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63rd IFLA General Conference - Conference Programme and Proceedings - August 31- September 5, 1997

Serving the Unserved in the Year 2000

Elizabeth M Gericke (South Africa)


The library can only play a role in development and education if it provide services to all potential user groups in the community. Although the public library has undergone remarkable changes during the past decades, to such an extent that the name "community library" is increasingly being linked to it, there is still much to do to develop the capacity of communities to gain access to, and make use of information. If public libraries are to be efficient and able to cater for all population groups and their diverse needs, new approaches must be implemented. The capacity of local communities to cope with daily problems of economic and social change and to participate in democracy, depends heavily on access to and use of information. Library and information workers tend to over stress access to information. If the goal is to "empower" communities, services should be aimed at making people aware of information and capable to use it. A paradigm for service rendering consisting of the functions information provision, user instruction, reader advice, and educational guidance, based on community liaison and needs assessment, relevant collections, resource sharing and marketing of services, is suggested. The essence of all service rendering should be guidance to life long learning and information use.



Serving the unserved in the year 2000 implies not only an active, but a proactive, role in development. Although other libraries are also involved, it is the public or community library 's responsibility to reach out to all potential users in the community. Indeed, our professional definition of "user", "speaks in almost missionary terms of the goal of reaching the served as well as the unserved ... and affirms the determination to serve all" (Wilson 1992:23).

Although the term "community library" was already in use in the first half of the twentieth century in literature of public library practice in the United Kingdom and many other countries, the concept "community librarianship" was first labelled in the 1980's and pushed forward the idea that all the people of the community is to be served. "The exploration of the people to be served and responsive library provision has been a long term interest of public librarians, the pioneers could be said to be American".The concept of "putting people first" is central to the service orientation of the library profession. But "the inevitable question has always been AND STILL IS, 'which people?'" (Redfern 1989:1 2). As a result of the failure of the traditional public library to satisfy the needs of all the people in the community, various alternative information and library services, such as resource centres have developed in the last two decades (Fairer Wessels & Machet 1993).

The public library of the twenty first century will have to also serve those people who were up to now the "unserved" if it wants to have any right of existence. But who are the unserved? Terms such as 'developing groups', the 'underdeveloped', 'underprivileged', 'disadvantaged' and 'underprepared' can be used to identify this group, but some of these terms, if not all, have become offensive. In the next century our approach will have to be: "that it is not people who are disadvantaged but communities which experience disadvantage because of our failure as service providers to offer them the same standard of service as other users" (Coleman 1992:308).

Development is closely linked to all these terms and is seen as a process of improving the quality of life in material as well as non material terms. Underdevelopment is seen as a failure to make use of human potential to achieve a good quality of life. Therefore the process of development is seen to be crucially dependent on the development of people (Shillinglaw 1986:38). Zaaiman (1988:6), with reference to Todaro (1981), identifies three aspects of development, viz: raising people's living levels; creating conditions conducive to the growth of people's self esteem; and increasing people's freedom to choose by enlarging the range of their choice variables. The central strategy of development must be the creation of formal and non formal learning opportunities to promote the development of people (Shillinglaw 1986:39). Formal, non formal and informal education are the traditional concerns of the public library (Shillinglaw 1986:38), therefore the importance of effective library service rendering to contribute to the development and upliftment of communities need not be argued. Moreover, development could be seen as the mission of the public library, and education the primary goal. Shillinglaw (1986:41) identifies three forms of education in which the public library should be involved:

The public library of the year 2000 will have to reactivate its early enthusiasm and commitment to mass education on all three these levels if it wants to claim any participation in upliftment and development. However an extension of conventional service functions will be necessary to provide for the needs of developing groups. Services are often implemented at great cost and with much effort without really knowing the potential clientele and objectives at which they are directed.


Closer identification with the community is necessary, particularly if there are class or race barriers to overcome (Redfern 1989:5). If public libraries are to be efficient and comprehensive and be able to cater for all population and ethnic groups, new approaches are vital. These include identifying the needs of different ethnic groups as well as working with community and voluntary associations to promote and develop services. Our services must be as responsive as possible to the changing customer base. Various authors report a dramatic change in the "demographic mix" in libraries over the last twenty years, and equal opportunities for all has become the goal. The concept equal opportunities' "usually incorporates a commitment to providing a service without discrimination on the grounds of race and gender ... or to help everyone achieve their potential .... "Equal opportunities is also an important element in redressing the political and social imbalance that has existed for so many years and through this to empowering the public" (Morris 1992:91 93).

However, attention should be paid to Zaaiman's (1988:224 226) warning to move away from the paternalistic approach or top down "gracious librarian uplifting the grateful poor" model (Walker 1994:124) and rather strive to the cooperative model for full participation, consultation and involvement of the communities. Knowledge of the multilingual and multicultural society to be served and new attitudes and social skills are necessary to deal with cultural and language barriers in communicating with various individual users.

Widespread illiteracy, absence of a reading culture, general ignorance as to what material and services are available in libraries, and dominance of an oral tradition among the black population affect the use of traditional public libraries (Fairer Wessels & Machet 1993:101). Urbanisation of large numbers of poor and uneducated people is a universal phenomenon which the public library has to deal with. More than fifty percent of black South Africans were already urban dwellers in 1983 (Bekker & Lategan 1988:64). Fairer Wessels (1990) found that the daily coping needs of urban black women are particularly urgent since many are solely responsible for the economic, physical and psychological needs and support of their families. Because of urbanization, resulting in detribalization, the lack of social support groups, an oral tradition, illiteracy and a low socio economic level, the urban black woman probably experience more difficulty in obtaining coping information to satisfy basic needs than her white counterpart.

Some of the significant socio economic features of rural communities in most Third World countries are poverty and underdevelopment, landlessness, food insecurity and a high population growth (Bembridge 1987:667). Eg approximately 40% of rural households in SA, live below the minimum subsistence level. Only 10% of household income derive from domestic food production. The balance comes from wages, pensions and remittances.

People in rural areas often have low levels of education. They are often illiterate. Women who comprises about 60% 80% of the rural population or rural farmers are often constrained in participating in agricultural development due to a lack of education, knowledge and skills and traditional proscriptions against women exercising leadership, or playing major decision making roles (Bembridge 1987:681).

Illiterates overwhelmingly make use of personal sources of information such as family and friends to cope with the needs of daily living and personal social networks are important sources of information for daily living. Even literates first rely on oral communication and then resort to impersonal sources of information. Illiterate and semi literate people need an information linker who is part of the community and whom everyone knows, someone that can give information verbally, and packaged information that is easy to understand on various topics (Fairer Wessels 1990:366).

People living in working communities tend to have very unstructured information environments. Formal provision of information tends to have a low priority, because the direct relevance of information to their goals cannot be shown. In circumstances of poverty and hardship, freedom of access to information can be perceived as irrelevant. Furthermore, people will not use an information service when they perceive that it is less inconvenient to go without the information than it is to get hold of it, and access is meaningless without use. Therefore, the context for the use of information in communities is unfavourable; people tend to lack time, resources and skills to identify, locate and exploit information which is not immediately available to them (Harris 1992:50) and which they can apply for personal gain.

It is clear that the context for information in developing communities is diverse and flexible. Most activities and communication take place at the most informal level. However, we also find a degree of formal organisation, eg advice agencies. Yet, networking which is fundamental to information flow is often lacking. The central problems in development and empowerment of communities are access to information and the ability to use information.


The problem is that people do not have equal access to information. Harris (1992:45 46) warns that "access to information" is not a neutral concept. It carries with it the implication that access can be broadened or restricted implies action either on the part of the person seeking access, or on the part of a person empowered to allow access. For example, persons needing access to information may lack the skills to use it. On the other hand, because information is so often a basis of power, and disempowerment is so often characterized by lack of information, access to information is a political issue. Therefore, "the idea that information can be neutral, that information is some passive resource waiting for people to use, is politically naive and amounts to collusion in the processes which perpetuate disadvantage".

Importance of access to information

Access to information is of cardinal importance to satisfy daily coping needs, ensure a competitive economy, promote education and life long learning, democracy and nation building (Lor 1996). Information is an essential ingredient in community development; and community development is an essential factor in working towards participating democracy. The capacity of local communities to cope with economic and social change depends heavily on access to information; and if communities do not function, other policy measures will fail (Harris 1992:48). Therefore, public librarians should employ all possible methods for the creation and repackaging of information, in both printed and multimedia form (Poller 1995:271). The public library should be physically as well as perceptually easily accessible, but should also be differentiated according to the needs of various groups in the community (Brink 1987:136).

Factors influencing access

It is clear that access to information is a complex issue. Harris (1992:49) mentions the following aspects which determine access: Harris (1992:51) identifies deinstitutionalisation and information capability as the most important factors in promoting freedom of access to information, and sees both as community development principles.


"Over recent decades, commentators have begun raising awareness of the institutional nature of public library and information services, and the negative effects implied. The modern traditions of community information and outreach grew out of this awareness." Three areas where institutionalization has set in can be identified: buildings, organizational structures (bureaucracy) and attitudes. "Libraries as institutions tend to become self serving and inhibitive of social change: they tend to erect barriers to protect their own interests and to represent stability, flexibility and responsiveness" (Harris 1992:52).
The library tends to be elitist because of its approach to service rendering and its highly bureaucratic nature (Brink 1987:137). Without change in the way the organisation works there can be little scope for fundamental change in the role of the community library and in the perceptions of the library by the people. The principles of team management are highly appropriate. No change in serve rendering is possible if structure of management does not change (Dolan 1989:8).

Harris (1992:53) pleads for a model which assumes human beings to be capable of initiating actions rather than merely serving as reactive targets of persuasion."We need structures which support the presentation of communities' own knowledge, for example through public meetings, pamphlets and leaflets, resource centres with desktop publishing , public libraries providing access to bulletin boards where agencies can upload records of their experiences and views, the use of databases and multi media to provide statements by marginalized groups", etc.


Library and information workers tend to over stress physical and intellectual accessibility to information, dealt with above, and neglect the importance of information handling skills. The slogan 'information is power' can only be true of people who have the ability to use available information. Information related power refers to information ability, which includes: (1) information awareness; (2) ability to exploit information (ie information handling skills); and (3) opportunities to exploit the information (Harris 1992:55).

Many people have difficulty recognizing that they have information needs. Information awareness actually amounts to overcoming this difficulty. Information awareness is also the ability to recognize that problems may be solved and that development (personal, community, economic & social) may be achieved by accessing and using information (Harris 1992:56). Eg, Fairer Wessels (1990) found that the urban black woman must be made aware of her needs and cannot articulate them and thus solve her problems. Lack of this ability may be highly restrictive.

The ability to exploit information can take many forms: being able to match discrete pieces of data; gaining access to information sources and channels, the use of word processing, photocopiers, desktop publishing, bulletin boards, etc; assessing who else might benefit from the information or best be able to use it (Harris 1992:56).

The ability to exploit information or information handling skills are closely related to the general problem solving and development potential of a group or community. This brings the concept of information literacy to the fore, which is defined by (Rader & Coons 1992:113) as:

... the ability to effectively access and evaluate information for problem solving and decision making ... know how knowledge and information are organized, how to find various types of information, how to organize information, and how to use information in problem solving. To be information literate means to: be educated for survival and success in an information/technology environment; lead productive, healthy and satisfying lives in a democratic society; deal effectively with rapidly changing environments; solve ... challenging problems ... in order to ensure a better future for the next generation; be an effective information consumer who can find appropriate information for personal and professional problem solving; have writing and computer proficiency; and to possess an integrated set of research strategy and education skills, and knowledge of discipline related tools and resources. In short information literate people know how to be life long learners in an information society.

Harris (1992:58) warns against preoccupation with physical and intellectual access at the expense of information awareness and use. Information workers must use their skills and experience to develop information capability among communities to ensure use of information (ie user instruction). That brings us to the identification of specific services which should be rendered.


"The library public service paradigm, consisting of four service functions," namely "information, instruction, guidance, and stimulation, emerged gradually over the course of this century" (Dresang 1982:13). Rothstein (1955) identified information, instruction and guidance as basic reference functions. Monroe (1979) adds stimulation and no longer views them as reference functions, but as functions of all library services including reference. Dresang (1982:13) explains as follows: Library service is imperative, ie, an urgent duty, not to be avoided or evaded. The fundamental functions of library public service, regardless of the type of library or the objectives of the service, are information, instruction, guidance and stimulation. The confluence of these four functions forms a paradigm which can be applied to the investigation of all library public services. This paradigm provides an important point of departure for our understanding of service rendering in libraries, but may need adjustment for service rendering in the next century. Walker (1994:124) with reference to Zaaiman (1988) warns librarians about a paradigm shift, because they were used dealing with the information needs of the most, and not the least, developed members of the community. Therefore the paradigm suggested by Dresang should be elaborated to include "a service to all" (although the service orientation is more than a century old, concern about education for the masses must be reactivated) as well as "co operation by all" (instead of a top down bureaucratic model). In the light of the emphasis on the user of the service instead of the systems of the service, user guidance can be identified as the essence of all library functions, and thus of all service rendering. The involvement in education should prominently be accommodated in such a paradigm to include the following functions: information provision, user education, educational guidance, and reading advice. Stimulation forms part of each function and is therefore not seen as a separate function, although marketing (ie publicity and promotion) is regarded as an important management function which influences these functions.

However, these functions should be based on community contact (community liaison & needs assessment) and access to materials and information (collection development & resource sharing) as Monroe's (1983) hierarchy of user services suggests.


Community acceptance of the library is very important, eg Karlsson (1993:507) states:
On a micro level the practice of democracy is secured by the inclusion of each participant in the decision making process: the innovators (or animators), community leaders, the public, specialists, information workers and sponsors. This tradition of participatory democracy practised by existing resource centres is a heritage and culture which can enrich library and information services ... on a macro level.
Constant liaison with all organisations and groups is necessary to keep abreast of all activities in a community, but also to discover their needs for library services. Ways of identifying the gaps in service provision have traditionally included user (& non user) surveys. Based on these surveys, census data, and other community analyses, community profiles can be established. But user studies will move on to user participation so that the gap between the institution and the public can be bridged (Redfern 1989:3). Morris (1992:96) mentions the establishment of customer panels, which target specific groups of residents and ask a series of questions aimed at determining needs and the use and take up of specific services. Some libraries have also experimented with consumer forums and open days which have a dual purpose, namely the promotion and publicising of an aspect of the service, as well as the encouragement of feedback from the public.

Our view of user needs should not be restricted to expressed needs (ie demand), but to unexpressed and even unconscious needs. Information workers must anticipate needs. Task performance needs as well as needs related to personal development, ie needs for self actualisation and enrichment, should be catered for. Harris (1992:46) warns that if we only focus on the provision of information for practical needs, such as problem solving and decision making, we may overlook the importance of information as a resource for development. He states as follows:

The availability of a wide range of diverse sources of information is fundamental for healthy communities, so that information surrounds people and can be happened upon' and can be used to stimulate ideas and initiatives. If we deny this role for information as a kind of compost in which individuals and communities can flourish, rather than as a kind of pesticide which can be sprayed onto social blemishes we are guilty of restricting human potential for social, economic, community and personal development. Thus access to information means access to resources irrespective of expressed need.


Relevance of holdings is very important, "bookstocks must match demand, rejecting the traditional values of good literature' and what one ought to read' ... Similarly, with new media the principle is to disseminate for cultural satisfaction, not to form collections for awesome perusal (Dolan 1989:10). A written policy statement is very important as it serves as an instrument for communication and planning, it specifies library objectives, indicates needs to be satisfied and specify implications for cooperation and resource sharing.

Multicultural approach

It is important that the multi cultural nature of societies is reflected in our collection development policies. Even if certain ethnic groups do not form a significant part of the local community, it is essential that different cultures are represented in the collection and the way it is presented. Librarians should be proactive in seeking information on immigration, health and other issues relevant to various ethnic groups. Reference collections tend towards an ethnocentric bias. It is obviously important that materials such as encyclopaedias, dictionaries, statistical information, etc, reflect the needs of different groups. The use of individuals from the community in helping to create and advise on such collections is an important element in making them as responsive as possible.

Attitudes towards different racial groups

Attitudes reflected in individual items and media content should be carefully evaluated. Many librarians advocate impartiality at all times while others suggest that the library has a crucial role in promoting anti racism by rejecting material that present a negative image of different cultural groups. However if library service is to play its part in promoting anti racism, it is vital that material which presents negative racial stereotypes is rejected. Equally important is the need to have a selection policy that emphasises stock which include positive images. This is particularly so for books and other material for children and young people (Morris 1992:94 95).


Collections of material in different ethnic languages are vital if the library is to appeal to different groups in the community. The balance between various languages in the stock will be difficult to determine as many users may, for example, prefer reading matter in the official or world language and material in different ethnic languages are scarce. A selection policy is vital.

Format and presentation

In order to serve groups of people with special needs or so called communities of interest, public libraries have to take positive action to ensure that material and information is presented in a format and on a basis which will make it accessible to them. Du Plooy (1988:15 20) reports an experiment using audio cassettes to provide community information. Easy readers and literacy materials to encourage neoliterates is important, whilst Poller (1995:270) stresses the use of multimedia which can serve as "a powerful and flexible multisensory information source where the requirement of literacy is no longer supreme", and sees it "as a communication tool eminently suitable for development purposes".

Fairer Wessels (1990:365) found that personal information sources and local social support networks in the neighbourhood are the urban black woman's main sources of information, together with various community oriented organisations such as churches, women's groups, burial societies, and so on. The media are not widely used at all. The inadequacy of personal/primary sources is obvious in our information society, but as a result of the urban black woman's lack of critical awareness and her lack of literacy, formal information sources are largely inaccessible and inadequate to her as they are not attuned to her needs.

Newspapers and magazines in different languages are an important aid to encouraging a wider community use. Similarly, audiovisual material, eg talking books, videos and music reflecting the different languages and cultures is important in ensuring that the library appeals to everyone in the community (Morris 1992:95 96).


Libraries are often not used by people, irrespective of how well stocked and well managed they are, because they need to be advised, need to be given the opportunity to ask questions, to ask for further explanations ie they need guidance to use library material and information. Eg, Redfern (1989:5) states:
Community librarianship goes beyond the observable brave attempts to relate the content and presentation of book stock to the community ... What seems significant is the lack of will or ability to relate the contents of libraries to individuals in a way that makes sense of the richness of ideas and the usefulness of information ... a certain sort of commitment to information transfer.
User guidance can be defined as the action whereby the user is guided and directed towards the satisfaction of some reading or information need. It is aimed at establishing effective communication between the record and the user, and it therefore amounts to active service provision. Guidance can take place directly, ie face to face, or indirectly by means of:
  1. Information provision and reference work
  2. Educating and instructing the user in library and information use
  3. Advice in the choice of reading matter and the use of other media
  4. Reading therapy (bibliotherapy)


Both the idea of community information and the Community Librarianship movement arose as a reaction against the prevailing provision of public library services, which were largely irrelevant for many potential users, as they were based on the views and assumptions of librarians rather than on an analysis of the needs of communities (Coleman 1992:299 300).

The need for information services at local level to disseminate oral and written information at various levels of comprehension to all peoples in the community, and facilities and resources for students and adult learners was so great that many resource centres developed outside the public library to satisfy community needs. (Eg 120 resource centres still exist in South Africa).

The development of community information services in the public library is closely related to attempts to develop and uplift poor communities and is especially topical today because of three main reasons: the increasing complexity of modern society, unequal access to information and the development of the information technology (Fairer Wessels:359 360).

Community information has two aspects, namely the nature of the clientele served (the community) and the nature of the information provided. The nature of information provision today, is more diverse than it has ever been. According to Coleman (1992:301) most librarians have moved away from a narrow definition of "community information" to "information for the community". The purpose of community information

... was to empower people to take control themselves in order to interpret information directly and to use it to take action to solve their problems, and to develop their creativity for their own personal satisfaction and enjoyment and for that of their community. Today, we are more concerned with providing services based on the collection, organization and dissemination of resources than with undertaking a more broadly based community development role. Paradoxically, this has led to a wider range of approaches to 'informing communities' (instead of collecting information on the community) as the nature of the response is tailored to the specific circumstance.
During the last decade, many public library services have decentralised and yet others have developed a community role for the first time, many of them to such and extent that they have changed their name from 'public library' to 'community library'. "But there still remains a very real role to promote the value of information generally, to target particular aspects of information to people and groups who will benefit from using it, and to refer people on for specialist help to claim what is due to them" (Coleman 1992:301).

Coleman (1992:303 307) identifies the following major types of community information: Health information; Job information; Educational information, Information on What's on, Events and activities; Local history; Child care information; Authority information; and Business information.


Adult or open learning is one of the most exciting developments in public libraries. Through its increasingly widespread introduction, the role of public libraries in the whole area of support to adult learning has undergone a transformation. Open learning really does bring the idea of the public library as the alternative 'people's university' up to date (Coleman 1992:312.)

Educational guidance for continuing education is going to be one of the most important functions of librarians in the next decade. Adults considering re entering the education system are often deterred in finding and understanding all the information they need. They experience various difficulties: of finding reliable advice on their best course of action; of marrying educational goals with personal and vocational needs, responsibilities and aspirations; and with the daunting bureaucratic nature of educational institutions generally and their admissions procedures in particular. Educational guidance places the adult enquirer at the centre of the negotiation, and assist him/her to select from the full range of institutions' offerings. Therefore, educational guidance is client centred, not institution centred, and independent of institutional recruitment needs (Butler 1988:9 10).

Educational guidance is an umbrella term which suggests that the adult learner needs provision of educational information and help in interpreting the information; advice in making choices from a full array of appropriate options, counselling, assessment, and implementation. However, educational guidance is usually confined to the provision of educational information and advice (Fisher 1988:44).


User education should be broadly interpreted to include all forms of instruction aimed at improving the use of libraries and all types of library material and information sources (information handling skills). It should include library orientation and bibliographic instruction and training in information handling skills aimed at information literacy. Involvement in instruction of textual literacy (reading, writing & numeracy), media literacy and computer literacy should be included. The concept of user education should also embrace instruction in the acquisition of study skills. (cf the discussion on information ability.)


Research done at Sheffield showed that reading is an essential and critical factor in the lives of library users, for the majority of 518 respondents, it is not replaceable by any other activity (Proctor et al 1997). Reading is a fundamental skill for life and a unique pathway to information and imagination (Goodall 1992:214). Therefore, the promotion of the reading habit amongst communities is just as important as providing community information or educational guidance, and users of all ages and different degrees of literacy should be motivated to read. Eg, it is very important to provide guidance to neoliterates in order to develop their reading ability as far as possible. Story telling, reading aloud and dramatisation are very effective techniques of reading advice when dealing with children and people with a low literacy level.

Advice in the choice of reading matter is of great importance to help people to develop a love for books and reading. As Neil Napper (1990) states: "On the simple hierarchy of reading skills, learning to read is followed by reading to learn, then by enjoying reading, and finally by reading for learning and enjoyment."

Goodall (1992:213 214) also emphasises the importance of the reading habit in personal development when she says that "... although the current concern with literacy is valid, it has tended to focus upon methods of teaching (particularly for children), rather than tackling the wider and more pervasive problem, that is, the motivation for reading".

The reading of fiction is an important part of adult literacy services, particularly as such services should be responsive to customer needs regarding materials. There is a continuing need for assistance to those who have problems with adult literacy and basic numeracy skills (Goodall 1992:212 213). Relevant fiction at an appropriate level and subject interest are also necessary to serve the needs of those with little confidence and poor reading skills. Eg novels are a means of comprehending our world and our vision, and serve a significant function within our culture (Goodall 1992:227).

Literature and reading is one of the most obvious areas in which public libraries can provide guidance, but for many years no really purposive attempts have been made to do so. Many people are anxious for guidance and, in the absence of recommendations from librarians, turn to other sources. Well thought out booklists, reading programmes and exhibitions by librarians can help people choose the books which will satisfy their personal needs and interests. It is important to recognize that in some cases imaginative literature can be the best way through which to help people to acquire information and understanding, eg, about physical or mental illness, or life in another country (Coleman 1992:307) Reading advice should therefore be extended to reading therapy (ie bibliotherapy).


The emphasis in all the above mentioned functions is outreach, but Bekker and Lategan (1988:71) list the following activities as outreach services: The development and delivery of literacy programmes; Providing additional back up to literacy programmes; Helping individuals to cope with study needs; Providing advice and assistance to pensioners and the aged; Developing life skills programmes; Promoting work skills programmes; Teaching child care skills; Providing alternative education programmes; Promoting parental development programmes.

It is clear that the public library of the 21century is expected to be far more than an information centre and should provide for a diversity of community needs. However, the biggest contribution which librarians could make to development is to get people into libraries.


A well thought out approach to marketing and promotion is necessary, otherwise many of the initiatives for service rendering will be wasted. Leaflets and other publicity material translated into relevant languages should be distributed as widely as possible. However, positive cultural images which reflect the communities that the library is hoping to serve should be included in all publicity material. Photographs showing cultural diversity can help to encourage use by different groups should be included in publicity material (Morris 1992:98) . Exhibitions targeted at different groups in the community can link events such as talks, visits and important events in the community and can attract many people. Involvement in festivals and religious celebrations and publicity in the ethnic or vernacular press is also important.

The library itself needs to be seen as an attractive and welcoming place for people to visit. Many library authorities are refurnishing libraries to make them more accessible. An interesting development is the use of moveable shelves which can make the library a flexible space which may then be used for meetings and performances. Libraries can be used for a variety of activities aimed at different cultural groups, including children's theatre and workshops, exhibitions of ethnic art and artifacts and information and advice sessions for small businesses. These help to attract people into the library and demonstrate that the library service has changed and now offers something for them.


The development of the capacity of communities to gain access to, and make use of information is of cardinal importance in community development, the promotion of democracy, a competitive economy, nation building, and the self actualisation of people. Libraries must strive to satisfy basic information needs and should be on the forefront of the promotion of a culture of reading and learning. Democratisation of the state and society can only succeed if communities are empowered by the effective distribution and use of information. Therefore, we must extend libraries services to all, with particular emphasis on services to presently unserved communities, especially in rural areas, townships, squatter settlements, etc and an outreach strategy should form the basis of all service functions. Above all, libraries should strive to become learning centres for life long learning and development. Guidance is the essence of service rendering and a service orientation. It has been generally accepted that people with problems need help and the type of guidance they require will range along a continuum from information, through referral, advice, and instruction, to practical assistance in learning.


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