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School Libraries and Youth Services Transforming Literacy
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The Library and Information Association of South Africa’s (LIASA) School Library and Youth Services Interest Group (SLYSIG) held a pre-conference workshop at the Centre for the Book on Saturday 5 October 2013 as part of LIASA’s annual conference from 8 -11 October 2013. The theme of the workshop was “School Libraries and Youth Services Transforming Literacy”.

The pre-conference was well attended by over 200 teachers and librarians interested in school libraries. Mr Mandlakayise Matyumza, Executive Head of the Centre for the Book, welcomed the delegates warmly and set the scene for what turned out to be an excellent day. Dr Sandy Zinn, a member of the SLYSIG Western Cape Executive Committee, introduced the theme and its implications.

First on the programme was the official launch of International School Library Month, in collaboration with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). October was declared International School Library Month (ISLM) by the the International Association of School Librarianship. During October 2013 school libraries across the world and in South Africa celebrate and promote library and information services at schools, using the theme “School Libraries: Doorways to Life”.

Rose Damon, Head of the Education Library and Information Services (EDULIS) of the WCED spoke about the importance of celebrating ISLM and about the difference that librarians make in the lives of learners and patrons.

Various speakers gave ideas on how librarians can use their school library or FET college open learning centre to transform literacy amongst the learner community.

First up was Nal’ibali, a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, implemented mainly by PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education) and Times Media. It promotes reading through reading clubs, storytelling and its exciting media campaign to encourage children to read and improve literacy.

Juta shared the use of big books in the library to grab the attention of children in order to spark the love for reading within them. They demonstrated how to read from big books and engage with the listeners.

The NGO Fundza Literacy Trust explained their programme to encourage young people to read and to love reading. Fundza makes use of mobile technology to do this, getting thousands of young people hooked on reading using their mobile devices.

Motivational speaker, writer and photographer, Gary Hirson, shared his personal experiences as a writer and using his influence to improve literacy.

Next up was Johan Delannoie from Mtombhoti Studios who gave an excellent overview of the power of comic books to encourage young people to read.

Mr Allan Subban of the Department of Basic Education gave the delegates a briefing on the department’s plans to increase access to school libraries and ultimately to improve literacy amongst learners. The plans included the roll out of libraries to over 10 000 schools over the next 3 years. Needless to say, the delegates had many questions for the DBE and all questions were answered professionally.

The rest of the day was covered by the further showcasing of ideas by:
  • Help2Read, the children’s literacy organisation whose volunteers give learners one-on-one reading lessons;
  • Well-known storyteller Sindiwe Magona who enthused delegates with her powerful storytelling talent, showing how a good storyteller can turn a child into a reader for life;
  • libraries and the possibilities for improving literacy; and
  • Book Buddies, a community project, encouraging adults in communities to read to young children and in this way encouraging a culture of reading within a community.
Fifteen publishers and booksellers as well as the WCED’s EDULIS exhibited their material inside the venue. Delegates were given the opportunity to see what is available on the market with regards to literacy. Delegates left the pre-conference feeling informed, motivated and encouraged to use their libraries effectively to promote and transform literacy within the learning environment that they serve.

Theresa de Young
LIASA SLYSIG National Chair
October 2013

 

 

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