SA libraries transformed over the years

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pretoria - South Africa has done much to transform its libraries and information services with work being done to ensure that libraries are accessible to all communities, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday.

“We have done much to transform the library and information services of our country, and we are also intensifying our work so that there are libraries accessible to all communities at local level and through encouraging a culture of reading and writing,” said the Minister.

The Minister was addressing the World Library and Information Congress pre-conference meeting of African Ministers of Culture on the role of libraries in the post 2015 development agenda.

He said that a conditional grant ensures that new community libraries continue to be built every year and others upgraded and new material purchased.

The Minister said that the continent needs to build a continental information society of informed people, where libraries flourish and where the culture of reading is a way of life.

“We are meeting here because libraries do make a difference in our daily lives as nations, states, people of the African continent and the world,” he told the meeting in Cape Town.

Minister Mthethwa urged the continent to tell its own stories.

“We need to tell our own stories. We need to ensure that our voices, our narratives, our ideas have equal power, and assert ownership of this knowledge,” he explained.

Additionally, there is a need to use libraries as spaces where information conveyed through new technologies can help to revolutionise and transform people’s lives.

Various gatherings have sought to address the status of libraries and their role in providing access to information on the African continent. These include the African Public Library Summits of 2011 and 2013.

“As African countries we need to create an enabling environment to enable African libraries and librarians to fulfil their role as agents of change and societal development as envisaged in the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda,” he said.

The Agenda recognises that poverty eradication is an essential requirement for sustainable development and emphasises access to equitable education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

He further added that libraries can play a role in providing universal access to information and knowledge. This further strengthens democracy.

“We recognise the critical role of access to information and information technology in helping to eradicate poverty, promoting human rights, and enabling sustainable development by bridging the gap between national policies and implementation at local level.

“We will do all we can therefore to help to resource the African library agenda,” said Minister Mthethwa. –