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The City of Joburg Library and Information Services (LIS) joined the world in celebrating World Book Day and Copyright Day by hosting an online discussion.

The Director LIS, Nobuntu Mpendulo, opened the discussion by re-affirming the City’s position about the importance of libraries and reading. 

“The rich collection at Joburg libraries is far beyond imagination. Through reading, you open your world view and travel places that you have not been. You become part of the experience that influences your thinking," said Mpendulo.

During the lockdown, many people found themselves reading either for academic and leisure purposes. Others had hard copies, others e-books. Alignment to the digital world was not imagined but was a reality.

Portia Rakoma shared how public libraries are a jewel of a nation.  She gave clarity on the roles of public libraries, the importance of their accessibility and that librarians are meant to support users. 

“Reading offers a wide scope in personal development. It helps to develop a person in area of interest comprehension and vocabulary,” said Rakoma. 

She encouraged librarians to have conversations with readers and not to assume that people have been in the library before. 

Among the panelists was Denise Nicholson, who cautioned attendees about compliance to the Copy Rights Act. The message was clear that if you copy some open’s work- being written, quoted or photographed, the correct thing is to acknowledge the person.  

“Librarians are well accustomed to copy rights limitations and seeking guidance will be of great help,” advised Nicholson.

In sharing about his first experience in the Library, Dr John Kani, a renowned actor, author, director and playwright, explained how he was mesmerised. “It was a different new world altogether, filled with lots of books. Since then my life has never been the same.”

He further emphasised the importance of indigenous book collection needs to be improved. 

“Your indigenous language gives you identity and strengthen your interaction with your entire family. It is embarrassing when a child cannot speak home language and fail to communicate with grandparents.” 

Enforcing a culture of speaking own language, reading and visiting a library is necessary.