Brief History

The Parliamentary Information and Research Library was established in 1953. Before this time, there was no library as such. Members of the Legislative Council were provided with reference material mainly in the form of Colonial Reports, Annual Reports and Sets of the Laws. At the break-up of the Federation in 1963, the Federal Assembly Library was allocated, in the dissolution arrangement to Zambia. There were also books that were collected over the years in the Legislative Council's Library. This collection of books and the collection from the Federal Assembly Library formed the basis of today's Library.

In July 1963, the Legislative Council adopted the Report of the Standing Orders Committee on "the formation of a new Sessional Committee to deal with matters relating to the Library of the Assembly .....". This led directly to the formation of the Library Committee, consisting of the Speaker as Chairman and four Members appointed by the Speaker at the beginning of every session. It was only after Independence that serious thought was given to the improvement of the Library service to the Members of Parliament. The role of Parliament in the newly independent Zambia took on a new urgency and significance. Development programs awaited new laws to be passed. Those charged with the responsibility of enacting these laws needed to be armed with necessary information. The Library, which is the main source of Members' information, needed the improvement and growth to meet the growing need for information. In its formative stage, prior to Independence, the Library was run by the Hansard Editor as part of her duties. She looked after the periodicals and reference books that were in the Members' reading room. In 1967, Parliament Buildings moved to the new site. Realising the importance of the Parliament Library to Members of Parliament, a fully qualified Librarian was recruited to organise the Library professionally. Since then, the Library has gradually been developing its services as best as possible.

Functions of the library department

Hon. Members serve in multifarious capacities and the Parliamentary Information and Research Library takes this into account in its aim to provide ideal services. The Library is set up to provide Hon. Members with information they need in order that they meaningfully and effectively participate in the debate of many issues that come before the House. The Library is both special and general in the provision of information. Special because it is at times required to make available specialised information to special Parliamentary Committees or even to individual Hon. Members. It is general because Hon. Members as stated earlier are generalists. They can be asked to solve problems, both in the House and in the constituency, on any subject that arises - it could be on the provision of education, lack of roads, pollution, or even on AIDS. The information found in the Library, therefore, covers a wide spectrum of subjects. These include; law, political science, human rights, economics, international affairs, tourism and agriculture. The Library also specialises in information on Zambia including its history and present position.

The Library Department is responsible for the intake, processing and arrangement of the main collections of books, pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals; also for the preservation and indexing of all Parliamentary papers and of many other official publications, domestic and foreign; and for the maintenance of specialised indexing.

Access and Loan Policy

The Library is intended primarily for the use of the Hon. Members of Parliament. Members of staff are also allowed to use the library. Persons from outside, e.g. senior Government officials, students at higher university level, may ask for permission to use the Library from Mr. Speaker. Library services are intended for full utilisation by members. The loaning service, i.e. the issuing and returning of books, is conducted at the ISSUE DESK which is situated at the entrance of the Library. Members of Parliament are allowed to borrow up to four books for a period of four weeks while senior members of staff are entitled to two books for the same period. After four weeks, the books must be returned, and if the user wishes to retain any of the books, he could renew it for a further two weeks if another user has made no request for it. Members of Parliament are always given priority. To avoid interfering with the proper service to the members, other users have been asked to refrain from selecting titles of current interest until Members have been satisfied.

Inter-Library Loan

When a book is not in the library collection and the user urgently needs to refer to it, the library makes efforts to acquire it from other libraries, which are likely to possess it through inter-library loan. In such cases, the user must ensure that he returns the book on the date due as it has to be returned to the owners.

Internet Services

The latest service being offered by the Library is the Internet Service. The Library has six workstations for this purpose and hopes to have many more. Staff offers instructions to Members of Parliament on how to browse the net using the various search engines and also conducts searches on behalf of Members. Members can also send and receive official e-mail messages at no cost to them.

Regional Co-operation

Through the Zambian Parliament, the Library is a member of the Association of Parliamentary Libraries in Eastern and Southern Africa (APLESA), which was constituted in 1995. Other members include the Parliaments of Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The Association facilitates, among other things, the exchange of technical know-how among librarians in the region.

Library Opening hours

When the House is in recess, the Library is open from 08:00 hours to 13:00 hours and 14:00 hours to 17:00 hours every day except Saturdays and Sundays. When Parliament is in Session, the Library stays open until thirty minutes after the House adjourns if the adjournment is made at or after 17:00 hours. On Mondays and Fridays the library closes at 1600 hours. Members of parliament who want to use the Library over the weekend can make prior arrangements with the Chief Librarian.