17 April 2008
The Department of Arts and Culture and the National Library are to reprint out-of-print indigenous language books in an bid to reduce literacy and promote the culture of reading and writing, and is calling on the public to help identify worthwhile books.
“We humbly call upon all teachers, lecturers, librarians, publishers, authors and all people interested in our indigenous literature to assist us in identify these books,” said National Library spokesperson Rhulani Bila.
“The government is committed to the vision of reducing illiteracy and promoting the culture of reading and writing in the country.”
The books should have been published between the years 1900-1990 in languages including isiXhosa, isiZulu, isiNdebele, siSwati, seSotho, seTswana, sePedi, tshiVenda and Xitsonga.
The department, as the custodian of the nation’s heritage, has a mandate of contributing to this national agenda through development, promotion and preservation of languages and literature.
The National Library, for its part, is mandated by the National Library of South Africa Act to be the custodian and provider of the nation’s key knowledge resources and to collect and preserve published documents and make them accessible to the public.
“We ensure that knowledge is not lost to posterity and that information is available for research,” the National Library website states.
“The National Library’s collections contain a wealth of information, and include rare manuscripts, books published in South Africa, periodicals, government publications, official foreign publications, maps, technical reports, Africana and newspapers.”
Many of the above are available on CD or microfilm, in digital format or accessible online.
Interested members of the public are encouraged to participate in nominating books for the project and send in a brief synopsis of an indigenous language book that might be considered as a classic.