South African Librarians’ Day 2015

In 2014 LIASAs anniversary, 10 July, was declared a special day dedicated to celebrate librarians. All LIS sectors are encouraged to celebrate the day in their special way. The day is also used to raise awareness of the profession through various platforms, and the value added by librarians towards optimal access to relevant information, thus developing an informed nation.

Aims

  • To create awareness about the importance of Librarianship as a profession and the critical role Librarians play in nation building.
  • To recognize and celebrate the milestone in the profession, aimed at raising the status of Librarians when LIASA was registered as a Professional Body in February 2015.

Objectives

  • To instill the love for Librarianship as a worthwhile professional career. Change the stereotyped perception that people have about Librarians as being women who wear buns and spectacles, telling students to keep quiet and stamping books at the counter.
  • Raise awareness about Librarians as Information Specialists, Information Managers, Knowledge Managers, e-Resources Librarians, Research Librarians, Information Specialists, Information Managers, etc.
  • To safeguard libraries as valuable community spaces that advance community development (no libraries burning).
  • To promote the love for reading through marketing of reading and writing activities (book launches, reading clubs, debate clubs, reading competition, etc.)
  • To advocate for and promote libraries as the hub for accessing valuable information for general knowledge, education, development and recreation.

General Information

Librarianship is a noble profession that is basic to the development of citizens and thus a nation. It speaks to the intrinsic requirement of building an informed and knowledgeable nation, through the equitable access to information. The growth and sustainability of the new democracy in South Africa is reliant on citizens who are knowledgeable and can make well informed decisions about all aspects of their lives. Librarians have the inherent responsibility of knowing their communities’ information needs and making it accessible to them. They are committed to the development agenda of the country, bringing to life the fundamental rights of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa – the right for access to information.

Background

The Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) was launched on the 10th of July in 1997. This formation was a culmination of an era that ended different associations that have over 75 years been striving in a variety of arenas for recognition as the voice and advocate of LIS in South Africa. During the 1990’s when it was clear that change was imminent in South Africa, the Library and Information Sector joined many organizations and professional bodies in planning, debating and articulating new formations and policies for implementation in a post-apartheid South Africa. There was a need for all LIS workers to come together and discuss issues of importance in the profession. This led to a conference titled “Libraries and Information Services in Developing South Africa (LISDESA)”, held in 1995 in Durban. It is a conference that has always been remembered primarily by its enthusiastic participants as the “one voice” conference. It was defined by Ms Kay Raseroka, as the “train” of unification that was about to leave the station with all on board. It was the beginning of an 18 months path towards preparing for an association that would speak with one voice on behalf of all the people involved in library and information services, LIASA. LIASA, as it is today, is a professional non-profit organization, uniting and
representing all institutions and people working in libraries and information services in South Africa.

The first unified conference, chaired by Ms Kay Raseroka, was held at the University of Pretoria on 8–10 July 1997, with over 400 participants and honoured guests. The guest speaker on the opening day was the Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, Mrs Brigitte Mabandla and, at the festive lunch on the closing day, the Minister of Education, Professor Sibusiso Bengu. The IFLA president, Mr Robert Wedgeworth, who had been closely involved in South African LIS developments since 1992, gave the keynote address. The name of the new association was chosen by ballot from the 35 suggestions submitted – the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA – pronounced “LEE-asa”), an abbreviation that fortuitously has the connotation, in two major African language groups, of “rising” or “dawning”.

The 10th of July is thus a very important day in the calendar of Library and Information workers. It marks a day during which Librarians pause and think about the critical role they play in nation building, supported by an Association that speaks with one strong and viable voice that serve the library and information services profession. A decision was made in the later years, to name and recognise the 10th of July as the Librarians’ Day.

Key Messages

  • Messages used during the launch of the 2015 SA Library Week addressing the burning of libraries. Messages should highlight the centrality of librarians in the connections between people, information, knowledge and  services.
  • Messages raising awareness on the importance of studying Librarianship, different courses/degrees that can be pursued, library schools, etc.

Allies/Partners

NGOs engaged in reading.

Audiences/Partners

This will depend on the activity a Branch chooses to mark this day:

  • Librarians (the Main focus for the day)
  • Community Members
  • Youth: Youth Commissions, SRCs
  • Employers: Opportunity to talk about Librarians recognized as Professionals

Actions and Tools

  • Visit employers, decision makers, politicians, etc. and talk about LIASA as a Professional Body, with “Professional Librarians” as a designation for qualified Librarians.
  • Arrange marches/walks for libraries.
  • Put up displays in libraries.
  • Conduct radio and/or television interviews and address Objectives stated above.
  • Use social media to raise awareness to market activities.
  • Write articles for print media.
  • Arrange informal gatherings and celebrate the Librarians’ Day with a Braai, a talk over, breakfast or lunch, etc.
  • Arrange tours to all libraries in a town.
  • Get information about all Library Schools and courses offered and share widely.
  • Compile a YouTube video of what librarianship means within the current environment, interviewing librarians.
  • Work with schools and encourage a visit to a librarian to spend the day and see what the profession is all about.

Media