n Mousaion - Providing equitable public library services to South Africa's multicultural communities

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



The Constitution of South Africa recognises the multicultural nature of its citizens by stating that the South African nation consists of a diversity of cultural, religious and linguistic communities where everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice (South Africa, 1996).

As a public enterprise, public libraries need to acknowledge the Constitution and provide products and services that support the cultural, religious and linguistic diversity of South Africa's communities (LIASA Policies 2005). A study into the services and products offered by public libraries, specifically in Region Eight of the City of Johannesburg Library and Information Services (CJLIS), examined the role that public libraries are playing in supporting the multicultural nature of the communities they serve.
It became evident from the investigation that, although policy documents that encourage the principle of providing equitable services and collections to culturally diverse communities do exist, public libraries - such as the CJLIS, Region Eight, which operates within a culturally diverse environment - often do not provide these. Possible reasons for the current situation were identified. Based on the research findings, recommendations on the development of multicultural library services and collections were made which may be applied - not only to the CJLIS - but also to other public libraries in South Africa that have to serve culturally diverse communities.

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