New vision, new goals, new markets? Reflections on a South African case study of community library services

09 Sep 2011

The article reflects on a case study of a group of six school-based dual use libraries in rural South Africa – focusing specifically on their community role. Its starting point is the library and information services (LIS) Transformation Charter’s vision of public libraries that play a meaningful role in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The study employed a mix of data gathering methodologies – interviews, observation and analysis of documents. The key question that emerges from the study relates to the rather low usage of the libraries by the adults in the surrounding villages. All six libraries claim to provide “access” but it is not clear what they provide access to. The study suggests that a sharper focus on their community information services is required. More leadership, staff education and focused programming might enable the libraries to fulfil their exciting potential.