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List of libraries in Kenya

List of libraries in Kenya. The Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) is a corporate body of the Kenyan government with a mandate to “promote, establish, equip, manage, maintain and develop libraries in Kenya”. In its service provision, knls plays a dual role of Public Library and National library of Kenya.

knls was established in 1965 by an Act of Parliament of the Laws of Kenya to provide library and information services to the Kenyan public. In its service provision, knls plays a dual role of public library and national library of Kenya. The public library services are available in their 64 branches throughout Kenya, while the national library services are available at the headquarters in Nairobi.

Currently, the Kenya National Library Service is managed by the government under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and the Arts, State Department for Sports and the Arts, where the Cabinet Secretary is Hon Ababu Namwamba. He has taken over from Amb. (Dr.) Amina C. Mohamed who was the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage in the Uhuru Kenyatta Cabinet.

National and public libraries

The National Library and the public libraries are both the functions of Kenya National Library Service which is mandated by the law under Cap 225 of the Laws of Kenya, April 1965. Currently there is one National Library which is located at Community-Upper Hill, Nairobi. There are 64 public libraries spread in different parts of the country. In addition, some of the county government have libraries under them which are either operational or nonoperational. Nairobi county has four libraries located at Kayole, Makadara, Dagoretti and McMillan Memorial Library at the Nairobi Central Business District (the oldest library in Nairobi).

Kenya National Library Service has a total of 64 branches spread in different parts of the country. The libraries offer varied services depending on location and mode of establishment.

Branches within Kenya National Library Service Network

No.CountyNo. of LibrariesArea Situated
1Baringo3Kabarnet, Meisori, Eldama Ravine
7Garissa3Garissa, Mbalambala, Masalani
8Homa BayNone
11Kakamega2Kakamega, Lusumu
14Kilifi3Kilifi, Dzitsoni, Malindi
17Kisumu2Kisumu, Koru (Dr. Robert Ouko Memorial Library)
19Kwale1Kwale (Ukunda)
20Laikipia2Nanyuki, Rumuruti
23Makueni3Mutyambua, Kinyambu, Kithasyu
26Meru3Meru, Mikumbune, Timau, Gatimbi
29Murang’a2Murang’a, Kangema
30Nairobi3Nairobi Area, Buruburu, Kibera
31Nakuru3Nakuru, Naivasha, Gilgil
33Narok2Narok, Lelechonik
35Nyandarua1Ol Kalou
36Nyeri4Nyeri, Munyu, Chinga, Karatina
38Siaya3Nyilima, Rambula, Ukwala
39Taita Taveta3Wundanyi, Voi, Werugha (Mary Patch Turnbull Memorial Library)
40Tana RiverNone
41Tharaka NithiNone
42Trans NzoiaNone
44Uasin Gishu1Eldoret
46Wajir5Wajir, Griftu, Habasweni, Tarbaj, Bute
47West PokotNone
48.Athi riverElimika resource center

Community libraries

Community libraries have been established through the support of donors, individuals and institutions within the country as a way of empowering disadvantaged communities, promoting increased literacy levels and as a way of promoting a reading culture within the country. Some of these libraries are:

  • Mathare Youth Sports Association Libraries (located in slums) – has two branches
  • Busia Community Library
  • Akili Community Libraries
  • Container Libraries in Kenya
  • Sidarec Community Library
  • Kigima Resource Centre
  • Elangata Wuas Resource Centre
  • Karen Roses Joint Body Resource Centre
  • Micato-Amshare Library and Resource Centre (located in Mukuru slums) – offers free services to the community

Academic libraries

Under this category are the libraries found in public academic institutions like the public universities, colleges, polytechnics and academies. These libraries mostly contain academic books and information resources relating to the subjects of concentration by those institutions. The leading academic Library in Kenya is under the University of Nairobi, the first university to be established in Kenya in 1956 as the Royal Technical College.

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