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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

South African Library Week, 18-26 March 2017

by: Jillian Viljoen
The UKZN libraries commemorated South African Library week from 18-26 March 2017. The UKZN libraries used this opportunity to highlight the importance of libraries and the various services which they provide. The theme for Library Week was “My Library, Your Library”, and in this vein, various programs were held across the libraries of UKZN.

My colleague, Renee, and I co-ordinated and facilitated the events on the Pietermaritzburg (Pmb) campus. From 20-24 March, the Pmb campus library had various guest speakers, from different walks of life, who shared how the UKZN libraries have assisted them in their studies, research and academic growth and development. All the activities took place in the Main library foyer to encourage the university community to participate in a library setting. It also highlighted that libraries can be used to encourage freedom of expression and are not just places where books and computers are housed. Each speaker, all from UKZN, gave unique insights with personal experiences, anecdotes and motivational and inspirational words of encouragement which captured the audience’s attention. Guest speakers included Siyanda Kheswa, a former student and now a lecturer in the Information Studies Department; Stella Sabi, a team leader at the Writing Place in the College of Humanities; Nonhlanhla Ngcobo, the Manager of Library Information Services and LIASA KZN Chair; Melusi Mntungwa, a UKZN Media Masters student; Sizwe Madlala, a UKZN student with visual impairment who spoke about the challenges of using the university facilities as a blind student; Kyle Allan, a UKZN student and poet who facilitated a creative writing session after his presentation; Nazim Gani, the Head and Senior Librarian at the Alan Paton Centre and Centre for African Literary Studies; and Anthony Gathambiri, a UKZN PhD student and lecturer, and the author of the book “The President”. All these individuals graciously gave up their time to address the UKZN community and to encourage students, especially, to make use of the library facilities and services to the fullest.

Various training sessions were also held on using the library catalogue to find library materials housed in the libraries on the 5 UKZN campuses, databases to find articles, the importance of referencing and how to reference, and the use of a reference management package called Endnote. The off-campus access was also highlighted to demonstrate to the students that the resources of the library can be accessed anywhere and at any time. These training sessions provided skills to assist students in accessing information. Access to information is key to the growth and development of every human mind and the library has so much information; all you need is the skills to access it and you can navigate your way independently through the rich resources at your disposal.

Various competitions, lucky draws and fun prizes added to the festive event, intimating that libraries can co-ordinate fun activities while still being a place of learning and information. Thanks to Van Schaik Book Store in Pmb for the new books which they generously donated to the library as well as the postids and pens which were given to the audience at the talks. In an age where libraries are seen as buildings with walls, places to meet friends and, sadly, sometimes targets for vandalism, South African Library Week allowed the UKZN Pietermaritzburg library staff to showcase the true value of libraries in the digital age, encouraging people to see the theme “Your Library, My Library” practically.

There were various displays on Library Week, Amnesty Week, the UKZN Press, the Pmb library staff, the Mzala Nxumalo Centre which houses political studies resources, the Alan Paton Centre and CALS, and banners from the Disability Unit, the Alan Paton Centre and CALS. Students were also encouraged to write any comments on their thoughts on the library on cut-outs of hands in different colours. These comments were then added to the library week display. This encouraged students to constructively engage, anonymously, on their perceptions of the Pmb libraries.

18-26 March was also Amnesty Week at the UKZN libraries. This was a good opportunity to encourage all students to return the overdue books in their possession and their fines would be removed; no questions asked. This initiative was very successful.

An American novelist, Shelby Foote, once said “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” This implies that a library is the heart of a university. South African Library Week was used to promote this idea and to encourage the university community to acknowledge and respect the role that libraries play at any institution and in any community. The UKZN Pmb campus library had a fun-filled, eventful week, with motivational talks by “home-grown” UKZN personalities. Whoever said that libraries were just boring buildings with old dusty books probably missed out on our lively, entertaining South African Library Week celebrations.

Guest speakers 




Some of the students who attended the talks.                             
Do you see yourself in the crowd?
Some of the students who won prizes.

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