Speech delivered by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi during closing ceremony of the 80th International Federation of Libraries (IFLA) Congress and Assembly in Lyon, France

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21 Aug 2014

Ms Sinikka Sipila, IFLA President

Ms Donna Scheeder, IFLA President-Elect

Ms Jennefer Nicholson, Scretary General, IFLA

Distinguished Delegates


I would like to extend our fraternal greetings on behalf of the government and people of South Africa.

It is befitting for me to express our utmost appreciation to the government and people of the Republic of France, for the hospitality afforded to us since we arrived on your shores.

We salute IFLA for recognising the African continent and in particular South Africa as a worthy host for the next IFLA World Library and Information Congress.

History will be repeating itself in 2015 as it will be the second time within a decade that South Africa will be hosting the IFLA Congress and also the third time it will be held on the African continent.

Many of you will remember that we successfully hosted the 2007 IFLA Congress in Durban. Your presence in our country in 2007 has forged links throughout the African continent that will be further strengthened next year.

The South African government is committed to developing an informed nation and to this end is proud of the initiatives and passion that the library and information services (LIS) sector in South Africa is displaying with regard to transforming and developing library services in the country to the benefit of all citizens.

The sector is well organised and cooperates closely to improve services and to raise awareness of the impact that libraries have on the personal, educational and socio-economic development of our people.

The Library and Information Services Charter developed by the sector provides a framework that will enable the sector and government to address the information challenges faced by our country, such as information illiteracy, the creation of a culture of reading and provides policy guidelines on how to position the sector as an integral part of the knowledge economy and sustainable development.

This year South Africa celebrates the 20 years of Freedom and Democracy, and hosting the IFLA in 2015 will provides us with a great opportunity to further showcase libraries as desired spaces for:

  • Connecting people of all ages to each other, learning resources, communities, government, the world and the environment;
  • Advancing literacy through the intellectual and aesthetic development of all ages;
  • Providing access to global knowledge and information in different formats to advance research and create new knowledge;
  • Fostering a spirit of enquiry and desire for lifelong learning;
  • Challenging one’s own beliefs and inculcating a respect for diverse beliefs, opinions and views;
  • Contributing towards the development of an informed and educated nation, and South Africa becoming an information society.

For the majority of people in developing countries the lack information is a major impediment to their own development. This state of affairs is due not only to scarce material resources, but also to lack of appreciation of the developmental role which the library sector plays.

Working together with our nine provinces, the Department of Arts and Culture has built 64 new libraries and upgraded 323 recently. In the next 5 years we are planning to build 95 more libraries that will be fully equipped with the state of the art facilities.

Therefore a conference of this stature is an important platform for professional engagement, the exchange and sharing of ideas, learning from others and hopefully identifies areas for partnerships and collaborations.

It is an opportunity for us to showcase our libraries, our professionals and best practices that are emerging as critical development partners throughout the African continent.

It is my singular honour on behalf of the government and people of South Africa, the library and information services sector, and the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA), to cordially invite you to join us during the 81st IFLA congress and assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, from 15-21 August 2015 under the theme “Dynamic Libraries: Access, Development and Transformation.”

We believe that this is an excellent platform for connecting librarians, information workers and policy makers to each other so that they contribute towards strengthening communities and nations.

We are excited about this event as well as sharing our stories with you!

I thank you.