Library Association Of Samoa

History of Libraries in Samoa

Nelson Memorial Public Library

The Nelson Memorial Public Library was set up in 1956 and was housed in various temporary premises in the town before the present library building was completed in 1959 and officially opened in 1960.  The erection of the building was made possible by the generosity of the Nelson Family in presenting the land on which the library stands and part of the cost of the building, while grants from the government of Western Samoa and NZ provided the balance for building and books.  The library is now called the NMPL in memory of the late Hon. O. F. Nelson (1883-1944). Samoan leader, businessman and patriot.  The opening of this building represented a big step forward in library services in our country, and since then there has been a general increase in the activities of the library.

The Public Library plays an increasingly important role in improving the social and economic welfare of the Samoan people by providing equitable access to an independent lifelong learning environment and the pursuit of recreational interest for all Samoans, providing information and related services to a range of user groups, making available and preserving the published and cultural documentation of local communities, providing public access to government information and services and providing public access to new communication technologies.

A branch of the Nelson Memorial Public Library has been opened at Salelologa on the island of Savaii. Library services are administered by the Education Department. A major source housed at the central library is the rich collection of Samoana. An addition made to the main structure has allowed more space for archives and rare books.

National University of Samoa

The National University of Samoa Library (NUSL) began at the old campus in Malifa in 1989.  It was a sole charge library for several years, operating on an individual class/needs basis and catering only for staff.  During the early 1990s the University slowly developed its academic base focussing on the Foundation year level courses.  The Library held mainly class sets of textbooks to service the basic subjects offered for Science and Social Science, the two important divisions at the University Preparatory Year level.  Within this structure, there were three compulsory courses English, Mathematics and Samoan.  This is what formed the academic requirements guiding the collection development needs of the library from 1990 to 1996. 

In 1996, the University Council made an agreement with the Ministry of Education to merge the UPY and the Teachers Training College and this is when it became known as the National University of Samoa.  This was followed by the relocation of the University to its new site at Lepapaigalagala campus in 1997.   The University merged with the School of Nursing, Moto’otua, in 1999 and Nursing students received immediate access to the Faculty of Nursing library.  In 2006, the National University of Samoa merged administrative structures with the Samoa Polytechnic.  The NUS was then revamped and divided into two institutes, the former as the Institute of Higher Education and the latter being renamed as the Institute of Technology. The IoT Library became part of the NUS main library. 

The Library solicits funds from the New Zealand and Australian High commissions to develop its collections.  

University of the South Pacific

The University of the South Pacific is a Regional University supported by the 12 Pacific Island Countries of Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.  The Alafua Campus of USP was established in 1977 as the second campus of the University.  Facilities came from the previous South Pacific Regional College of Tropical Agriculture.  The initial library building consisted of two buildings, one accommodating the operational and administrative sections of the library and the other a reading room.  In 1993 the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau assisted Alafua campus with a proposal to upgrade the buildings on site, including the library building.  As a result a new purpose built library was built in 1994 incorporating a conference room and printery.  This is the library that is currently operating.

The library houses approximately 17,500 titles consisting of books (Fiction and Non-Fiction), journals, Videos/DVDs and a collection of agricultural articles in files.  Additional services include internet access via 5 student computers and access to a range of electronic databases covering all subject areas.  The USP Alafua Campus Library is open to all Staff and Students of USP and also members of the Community who can become a member of the library or use the resources on campus for research and study.

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – SPREP

SPREP is a regional organisation established by the governments and administrations of the Pacific region to look after its environment. It has grown from a small programme attached to the South Pacific Commission (SPC) in the 1980s into the Pacific region’s major intergovernmental organisation charged with protecting and managing the environment and natural resources. It is based in Apia, Samoa, with over 70 staff.

The SPREP library holds a collection of books, grey literature, periodicals, dvds, multimedia materials and electronic documents on the environment and provide services in document supply, reference and research to SPREP Secretariat and member countries.  SPREP also publishes information resources as part of the  Pacific Environment information Network incl. Virtual Environment Libraries for the following pacific countries: American Samoa , Cook Islands , Federated States of Micronesia , Fiji , French Polynesia , Guam , Kiribati , Marshall Islands , Nauru , New Caledonia , Niue , Northern Mariana Islands , Palau , Papua New Guinea , Samoa , Solomon Islands , Tokelau , Tonga , Tuvalu , Vanuatu , Wallis and Futuna

Special Libraries

There are number of special libraries in various government departments and some aid agencies have small libraries. The Piula Theological College which is managed by the Methodist Church plays an important role in training religious leaders is located near Apia. Other special libraries include the Nursing School, Central Bank, Attorney General, Legislative, UNESCO, FAO, UNDP, OUM (Overseas University of Medicine); MAF (Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, MNRE (Mins. of Natural Resource & Environment), PTC (Piula Theological College – Methodist Church); MTC (Malua Theological College – Congregational Christian Church of Samoa).

School Libraries

There are 136 government primary schools and 25 secondary/colleges (not including the Catholic and Mission schools) in Samoa.  Of these only 7 primary schools and 12 colleges have proper libraries, built by the recent ADB/AUSAid/ESP Project.  These school libraries have been equipped with excellent resources and two computers each for staff and students.  A SchoolNet project will also see internet services provided to schools and colleges around the country.  Libraries for schools and colleges is the current directive of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.  This is supported by the joint MESC/USP Certificate in School Library Operations and Management to train Library Assistants ready to look after libraries in schools.