International Exposure for Masiphumelele Library

Masiphumelele library is a key resource for the community, providing both standard library services and valuable outreach and educational programmes. However, many visitors to the library may not realise just how much of a model the library has become to communities elsewhere in Africa, and now also Europe. As part of both the library and Masicorp team, Nyasha Maziye recently had the opportunity to share his experience of ICT training at Masiphumelele Library with fellow public librarians in Lithuania and Poland. Nyahsa has lived in Masiphumelele since 2007 and completed his UNISA degree in accountancy, with financial assistance from Masicorp in 2011. He has worked as both a volunteer and staff at the library and currently delivers IT training from beginner to advanced levels at the library.

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Previously he has visited both western and eastern Africa to showcase the learning programmes on offer in Masiphumelele as part of the Young African Library Innovators initiative (IYALI). This was his first visit to Europe to explain how Masiphumelele Library has successfully piloted innovative services.

Masiphumelele Library opened in 2003 and was Masicorp’s first major project in the community. It initially operated with donations of books, but is now under City of Cape Town management. Masicorp and other NGO’s provide for extra staff, additional outreach programmes, and the computer room which can only operate with external funding. Masicorp has currently secured overseas funding to deliver IT training from the library. Nyasha has played a crucial role in delivering Masicorp’s IT program at the library and this was the focus of his presentation to the IYALI group at the National Library of Lithuania.

The meeting was held in Eastern Europe to coincide with the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) general conference, which was hosted in Wrocław, Poland. Nyasha and the IYALI delegates were also able to attend, which provided a huge opportunity to network and further spread the news of the innovative programs on offer in Masiphumelele. One of the delegates sought out Nyasha to thank him for presenting to them in Uganda as part IYALI in an earlier meeting, and explained how they had begun to offer similar IT training from a library in Entebbe. It seems that the innovative work happening at Masiphumelele Library is being noticed and held up as an example of good practice elsewhere in Africa.

Around the world, libraries are increasingly seen as more than just a location to borrow books and read or study. As the world becomes ever more digitized, libraries must become more innovative and use their spaces effectively to meet the needs of local communities. On returning to Masiphumelele, Nyasha was able to share some examples of how the Eastern Europeans are using their libraries. Could we be seeing this in Masiphumelele in the near future?

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