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The National Librarian and CEO: National Library South Africa, Mr Kepi Madumo delivered a hybrid Public Lecture in celebration of SA Library Week at the Alan Pittendrigh Library, Steve Biko campus in Durban on Wednesday, 20 March 2024 from 12h00 to 13h00. The Public Lecture was aligned with the 2024 SA Library Week theme: “Libraries Foster Social Cohesion”.

The South African Library Week represents an important occasion in the DUT university calendar. It is for this reason that on a yearly basis, the DUT Library plans and celebrate the South African Library Week including the hosting of the public lecture as part of the proceedings. It is also in this regard that the DUT Library had a line-up of activities to celebrate the occasion.

Facilitating the event was Mr Romeo Matumba, Librarian: Marketing and Communication at DUT. Dr Azwitevhelwi Nevhutalu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at DUT delivered the welcome and opening remarks. He began by noting that at DUT, the SA Library Week should form an integral activity of producing innovative, entrepreneurial and adaptive graduates who transform society.

“The Public Lecture entitled, Libraries Fostering Social Cohesion, underscores the critical role libraries in the country play in uniting our communities as they serve as hubs where people from diverse backgrounds can come together to exchange ideas and to learn and engage in cultural and intellectual activities. By providing access to information, technology, resources and programmes, libraries broaden horizons, connect individuals, and foster a shared sense of purpose and identity. They also provide safe spaces for marginalised communities to address social and development issues, share experiences and thus promote social cohesion,” said Dr Nevhutalu.

Dr Nevhutalu further raised concerns about the practice of burning and breaking windows of libraries which seem to be a common problem in both communities and universities in South Africa. He indicated that this clearly shows that some people have no sense of importance attached to the library, hence the attacking of libraries in times of protests.

“Perhaps libraries should form part of our culture if indeed they can foster social cohesion for it is this social cohesion that we desperately need and require at this juncture in our history. Our former President Madiba led us in promoting the Rainbow Nation. We need to take the baton from him and leverage the library as such,” added Dr Nevhutalu.

Introducing the keynote speaker was Dr Malefetjane Phaladi, Director: Library Services at DUT who shared insight on the guest speaker’s remarkable career spanning over two decades.

Delivering the much anticipated Public Lecture titled: Libraries Fostering Social Cohesion, the National Librarian and CEO: National Library South Africa, Mr Kepi Madumo acknowledged the pivotal role libraries play in uniting communities.

“Libraries serve as vibrant hubs where people converge, fostering social unity and cooperation. They offer a haven where individuals can freely express themselves, exchange perspectives, and collaborate towards advancing their academic dreams and aspirations. Thus, it is undeniable that our libraries transcend mere repositories of knowledge, they embody the living chronicles of our communities’ collective experiences,” said Mr Madumo.

He further explained that despite the challenges posed by the apartheid regime, libraries remained a sanctuary of enlightenment, offering solace and inspiration to those who sought refuge within its walls. Madumo indicated that while challenges remain, libraries in South Africa strive to embody the principles of inclusivity, diversity, and social cohesion, they serve as vibrant spaces for learning, dialogue, and community engagement.

“The evolution of the South African Libraries is a testament to the enduring power of knowledge and the vital role that libraries play in the life of a nation. The future of libraries in South Africa is bright and promising. By embracing innovation, fostering social cohesion, inclusivity, and staying true to the core mission of promoting knowledge and community well-being, libraries will continue to thrive as vital pillars of society in the years to come,” reiterated Mr Madumo.

The Executive Dean: Faculty of Accounting and Informatics, Professor Oludayo Olugbara delivered the vote of thanks where he expressed his gratitude to the guest speaker for a titillating speech. He also thanked Dr Phaladi for his ingenuity in providing the right resources for this event. Prof Olugbara further thanked organisers, participants and all those who contributed in making the event a success.

Guests were also treated to poetry and comedy recited by talented DUT students who formed part of the variety of social cohesion events planned for the commemoration of SA Library Week, which was held from Monday, 18 March 2024 to Sunday, 24 March 2024.

Pictured: Distinguished guests at the SA Library Week Public Lecture hosted by DUT Libraries.

Photographer: Mnqobi Ngobese

Simangele Zuma

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