South African Library Week continues: check in @ your library

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18 Mar 2014

The Launch of the South African Library Week by the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) successfully took place on 15 March 2014 at the National Library, Cape Town, with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture. The theme for this year is “Celebrating Libraries in 20 years of Democracy: check in @ your library”

The President of LIASA, Ms Ujala Satgoor, officially opened the launch. Addressing the delegates at the launch she said “a library is a major educational institution.” She continued to say 2014 has given us an opportunity to review our achievements since 1994 and we are proud to say indeed South Africa has a good story to tell as the President Zuma declared in the State of the Nation address.” “I fully agree with the President’ statement as great strides has been made to develop libraries since 1994”, acclaimed Ms Satgoor. She also said that 20 years is not a very long time, therefore more still needs to be done to improve our libraries, working together to strengthen our democracy.

The DDG, Mr Vusi Ndima representing the Department of Arts and Culture, stated that “it is important to indicate that a lot of transformation and redress has taken place since the dawn of democracy. He announced that a conditional grant of R1 billion was allocated in 2007 to the public library sector to transform and build rural and urban public libraries' infrastructure. Since 2007/8, 51 new libraries have been built, 272 existing libraries were upgraded, 1274 jobs were created, 45 new libraries are planned to be built and 150 existing libraries will be renovated in the next 3 years.” Mr Ndima announced a further injection of R3 billion into the library and information services sector.

Mr Darren Hoerner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation attended the launch as a special guest. In his speech, he said “All lives have equal value” and “digital divide is not acceptable at all”, echoing the fact that all people should have access to libraries and enabling technologies. He stated that access to information is crucial and today in the US every library has internet access. “Libraries are a critical component in building a democratic process, he stated. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation representatives are currently in the country to launch the Gates Foundation Global Libraries' Project as part of celebrating the South African Library Week.
The launch will take place at 10:00am on the 18 March 2014 at the National Library of South Africa in Pretoria.

For further information, Lisa Combrinck:
Issued by the Department of Arts and Culture