The National Library of Uganda was established by the National Library Act, 2003. This Act repealed the Public Libraries Act, 1964 which had established the Public Libraries Board. The Board had been charged with the responsibility of establishing, equipping, managing and maintaining libraries in Uganda. Following the enactment of the Local Governments Act, 1997, this responsibility was decentralized to the local governments. The Public Libraries Board and later the National Library of Uganda retained the responsibility of laying down national policies in regard to these libraries, giving advice, issuing standards, norms, guidelines and work manuals, providing technical and professional advisory services and coordinating and carrying out advocacy for these libraries at local and international levels.
With the enactment of the National Library Act, 2003, the NLU became the National Bibliographic Control Agency responsible for ensuring legal deposit of materials by publishers, publishing the National Bibliography of Uganda, allocating the International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) and International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSN) and establishing and managing a National Collection of Uganda.
To collect, preserve and disseminate Uganda’s documented intellectual and cultural heritage, provide professional leadership in library and information delivery and promote a reading culture.
To develop sound library services, plans and policies related to national development policies, priorities and aspirations;
To make library services accessible to all for purposes of education, information, self development and recreation;
To promote and facilitate the provision of library services to all parts of Uganda especially rural areas where most of the people live and work;
To acquire, preserve and make accessible documents of cultural, historical, research and educational value;
To provide technical, professional and advisory services to local governments, the public and private sectors in the field of library services;
To ensure that the services are efficiently managed and that there is effective and optimal utilization of both material and human resources available;
To support the adult literacy and other continuing education programs by providing follow up and relevant reading and information materials;
To build institutional capacity for promotion and delivery of library and information services.