Libraries in Ethiopia: A Review of Recent Literature

  • Gail Nordstrom Stillwater (Minnesota) Public Library


This paper presents, in essay form, a current picture of Ethiopian librarianship drawn from articles published in the 1980s and 1990s. The whole literature on the subject from 1944–1990 consisted of 169 items, according to one bibliography. Despite economic, political, and social strife, libraries in the country are surviving. There are two university libraries, 15 college libraries, 200 in secondary schools, 20 public libraries and 100 special libraries. Addis Ababa has the National Library. The Institute of Ethiopian Studies, in the capital, is being funded, with some duplication of coverage with the University. The National Archives, however, seems to be without staff at this time. Two national bibliographies exist, but one is about 12 years behind and the other (biennial) has limited coverage. Public library development has been slow, with minimal service and collections; the 20 units, including four branches of the National Library, serve 500,000 readers a year. There are also between 7,000 and 10,000 reading rooms supported by the Ministry of Education, and there is hope that they will develop into libraries. Not much is reported about school libraries, but there is government support for designing future buildings as multipurpose institutions with reading rooms. Noteworthy special libraries include those of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, and the International Livestock Center for Africa. Only 25 librarians had graduate degrees in 1988. Library education has been offered since 1966; in 1989 the School of Information Studies for Africa opened in Addis Ababa.

Author Biography

Gail Nordstrom, Stillwater (Minnesota) Public Library
Gail Nordstrom is Children’s Services Coordinator, Stillwater (Minnesota) Public Library. Earlier she worked as Assistant Librarian in the Health Sciences, Abbott–Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis. She has a master’s degree in library and information science from Rosary College. In 1989 she was a consultant at the Gondar College of Medical Sciences in Ethiopia.
Literature Review