Structures

-    Library Management Committee (democratically elected)
-    Library Constitution
-    Rules & Regulations of the library
-    Librarians
-    Child Librarians

3.    Training & Development

-    A Manual for Rural Libraries
-    Rural Library & Information Services Management : A Training Package
-    Mobile Library Services for Children
-    Gender, Youth HIV & AIDS Programme

4.    Managing the Growth of your Library/Information Resource Centres

-    community participation
-    social skills
-    staff development

5.    Conclusion

- Marketing & Publicity

1. Background Information

Rural Libraries and Resources Development Programme (RLRDP) is a
community based NGO that was founded in January 1990.
The aim of the programme is the establishment and development of
viable and relevant rural/school community libraries. The programme
works in partnership with rural schools/communities. RLRDP has
facilitated the established 300 rural school/community libraries, 12
donkey drawn mobile libraries and 120 book delivery bicycles.  25
libraries in Nkayi and Bubi districts, Matabeleleland North Province have
established Gender, Youth HIV & AIDS Resource Centres.
The majority of RLRDP member libraries operate from either primary or
secondary school with most of them found in primary schools. Each
library differs in size and volume of books.

Once a library becomes an affiliate of RLRDP, it receives support in the
form of print and non-print material and the training of library staff and
library management committees.

2. Authority and Management Structures

Every library/information resource centre must have an interested and
respected authority behind it. Examples of bodies that we know of
include Rural District Councils, Churches, Schools etc.

This is the body that has a final decision should the library or resource
centre fail to operate as per the requirement of its constitution, rules &

This authority should also assist the library with the necessary human and
material resources.

a)    Library Management Committee(LMC)

A Library Management Committee (LMC) that is democratically elected
should be established at each library centre.  This committee takes care
of the day-to-day operations of the library/information resource centre.
The committee that is composed of between 7 to 12 men, women &
young people must reflect the composition of its target users. The LMC is
tasked with the planning, management and supervision of the library &
information resource centre. Their other role is the formulation of a user
driven constitution.

b)    Library Constitution

A library/information resource centre constitution is a written set of
guidelines indicating how a library/information centre is run, over a long
period. The constitution also mentions who is eligible to be a member of
the library; size of the committee and its responsibilities; frequency of
meetings etc. The constitution must also indicate how many members of
the  committee (quorum) must be present for its meetings to proceed.

The constitution must also address the committee's term of office.

c)    Rules & Regulations of the Library

It is the responsibility of the LMC to develop well written and clear Rules

Rules & Regulations ensures that library users adhere to a certain pattern
of behaviour and conduct when in the library.
Some of the Rules & Regulations include among many, library opening
times; number of books issued to user; period of loan; fines for overdue
books; fines on lost or damaged books etc.

d)    Librarians

Whether it is a static library/information resource centre librarian, mobile
cart librarian or mobile bicycle librarian, his /her responsibility is the
proper management of that facility. The LMC in liaison with the
responsible authority is tasked with the recruitment of a suitable librarian.
In a rural setting the librarian should be prepared to learn the traditions,
values and norms of the community he/she is serving.

e)    Child Librarians

Child librarians monitor the use of library books by other children. They
also collect information on the reading needs of children.

The best way to ensure that the library services will be able to carry on
within any given community, is to train young people in basic
librarianship skills. Some young librarians might later on in life train as
professional librarians or information specialists.

3. Training & Development

a) A Manual for Rural Libraries

In response to the demands for rural libraries, RLRDP produced a Manual
for Rural Libraries in 1992 and revised it in 1999. This is a help yourself
manual that assists untrained librarians in the management of a rural
library. There are also short courses targeted at teacher & community
librarians that are designed and conducted by RLRDP staff. Courses
offered are supported by training modules that are derived from the
Manual for Rural Libraries.

b)    Rural Library & Information Services Management :
    A Training Package

The training package introduces participants to basic concepts in
librarianship. The package is normally studied over five days, with an
afternoon reserved for a field visit to a functional rural library. In view of
limitation of financial resources the package can also be crushed within
three days.

Community based human resource skills that can be rotated among rural
citizens are essential in ensuring the future survival of rural libraries.
Training and the use of relevant training material is one way of passing
the skill of information management from one generation to the other.

c) Mobile Library Services for Children

The introduction of this training module is meant to assist in the training
of teacher and community librarians, infant teachers, pre-school teachers,
community members including those providing reading material for
children living in rural settings.

A children's mobile library service was introduced in 1996 as an outreach

There are currently twelve donkey drawn mobile libraries designated to
children. These operate in Nkayi, Bubi and Tsholotsho districts in
Matabeleland North Province.

Each mobile cart visits three to four primary schools, reaching about
1 500 children.  The carrying capacity of each cart is about 1 500 books.
Two of the mobile carts are mounted with renewable solar energy to
allow use of audio-visual equipment that include TV, computer and radio.
Librarians also advise the RLRDP about children who do not
fully utilise library services due to physical challenges.

Children with hearing impairments and those living with albinism have
been provided with hearing aids and reading glasses respectively. 

c)    Gender, Youth HIV & AIDS Projects

Twenty five (25) centres have been introduced in Nkayi and Bubi
districts, Matabeleland North Province.
The centres operate within the existing RLRDP member libraries, in
order to ensure support from a wider section of the community, including
school administration, school development committees, library
management committees etc.

Training activities were held at centre, cluster and district level.
At centre level 30 youths get together on regular basis to share their own
experiences around : "what it means to be a boy or girl living in a rural
setting". At this level the youth profile their lives and those of their
communities pointing out areas that might expose them to contracting

Having identified their concerns, the young people document some of
their experience in SiNdebele. They also came up with drama, songs &
dance highlighting the need for communities to address these concerns.               
The production of docu-drama with ZBC/TV sharpened young people's
skills in drama.

Together with our Theatre for Development consultant, young people
were taught how to express themselves in front of a camera. They were
also assisted in overcoming shyness when performing in front of a big

Young people indicated that their confidence as actors has been boosted
with input from the consultant and ZBC/TV personnel.
Both boys and girls have indicated that they will take their docu-drama
stories to members of their communities through open performances.

4. Managing the Growth of your Library/Information Resource    

a)    Community Participation

The community should always be part of your library service through
involvement in fundraising, library open days and taking part in various
voluntary activities.

b)    Social Skills

Library staff and volunteers must respect local culture, norms and values
of their community. It is not enough to have a professional skill and yet
lack the skill of being part of a community you are serving.
A library service or information centres that does not conform to local
traditions is bound not to attract local participation.

c)    Staff Development

Staff development is very essential in the management of change taking
place within our communities. A library service should be able to employ
various survival strategies in order to keep its services open to the public,
even under harsh economic conditions. Staff development through
workshops, short courses and attachment to other successful organisations should be built in within our institutions.

5. Conclusion
It is important that libraries/information resource centres create Marketing & Publicity Committees made up of respected members of our
communities. These committees can help in creating a high profile status
for our libraries.


Obadiah T. Moyo
Secretary General
Rural Libraries & Resources Development Programme (RLRDP)
P.O. Box 439
Phone : 263 9 204 910
Fax :     263 9 215 337
Mobile: 263 11 401 432
Email :