The Belize National Library Service and Information System (BNLSIS) of Belize, influenced by British practices in public library services, originated from subscription libraries of the 1825 to 1935 period.
In 1935, a free national public library service was established as the Jubilee Library. Renamed the British Honduras Library Service, the BNLSIS received its name in 1966 by a legal amendment. The system attempted to serve locations countrywide, but due to lack of finance and expertise it was not until 1955 that reorganization started. Branch libraries were established in the district capitals, the government significantly increased its annual grant between 1955 and 1960, and the first professional librarian was appointed in 1955.
The growth and development of the National Library Service was rapid. This growth was driven by strong community support, testimony to the public respect held for knowledge and information.
Education was acknowledged as the key to personal development and upward mobility, and the BNLSIS was expected to play an important role in this respect. The BNLSIS is under the portfolio of the Minister of Education, who appoints a Statutory Board to ensure the proper and efficient performance of the functions of the Service. A Chief Librarian is appointed by the Board to administer the Service with a staff of 101, and a network of 50+ service points countrywide serving a population of approximately 408,487.
Along with the Chief Librarian, the staff complement includes: Principal Librarians, Librarians, Assistant Librarians, Library Assistants, Senior Library Assistants, Community Librarians, along with Technical Assistants, clerical and ancillary staff. Seven staff members have Bachelor or Master degrees in Library Science, while 14 of the other professional staff have accumulated training up to the first year of university.
There are two units of the BNLSIS: the National Library and the Public Library Service. The function of the former is primarily to be the central depository of Belize's documentary resources; while the Public Library Service is responsible for operating a national network of free community libraries containing materials for reference and educational, cultural and recreational use. BNLSIS also provides creative and innovative services and programs through its public functions; for example, summer reading programs, reading and story-telling contests, book reviews, library education, photocopy services, interlibrary lending, bibliographic search, and other cultural programs. and other cultural programs.