Minister Meyer's Address at the Opening of the Public Library in Knysna
Address delivered by the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, at the official opening of the Knysna Public Library on 22 April 2014 in Knysna.
The Executive Mayor of Knysna - Ms Wolmarans,
Ward Councillors Richard Dawson and colleagueas,
Members of the Knysna Community,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Two years ago I stood in this room looking at the design, building plans, and was taken on a site inspection around the then proposed site of the new library. I also assessed the heritage implication of extending the footprint of the existing library on this site.
I engaged with the architects and the relevant stakeholders. Today, I am pleased to note that as a result of that engagement, the architects were able to design a building that demonstrates that it is possible to turn something of heritage value into contemporary value. The original building is 121 years old yet with the right approach it has been developed to house a modern library of 1100 square meters without compromising its heritage value. The architects need to be congratulated. This was indeed R6.2m well spent.
I believe that the library is a symbol of the learning organisation.
The question is how does it find application in this building?
Well, let me explore this further by considering the characteristics of a learning organisation and how it is concretised within this library.
Firstly, this library is a product of a shared vision as captured in this town’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP). It is further aligned to the Provincial Strategic Plan and the National Development Plan. This shared vision reflects our common dream for South Africa… South Africa where every citizen has access to the opportunities to develop his or her potential.
Secondly, a learning organisation is characterised by team learning. The presence of team learning is evident in this library. It is a reality that is captured in the valuable work being done by the friends of the Library.
Thirdly, the building breaks down mental morals (fixed ideas of the past). The library creates the space for us to access books that will enable us to change our views. Particularly those views that heed our progress.
Fourthly, systems thinking permeate through a learning organisation. It helps me to think of you. Then of myself, then us. In other words it helps me to think of Your culture, My culture, Our heritage. We need to break down ethnocentricity. In a library we have to show respect to other cultures and build cultural warmth.
Fifthly, a learning organisation creates the space for individuals to develop personal mastery. The question of who am I and how can I add value can be explored within the library. Adding value however is linked to the understanding that I first have to discover and develop my talent.
The library is much more than just books. It is therefore my wish that this library will create much public value and that it will indeed become a centre of cultural warmth within Knysna. The partnership between the National Department of Arts and Culture, the Western Cape Government and the Knysna Municipality demonstrates that is possible and that we are indeed better together.
I thank you.