From 15th – 22nd March 2014, through the leadership of their library association, LIASA, libraries around South Africa celebrated South African Library Week. This was the 13th time South African Library week has been celebrated and it always falls in the week surrounding the 20th of March to commemorate the opening of the first library in South Africa, then called the South African Public Library, on the 20th of March 1818.
The events in 2014 were united around the theme Celebrating libraries in 20 years of democracy: check in @ your library,
In 2014 South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy and this theme serves as an opportunity to focus attention on, celebrating the role of libraries in strengthening South African democracy, highlighting how libraries are making the right to freedom of access to information, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, a reality and enhancing nation building and community development by opening the doors of learning to all. Showcasing libraries as desired spaces for:
- connecting people to each other, learning resources, communities, government, the world and the environment
- advancing literacy through the intellectual and aesthetic development of all ages
- providing access to global knowledge and information in different formats to advance research and create new knowledge
- fostering a spirit of enquiry and desire for lifelong learning
- challenging one’s own beliefs and inculcating a respect for diverse beliefs, opinions and views all
- contributing towards the development of an informed nation, and South Africa becoming an information society
For the 2014 Library, LIASA and librarian all across South Africa produced a list of the “top 20 titles in two decades of democracy”. Entitled, Librarians’ Choice, show cased the Top 20 books published during these 20 years that:
- were written by a South African author in one of our official languages
- were published for the first time between 1994 and 2014
- reflect South African life by South Africans
- focus on issues of democracy or contribute to the consolidation of our democracy
- examine who we are and where we are heading as a nation.
The resulting list highlights not only some of the incredible books produced by South Africa but also the knowledge of South African librarians. This advocacy campaign brings pride in libraries together with the pride shown in South Africa for the 20th anniversary of democracy and demonstrates the special role libraries can play in democracy by bring communities together.