Historical background

In the mid-1990’s, Inter University Committee of Librarians (IUCL) had a keen interest to establish a postgraduate institute to train the university library staff. With this interest they developed a proposal and sought funds from international organizations.

Under the Second Phase of the General Education Project (GEP 2) in Sri Lanka supported by the World Bank, 4000 school libraries in Sri Lanka were being developed to promote resource-based learning. Since there was a severe lack of trained library professionals, it was decided to develop 4000 teachers as teacher-librarians at the beginning. The project was searching for an organization to train these 4000 teachers as teacher-librarians. The proposal to establish the institute was submitted to the World Bank and the agreed to fund the establishment of NILIS on the condition that it would train teacher-librarians.

NILIS was established in 1999 by an ordinance under section 18 and 24 of the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978 as an institution affiliated to the University of Colombo and It is expected to cater to the large number of teachers who required retraining and upgrading, as well as to the personnel needed in public section and commercial enterprise libraries. In addition to the education and training responsibilities, NILIS is vested powers to establish standards for training of Library & Information professionals and to accredit Library & Information Science programmes.


The principle academic, administrative and accounting officer is the Director. Board of Management (BoM) consisting of University Professors, representatives from the ministries of Tertiary Education and Science & Technology and senior Library & Information professionals, is the executive body. The Academic Committee makes recommendations about the academic activities of NILIS. This consists of the Director, representatives from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka Library Association, National Library & Documentation Services Board as well as reputed IT personnel. NILIS academic staff includes three Senior Lecturers and one Assistant Librarian. The Senior Assistant Bursar and the Senior Assistant Registrar heads the administration and finance sections. A team of support staff backs the activities of NILIS.

Educational programs

It is NILIS’s mandate to train the human capital in information studies. There are three types of programmes conducted.

  1. Short-term programmes (workshops, seminars, lectures, short training courses and certificate courses) for which, certificates of participation are awarded by NILIS.
  2. Part-time Certificate/Diploma courses
  3. Postgraduate programs (Degree awarded by the University of Colombo).