Lending and Reference Services
Anyone resident in Malawi can use the book lending, reference and information services that are offered from Monday to Saturdays at the following times; Monday to Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m and Saturdays: 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Library Centres are closed on Sundays and official public holidays. To access the National Library Service buildings adults are required to pay Mk100 and MK50 in the urban and Rural Areas respectively. Fines are however charged on books kept overdue by borrowers at rates fixed by the Board from time to time. Book losses and damages are also charged for. Small charges are also made on book reservations and photocopying services.
Local residents may join as personal members and make use of the service points in these branches and satellite Library centres. Three books may be borrowed by adults and two books by children and students for a period of up to three weeks, and may be renewed on request by telephone, letter or in person providing no one else wants the same book.
All full-time service points provide reading facilities and reference services to the general public. Various types of books and periodicals are available for consultation within the Reference Library/Section. All local newspapers are acquired and complete volumes are bound for reference purposes.
- Requests and Reservations
When any required books are on loan to another reader or otherwise not immediately available, registered members may request or reserve books by completing the necessary forms at any full-time service point where they are registered at a small fee. As much information as possible should be provided on such forms. A small charge, equivalent to the cost of notifying the member by post availability of the book, is payable in advance.
- General Reference and Information Services
The general public may come to the library to ask for information, or to consult a wide range of carefully selected reference books, journals and newspapers. This service is available at all full-time service points.
Photocopying & Internet Services
Photocopying and Internet services are available, within the provision of copyright laws, at the Headquarters Library, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Monkey-bay Library. There is a small charge made for the service and inquiries should be made at the Counter. Velo binding facilities are also available at a cost.
Extramural(Outreach) Services: Taking Books to the People
For those living far from its full-time services points, the Board operates Rural Library Services and School Library Services.
Rural Library Services
These services aim at providing suitable, relevant reading and reference materials for use in rural communities for functional information, education and the sustenance and reinforcement of literacy skills. Rural information centres are being created in some District Community Centres, Rural Growth Centres, and Primary Schools acting as Adult Literacy Centres, Units of Agricultural Development Divisions, Farmers Clubs and Estates.
The Community Information Centres are operated with the Ministry of Gender, Youth, and Community Services, which also produces the post literacy materials used by the National Library Service. Liaison is maintained with the Agricultural Communications Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the Health Education Services of the Ministry of Health and Population Services, UNICEF, Action Aid, Department of Information and other organizations which produce reading/information materials targeted towards rural communities.
Reading and visual materials are delivered/exchanged every two to three months
School Library Services
Library Centres are operated in some Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Community Day Secondary Schools Centres and tertiary education institutions.
Services to Schools
The functions of the National Library Service to schools are to consolidate and develop library services available to students in Primary Schools, Secondary schools, MCDE centres and other tertiary educational institutions in collaboration with the parent Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Current services to Primary /Secondary Schools:
- Setting up of primary school libraries
- Mobile Library Service to Primary schools in the Central region
- Teacher Librarian training course for PEAs, Head Teachers and Teachers
- Book distribution to Primary School libraries from key book donors
- Book procurement for the Primary School libraries with donor support
- Publishing of Children Books for the Primary school Libraries- Werengani Series Books for Children. So far 64 Titles were published with a total of 640,000 copies.
- Early Child Reading with selected Primary Schools in the Country
- Setting up of Children reading Corners in our Public Libraries.
- Supporting Spelling Bee Competitions for Primary schools
- ICT awareness programmes with Department of E-Government
Mobile Library Service-
The National Library service launched its Mobile Library Service in December 2013. This service is currently operating in the Central region schools. It is expected to be rolled out to the other 3 regions in future once new Mobile Vans are procured.
This service is provided free of charge to government institutions and authorities who request for it. It usually takes the form of advice on how to organize and manage small libraries, book selection, indexing, classification and cataloguing processes. Establishment or reorganization of libraries is also carried out on a cost – recovery basis. In-service Training Programmes can also be arranged, as can secondment of staff to, or attachments of staff from, other specified periods. Professional assistance to institutions in the private sector is charged for.
The library seeks to provide the best books of all kinds, not only for education, but also for those seeking information, general knowledge, recreation, and for maintenance of literacy. Selection may be made from a large stock covering a wide range of interests in most branches of study, fiction, biography, travel and history. Special efforts are made to acquire simple Chichewa publications for the benefit of adult new literates as well as young people who leave primary school prematurely. Special focus is now being made on delivering services to primary school children, the age at which reading habits may easily develop than later in life. A bulletin is issued regularly listing a selection of new books added to stock.
A research collection of books, periodicals and newspapers relating to Malawi is available in the Central Reference Library in Headquarters. One copy of most publications printed in Malawi and a representative number of publications about Malawi from other sources are assigned to this collection. Smaller collections are maintained at the regional centres in Blantyre and Mzuzu.
Development Information Centre (DIC)-World Bank. Collection
The National Library Service entered into a memorandum of agreement with the World Bank to establish a Development Information Center. This Center is providing the most current information to researchers and other users that are pursuing various programmes. The center has given a face lift to the National Library Service. The total support included a state of the art public Internet Café that enables our Library Users to browse Internet are a small fee.
There are other special collections being maintained in the Central Reference Library, which includes sets of SADC documents, Textbooks, Law Books, African Writers Series, Drum beat, African Classic and Pacesetters.
When any required books are on loan to another reader or otherwise not immediately available, registered members may request or reserve books by completing the necessary forms at any full-time service point where they are registered. As much information as possible should be provided on such forms. A small charge, equivalent to the cost of notifying the member by post availability of the book, is payable in advance
Book Distribution Agency
The National Library Service is the distributing agency for book donations received from a number of overseas donors to various institutions in the country. Book Aid International of United Kingdom and Books for Africa of the United States of America are the main donors. Over 100,000 books are received every year. After selecting titles for adding to the National Library Service book stocks, the rest are distributed among appropriate recipients, mainly educational institutions. Various partners have been running joint projects with Malawi National Library Service on procurement, distribution and promotion of use of reading materials for children.