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Part 3 - Papua New Guinea Libraries

Public & Rural Libraries | Development plan for public libraries | School libraries | Special libraries | Standards | Technology & networks| Education for librarianship | Associations | return to Part 1 | return to Part 2 | go to Part 4 of this article - CONCLUSION |

by Dr. John Evans - Wewak & Port Moresby, PNG

Public and rural libraries

A Public Library Service was set up in Papua New Guinea in 1936. Earlier articles(6,7) outline the history of this. The literature relating to public and rural libraries has also been surveyed (92, 93) and there has been a recent reflection on early developments.(94) The system developed into quite a comprehensive one. In 1974, Avafia wrote of a highly centralized Public Library Service of 24 country wide branches with selection, ordering and processing taken care of at a central point. Although those in charge were not as optimistic about the state of the public libraries (95),he commented:-

"With an annual budget for books/periodicals and other library materials during 1974/75 amounting to $A74,000 the Public Library Service could be considered rather well placed... The total books stock of 155,000 and about 1000 different periodical titles with an average 8,000 per annum book stock growth rate are all impressive indeed."(96)

When the idea of a National Library Service was being discussed the objective was not merely to create a national library in the conventional sense but to set up a truly national service extending country wide. When a National Library was built it incorporated facilities to back up the public libraries elsewhere in the country with,for example, a general collection to back up loan requests from outlying libraries. Currently books and materials are bought and processed not only for its own collections - but also for all the provincial public libraries who choose to use the service. In addition the National Library also serves as a central agency for donations from organizations such as Asia Foundation,Ranfurly, Canadian Organization for Development through Education,etc. It was felt that the National Library Service could incorporate the Public Library Service and branches,and this event did take place in 1978. However this aspect of the National Library Service was not to endure owing to the impact of a policy of decentralization of Government functions pursued by the Papua New Guinea government. After independence in 1975 moves towards the decentralization were made and a system was introduced in 1976 to bring administration closer to the people. Nineteen Provincial Departments were created plus a National Capital District. Each province has a provincial government with control over its administration and budget.

In 1978 the Public Library Service was split up with the responsibility for each library being given to the respective provinces. Only Hohola,Waigani and Port Moresby (Ela Beach) Public Libraries remained with the National Library Service as they are located within the National Capital District. Waigani public library is housed within the National Library building. Port Moresby (Ela Beach) Library itself was burnt down on 13 December 1986 and replaced by a temporary service operated from the old Library Institute building in Port Moresby. The National Capital District libraries are administered by the Government Advisory Services Branch of the National Library Service.

Whatever may be said of the effect of decentralization in other areas of government it has resulted in complete stagnation of most of the provincial public libraries. Comparative figures for the public libraries from 1973- 1985 show this. (92). While an encouraging growth is seen between 1973 and 1977 this trend halts or is reversed in the period to 1985. Funds are mentioned, but generally these seem to have been unprovided or unspent. Further evidence of decline is provided by the National Library Service and comparison with standards. A survey (97) indicates declining usage for the unfunded libraries.

The National Library Service has produced another analysis of the problems it faces in realizing its potential.(63) Problems relating to the public libraries are stated as being:-

-decentralization of the provincial public libraries in 1978 and their consequent decline. While the NLS continues to provide centralized processing services and advice these services are barely taken up.

-variable funding and problem areas within that funding (total budget has varied from K405,914 in 1979 to K695,300 - K134,900 of that for materials and supplies - in 1985.) In 1985 that represented 1.65% of the Education budget and 0.08% of the National budget. Declining purchases by provincial public libraries and government libraries place extra burdens on the limited resources of the NLS.

It would appear that decentralization left the libraries in the hands of those who had a lack of understanding of this basic service. It is not exceptional in Papua New Guinea for local politicians to be without a great deal of formal education or for the public servants to have no personal experience of what good library and information services could provide. The educative role on these matters that could be provided in a centralized system by the National Library Service was too soon withdrawn. It would appear that from the Kavieng experience this role must now to be taken up by the provincial librarians themselves.(98)

There are numerous accounts of what has, or more commonly what might have happened, and these are well worth referring to. (e.g. 99-115) The public libraries are based on the western model of public library service (if you can imagine this being possible in the context of very limited funds) and are concentrated on the urban centres - generally the provincial capitals which are often rather small towns. A debate has raged amongst PNG librarians as to what provision should be made beyond the urban centres into the vast rural hinterland of Papua New Guinea where some 80% of the population live.

A start was made during the colonial period through the work of the Territory Department of Education which resulted in a network of centres throughout the country - "a special and separate library organization to meet the needs of the native people, whose standard of general education, with some few exceptions, is not such as to enable than to take advantage of the public library service."(22) This network is stated to have reached 260 centres and apparently was discontinued during a change of control of services in 1962.(116) The pilot project began at the village social club at Hanuabada (near Port Moresby) in 1949.

In 1961, Roberts could comment on the "basically European style library service freely and equally available to the indigenous people" and felt that the rural network might well be taken care of by an active school library service if developed under the auspices of the Education Department.(25) The idea of using school libraries as rural libraries continues to be suggested. (117-121)

Holdsworth's survey of PNG libraries,as might be expected, gave a very realistic analysis of the rural library problem. He felt that a network of these would have to depend on cooperation of:"...agencies which are already there and which have permanent staff. There seem to be schools, rural aid posts and health centres, recreation and community centres, local government and area authorities, churches and missions and so on, but mainly schools."(28) In addition to this,the district public libraries would be involved in an extension role as rural centres. Local library staff would service the surrounding country through schools and directly. They would however be insufficient to manage without the help of teachers and other rural workers. These,he suggests,would benefit from a basic knowledge of librarianship.

While the above would point a way to a likely mechanism for rural library provision,there have been other ideas - rural reading rooms, information centres of various types (district, village, community), bookmobiles and other forms of extension. The village information centre model has also found favour. (122-127)

Rural reading rooms have also been advanced, both rural and urban. (128-130)

A self help approach has on a few occasions,been applied. This worked for school libraries such as Lumi and for a handful of rural libraries.(131-140) These have been created at Bogia in Madang, Siwai in North Solomons, Masingara in Western Province and at Gavien near Wewak. There are also some community libraries in Southern Highlands Province such as the one at Nipa which have some provincial government input. Another library was added at Gabagaba in late 1986. It is unlikely if many of these libraries still operate. Rural self help was to be supported at by the creation of RULAG, Rural Libraries Advisory Group, a branch of the Papua New Guinea Library Association. (141-144) This is now inactive.

Examples of extension activities have been described in the literature. (145- 150) It would appear that the few successes to date have derived from direct community action, from a project where a trained local successor has been assured, and from linking service in the area to an existing village institution such as the school. The viability of any service would depend on size and literacy of the communities, many areas,as yet,may not be in any great need.

The potential for co-operation with the many other government agencies traversing the rural areas is high but this co-operation has not often been attempted. The possibility of extension from the existing public libraries can not be overlooked given that the right conditions could, for once, exist at these. Mainly it is the trained, enthusiastic and necessarily dauntless local personnel who need to be developed to continue to contribute ideas and more importantly provide services taking full notice of the lessons provided by the failures of the past.

The reasons for the failures can be attributed to a lack of communication with those meant to be served, to the ready abatement of enthusiasm and probably many other subtle factors.

"There has been sporadic attempts by individuals and groups of individuals to go it alone, only to find it fall by the wayside when they leave the area. In other words there was lack of initiative on the part of those who were left to run the project. Perhaps another contributing factor for the failure of the schemes comes from the community itself. They were never made to realize the importance of such library project in the first place."(151)

Development plan for public libraries

The present situation is of struggling public library services, in old buildings and antiquated stock, serving the urban population in the majority of provinces but without a policy base, nor proper direction or funding on a nation-wide basis, despite the existence of the National Library Service. There is no apparent relief to this dismal scene. Although plans are being laid for a new library building for Lae, and a possible new library for the Port Moresby suburb of Gerehu, they seem likely to founder amongst bureaucratic rubble for a considerable time. The report commissioned by the Library Council has also provided recommendations for improvement. These recommendations are summarized below. Policy and legislative developments may create an atmosphere in which more can be achieved towards their implementation.

A problem in advancing library development has been that present is that libraries do not appear to be within the portfolio of any Minister of the National Government. The result is that neither a Minister, the National Executive Council or Parliament are apprised on a regular basis of the state of development of public libraries within the country. The plan suggests that the subject of public libraries is placed within a Ministerial portfolio to underscore the Government's recognition of its importance, ensure that the Government is kept apprised of its development and facilitate the better allocation of resources.

Another issue felt to need urgent remedy was to designate an institution as the Public Library Authority for the country. Such an institution should be placed under the Minister concerned in order to serve as the executive instrument for the implementation of the Minister's portfolio responsibility. In this regard it would be logical for the National Library Service to be so designated and charged with the responsibility for implementing a nation-wide system of public libraries. For this purpose it powers and responsibilities will have to be specified. This may necessitate some changes to the organizational structure of the National Library Service. An interim measure suggested is that public library services should be placed under the purview of the National Library Service until such time that the public library infrastructure has been placed on a firm foundation. A related requirement is to create a key position, plus support staff, within the National Library Service for the overall development of the public library sector. Staffing provisions in the provincial libraries will have to be augmented, not only for the provision of acceptable levels of service but to develop the rural library service.

On the question of finance with decentralization and the placement of public libraries under the provincial governments in 1978, the funding of transferred services or functions, including public libraries, was effected under Minimum Unconditional Grants (MUG), calculated on the basis of the expenditure by the National Government for such functions, in the "base year". This formulae was quite unrealistic for public libraries, as such services had hardly been developed at that time even in the urban centres, while services to the rural areas were virtually non-existent. Even the allocation derived from the MUG is clearly not put to public library use within most provinces. More realistic financial provisions for public libraries nation-wide, falls in line with the Government's priority areas, namely education and training and rural development. More realistic estimates for public library services covering both the urban and rural areas need to be prepared for a new "base year" to facilitate adequate funding provisions.

It was also felt that new standards are needed applicable both to the urban and rural areas. These standards will have to be approved by the Government at the national and provincial level while implementing agencies will have to be provided with the means to implement or facilitate implementation of the standards. Currently the minimum standards for public libraries are those adopted by the National Library Service and the Library Council of Papua New Guinea in 1983. (152) These provide for a certain minimum stock and seating space for the various categories of library. The standards also specify a convenient location for the library. Medium and large libraries are expected to have a range of a/v equipment and to operate extension services. Qualifications are also specified. Standards were to have been reviewed every two years.

It is also pointed out that public library services need to be supported by appropriate legislation to facilitate the necessary support in terms of finance, manpower and other facilities. In this respect, a separate Public Libraries Act for the country is highly recommended, as the subject impinges on national-provincial relations with legal, financial and administrative implications.

The lack of effective coordination and cooperation is also noted. This plan concludes that the problem of literacy, the lack of libraries, the inadequacy of their resources, the relative absence of a reading habit are manifestations of a major socio - economic problem and needs major socio - economic solutions, endorsed and supported fully by the Government at the highest levels and executed effectively by relevant agencies.

School libraries

The overall situation has a recent review (153) but up-to-date figures are needed. The issue of information resources and the schools needs further development, but the role of the library and information in the school has been raised in the literature and at recent conferences. (132-133, 154-167)

The School Library Service (168) which predated the National Library Service, and was incorporated in it, continues to play a role in the distribution of books to the schools and in arranging workshops and advisory visits. Funds under World Bank Education projects are also administered from the School Library Service and these have been significant injections of funds for library materials over recent years. Another phase of this sequence of education projects is now underway providing more funds for the schools in the form of book grants (K200,000 on a kina-for-kina basis) and equipment grants (K20,000) to community schools ; book grants to high schools (K122,600) and vocational centres (K50,000); book grants to public libraries (K40,000) and a further K30,000 to public libraries to support courses run by the College of Distance Education.

Due to the availability of such grants the situation in the school libraries is occasionally brighter. Almost all high schools have a library, and a proportion of community schools also, and the grants ensure that at least some materials are bought.

Library skills are taught at grades 7-10 in schools, but the syllabus has still to be fully developed. A modicum of training is available for teachers in library matters, either via workshops; initial training and the teachers' college or via a Diploma programme for teacher-librarians at the University of Papua New Guinea. (169-170) The numerous problems of the teacher-librarians have been enumerated if not resolved. (171)

Special libraries

A wide range of libraries exists, the majority concentrated in Port Moresby. They are generally small and inadequately resourced and staffed, but potentially of considerable importance if networked and supported. (172-176) They are mainly within Government Deapartments but are growing slowly in the public sector. Some support is provided by the Government Libraries Advisor at the National Library Service. Little practical rationalization or coordination has, however, been possible. Major libraries are listed in the table.


Standards for public libraries adopted by the National Library Service and the Library Council of Papua New Guinea which were produced in 1983. (152) These provide for a certain minimum stock and seating space for the various categories of library,as shown in Table seven. The standards also specify a convenient location for the library. Medium and large libraries are expected to have a range of a/v equipment and to operate extension services. Qualifications are also specified, librarians in charge being expected to have the Diploma in Library Science (large units), Certificate in Library Science, or Library Technicians Certificate (small unit). Minimum annual purchases are to be introduced when the basic level of provision is reached, actual suggestions of titles per 1000 population purchased each year are small 175, medium 100, large 100. Standards were to be reviewed every two years but this has not occurred. Instead standards are sometimes issued by the National Library Service. For example, basic standards for high school libraries, were published in their Tok Save no. 16:-

..... remainder of standards.....(177-178)

Technology and networks

The range of technological developments here have been featured in two recent reviews. (179, 180) There are also earlier articles. (181-183) Automation at the National Library has been the subject of a consultancy (184) which is yet to be implemented. Applications that have been introduced are described. (185) As might be expected the library at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology has been innovative both in terms of library automation and also media production. (186-187) While many of the smaller libraries have not adopted any form of library automation there is are a range of activities from the spread of micros and word processing through to CD-ROM public access catalogues at the University of Technology, on-line searching of overseas databases and integrated library systems. At the larger libraries quite sophisticated systems have developed providing a high level of service. The spread of computers and the reasonable telecommunications infrastructure in the country should also assist with further enhancement. The library school has been retrograde in its provision for this field and this is a situation that has only recently been corrected.

The Unesco networks ASTINFO (188) and APINESS have recently had National Advisory Groups and Focal Points established in the country - at the National Library and the University of Papua New Guinea respectively. While not much activity has yet resulted from their operations, this does place the rather isolated Papua New Guinea more to the forefront of regional events. Other specialized networks are also in place but it is apparent that Papua New Guinea has still to make the same breadth and range of contacts as the rest of the South Pacific where the University of the South Pacific Library has been particularly active in forging links and which is the home of the Pacific Information Center.(itself the subject of a mini-literature but see references 189, 190). On the regional library front there has been the recent intention to revive SCOPAL - the Standing Conference of Pacific Libraries.(191-193) This could join the recently formed PIALA (Pacific Islands Libraries and Archives Association) in working for the libraries of the region.(194). Given the vast area involved and the concentration of PIALA activities in the old US Trust Territory areas then the danger of overlap may not be too great.

On an historical note a dissertation by Rod East outlines a plan for PANGIS-the Papua New Guinea Information System (75). At the University of Papua New Guinea there has been a four part project for a PNG Information Network.(195; 196) This had four aims:-

- The publication of a retrospective bibliography of printed New Guinea materials;

- The establishment of a bibliographical database for New Guinea materials;

- The microfilming of the New Guinea materials listed in the data bank and the distribution of, initially, 5 sets of the microfiche at different locations in Papua New Guinea;

- The automation of the UPNG cataloguing system.

With the exception of the microfilming project all these elements have been completed. While it increases the access to records of New Guineana at the university and has been a successful automation project, it is doubtful, if this really counts as a network.

The Medical Library at the UPNG has been acting as the de-facto medical library for the country and as such has been actively involved in networking (197) Similarly the National Court library system has been one of the few areas to undergo systematic development and there is a spreading network of libraries in that system. (198) The Pacific Law Information Network (PALIN) is a regional network based on the excellent Law Library at the University of Papua New Guinea.(199) It used to be funded by the Asia Foundation.

In 1991 the Lee report (36) identified certain libraries as having major collections and could be regarded as centres of excellence. The report recommends that adequate funding be provided for these libraries and that these libraries, each with strengths in certain subject areas, together with the National Library and the Administrative College, should be considered as major building blocks of a proposed Papua New Guinea Library and Information Network. These libraries have little duplication of information resources and could each in their turn serve as the national resource centre for other libraries in the same field of specialization. Suitable library systems software should be selected for this system and there should be a national database of the resources within the Papua New Guinea Library and Information Network using the MARC format. The network will serve as the gateway to library and information services outside the country. PACESAT and other advanced telecommunication technologies should be used to access world-wide databases including OCLC, Medline, Dialog.

Another plan, also on paper only at present, was developed at a seminar (200) held in 1992 on "Library Networking in the South Pacific" which was funded by the IDRC and held by the Department of Library and Informtion Studies at UPNG. In this context it should be noted that SCOPAL had intended to hold a regional networking conference in Port Moresby in 1985 but this never eventuated (see 201 and 202 for earlier endeavours). The 1992 meeting was attended by representatives of six Pacific island nations who agreed that a South Pacific Regional Development Information Network (SPARDIN). Funding for the latter is being sought by the National Library Service. The project will be supported as a regional initiative during the next financial biennium according to a decision taken at an Unesco consultative meeting held in July 1993. The overall objectives of the network are:-

-To share and exchange development information resources and experiences among countries of the South Pacific region and between them and other information systems and networks with a view to promoting and supporting the socio-economic development of the region:

-To promote and support the establishment of development information infrastructure in the countries of the region;

-To promote the utilization of available information sources, databases, information networks and expertise in the region.

Priority areas for the region include agriculture, forestry and fisheries, health, sanitation and environment, literacy and education, appropriate technology and renewable energy. PNG participates in CARIS. (203)

Education for librarianship

Papua New Guinea has the earliest and most developed provision for education for librarianship in the Pacific Island states. Initially provision took the form of short part time training courses at a basic (library assistants' level) from 1962-67. This was followed by a major breakthrough by the commencement of full time courses and their institutionalization at the Administrative College of Papua New Guinea. These programmes evolved to reach sub-graduate diploma level in 1978.(204-211)

Through most of the period courses have been provided by the Administrative College of Papua New Guinea (212-213), which is a training institution for the Public Service. A few courses had been run in the past at the Goroka Teachers College. The sub-graduate Diploma that became available in 1978 was provided jointly with the University of Papua New Guinea who taught approximately half the material on the course.(214) It eventually became clear that the function of education for librarianship had outgrown the College and an external review recommended the transfer of the discipline in total to the University.(215-217) This transfer took place during 1988 and leaves the University of Papua New Guinea as the sole provider of courses in this discipline within Papua New Guinea. This has been done through the University's Department of Library and Information Studies. This has recently been reconfigured to form a major part of the University's Centre for Communication and Information in Development.

Some basic information on Papua New Guinea programmes (past and present) is given in Table 7.

Currently there is a offer are a Library Technician's Certificate which is a one and a half year basic programme, for routine level library workers with an intake of 20 students per year (not offered after 1994, until syllabus review is complete). There is also a Diploma in Library and Information Studies which for ten years was the highest level programme available. Moving on from the Diploma stage has been quite a difficult exercise, mainly due to the limitations at the Administrative College. (218, 219) This is a two year sub-graduate course with approximately 45% of subjects taken from Arts/ Education and the remainder in Library and Information Studies. Intake is 20 per year, though usually somewhat less. Most students are upgrading earlier courses (e.g. the Library Technician's Certificate) and the majority are employed. A few school leavers at Grade 12 are attracted.

Given the considerable numbers of librarians holding the Diploma in Library and Information Studies, the tradition of providing upgrading routes, plus the need for a higher basic education, the issue of a Bachelor's degree in the subject has been a lively one. However, only with the transfer of programmes to the university that a degree did get introduced, starting from 1988. Slowly but surely, this is becoming a popular option. While much of the content is at present similar to that on the Diploma the returning students can take the opportunity of developing another academic strand, plus other optional studies. (220) The degree is a four year course with a major in Library and Information Studies and a major (or minor) in one other subject. In addition to upgrading of Diploma students, but it is also will be the preferred option, as opposed to the Diploma, for the brighter school leavers. A Bachelor of Science (Information Management) is to be introduced during 1994, the intention being to introduce science students into the information field. The course will draw on students after science foundation year. It will offer a much different range of subject matter form the traditional course offerings and as such the new matter may well provide interesting options within the other programmes. The programme has been developed in association with Deakin University in Australia, and promises a new direction to programme provision in Papua New Guinea. (221)

At present there is no postgraduate programme. The view has been that it is useful for students to take up the relatively generous allowance of scholarships and study further in Australia or New Zealand, and gain experience of well developed library systems in addition. This has proved to be a popular option and many post-graduate awards have been secured overseas. Undergraduate studies overseas have also been followed. (222) However, eventually as staff capabilities and interests change, there would be some in-country postgraduate provision. The university has a quite flexible post-graduate diploma option that could readily be followed, and there are provisions for Masters and PhD's by research.

The issue of training for teachers in library matters has not been successful one. Courses had been provided at Goroka Teachers College and at Administrative College. However, these never continued for very long. It was something of a breakthrough therefore when it proved possible to introduce a programme based on the Diploma in Educational Studies model at the University of Papua New Guinea.(147, 148) This began in 1991. The Diploma is a two year programme intended for Teachers in Charge of Library at Papua New Guinea High Schools. There are two six week Lahara (or summer school, November and December) sessions and two years of distance education material completed back at the school. There is also provision for supervisory visits. All students (25 per year quota) are teachers sponsored by the Papua New Guinea Department of Education. Another possibility on offer, which has yet to be made much use of, is one of a minor sequence in teacher-librarianship within the context of a Bachelor of Education (In-Service) degree - a two year qualification.

There is, finally, a one year programme intended for those in records sections in Papua New Guinea. For the Certificate in Information Studies (Records and Archives Management) there are two six week Lahara sessions and one year of project assignments at work in between, with supervisory visits. All students are employed and recommended by their employers. The course is at a basic level but is proving popular and it is likely that higher levels may be made available in the future.(223)

There have been two major periods of activity in the field of continuing education namely 1981-84 at the Administrative College and 1991-93 at the Department of Library and Information Studies.(224-229) Little has yet been done toward the provision of distance education elements of programmes, but it is planned to have the first enrollments in 1994. (230) Another aspect which needs attention is the issue of workforce planning - not assisted by the reluctance of thsoe concerend to answer questionnaires! (231) This issue is currently being looked at by Margaret Obi at the University of Papua New Guinea.

In the context of limited resources, it may be claimed that much has been done in Papua New Guinea. This has occured mainly at two insttiutions in Port Moresby, but Goroka Teachers College has also run courses. (232) The regional aspects and comparisons are intersting ones. (233-236). The Department of Library and Information Studies has benefitted from a grant from IDRC, as have the group at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.(237) Traditional areas are covered and various levels of courses are provided. Evaluation and review has been thorough and there is good potential for constructive change.

The notion of a merger of the Journalism Section (dating from 1974) of the Department of Language and Literature and the Department of Library and Information Studies had been mooted in an internal UPNG restructuring document drawn up by past Vice-Chancellor Lynch and had been the subject of occasional discussions between the two groups. In early April 1993 the proposals to combine these two into a new, more dynamic entity made cosiderable progree. A Proposal and Draft Development Policy was drawn up for a South Pacific Centre for Communication and Information in Development (SP-CenCIID) and accepted in 1994.

The Centre will incorporate the programmes, focal points and research activities that have developed with journalism and library and information studies. As the focus will be on developmental activities rather than concentrating resources on static or declining areas of training a considerable rethink of activities and of courses provided is needed. Here guidance is provided by recent policy which states:-

"The national communication system can only perform as well as the people who run it. Training in a wide variety of communication skills is the key to success. The purpose of training embraces the entire communication system. Authors, script writers, journalists and editors must prepare for the content of the media. Engineers, technicians and maintenance personnel are required for the telecommunication and broadcast networks; printers and compositors for the press rooms of newspapers, magazines and books; camera-man, directors and technicians for the film and television studios. Information and extension officers need training in the process of communication and persuasion, and teachers in the utilisation of technological aids. Granted the complexities and rapid changes in modern communication, expertise are needed in economic evaluation, system planning and management."(80)

As the majority of the activities at UPNG which will be covered by the Centre do not have a parallel elsewhere in the developing South Pacific, this is reflected in the regional title given to the Centre.

The mission of the Centre is to assist in national development through enhancing professional capabilities and service attitudes in the fields of communications (journalism and media studies) and library and information services and by providing a facility for research and study in this field.

The goals of the Centre are:-

a. to produce qualified staff at para-professional: junior-professional and professional levels for the nation's library and information units and qualified journalists for professional media roles in the nation's Press and broadcast services, government information agencies and public relations units.

b. through continuing education provide courses and seminars to extend the ability of professional journalists,and other information workers and to provide development communications courses.

c. to provide courses to enhance the ability of those in charge of school libraries and enhancing the information skills of school students;

d. to provide courses to enhance information skills at University level and to develop the institutions information culture;

e. to provide research on PNG and South Pacific media and mass communications issues; to develop knowledge and understanding of library and information science in PNG and the region and through this research to develop new approaches to village and community information services;

f. to provide expertise through consultancy and other means to Government, industry and the community


The Papua New Guinea Library Association (PNGLA) was founded in 1973, as a result of important events in 1972. (238) Previously the professional link was to the Library Association of Australia which had a PNG branch. A constitution was adopted at the General Meeting held in Port Moresby on 30th September 1981.(239) This states the objectives as being:-

-To encourage the development of libraries, librarianship and other related professional activities within Papua New Guinea;

-To create, maintain and strengthen the links between librarians;

- To establish and publish a journal or periodical as a means of communication between members, and also other publications as the Executive may from time to time determine;

-To hold meetings and conferences and to establish branches within the Association;

-To advise and assist on education and training for librarians;

-To liaise with other bodies both within and outside Papua New Guinea;

-To secure redress through arbitration or any other means for any injustices suffered by members in relation to their employment;

-To administer the Gabriel Sarufa Memorial Fund, as set out in the resolutions of the 1975 Conference;

-To do all such acts or things as are conducive to the development of the association.

The membership can comprise individuals and institutions who are interested in the development and promotion of libraries in Papua New Guinea. The National Executive Committee comprises a President, Vice-President, Secretary, treasurer, Publications Manager and four Committee members. These are elected by the General Meeting for a period of two years. The last election appears to have taken place in September 1990. As a result the PNGLA is in a curious situation at present in that while there are two active groups of the Association; less is being arranged on the national level. A major casualty has been the publishing schedule of Tok Tok Bilong Haus Buk - the journal of the association. This began in 1972 but has not appeared since issue 42 of 1988. (240-243) A PNGLA Nius has also appeared. Another casualty has been the routine of the biennial PNGLA librarians conferences - intact until 1986 - and sometimes productive of voluminous proceedings (244-248).

Then there was unfortunate gap and no one arranged these gatherings. In 1990 the Library Council arranged two conferences in September. One, at Port Moresby, was on library planning, while the second at Goroka, was joint event with the PNGLA, was on Libraries for Literacy. It also provided for a business meeting and elections for the PNGLA. (249) This was the last formal national event of PNGLA. It should not prove impossible to revive it as interest continues. Other activities of PNGLA (250, 251) have included the publication of directories (15-17); convening working parties (252); and issuing policy statements (207). Rural self help was to be supported at by the creation of RULAG, Rural Libraries Advisory Group, a branch of the Papua New Guinea Library Association. (141-143), this has long been inactive. It also originated the National Book Week, now being run by the National Library Service. (56-59; 254-255)

A School Libraries Association of Papua New Guinea was formed in 1970, thus predating the PNGLA (256, 257). Its aims were:-

-To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas about the role of libraries in schools in this country;

-To give practical assistance and some in-service training to teachers and library assistants in charge of libraries in schools;

-To improve the quality and increase the number of libraries in schools;

-To encourage an understanding in the community generally and among teachers in particular of the reading interests of children.

While it formed a branch in Rabaul and avoided the possibility of becoming a special interest group of PNGLA, it must have gone dormant during the late 1970's. However, given the many problems faced by school libraries, students on the teacher-librarianship programme at the university, decided to form another association, the Papua New Guinea School Libraries Association (SLAP). This was formed at the end of 1991.

The association runs annual meetings and publishing a periodical - the SLAPper, which began in 1993 and is produced 4 times a year. As opposed to the earlier entity it is national in scope have members in many provinces. It has made representations on the problems of school librarians. (169)

A constitution(258) was approved at a meeting held in Lae in 1992. Objectives are:-

- To promote the functions of the school library in PNG schools and colleges;

- To develop and improve the quality of teaching library skills in schools and colleges;

- To develop and improve the quality of library services in PNG schools and colleges;

- To facilitate and / or provide practical assistance and in-service training to teacher-librarians, members of the association and others involved in the management and operations of a school or college library;

- To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas about the management of school libraries and teaching of library and information skills;

- To act as a medium through which professional concerns may be channelled and pursued;

- To liaise with other bodies within and outside Papua New Guinea.

Membership can consist of teacher-librarians; individuals (and institutions) other than teacher-librarians involved in operating school and college libraries; individuals (and institutions) who are interested in the development and promotion of resource centres and libraries. There is a National Executive Committee that consists of a President; Vice-President; Secretary; Publications Officer and four committee members.

Public & Rural Libraries | Development plan for public libraries | School libraries | Special libraries | Standards | Technology & networks| Education for librarianship | Associations | return to Part 1 | return to Part 2 go to Part 4 of this article |

by Dr. John Evans - Wewak & Port Moresby, PNG

Contact us by email John Evans, PNG

Site design www.metrotown.info and www.servicematrix.com

John Evans - 2002

Note 1 - This is a draft of an article that later appeared in Encyclopaedia of Library and Information Science, vol. 70. There are numerous differences and errors that were corrected later - so for citation you should refer to the print version. As the print version is hard to find in developing country libraries - this draft article is being made available on www.pngbuai.com by the author

Libraries - Part 1

Office of Libraries and Archives

National Library Service
Libraries - Part 2
National Archives Service continued from Part 1

Library Council of Papua New Guinea

National Library and Archives Board

Academic libraries

Libraries - Part 3
Public & Rural Libraries

Development plan for public libraries

School libraries

Special libraries


Technology & networks

Education for librarianship


Libraries - Part 4

Book development

Bibliography in Papua New Guinea

Issues and concerns


Libraries - Part 5

Notes and References