South Africa’s LIS Transformation Charter: policies, politics and professionals
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The rhetoric of public librarianship includes many ringing claims for the role of libraries in democracy; and, on the 20-year anniversary of the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994, it is an opportune moment to examine the rather confusing fortunes of libraries in our young democracy. In recent years, some 20 libraries have been destroyed in social protest; yet the LIS profession would argue that libraries are agents of development and social transformation. The paper reports on the work of the authors on the LIS Transformation Charter which, after a start-stop-start process of two phases over six years, has now been handed to government. The paper analyses the political and professional forces that influenced the Charter writing process; but we argue that the final Transformation Charter offers a vision of a transformed and integrated library system that has meaning to all sectors of South African society.