Functions and services of Kenya National Library

The Kenya National Library Service Board (KNLS) was established by an Act of Parliament 225,1965. The National Library is mandated to provide library and information services to the Kenyan people.

KNLS is currently under the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage, headquartered at Maktaba Kuu Building in Nairobi, Ngong Road, Upperhill.

The board’s main mandate is to promote, establish, equip, manage, and maintain national and public libraries. It also issues ISBN, maintains a Kenya Bibliography, takes legal deposits, and consultancy in matters related to library and information management.

Functions of Kenya National Library Services

As per the Kenya National Library Service Board Act, 1965, these are the functions that the board should undertake on behalf of the government of Kenya.

  1. To promote, establish, equip, manage, maintain, and develop libraries in Kenya as a National Library Service
  2. Plan and coordinate library, documentation, and related services in Kenya
  3. Advise the Government, local authorities, and other public bodies on all matters relating to library, documentation, and related services
  4. To provide facilities for the study of, and for training in the principles, procedures, and techniques of librarianship and such other related subjects as the Board may from time to time decide
  5. Advise the Government on library education and training needs for the library, documentation, and related services
  6. To sponsor, arrange, or provide facilities for conferences and seminars for discussion of matters in connection with library and related services.
  7. To carry out and to encourage research in the development of library and related services.
  8. Participate and assist in campaigns for the eradication of illiteracy
  9. Stimulate public interest in books and promote reading for knowledge, information, and enjoyment.
  10. Acquire books produced in and outside Kenya and such other materials and sources of knowledge necessary for a comprehensive national library.
  11. Publish the national bibliography of Kenya and provide a bibliographical and references service.

Services offered by the Kenya National Library Board

From the functions, the KNLS offers these services to meet its mandate.

Issuance of ISBN

KNLS is an International Standard Book Number Agency authorised to issue ISBN numbers to Kenyan publishers. The number is a unique number that is used to identify monographic publications. The number is recognized internationally and is used in library management systems.

Kenya National Bibliography

The board is mandated to publish a bibliography of all books and materials published in Kenya each year. This provides references for different publications.

This is where the authors are required to submit their books and publications to the KNLS to preserve the material for future generations. When the publisher makes these legal deposits (books and publications), the board can use them to prepare a national bibliography.

Public library

The National Library has its management over 60 public libraries across the country. Most of these are based in county headquarters. They are used to serve the general public, students, researchers, and any other person interested in reading.

Kids space

To support a generation of readers the library has a kids’ space where it encourages children to read. The space has activities such as building blocks, talent shows, colouring, revision, drawing, story reading, composition and insha, Poems/shahiri recitations, skits among others.

Consultancy and research

The board also offers consultancy services in areas related to library and information management. Some of the consultancy offered includes library organization, information retrieval and access, publishing, and knowledge management among other services.

Datacenter services

It provides cloud services to organizations. The services offered in these data centers are software as a service, virtual private servers, Storage as a service, and co-location services.


This is where the KNLS converter the hard physical material into soft digital materials. This increase in information access reduces the cost of storage and makes it easy to distribute materials.

KNLS Membership and fees

The Kenya National Library Services allows members to register to allow them to borrow books and other materials. The registration can be as a junior user (children), adult, or institution. The members can be Kenyan or foreigners.

To allow access to information for all, registration is free for individual users and no annual membership fee. The only charged fee is Kshs.20 for adults for daily access and free for junior readers.