3.1 Location, size and structure

3.1.1 Choosing a location

A resource centre needs to be easily accessible to the people who will use it. Its location will depend on who the users will be and what space is available. It could be somewhere users already go to regularly. For example, if most users will be district health workers, the resource centre could be in the district hospital, or in the district health offices where health workers collect their salary cheques. If most users will be community groups, the resource centre could be near a market place, bus station or school.

It is worth thinking ahead. The resource centre will probably be more sustainable if it attracts a wide range of users, such as practising health workers, medical and nursing students, health educators, members of community health committees, members of district management teams and so on.

It is best to find a location where there are no distractions such as noise and smells. The resource centre needs to be attractive and inviting. It needs to be accessible to everyone who will use it (including people with disabilities). It needs to be easy to find. It is important that it is well signposted and that directions are included in any publicity material (perhaps as a map).

3.1.2 Working out the size

The size of the resource centre will depend on how many people are expected to use it, and what activities are planned to take place in it. It will also depend on how much space is available. It will be necessary to negotiate with administrators to find a suitable site, in view of competing demands for space.

Resource centres can range from a set of shelves in someone's room, to one or more rooms dedicated to the resource centre and related activities. The site needs to be large enough to include:

  • space for materials to be shelved
  • work spaces for staff and users: desks, tables and chairs
  • display area
  • space for photocopier, duplicating machine or printing machine, if required
  • space for a computer desk, if required
  • space for meetings and possibly training activities
  • storage space for materials waiting to be processed
  • a secure place for expensive equipment such as a video recorder.

TIP: Size of resource centres

In order to aid decisions concerning the appropriate size of resource centres and libraries, guidelines were developed for libraries and resource centres in higher education institutions, which are also adopted by hospital and health resource centres. The recommendation is a minimum of 0.42m² per full time student with a minimum total area of 500 m². For non-academic or training institutions, the calculations are usually based on the number of full time staff.

The guidelines also recognise the need for study space. This was originally calculated at a minimum of 1 space per 16 full time students. However due to the current emphasis on self-learning (which requires a greater use of resources), plus the increased use of technology such as computers and videos, it is now considered important to provide more space for study.

3.1.3 Ensuring a secure structure

The building in which the resource centre is housed needs to be in good condition to avoid damage from rainwater. Window shutters and a roof overhang help to provide protection from the weather. Mosquito netting over windows helps to protect both people and materials from insects, especially after dark.

The resource centre should be well lit. Natural light is comfortable for people to work in. However, materials need to be protected from strong sunlight.

Materials and equipment in the resource centre need to be secure from possible theft. It is important that windows and doors can be shut properly and locked when the resource centre is not in use.