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Tuesday 4 April 2023

South African Library Week at the UKZN Pmb Library, 2023



By Jillian Viljoen

In collaboration with the Pmb subject librarians.

All photos taken by Renee Damonse. Thanks Renee!

South African Library Week (SALW) is celebrated every year in March. It highlights the valuable role of libraries, librarians and all library staff in communities. Libraries can have a life changing effect on individuals in various ways. The theme of SALW this year was “Libraries: telling powerful stories”.

Professor Ruth Hoskins receiving her gift

When you think of a story, what comes to mind? An imaginary tale? A recounting of an event involving certain individuals? Listening to a senior family member reminisce about past events? Stories can be powerful tools to teach life lessons or to emphasise or highlight pertinent points.

 At the Pmb Library, Professor Ruth Hoskins, the Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Humanities, expanded on the theme by explaining the history of the UKZN Pmb Library and the value of all library resources. She gave a brief account of her studies towards becoming a librarian and how that experience became a foundation for future career choices. An interesting and inspiring account of events.


Dr Nonhlanhla Ngcobo with the students. 
Can you identify Dr Nonhlanhla Ngcobo in the crowd? 
She looks like one of the students.

Dr Nonhlanhla Ngcobo, the Director of Library Services, engaged the students on the history of libraries and encouraged them to provide their views on the challenges of libraries over the years, the way the digital age has changed the way libraries provided a service and the role of libraries on the whole. The feedback was phenomenal. The students displayed a genuine understanding of the role of libraries and there were positive reviews on the staff and aesthetics inside the buildings. Thanks to the staff for flying a positive flag high for the library. Your efforts have paid off and are being noticed. 


Professor Mbongeni Malaba, from the School of Arts, provided an enlightening background on the establishment of the Centre for African Literary Studies (CALS) on the Pmb campus, as he was the curator at the centre for eighteen months. This centre has a valuable collection of literature of African authors. This continent has a wealth of literature

In the centre:
Professor Mbongeni Malaba
and Mr Wiseman Masango

and authors and these rare and unique collections have been sourced by Professor Bernth Lindfors, resulting in the establishment of CALS.  Professor Lindfors is a professor emeritus of English and African literatures. He is the author of a number of books on African literature and folklore. He still sends boxes of books and manuscripts which he discovers to CALS for documenting. Mr Wiseman Masango is the custodian of this special collection and he highlighted some of the popular authors. He mentioned that many researchers from the United States and other countries visited the centre to study the collections which are in many languages. That centre certainly is a gem at UKZN.      

L-R: Ms Sqedile Mbambo and Ms Noxolo Mthethwa 

Ms Sqedile Mbambo and Ms Noxolo Mthethwa highlighted the history and varied collections of books which the UKZN Press publishes. They include different subjects and range from poetry to novels, to children’s stories, to factual content. What a variety of publications by this small publishing house. Dynamite really does come in small packages. Of interest to the postgraduate students was the option of publishing their completed PhD theses as books. The criteria and processes was explained to them and their questions indicated that this option was a welcome alternative for future consideration.    


L-R: Ms Edista Ngubane and Ms Slindokuhle Ndlovu

Ms Mariam Jassat from the Humanities Student Counselling Support Services, and Ms Edista Ngubane

and Ms Slindokuhle Ndlovu from the Humanities Career Development Office, reminded students that they are not alone on this academic journey. If they have any academic, personal or psychological challenges, help is available. The Student Counselling Support Services are free and qualified psychologists are on hand to guide you through each challenge. We all need a helping hand once in a while. There are Career Development Offices in each College. They provide assistance with creating CV’s, writing covering letters, job interviews, deciding on a career, assisting you to get part-time and full time employment and so much more. The staff are there to help you achieve your career goals. What a wonderful service!

    L-R: Mr Dhirshan Gobind
Mr Sphamandla Gwamanda
Mr Sphamandla Gwamanda and Mr Dhirshan Gobind, from the Disability Support Unit, outlined their services for students with various disabilities. They also explained the processes involved with assisting visually impaired students to get access to information in a format which they can read. They have various assistive devices like wheelchairs, etc. For students to get assistance from the Disability Support Unit, they need to indicate the disability which they have and what assistance they require. Some students may not want to disclose their disabilities but there is always the risk of the disabilities hindering their progress or they may not be adequately accommodated in lectures, pracs, tests and exams, especially if they require extra time to complete tasks due to their disabilities. Use this free assistance because it’s specifically designed for you.

On either side of the poster:
Mr Golide Ndlela and his colleague.
Mr Golide Ndlela from SANCA (South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) gave an impactful account of how the abuse of alcohol and drugs has a detrimental effect on the organs in your body,

especially your brain functions. His visual aids clearly portrayed the organ damage which we are not aware of when we look at ourselves on the outside. His detailed explanation of the degeneration and the fact that the damage cannot be reversed or repaired in most instances was alarming. This talk was eye opening but also sad because we all either have loved ones or know people with substance abuse challenges and the reality of the serious health risks were driven home. Food for thought.

Asathi receiving his gift from a student 
Asathi, from the Golden Key Society, was a last-minute addition to the programme. He had requested the opportunity to set up a table in the library to speak to students about the Society after seeing the South African Library Week programme of speakers advertised on the University Notices. He was given an opportunity to address the students formally, like the other speakers, and his session was well attended. Students were delighted to hear about the benefits of being chosen to be part of this international society and were impressed by the charity work that they engaged in. Asathi clearly enjoyed what he did and his enthusiasm was infectious. There certainly was a lot of excitement after his talk.


Photos taken in the Research Commons

Attendees at the talks

On the left:
One of the competition winners.

Pens were given to all attendees at each talk. Needless to say, there were many familiar faces by the end of the week. Guess how many pens they collected. There was a competition based on the library training sessions. There were 5 lucky prize winners. With so many entries with correct answers, it was disappointing that it had to be narrowed down to 5. Everyone was a winner because they learnt something new.


The interactions and discussions during the talks were lively and cordial. Students were free to express their opinions, views and to ask questions. How often are students encouraged to have high-spirited discussions in the library? This was one time when they weren’t shushed and they made the most of it.

What an amazing diversity of speakers and interesting discussions! The library was a platform to highlight various stories. Student engagement was fruitful. All in all, it was a wonderful celebration of South African Library Week amidst the online library training sessions. Talk about multi-tasking.

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