Monday, March 17, 2008

My Pictorial Story of the Launch of the Biggest Library in Soweto

I was very impressed with the Jabavu Library, which was launched today amid a whole lot of fanfare.

The city of Johannesburg. partnered with the Vodacom Foundation and .the Department of Public Works to build and kit out of the R14 million facility, which is described as the biggest library in Soweto.

For more information about the Vodacom Foundation's participation read my article for ITWeb
I also wrote an article focusing on the connection to American tennis legend Arthur Ashe, who back in the 1970s financed the building of the tennis development centre on which the library is situated.

I submitted it to a Virginia daily newspaper, hoping they would be interested because Ashe is from that region, and stories about sporting legends are sort of timeless. If the paper doesn't bite, I guess I will have to consider other options.

But that is not ideal - I did the story on impulse because I already had the material, and want to finish with it as soon as possible.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures of the new library. As you can see there is a computer and Interner centre

and a children's wing where the little ones can pick up book and read/look at the pictures.

The organisers made sure that the press' tour of the library coincided with the traditional storytelling time.

I felt sorry for the kids in the audio-visual centre, who were unexpectedly mobbed by a horde of journalists with flashing cameras, bent on capturing that heart-tugging moment that invariably sells newspapers.

The kids didn't seem thrilled to be disturbed from whatever they were reading/listening to, so they could be asked questions. They certainly didn't play up to the cameras!

Though absent, Allan Knott-Craig, CEO of the Vodacom Group, SA's largest mobile phone company and a major sponsor of the children's library, insisted that actual books be handed over.

Despite his appreciation of what technology can achieve, he is not convinced that it can replace books in all the ways.

As matter of interest, I recently published a post on Mobile Life about a book that was developed specifically to be publsished on a mobile phone.

Please leave your comments about whether the mobile phone is a viable alternative to increase the scope of publishing in Africa.

In his keynote address, Johannesburg executive mayor Amos Masondo said the library will provide people with access to vast amounts of knowledge, and echoes eighth law on the freedom charter, which states that "all cultural treasures shall be open to all."

He also cautioned against "indiscrinmanate imbibement of information."

" The use of library requires ability of reader to read with discerning eye and critical mind," he said.


Anonymous said...

I love the story line about the opening of the library. You have skillfully summarized the days events and I wish I had such a skill.

Jenny said...

I hope that in five years' time the books will show that they've been thumbed through and well-used, i.e. it mustn't be a white elephant.

Damaria Senne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damaria Senne said...

@Anonymous - Thanks
@Jenny - You are so right. In addition to it being used, one of my biggest concerns was that the library is sustainable and when the computers and audio-visuals get old /break down they get fixed, and more books are constantly being brought in.

Kyra said...

Thank you so much for sharing the story of this library and the lovely photographs! So glad that you keep us updated and connected!

Best, Kyra

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