The history of the rural African library demonstrates how, over time, a convergence of social, economic, and cultural issues has generated a genuine demand for an alternative to traditional information distribution for, or in many areas throughout, Africa.

African Libraries Of the Pre-colonization Era

There were libraries in Africa well before European colonization. Libraries first made their appearance on the northern fringes of the African continent during the first millennium BCE.

African Libraries Of the Colonization Era

libraries were set up in the 19th century in some African countries upon the necessity of colonial governments. Just a few examples. A number of special libraries existed in South Africa as industrial and research institutions.

Rural libraries

Trace the development of the public library

Organizations Intervention in the Use of Library In Africa

“the problem of book supply to the natives is one of the most difficult of all. Standards of mental capacity and
development vary with every tribe, and no attempt has been made to provide
satisfactorily for all” (Pitt, 1929, p. 29).


Despite their best efforts, many rural library services have struggled to operate effectively and efficiently.

History of Libraries in Nigeria


The development of libraries in Francophone West Africa

Much of the library development in Francophone West Africa was centred on Dakar. French
colonization of Senegal started in 1659 with the establishment of a trading post in St Louis, but the French presence was exercised through chartered companies which failed to establish administrative institutions. Thus the history of books and libraries in the French West African colonies dates from the 19th century (Sène 1992, 306), which saw a new wave of French colonial expansion in West and Central Africa. It is known that by 1803 there was a 3 municipal library in St Louis, which had probably been established a year or two earlier.

A second library was set up in Gorée in 1855 (Maack 1981, 11–16).

Aim of the French development aid

French influence on library development in its former African colonies is immense and pervasive. It persisted well after these colonies became independent, thanks to development aid and programmes aimed at promoting the French language and culture.

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