Voice of Exchange
Busi Dlamini and Mona Niemand
Multimedia and Mobile Library Services,
Gauteng Department of Education
Study Visit to Sweden
Busi Dlamini and Mona Niemand from the Gauteng Department of Education, SA, were invited by the Skolbibliotek Syd (School Library South) Association in Sweden for an exchange visit and study tour. The visit was funded by Network Southern Africa, a Swedish NGO.
The purpose of the tour was to visit different libraries /institutions and participate in the Association’s regional conference. The Swedish education system is decentralized to local governments. Schools are controlled by the municipalities which provide funding for schools and teachers’ salaries. Education is free up to higher education. Learners do not wear school uniforms and the average class size is 25. Each school provides a healthy cooked lunch to learners and teachers.
We visited the Medioteket in Stockholm and the Pedagogical Centre in Malmo. These institutions provide multiple copies of fiction books to schools and training on reading motivation, cataloguing, computers and library administration.
School and community libraries were visited. One school in Stockholm is situated in a multicultural area. The majority of the learners originate from Somali. The school librarian works hard to select books for learners from diverse backgrounds and she uses books from the World Library Organisation to supplement her stock.
Our tour included a visit to a joint school / community library situated in a school in Lund and managed by a community library. This arrangement works well because funding is provided by the municipality and schools and community libraries are sharing the same database e.g. uniformity in cataloguing which allows resource sharing.
Sweden has a well established reading culture. The community library in Lund was filled with people reading from different age groups on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Authors are celebrated in community and school libraries.
In Stockholm we visited the Barnangen World library which is involved in translating African books written in English into Sweden. It was exciting to see South African popular reading books e.g. “The day gogo went to vote” by Eleanor Sisulu.
We both delivered papers at the Skolbibliotek Syd Association’s regional conference. Our presentation covered the School Library policy in SA, the LIASA and the Mobile Library Service in Gauteng.
What did we learn?
• Joint schools and community libraries can work under certain circumstances
• Libraries should be friendly, inviting and colourful. It makes a huge difference.
• Screening videos and DVDs from a central office (Pedagogical Centre) for schools to watch over the Internet.
• Automatic issuing and de-issuing of books by the users.
• Experienced an excellent public transport system.
Head – Multimedia of the Gauteng Dept of Education
Coordinator – Mobile Library Service
Multimedia Unit of the Gauteng Dept of Education