Problems In Managing Government Publications In Academic Libraries In Sierra Leone

INTRODUCTION

In Sierra Leone the terms ‘official publications’, official documents’, and ‘public documents’ are synonymous with government publications. Government publications, simply put, are documents created by government and local and quasi-government bodies explaining and integrating views and polices. They represent the historical and current development authorities of government and provide data on a wide variety of subjects to include Political Science, Economics, Finance, Statistics, Labor, Industry, History, International Relations, Agriculture, Geology and Meteorology. Katz (1997) classed these publications into: (1) records of government administration (2).research documents for specialists including a considerable number of statistics and data of value to science and business (3).popular sources of information. Their physical form being either a book, pamphlet, magazine, report monograph or electronic, especially CD-ROM (p.387).

Bibliographic control in many parts of the world is seemingly unsatisfactory due largely to lack of awareness of the importance of bibliographic tools in research in government publications. The United States of America, for example, was for a long time a pioneer in this field. As far back as 1895 the Printing Act of January 12 of that year (28 statute, 601-624) not only established centralized printing and distribution of federal documents but also instructed the Superintendent of Documents to provide appropriate tools for bibliographic control of the documents published. Great Britain is an outstanding exception for as far back as 1807 collections of parliamentary papers were printed. Countries such as Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Japan began separating government document bibliographies mainly in the 1920s and 1930s (Palic,1975). However a great need for the use of government publications was felt following World War 11 (1939-1945), when there was an increased interest in the authoritative information contained in such publications as posited by child’s (1942) in his introductory notes that ‘more and more the importance of government documentation is being recognized despite the refractory nature of some of these materials’

In parallel the emphasis made on the usefulness of government publications in Sierra Leone is associated with the development of printing which can be traced as far back as the founding of the Colony of Sierra Leone in 1787. Although the industry didn’t survive the French attack of 1794 the foundation stone of what later became known as the Government Printing Department was laid in 1925 when it was charged with the production of small notices for official use. Currently the Department prints all government publications and supplies stationery and office equipment of government departments. It also undertakes a fair amount of commercial printing as income generating measures.

Government publications usually have the advantage of being among the best in their subject fields often not easily available to others (Smith, 1993). In lieu of the extent and complexity of government activities there is a need for the widespread dissemination of information about these activities and for popular integration of government policy. No wonder why government publications have special value to academic library collections and their authority is permanent. In academic libraries in Sierra Leone these publications are put aside into a special collection manned by a curator as at Fourah Bay College Library. Some are kept in vertical files; others are placed in pamphlet boxes, while those like maps and surveys are given specialized storage. These publications are acquired mainly by purchase, deposit, donation, exchange and photocopying. The Government Printing Department is responsible for their publication

DIVISIONS OF GOVERNMENT AND THEIR PUBLICATIONS

The expansion of government in Sierra Leone’s post-war reconstruction era at local, national and international levels has resulted in increasing her influence on the life of the citizenry. Simultaneously with this expansion is the proliferation of official and semi official agencies, commissions and bureaus which continue to publish works such as directories, regulations, reports, bills, Acts and technical literature which many a researchers, educators, public service functionaries, welfare recipients and the unemployed can not do without reference to such publications. Since librarians serve as interface between users and government they have for long recognized the problems which such a plethora of collection can pose and have been making tremendous strides to address the issue. The essence here is to provide systematic controls to avoid the disappearance, into oblivion, of essential official publications.

In Sierra Leone government publications fall within three general classes: Executive, Legislative ands Judicial. The Executive publications include those issued by the Offices of the President and the Vice President, and various independent offices and establishments such as National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), National Revenue Authority (NRA), Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), National Commission for Privatization (NCP) and the Office of the Ombudsman. Also included are government ministries such as the Ministries of defense; Education, Youth and Sports; Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation; Tourism and Cultural Affairs; Local Government and Community Development; Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security; Trade and Industry; Internal Affairs; labor and Industrial Relations; and Development and Economic Planning.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry, for example, is responsible for both internal and international trade and the promotion of exports. It has powers over customs and excise, tariffs, insurance, patents, trademarks, standards, weights and measures. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is responsible for Sierra Leone’s relationship with foreign and Commonwealth countries while the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security is responsible for administrating government policy on agriculture, horticulture and food security. This Ministry offers practical guidance to farmers, commercial producers of horticultural crops and research.The Ministry of Internal Affairs deals with the maintenance of law and order, the Police and Fire Forces, administration of the prisons and the treatment of offenders. Other miscellaneous matters dealt with by this ministry include explosives, firearms, dangerous drugs, prisons, shops, public safety, entertainment, cremation, bylaws and good rule and formal business. The aforementioned functions and similar ones carried out by other ministries require the creation and maintenance of publications. There is also documentation of press briefings given by the varied heads of ministries and newsletters, which are channels for respective ministries there-by making them more public-relations conscious.

Legislative publications include the records and debates of Parliament and the reports of hearings of the varied Parliamentary Committees. Included here also are multiple policy statements in reply to parliamentary questions. The Hansard is another rich source for public matters as it provides official information and views about parliamentary debates.

Publications from the Judiciary branch of government consist mostly of reports of government decisions by the Magistrate, Appeals and Supreme Courts. Found in this arm of government are law books, ‘annual registers’, state trials and rulings, the constitution, international treaties, protocols, peace accords, Acts, bills and digests of local newspapers. These publications provide the judiciary with pertinent information on multifarious legal matters. Such information is required to be factual and politically impartial.

The City and District Councils, being quasi-government institutions, provide documents classified as government publications. These include building codes, educational development, health and sanitation, regulations on waste disposal, use of firearms and fire machines. Also there are government departments which provide statistical information on a vast range of economic, industrial and social demographic data. Of central importance are Statistics Sierra Leone (formerly Central Statistics Office-CSO), responsible for national population census and home surveys; the Office of Births and Deaths which registers and produces annual statistics of births and deaths in the country; the Office of the Registrar General responsible for statutory registration of marriages, patents and trademarks; the Chamber of Commerce which specializes on business information. These offices bring together important economic and social statistics supplied by government departments. Other important government departments are the Meteorological Office, which continues to give pertinent weather information, and the National Archives, which serves as repository of all non-current government publications inclusive of national newspapers. The afore-mentioned government publications vary in size and length. Written by experts in the subject, government publications are not only authoritative but also timely published and deal with topics of current interest. Their purpose, according to Katz (1969), is to provide information and answer questions and not to provoke discussion or organizational cataloging and administration. They are useful primary reference sources.

ACADEMIC LIBRARIES IN SIERRA LEONE

Academic libraries in Sierra Leone are those in the constituent units that form the country’s two universities, namely the University of Sierra Leone and the University of Njala. These libraries represent the bibliographic foundation of the nation’s research interest. They participate actively in the distribution and exchange of book and non-book materials to sister institutions all over the country. Collectively these institutions serve students, faculty, scholars and researchers that are engaged in work in the sciences and humanities as well as the general public. These libraries have combined resources of over 500,000 volumes, most of which are of unique scope and quality. Included in these massive collections are government publications such as treaties, Acts, statistical tables and compilations, conventions and records of diplomatic relations, reports of government departments, committees, bureau and commissions, census schedules, proclamations and laws. The maintenance, preservation and development of these publications are responsibilities shared by academic librarians as their libraries continue to serve as national resources.

JUSTIFICATION FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES

Varied reasons have been advanced for the inclusion of government publications in academic libraries in Sierra Leone. The purposes of the country’s universities are teaching, service, research and interpretation and dissemination of research. Society views government as a reliable and impartial source of authoritative information that should be accessible to its citizens through its numerous publications. Since academic institutions deal with students who in turn will be future citizens these should be informed accordingly. Government’s stance should be known when there is public discussion on health, international relations, education, agriculture, social security and trade, to cite a few examples. Thus the need for the development of government publications in academic libraries as such materials could speak for the government in varied activities. Further academic libraries have the objectives of preservation, conservation and service. And government publications form part of society’s cultural heritage which need conservation and preservation not only for research purposes but also for posterity as tangible primary sources of information which academics can constantly refer to. Little wonder why as a measure of bibliographic control of these publications librarians continue to provide catalog’s, checklists, guides, indexes, accessions lists and selected general bibliographies containing substantial information on government publications.

1991-2001 was a period of doom in Sierra Leone as it marked the civil war. Fought as a result of bad governance, nepotism and massive corruption it led to the un-wanton destruction of lives and properties. Essential government buildings0 destroyed to reckless abandon included the National Treasury, Sierra Leone Police premises, law courts and the offices of the Freetown City Council all of which housed important documents constantly consulted by researchers, government functionaries and the public. Not withstanding the country is gradually recovering with the re-establishment of local government, multi-party democracy, improved human, women and child rights, the provision of a conducive atmosphere to investment, and a new system of education (6-3-3-4), to cite but a few developments, the effective operation of which requires constant use of government publications.

The broad programs in academic institutions include many areas of life with the teaching of historical and geographic concepts; scientific studies are undertaken for improved health and food security; international relations and inter-religious understanding are fostered. Also modern community life and the philosophy of democracy, peace and conflict resolution, good governance, human rights and other ideologies are taught in order that intelligent decisions could be drawn. These designed educational programs bring enrichment and information to students in such fields as economics, government, health and sanitation, agriculture, international relations, human rights and diplomacy. In support of these varied disciplines academic libraries provide huge collections to include local materials some of which are in the form of government publications whereby students, faculty and researches could share their experiences and interests and develop satisfactory personal adjustment with regard varied government functionaries in society. By so doing students are provided the opportunity to grow in social usefulness and develop their intellectual interests and capabilities in order to become responsible members of society. This in turn could help promote nationalism. In lieu of these factors academic libraries attempt to provide liberal collections to include books, serial publications, audio-visuals and government publications.

PROBLEMS

Government publications are among the most useful materials in academic libraries in Sierra Leone. Apart from the public library, the national archives and parliament library which serve as repositories for such publications academic libraries continue to develop these publications in their huge collection. However such moves are not bereft of problems. These range from poor formats through lack of trade bibliographies to unsatisfactory methods of distribution. The basic problem to all these libraries is the volume of publications received, much of which is nothing but raw data and statistics used to support arguments or gathered more for the sake of gathering rather than for any specific reasons. Since these libraries have limited space to house their numerous collections the continued acquisition of government publications poses problems to staff.

Academic libraries acquire government publications mainly by donations although a few are acquired by purchase, exchange and photocopy. Once these materials are received they are expected to be processed and organized for use in the library. Sadly there has been no fixed pattern in classifying and organizing these materials in these libraries. Their organization is either by government ministry/department, subject or format which is often confusing to users. At Fourah Bay College library, for example, these publications are placed separately from the general collection which often constrains users in having to leave their reading area to consult these materials with limited sitting accommodation. Libraries at Njala University College, Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) and the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMHAS), which are relatively small in size integrate the publications in their general collection thereby posing retrieval problems to users.

Keeping track of government publications is another problem as there are no trade bibliographies printed out to help trace them. Hardly are these publications mentioned in the national bibliography, Sierra Leone Publications, prepared by the public/national library. Besides the Government Printing Department responsible for the production of government publications does not have any comprehensive lists of its publications. Most times these publications are either returned immediately to the respective ministries/departments owning them upon completion or sent to the Government Bookshop for sale or sold by the Government Printing Department upon completion, thus making it difficult to locate retrospective publications. Worse still both the Government Printing Department and the Government Bookshop are not interested in publicizing these publications and as such many customers including academic librarians are not aware of the availability of relevant government publications for acquisition thus causing lapses in the development of these materials in academic libraries. In parallel one would expect academic libraries to compile comprehensive lists of such publications but this has not been the case due to the limited number of staff manning this collection and the quantum of work they have to perform especially during peak periods when libraries are heavily used which is time consuming.

There are also problems of collection development. Academic libraries are under-funded and therefore librarians prioritize their collection development needs. Purchasing government publications has not been a priority for academic librarians as they always look forward to the Government Printing Department for donations which are frequently not forthcoming. Hence many relevant government publications are not found in academic library collections. What is more this limited collection is grossly misused and abused by users (especially undergraduate student users) in their academic pursuits. Thus most of these publications have dingy covers; others have a couple of pages either written on or pilfered while some are intentionally mis-shelved to deprive colleagues of using them.

CONCLUSION

The incorporation of government publications in the mainstream of academic library services should be considered a priority by university authorities and academic librarians in providing access to government-produced information in Sierra Leone. Representing a significant and integral part of the national resources government publications are major sources of information in practically every field of endeavor and are crucial to informed public-decision making. Academic librarians should therefore review their collection development strategies and processing and organization methods of these materials if they are to be persistently used by their numerous clientele. Especial thought should be given to increased funding, resource sharing, compilation of lists and adequate staffing, sitting accommodation and storage space if they are to maintain standards in serving their numerous clientele.

AUTHOR NOTE

John Abdul Kargbo is Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Library, Information & Communication Studies at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. Mail can be sent to him on

Bringing Out the Best in Professional Library Staff in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Bringing out the best from library staff has been an issue for the proper functioning of librarians in Sierra Leone (SL). Librarians, according to Crosby (2008) are information experts in the Information Age. Their expertise in the handling of information has not been seen or realised, even though these professionals have been around for a long time. Librarians and information professionals have not attained the status and position they should rightly occupy in society. In most Ministries, Departments and Government Agencies (MDAs), where information handling and records keeping are key functions, librarians, records managers and information professionals have not been employed to do these jobs. Instead, other professionals, mostly people with accounting and business management backgrounds have been employed. In essence, the work of librarians has not been so much felt and appreciated.

Library and information services in Sierra Leone

Information is a fundamental asset for any society to thrive well in this 21st century. It is the tool by which learning takes place and decisions are made. It provides the needed answers to people’s requests and longings from all walks of life. Therefore, the provision of library and information services to all is undisputable. Almost all types of libraries exist in SL, because no individual library can provide all the information needed by every potential user. In this regard, different libraries exist to serve different users and their needs.

The Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) serves as both the National and Public library in the country. There are mainly nine (9) Academic libraries scattered throughout the country, all of these are found in the tertiary institutions (Universities, Colleges, Institutes and Teacher Training Colleges) providing higher education. School libraries are found in most Primary, Junior and Senior Secondary Schools. However, a vast majority of these are not functional. Special libraries are found in MDAs, private companies and individual established libraries. In addition to these are research and documentation centres, such as the Medical Research Centre; Information Resource centres, such as that established by the Embassy of the United States of America; and many small community information centres. These information centres are widely used by information seekers due to the main fact that they provide online services for almost free of charge.

The SLLB serves as the pivotal point for the provision of library and information services in the country. It is open to all: professionals, academics, researchers, students, pupils and for all children. There also, the general populace information needs are catered for. All of these are geared towards meeting our societal needs for information, education, research, entertainment and leisure activities.

Staff in libraries and information service institutions in Sierra Leone

There are two broad classes of staff employed in our libraries as is the case for libraries all over the world: those involved in library and information work, and those who provide back-up services. Library and information staff functions at different levels from non-professional, Para-professional, professional, specialists to managerial. At the support level, there are also manual/care taking staff, clerical/secretarial, technical and computer staff, and specialist staff. These all play a part in providing the information that users’ desire.

Library staff should function above the normal information provision role. Other important functions are:

I. Guide – providing physical, technical and intellectual guides to information resources in various formats;
ii. Collaborate – with others, known users as well as users who come for some manner of services over and over again, and even remote users;
iii. Prioritise – be flexible in performing new functions in order to incorporate new demands in procedures, structures and directions;
iv. Empower – delegate responsibility thereby empowering colleagues; and
v. Understand core capabilities – of the library, its environment, colleagues and most importantly the users.

Training library staff in Sierra Leone

The Institute of Library, Information and Communication Studies (INSLICS), Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone (USL), is where Librarians and Information Professionals are trained and equipped for the world of work. INSLICS comprises two divisions that offer two distinct programmes: the Divisions of Mass Communication and Library, Archive and Information Studies respectively. The Mass Communication Division offers academic courses in the art and science of human communication and prepares students for career opportunities in public information services, print media, broadcast media, public relations, film production, advertising, marketing, advocacy and related fields. While the Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies caters for the professional training of librarians, records managers, archivists and information scientists to manage libraries, resource centres, information centres and related activities.

The Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies was formally established in 1986. It aims to provide for the training and education of Librarians, Archivists, and Information Scientists at a variety of levels, for those employed in both professional and non-professional capacities in Libraries, Archive Departments and Information Centres. Within the USL it is the particular mission of the Division of Library, Archive and Information Studies to educate men and women for professional careers as librarians and information specialists and to foster research and service programmes relating to society’s library and information needs.

Its goals are:

I. To furnish students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are basic to professional competence and career-long professional growth in the field of library and information services;
II. To expand the knowledge base of the profession through research; and
III. To share its resources by extending services within and beyond SL.

The Division currently offers the following courses:

1. Special Certificate in Library, Archive and Information Studies – this is a one year full-time course and is ideally suited to those with some experience of library and information work, who wish to receive training in basic library/information skills;

2. Diploma in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a two-year full-time course for those who may have some experience of library work and who hope to hold a Para-professional position in a library/information centre or archive in the future;

3. Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a four-year full-time course;

4. Post-Graduate Diploma in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a one-year programme for graduates;

5. Master of Philosophy in Library, Archive and Information Studies – a two-year programme, i.e. one year taught programme and one year research.

The challenge for library staff

The challenges facing library staff in SL are numerous. Among them, the following are worth mentioning: low wages, limited capacity, no proper networking, poor infrastructure, users’ ignorance and the polemics of status.

The challenge of users’ ignorance

An anonymous writer once wrote that “A library is a hospital for the mind.” This means that the librarian is the trained doctor or nurse to administer treatment to every sick mind. This also means that the user who needs information is the sick mind that really needs treatment from the librarian. This is the ideal case, but not the pragmatic one. For every Sierra Leonean needs information for survival and growth; but going to the library is the major barrier. This is due to the fact that many are not well informed that the library exists to provide the daily information they want. As such there are libraries with information and knowledge to help people, but these people are unaware of going there for such help. It is therefore the responsibility of library staff to make people become aware that the library can meet their daily information needs. They must find ways and means to reach out to the public. Two important ways for every library are through the public relations and marketing library and information services.

The challenge of the polemics of status

Wilson (1982) stated that librarians have long exhibited a curious, and intense, status anxiety that is reflected in the endless polemics about the professional status (or lack thereof) among them. Librarianship should be one of those professions seeking a conspicuous status in the market. As Harris (1995) mentioned, since the inception of the idea of a ‘library’ in the United States, and more significantly, since the middle of the 19th century, librarians and friends of libraries have been debating the proper role of the library profession. Librarianship is one of those professions that impinge on the very survival of any society. The Librarian commands a unique status parallel with traditional professions in SL. If we can accept the saying that “knowledge itself is a form of power,” then the Librarian is the controller of that power. He is the custodian of the nation’s knowledge base.

A redefinition of the library profession and the librarian in developing countries is urgently needed. Just as how Huttemann (1985) mentioned that “self-sustaining and self-reliant Pan-African economic growth needs to develop its natural and human resources.” So the work and role of librarians are keys for SL to realise her much envisaged economic growth and prosperity. As Huttemann further stated that the promotion of socio-economic and cultural development can be conducted properly only if it is supported by sound information and documentation services needed for sectors like education, health services, agriculture, industry and trade alike. In essence, it is a matter of must that librarians should be in the business of accessing, organising, storing and disseminating information where and when needed.
It is also crystal clear that librarians must question the definition they have accepted. A thorough understanding of their role is a sine qua non for a clearer view. They must come forward with the goal of helping society to understand that they exist to provide information for survival and growth. This goal, as insisted by Bundy and Wasserman (1968) and Harris, Hannah and Harris (1998) must be to forge a new professional identity.

Librarianship, according to Taylor (1980), is the profession that is concerned with the systematic organisation of knowledge in all its various formats and its dissemination for the purpose of preserving society’s cultural heritage, promoting scholarship and the generation of new knowledge. However, this definition is far-fetched to the common understanding of many Sierra Leoneans. The general view is of some persons sitting behind many books in large stalks of shelves and waiting for patrons to come and request for assistance. For long librarians in SL have been labeled as “book keepers” and jobs for those teachers who have been left out unnoticeably by the school curriculum. The profession itself has long been battling with Public Relations (PR). As Mchombu (1985) put it ” In most developing countries, the percentage of population which are active library users is still very low… it is, therefore, important to encourage many more people from all walks of life to increase their use of Libraries so that existing information resources can be fully exploited” (p.115). In essence, as Mchombu further asserted library staff can no longer afford to sit and wait for a few enlightened readers to come to them, they must be more aggressive, be prepared to go out and search for and encourage all potential readers to come to the library because it has information which can be applied to what they are doing to improve final results.

To this, librarians must ensure that they emphasise on creating value from know-how and expertise. Bell (1973) has long since made this clarion call that the central figure in the post-industrial society will be the information professional. For as Bell insisted what counts is not raw muscle power, or energy, but information. The central person is the professional, for he is equipped, by his education and training, to provide the kinds of skill that is increasingly demanded in the post-industrial society.

Bringing out the best in library staff

The library profession must be able to overcome its challenges. A sure way of doing this is to motivate every library staff. When library staff are properly motivated, the best from them can be realised. Library managers should as a matter of must, make motivation for staff an issue of importance. Motivating staff in any organisation is probably the most difficult task of the manager. Not only do people react differently to the same stimuli but the motivation process is quite complex. It is concerned with those factors that stimulate human behaviour, how behaviour is directed, and how it can be maintained. Staff can seem at times to behave illogically, perversely and unpredictably. Contrary to the belief of some, the good management of staff is not just a matter of common sense. To manage staff requires a formal effort to grasp these influences so that our individual attitudes can be controlled and developed to meet the day to day staff situation in a way in which common sense will have difficulty (Shimmon, 1976).

It is particularly important that the manager of a service organisation like a library/information unit makes this effort for two reasons: Firstly, his product, being service is closely linked with the attitudes of serving staff themselves and it is not possible by inspection to reveal a faulty service in the easy way that faulty materials can be detected; and secondly, the cost of labour is likely to continue rising at a greater rate than that of the manager’s other main tools, machinery and materials, and he must therefore use the staff he really does need to best advantage (Webb, 1985). Some of the staff may be motivated by money and what it will buy, others by achieving ever higher services year after year, and some by the “thrill of the change.” Thus the manager, will need to address motivation in some depth by studying speculations such as organisational theory and behaviour.

The challenge for bringing out the best

Someone has said unofficially that Sierra Leoneans naturally are not difficult to please. Sierra Leoneans are generally motivated when the two lowest layers of Maslow’s pyramid are satisfied. One of the basic problems in this society is a good remuneration package that can take care of the basic needs of people. In this part of the world five basic needs are evident: food, shelter, clothing, transportation and medical. If attention is paid to these needs for every library staff, we have solved much of the problems affecting them and we are on the verge of getting the best from them.

So a good package must contain basic pay and allowances that will cover rent, transportation, and medical. The Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) announced minimum wage pay is Five Hundred Thousand Leones (SLL 500,000.00), placing it at Eighty United Dollars (US$ 80) at the current exchange rate (2016). This will not provide the good pay that librarians will want to work for. The rising cost of basic necessities, particularly food items, due to inflation in the country, means that this minimum wage is not encouraging. Therefore libraries must ensure that they go two times beyond this minimum wage pay in order to meet their staff basic need.

Furthermore, staff should be sent to the library school for training and development. Longer-serving staff without qualifications can be encouraged to do certificate programmes. Reference and other professional librarians are to be sent for refresher courses and exchange programmes for capacity development.

Conclusively, the best from library staff can be enhanced if the challenges facing them are dealt with and if they are properly motivated. Amongst the several challenges, user ignorance and the polemics of status are to be surmounted by librarians. Furthermore, they should be fairly motivated to take on their proper roles. In this sense, their remuneration packages as well as encouragement for career developments and trainings must be attended to. The library school should help in this direction.

Bulk Buying of Books From Friends of the Library

Unlike other online business opportunities, starting an online book selling business can be done with only a couple hundred dollars. If you have bulk used books as part of your own personal collection, you can start selling them online. You will not only make a profit out of it; you can also declutter your very own shelf space. If you want to widen your inventory and meet other people who like books in the process, you may want to invest on buying and reselling used books.

Before you start to sell used books online, you must know where to find salable books at low cost. An excellent way to begin is buying books from Friends of the Library, an organization which raises money for public libraries by selling used books. These books are often well priced and in very good quality.

Libraries make new shelf space by liquidating older copies of books or duplicating copies to sell them to the public. Friends of the Library is a nonprofit charitable group which aims to support libraries in their communities. These are volunteers working collectively and independently to preserve, promote and strengthen library services in cooperation with library management and policies.

Volunteers contribute their time and effort in the lifelong education of the public by the promotion, support, assistance and improvement of libraries through various activities conducted by friends and user groups. One of the organization’s fundraising project is an annual book sale. Here you can find a wide array of collections of used books which you can use to grow your list of titles. This in turn can give you free access to the biggest marketplace for selling books–book lovers and library-goers themselves.

You can buy high-quality books at a low cost from the Friends of the Library. You do not want to end up with a pile of used books that nobody wants to purchase. By buying books from the Friends of the Library, you can rest assured that there is a market for the books you are about to sell. Be it literature, textbooks, reference books and other non-fiction rarities, the fact that they are lifted from the very shelves of public libraries guarantees that you are selling some classic stuff. Who knows, some of them might even turn out as first edition collectibles you can sell for a much higher price.

In some counties, Friends of the Library book sales have grown into a year-round operation. You just have to inquire at your local library about the organization and their book sale activities. Keep in mind that not only will you find well-priced books here; you are also helping the organization to fund several community projects.

So the next time you pass by a library selling bulk used books, it is noteworthy to check them out and when you go shopping for books, buy with selling in mind. There are people who become relatively successful in online book selling and even put up their own online bookstore. In this kind of business, the important thing is to always update your inventory and listing.