The Department of Sport, Recreation Arts and Culture in partnership with Dr. Beyers Naude Municipality will join the rest of the country and celebrate the South African Library Week, better known as National Library Week in Graaff Reinet on 19 March 2018. National Library Week is an annual celebration aimed at raising the profile of libraries in South Africa, especially amongst previously disadvantaged communities and this year’s celebration starts tomorrow, 16 March 2018 till 23 March 2018.
The theme is “Libraries: heart of the Community” re-emphasizes the idea that libraries belong to the community and are central to it. All libraries, whether it is a School, Public, Academic or Special library, are at the heart of their communities, to offer vital resources to address community needs, and are places where the community gathers.
They are open to their own communities and provide essential services to help people and neighbourhoods thrive. From internet access to helping with homework, story-times and language programs, libraries provide free accessible space, information resources and services for everyone.
Libraries must be seen as educational, recreational or informative social hubs of their communities that encourage and motivate members of our society to reflect on the role and value of libraries in their lives.
In 2001 the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) initiated a drive to have a week recognized by government as the National Library Week to raise awareness about the value of libraries.
A formal application was made to the then Minister of Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane who approved the proposal. His Deputy Minister, Ms Brigitte Mabandla, suggested that the week be called the South African Library Week instead of National Library Week.
In 2002, South African Library Week became part of the national calendar. Thereafter LIASA has been tasked with setting the dates of the South African Library Week (SALW). The week within which the 20 March falls is celebrated as SALW. In the event of the 20th March falling within a weekend, the week before is celebrated as South African Library Week.
The date was chosen based on research into the history of libraries in South Africa. The South African Public Library, now known as the National Library of South Africa (Cape Town), was established by government proclamation on 20 March 1818. The choice of date was also inspired by the Given that libraries are best positioned to ensure the freedom of access to information as enshrined in our Bill of Rights, the week will also inform the nation about their fundamental right to access information.
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