Library Council Operative

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK In the Minister of Education’s view libraries are very important in the provision of information for self-advancement, development and informed decision-making to the nation through literature. So said Nangolo Mbumba yesterday when he officially inaugurated the second Namibia National Library and Information Council at Government Office Park. Member of Parliament, Elia George Kaiyamo, was appointed chairman of the new body by the Cabinet. “I am not an expert, but what I can say is that success is associated with history and the preservation thereof, literature and libraries. Therefore it is my duty to ensure that the new council promotes the development and use of library and information resources as a matter of urgency,” said minister Mbumba. He encouraged the new members to strive to achieve and maintain a unique status as the leading body in their field and remain sensitive to the greater political and socio-economic context within which information generators and providers function. “Libraries were built and concentrated in Namibian towns and cities without real consideration of the real information needs of the Namibian people. These libraries only addressed the needs of a small population of users. However, after Independence things have changed and libraries have enjoyed support from the government to meet the nation’s information needs whether for education, self-advancement or leisure,” he said proudly. He further urged the new council to ensure wider and equal access to information and learning resources for the disadvantaged communities. “You should work towards bringing library facilities even closer to the poor, especially to those learners and community members in the rural areas, who may be sitting and reading under trees. Your role is to ensure that the programme within ETSIP for libraries, archives and information be implemented to address country inequalities, to promote ICT literacy and ensure the preservation and availability of knowledge created in public institutions,” he said of the council, which he considers as a forum in which information partners may generate a collective vision of the country. “You should also ensure that a culture of reading and using information is inculcated in the people of Namibia, especially young children,” the minister emphasized. He further elaborated on the fact that many countries rich in mineral resources remain poor because they lack knowledge and the know-how to extract minerals and turn those into economic benefits for their peoples. In thanking the minister for the trust put in him and the new council, the new chairperson Kaiyamo promised to do his utmost best in the promotion of their mission. “The country’s biggest problem is not only the AIDS pandemic alone, but ignorance of our people. We need to rectify that situation by providing at least one library in each of the country’s thirteen regions,” Kaiyamo lobbied the minister for a greater chunk of his ministry’s annual budget. The Director of Library Services, Ellen Namihla, told the press that of late most Namibian schools have some sort of library available to learners. “We have about 1 700 school libraries and 80 public ones at several public institutions,” Namihla said.