Converging paths in the drive for school libraries in democratic South Africa

HART, Genevieve (2014) Converging paths in the drive for school libraries in democratic South Africa. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 213 - School Libraries. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.
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Converging paths in the drive for school libraries in democratic South Africa

The paper examines some recent positive developments on the rocky road of school library advocacy in South Africa - first providing some background on schooling and libraries in post-apartheid South Africa. The road is littered with dashed hopes and broken promises; but there are signs that at last education authorities are translating their polite rhetoric into action. The paper describes the intersecting paths of two initiatives, the LIS Transformation Charter, commissioned in 2008 by the National Council for Library and Information Services (NCLIS), and the One School, One Library One Librarian campaign, launched by the civic action group Equal Education in 2009. Each operates in very different contexts but I argue that the pressures exerted by these two movements, independent of but aware of each other, will drive the fortunes of school librarianship in South Africa. The paper argues that, in gaining the moral high ground in its confrontations with government, Equal Education has worked to the benefit of the LIS Transformation Charter processes, which after a hiatus of three years were resumed in 2013. In these three years, the Education Department began to work on school libraries - producing school library “guidelines” and in 2013 presenting a 10-year plan of action for school libraries as well as guidelines for cooperation with public libraries. It is open to debate whether these moves are the result of the damaging findings of the 2009 draft of the Charter or of Equal Education’s campaigning. The road ahead is still long but certainly looks more promising. Much will depend on the larger LIS sector, which must ensure that the pressure points continue.

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