Library Week History | Western Cape Government

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Library Week History

(Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport, Western Cape Government)
The idea of a National Library Week for South Africa was aired for the first time at the Annual Conference of the South African Library Association, which was held in Kimberley, 20-23 September 1965.

Nothing materialised until 1985 when Public Library Day, driven by the Public Libraries Group of the South African Institute for Library and Information Science (SAILIS) and coordinated by Brian Paterson and Michael Barbour was celebrated on 6 June 1985 for the first time. The objective of this project was to bring the many services offered by the public library to the attention of the community. In 1986 Public Library Day was celebrated on 8 October. In 1987 no official Public Library Day was held, but public libraries presented activities on an ad hoc basis.

In 1988 the South African Institute for Library and Information Science (SAILIS) declared that from that year onwards the third week of May would be celebrated as Library Week in libraries throughout South Africa each year. The theme for Library Week 1988 was Explore a new world in your library, and suitable posters, bookmarks, stickers, library bags and T-shirts were produced by the Cape Provincial Library Service.

In 1989 Library Week was celebrated with a Children's Carnival with the aim to draw as many children as possible to join libraries and to promote the services of all libraries, including school, college and university libraries.

1990 was declared International Literacy Year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and it was decided that year should be declared the Year of the Reader in South Africa. The campaign was launched with much fanfare and the usual promotion items in public and other libraries.

In 1992 a general campaign, entitled Animal Antics was launched in Library Week to introduce the services of public libraries to non-users and in 1993 the focus was on the various segments of the population: the child, the adult, the scholar and the senior citizen. The theme was Build a nation of readers.

1994 was declared the Year of Information and an ongoing information campaign, Information for all at your library, was launched throughout South Africa during Library Week.

1995 Library Week campaign was entitled, Reach for the stars - read!, and was once again aimed at young people.

1996 Library Week was celebrated by some libraries over two-week period with the theme Read/Funda/Lees. This was a campaign in which a number of well-known celebrities were featured on posters reading.

1997 saw a library card sign-up campaign with the theme, Smarties read books.

1998 saw the concept of Library Week in its tenth year and the Western Cape Provincial Library Service had as its basis a theme of empowerment, with the slogan, Knowledge is power.

In 1999 millennium hysteria hit everyone and the Library Week campaign Book your place in 2000 assured library users that libraries and their services would still be relevant in the new millennium.

2000 was a new beginning and the slogan Books by the million for the millions conveyed the message that libraries could cater for the information needs of the whole community.

In 2001 the campaign Books make lekker friends! specifically targeted children. A tiny character, Bhuki, was created to convey this message to young library users and potential library users. For the first time stick-on tattoos were designed and printed for distribution to public libraries together with the usual promotional items such as plastic bags, posters, bookmarks, stickers and colouring-in sheets.

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014