The Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Eastern and Southern Africa (APLESA)

The Association of Parliamentary Libraries of Eastern and Southern Africa (APLESA) was founded in Harare, Zimbabwe, in October 1994 when participants of eleven countries of the region met. These countries were Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The idea of forming an association had been around since 1986 as the parliamentary librarians became aware of the need for effective information exchange programmes and cooperation among the parliamentary libraries in the region. In 1990 Mr Gurure, then Chief Librarian of the Parliament of Zimbabwe, circularised his colleagues asking for their opinion about a regional association.

At the 1990 IFLA Conference in Sweden Mr Gurure received considerable encouragement for this proposal, and in1992, with the assistance of IFLA and the International Development Research Centre (IRDC), feasibility study visits and a further survey were carried out leading to the inaugural meeting, funded by IFLA. At this meeting the topics discussed included a survey of Parliamentary Librarianship in the region, resource sharing among Parliaments of the region and the need for the Member of Parliament to have concise, timely and adequate information. A constitution was adopted and it was recommended that the different Parliaments should be asked to provide some funds to enable study visits, attachments, formal and informal training, collection development and attendance at Library meetingsnational, regional and international.

The promotion of exchange of parliamentary documents with the region was agreed as well as a regular newsletter. Since that meeting members of APLESA have kept in touch, and exchange of some material has taken place. The first APLESA Conference was held in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in July 1995. Eleven delegates from eight countries attended and there were observers from information centres in Dar-es-Salaam.Topics discussed included the role of parliamentary libraries in multi-party states with special emphasis on the need to provide timely, up-to-date and accurate information; creation and utilisation of research services with special emphasis on the interrelationship between the Parliamentary Library and the Research Section; the need for cooperation or sharing of resources; and the role of the library in the 21st century. It was clear that there was still much work to be done in realising certain of the set goals, including the implementation of exchange programmes and the initiation of informal training programmes, but much progress had been made in establishing professional co-operation. The 1996 conference was held in Cape Town, South Africa in September 1996 with the theme, 'The functioning of a modern Parliamentary Library in Africa'. 

Current membership comprises: Kenya, Botswana, Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania & Zimbabwe. The most recent annual conference was held in Gaborone, Botswana, from 28th May to 1st June 2018.

Details of the Executive Committee and contact details can be found on the APLESA website: http://aplesa.org/

Library and Research Services for Parliaments

Last update: 7 August 2018