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The Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Library hosted a public lecture to commemorate the South African Library Week (SALW), via Microsoft Teams recently.

The event was well attended by members of the DUT community, colleagues from other universities, library schools, corporates and Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) executives.

The theme for SALW 2022 was ReImagine, RePurpose, ReDiscover. Mr Romeo Matumba, DUT’s Librarian for Marketing and Communication, facilitated the programme, meanwhile Mr Nazeem Hardy, President of the Library and Information Association of South Africa, was the guest speaker.

The opening remarks were presented by DUT’s Professor Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement (RIE). In her opening remarks, the DVC: RIE highlighted the importance of the library and its critical role as a strategic partner in supporting the academic project.

“This public lecture is a very important event in the calendar of the university. The library plays a big role in terms of supporting teaching and learning, research and innovation, and providing spaces for students, researchers and communities. The guest lecture will also help us to rethink the purpose of the library, how we have adjusted to the 21st-century demands, and the debunking of the pandemic on the library,” she said.

Prof Moyo also added that the SA Library Week theme of 2022 builds on the 2021 theme of libraries’ matters, by moving the narrative forward from one of confirming relevance to one of demonstrating how libraries continue to be relevant in society.

“The 2022 theme will be carried throughout the year as LIASA celebrates 25 years of being the association of libraries and institutions in South Africa,” she added.

Prof Moyo further reiterated that LIASA plays a huge role in the development and improvement of libraries in South Africa and that librarians and institutions should continue to show support to the association.

The public lecture was one of the activities that were organised by the DUT Library for the SALW. Other activities included Amnesty week for the long-overdue library items, and a competition to name the library discovery tool.

Delivering a message of support, Prof Gift Mheta, DUT’s Manager: Writing Centre, reiterated the importance of celebrating the role of libraries in one’s daily lives and spaces. Prof Mheta also used his message of support to rebuke the recent attacks on libraries.

“Speaking for myself, how I wish every week would be SALW. Maybe the message will reach home that libraries indeed matter. Maybe we would begin to appreciate the sanctity of libraries and it would become taboo in our society for anyone to think of causing damage to library infrastructure. This is a time to build and not to destroy, time to assess our library services, and this is time to reconceptualise how we can take our library services to the next level, hence our theme for this year, ReImagine! RePurpose! ReDiscover! Libraries,” added Prof Mheta.

DUT’s Doctoral student, Mr Hlangani ‘China’ Shange, made a short presentation on the library value proposition in his academic journey. The presentation outlined how he accessed library services before COVID-19 and how the library supported him during COVID-19. His presentation described the services and facilities he enjoyed during the COVID-19 pandemic and how such support contributed to his completion of a master’s degree in 2021.

“The library has always been my friend while studying at DUT,” said Shange.

He also added that while studying and using the libraries at DUT, he was able to improve his reading skills, research skills, presentation skills and utilising library resources and material for his studies.

Dr Malefetjane Phaladi, DUT’s Director of Library Services, introduced the guest speaker, Mr Nazeem Hardy, President of LIASA.

In his lecture, President Nazeem Hardy highlighted the role played by LIASA in helping to design the theme to celebrate libraries in South African communities. According to the president, LIASA’s responsibilities include advocating for basic human rights, such as freedom and access to information. They also include advancing literacy and creating awareness about SALW, as well as promoting tolerance and respect in our societies. He further indicated that this year is the 25th year of celebrating SALW which is a real milestone.

“LIASA is a professional body that aims to unite and develop the interests of South African libraries and librarians. All libraries celebrate this week to also advance the principles of humanitarian and tolerance in communities, embrace access to the library as a basic human right,” said Hardy.

His lecture centred on the 2022 theme, ReImagine! RePurpose! ReDiscover! Libraries. The President discussed how the SALW 2022 theme was selected, the amount of energy and time invested in developing a theme for each year. He also spoke about the role that libraries play in a variety of community settings and institutions.

President Hardy encouraged all stakeholders to continue supporting the work of libraries in their communities, institutions, and corporate settings.

“The need for the library in terms of how it has always been perceived is there. People always see the library as a safe space. Library requires other stakeholders to come together to help create safety and security, social networks, etc. I believe that despite all these current challenges, libraries continue to reimagine. Libraries continue repurposing their services and spaces, rediscovering their specific strengths and how certain services can be reintroduced to improve the image and development of libraries,” added Hardy.

In his conclusion, he emphasised the need for communities in academic, school, and community spheres to be involved in the conversation about library development as libraries are for the people.

Prof Oludayo Olugbara, the DUT’s Executive Dean of Accounting and Informatics presented the vote of thanks remarks.

Pictured: Mr Nazeem Hardy, President of the Library and Information Association of South Africa.

Romeo Matumba

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