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New perspectives on community library development in Africa

Espen Stranger-Johannessen (Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Marlene Asselin (Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
Ray Doiron (Faculty of Education, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to discuss the constraints of and opportunities for the role of African community libraries in development, using an ecological framework for library development.


Drawing on a review of the literature and the three authors’ own experiences, the paper critically examines community libraries, mainly from Uganda and Ethiopia, and frames the analysis within an ecological framework of library development.


There are many examples of community libraries that realize various elements of the ecological framework (context/environment, equity/social justice, partnerships/interactions, and action/research).

Practical implications

The ecological framework further developed in this paper helps community library leaders to critically examine their programmes and services and develop strategies for further growth, and suggests closer collaboration between community librarians, local communities, and researchers.


This paper addresses the need to move beyond community library research on the predominant outputs (library statistics) and outcomes (societal value/impact) models, adding a critical perspective of the larger social and political structures that limit and shape the development of community libraries.



Stranger-Johannessen, E., Asselin, M. and Doiron, R. (2015), "New perspectives on community library development in Africa", New Library World, Vol. 116 No. 1/2, pp. 79-93.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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