Dual use school community libraries: expedient compromise or imaginative solution?
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The paper reports on a research project in a group of six dual use school community libraries in a rural region of South Africa1. The six dual use libraries were established with donor funding in 2001 as part of a larger project of their province’s public library service. In 2009, the donor no longer funds the libraries and they operate under the provincial public library authorities. The case study, conducted in April 2009, investigates the value of dual or shared use libraries in the context of drastic shortages of both school and public libraries and the calls in government circles for the sharing of resources. In the South African situation where millions are out of reach of LIS, the sharing of resources among schools and their local communities certainly is an attractive option. But Haycock warns that the mention of dual use in library circles “not only inflames passion but also seems to release all reason” (2006: 489). The fear, apparently, is that the temptation to cut costs might outweigh needs on the ground. An editorial in the School Library Journal Online in 2000, in response to government endorsement of “joint-use” in California, quotes the Californian School Library Association’s warning that shared school and public libraries are “a politician’s dream solution, because it doesn’t take any thought, and you’re not actually talking to public and school librarians” (Glick, 2000).