South African Library Week - a celebration of SA’s intellectual and literary heritage

Published Mar 22, 2023


The Library and Information Association of South African (LIASA), through its diverse membership, is driving the process to make South African Library Week a celebration of our country’s intellectual and literary heritage.

All types of libraries across the country use this annual, week-long event as an opportunity to market their services to users, the broader community, civil society and decision makers.

The aim is to contribute to the understanding of the important role that libraries play in a democratic society: advancing literacy, making the basic human right of freedom of access to information a reality, and promoting tolerance and respect among all South Africans.

This year, in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, and Sabinet, LIASA is celebrating South African Library Week from March 20 to 26 with the theme “Libraries: telling powerful stories”.

Furthermore, the country celebrates Human Rights Day on March 21, and our Bill of Rights recognises freedom of access to information as a basic human right. We are therefore able to link an important historical event with a crucial date in our democracy - a date in our history synonymous with powerful stories!

Humans have told stories for as long as we can remember. These stories are used to share news, amplify the accomplishments of heroes, pass on cultural traditions, and transfer knowledge and history.

Libraries have been central in collecting, preserving and sharing these stories.

Stories make difficult information easier to understand – and they can change the future for the better. For South African Library Week this year, LIASA is focusing on telling those stories, while also placing a spotlight on the achievements of libraries in South Africa over the years, as libraries transform to fit into the “New World”.

Libraries are currently facing many challenges. These include funding constraints, the provisioning of adequate and relevant materials, infrastructure problems, insufficient internet access and connectivity, inadequate disaster management, and vandalism. These challenges are not new and speak to the resilience of libraries.

While it is human nature to highlight challenges more than achievements, this year the focus will be on what libraries are doing right and what libraries have achieved - telling the positive stories.

Libraries are the heart of a community. They not only provide access to books in all formats, they are also a space for knowledge, access to information for all, and occasionally, an escape from the harsh realities of life.

Libraries are in the midst of a dramatic change: technology has transformed how we find and use books, how we gather information, and how we learn. The fourth industrial revolution has shifted the landscape and how we tell these stories that have contributed to global knowledge, memory and communication.

Libraries in South Africa are transforming the stories they share and how they share them. This includes the platforms that are used to tell these stories - whether they are recreational, educational or historical. Despite the challenges they face, libraries have persevered and continue to add to the good stories they tell.

LIASA digimag

Librarians understand the power of storytelling more than most. A good story draws you in, shows you different ways to think, and touches your mind, heart and life.

Librarians and libraries, therefore, also have powerful stories to tell.

The LIASA 2023 digital magazine showcases many of these stories – how libraries have empowered and made a difference in people’s lives, why staff love working for the library and their communities, what libraries have achieved, and what has been learned along the way.

These stories highlight the importance and value of libraries to all.

Read it here