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Before the main European settlements were established in the 1830s, Samoan development was linked with Fiji and Tonga. Samoa became a colony of Germany in 1899. New Zealand gained control of Samoa after World War I, and after World War II, the process began to transfer Samoa to self-government. 1962 saw Samoa become the first Pacific country to become independent.[1]

Today, Samoa has an estimated population of 194,000 people, speaking Samoan and English. The nation also boasts a high literacy rate of 99.7%.[2] Samoa is made up of two large islands, Savai’i and Upolu, which contains the capitol city, Apia.[3]

Featured Library

Samoa’s Nelson Memorial Public Library was established in 1956, moving in to its current building in 1959, before officially opening in 1960. The Nelson family and government grants from both Samoa and New Zealand provided the funds for the building and collection.[4] They have an active events calendar, hosting Library Weeks, workshops and conferences, as well as a support system for establishing branches.[5]

Preservation Concerns

While Samoa must also deal with the general preservation concerns of a tropical country, they are also vulnerable to natural disasters. The Samoan disaster management plan lists a vulnurability to cyclones, floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, and tsunamis.[6] Samoa, at least as of 2006 has a fairly comprehensive disaster plan, especially since it includes concerns about climate change and other environmental disasters.[7] In terms of preparation, they have early warning systems, various training and public awareness efforts, and a detailed splitting of responsibility.[8]


While there is no immediately apparent legislation regarding libraries in Samoa, the Nelson Memorial Public Library seems to function as a national library. Libraries in Samoa are overseen by the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Culture, and the government also supports library services financially.[9] The Samoan Ministry of Education, Sports, and Culture established a Strategic Policies and Plan covering July 2006 to June 2015.[10] In outlining the evolution of library services in Samoa, the report indicates that the Nelson Memorial Public Library offers important library services to the schools, like helping set up the catalogs for school libraries.[11] The next section outlines the specific problems schools face in terms of interest in reading and improving information literacy. From limited student access to libraries, poor funding, inadequate technologies, and the lack of trained library staff and librarians,[12] Samoan schools have severe challenges to overcome. The strategic plan contains important goals and steps to improve overall library services by first performing community outreach and improving the general opinion of libraries.[13]

The Parliament of Samoa has its own library, which provides a number of services to its members, and maintains a collection of records created by the Legislative Assembly. The library also collects reference materials of interest to the members on such topics as politics and economics.[14]

Library Association

The Library Association of Samoa (LAS) was established in 1986 (then known as the Library Association of Western Samoa) and became an incorporated legal body in 1997 when Western Samoa became the Independent State of Samoa.[15] Over the years, the LAS has experienced financial constraints but funding from UNESCO in 2009 helped to renew the organization.[16] According to their website, the LAS exists to promote literacy, provide professional support and training, preserve Samoan culture, facilitate access to collections, advocate free access to information, and organize related events.[17]


  1. Samoa. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  2. Samoa. (2012). CIA World Factbook. Retrieved. May 28, 2012.
  3. Samoa. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  4. History of Libraries in Samoa. Library Association of Samoa. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  5. Events/Activities. Library Association of Samoa. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  6. [| Samoa's Nation Disaster Management Plan 2006-2009]. 2006, 16.
  7. ibid.
  8. [| Samoa's Nation Disaster Management Plan 2006-2009]. 2006, 22-24.
  9. Library Association of Samoa. History of LIbraries in Samoa. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  10. (Samoan) Ministry of Education, Sports, and Culture. (2006). Strategic Policies and Plan, July 2006-June 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  11. p. 35, ibid.
  12. p. 36, ibid.
  13. ibid.
  14. Library Services. The Parliament of Samoa. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
  15. Library Association of Samoa. (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved June 2012.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Library Association of Samoa. (2010). Retrieved June 2012.