Strategic positioning of the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) as a change agent in social cohesion and nation building

RALEBIPI-SIMELA, Rocky (2015) Strategic positioning of the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) as a change agent in social cohesion and nation building. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 200 - National Information and Library Policy SIG with National Libraries.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1258
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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.

Abstract

Strategic positioning of the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) as a change agent in social cohesion and nation building

The roles, purposes and relevance of libraries in society have been studied and reported throughout the history of libraries in many forms. In developing countries such as South Africa, these debates happen within the framework of the many government policies, plans and funding models. The National Library of South Africa (NLSA) is a case in point. It was founded in 1999 as a result of the amalgamation of two institutions: the Library of South Africa in Cape Town and the State Library in Pretoria, each with its own history, purpose and roles in society. The National Libraries Act of 1985 which became active in 1987 declared the two libraries as national libraries (Westra & Zaaiman, 1991). The Act mandated the national libraries to “promote the rendering of information services to the population of the Republic by collecting, preserving and making accessible published and unpublished material” (Westra & Lor, 1993). During this period, the “population of the Republic” referred to the minority white population as was decreed by the apartheid regime. After twenty years of Democracy and the framework of the National Development Plan 2030, the focus of the debate has shifted from a traditional national library intended to provide services to a few, to an agency of the Department of Arts and culture with service to the entire population of South Africa. The articulated responsibility to promote social cohesion and nation-building is the source of great excitement and anguish as the NLSA makes its strides beyond 2030. The paper provides a historical analysis of a trajectory of purpose and relevance of the NLSA, the challenges and opportunities presented and a vision of its future

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