How to get books

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It is always advisable to check the library catalogue before going to the shelves to look for a particular book. The catalogue will reveal whether the book is in the library or not and where it may be found.

The book holdings of the 12 libraries in the UONLIB system can be found in the union catalogue. Each library in the system has its own designation, e.g. MED for the Medical Library, LAW for Parklands Library, etc.

There are two versions of the catalogue, the card version and the online version. The user should be aware that both versions contain records for titles which may have been misplaced over the years.

Card catalogue: This is the most comprehensive record of library holdings at present. Patrons may search by authors’ surnames, names of corporate bodies, book titles and subjects. The subject headings used are generally taken from the US Library of Congress List of Subject Headings although it has been found necessary to include some of a local flavour such as “matatus”, “miraa”, etc. It should be noted that American spellings predominate.

WebOPAC: This has been created by converting the card catalogue into electronic format using VUBIS software. Conversion is an ongoing activity. With the exception of some materials from the Africana Collection, the majority of the records for the JKML have been converted. Some records for the Chiromo, Medical and Upper Kabete libraries remain to be converted. A record for which the book has not yet been traced will indicate “temporarily not available”.

Not all the books listed in the catalogue are available for loan. For example, books in the Africana Collection (AFR) and Reference (REF) may only be consulted in the library.


Library materials are obtained through purchase, exchange and gifts.

Purchase: Academic staff suggest titles for purchase. Requests must be approved by Chairmen of Departments and Deans of Faculties. The Library Acquisitions Section will quickly purchase those titles available in local bookshops. Titles not available locally will take a little longer to acquire.

Exchange: Formal agreements with institutions and professional bodies are entered into whereby the Library receives copies of institution publications in return for copies of certain UON publications. This is a useful way to obtain materials, especially local publications, which may be hard to acquire or may go out of print quickly.

Gifts: The Library has received many valuable donations which have enabled it to build up the collections. Potential donors are requested to provide a list of the items available for donation. The library staff, in consultation with the academic staff, will then select suitable items from the list.