Setting up a Resource Centre

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Setting up a Resource Centre


This FAQ looks at what setting up a Resource Centre entails. Although more IM than KM, it is a topic that pops up on KM4Dev now and again.


Resource centre, resource center, learning centre, library, digital library

Detailed Description

KM4Dev Discussions

In March 2006, Chris Burman asked: "I'm in the process of making a plan to set up a Resource Center in Limpopo Province, South Africa, for the EU re local economic development. Limpopo is rural, poor, resource scarce and the Resource Center is more of a knowledge conduit across the Province and beyond than a "physical center". I am wondering if anyone has any stories / information / ideas that they are willing to share (or direct me to websites etc.)".

  • Mike Eldridge of Practical Action[1]responded that they have experience of running resource centres around the world, including Kenya and Zimbabwe. They are also actively looking at ways to enhance their information dissemination channels, so are trying to collect stories, information and ideas as well.
  • Viktor Markowski added that he had a small involvement in the establishment of the Water Information Network South Africa, WIN-SA, a national resource centre on water, based in Pretoria at WRC [2]. He suggested to contact either Arjen van Zwieten or Ndala Duma (from the website, contact info in upper right corner).
  • Steph Colton said: "A few years ago my colleagues at Sparknow helped the UK's Countryside Agency through a participative design process to design and build a new resource centre. Though it was a physical centre and in a rural area (-unlike yours-) there may be something for us to share. The philosophy or concept underpinning it was the idea of moving from collection (library) to connection (resource centre). Here is a marketing-type case study about it, though I fear it doesn't go into sufficient detail to be of much use: [3] If you'd like to speak to my colleagues in the space practice at some point, please don't hesitate to drop me a line."
  • Petra Karetji from BaKTI also contributed a story: "Just a short story of what's been happening here in BaKTI (Makassar, Indonesia). We have 10 computer units providing free internet access here. Since we put up a big sign saying "open for public" and what facilities we provide in front of our building (which is a renovated old house previously being used as a MSG warehouse), we have seen a remarkable rise in use from high school students through to researchers. Most if not all were coming in for the free internet. We've limited the use of units to an hour per user (unless they can show us they need to use the units for research)and so people waiting their turn to use the computers started to use the library. As a result, this has picked up interest in what is available in the library, and we have used this as an opportunity to start discussion groups etc. Gradually people are now coming specifically to use the library."
"What's also been encouraging is that, on seeing that the library is not gathering dust, both individuals and organizations are becoming more willing to donate their books and publications. We are also trying to keep a close track of what is being read, where interests lie, and providing feedback especially to donor agencies who have provided their publications."
"Another approach we are trying is in response to a general weakness in this region, where many organizations who are doing tremendous work in the field, are not documenting their activities and sharing their experiences. What we have done is to stock up on books which are valuable to NGOs and other CSOs in the field. An example for this is the "Where Women have no Doctors" which is a practical handbook on women's health. We offer this book to organizations in exchange for their profiles, or documentation or reports on their activities. In this way we are able to gather information from other organizations doing important work in the field, and at the same time, build up the awareness in these organizations that there is value in them documenting their work."

In November 2006, Paul Currion forwarded an email from the Aid Workers Network. A member was looking for ideas on how to set up a learning resource centre in Migori Kenya in conjunction with BETLLG a youth group in Nyamome village.

  • James Kimani who is based in Nairobi for Healthlink Worldwide (UK based charity) has been involved in assisting partners set up resource centres. He shared a useful manual on how to set up a resource centre [4]. A CD-ROM with the Resource Centre manual is also available.

Examples in Application

  • [5]
  • [6]
  • HRH Global Resource Center[7], is a digital library focused on HRH. This is a service to the community of practitioners working in HRH, with a specific focus on country-level HR practitioners (e.g. those in Ministries of Health responsible for HR decision making or Human Resources Departments)

Related FAQs

Difference between IM and KM

Further Information

  • Steph Colton
  • Mike Eldridge
  • Petra Karetji
  • Viktor Markowski

Original Author and Subsequent Contributors of this FAQ

Lucie Lamoureux

Dates of First Creation and Further Revisions

November 9, 2006

FAQ KM4Dev Source Materials