SA Library for the Blind turns 100

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The South African Library for the Blind (SALB) has launched a centenary book about the library’s 100-year history.

“The book provides an overview of the library and is intended to give the reader a feeling of what transpired in the library over a 100-year period. We tried to keep the content accessible and readable,” SALB Director Francois Hendriks said.

Addressing the launch of the book on Thursday in the Eastern Cape’s Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown, Hendriks said the book is not just about the library as an institution.

“It is made up of people and that is the focus of the book. People who worked at the library over many years and people who are working here today.

“But then it is also about the members of the library. The relationship the library has with its members is a very personal one and it started from the very early beginnings of this library. 

“As in any relationship, there are ups and downs, people who like what the library is doing and people who do not like what the library is doing. It is about people sharing their life with the library,” he said.

Hendriks said the library was established with the vison of being a library for all blind and visually impaired South Africans.

“The library has done so within publishing and political limitations. No distinction was made. Transcription of books in ‘Bantu’ languages started in the 1920's. In 1958, Council reports that the Group Areas Act made fulfilling the needs of non-white people difficult. Despite this, the library persisted to render services to all,” he said.

Library member Robert Moshoane has expressed his gratitude to the library, as it keeps him up to date with current affairs.

“I was frustrated getting news via the radio because sometimes I would miss a programme that I was looking forward to. Sometimes I was not able to listen to the radio as I was busy with other things. Since I have joined the library I have access to any information that I need,” Moshoane said.

He mentioned that he enjoys reading biographies, African history, crime investigations and animal books as well as newspapers.

The South African Library for the Blind is a non-profit organisation, which has offered library services to blind and visually impaired people of South Africa since 1919.

The library strives to make a contribution to Africa by being an available resource of advice and expertise for all visually impaired persons.

It produces documents in special mediums such as braille and audio formats for use by its readers.

It develops standards for the production of such documents, and acquires and disseminates the technology required by people with print disabilities to read. –