Fighting poverty, fighting illiteracy, the library solution
Lindall Elaine Adams, University of South
Workshop presenter: 11th International ETMU
Days Conference In/Equalities in Diverse
Societies. Identifying problems, remedies,
23−24 October, 2014, University of Helsinki,
We should be equal
We are all born equal and have the right
• live a long and happy life
• access to resources for a better way of
• be part of community (UNITED
PROGRAMME (UNDP) 2006).
but we are not….
As an infant nobody is telling you that the
colour of your skin is wrong, that families
prefer that the firstborn should be a boy, or
that your family’s background, the
neighbourhood, the size of your house and
having access to tap water and electricity with
a flick of a button would determine your
We are labelled by the society
Society boxed us into colour, gender, social
class and family
The society determine that we are not good
enough to have access to running
The society determine that our parents
cannot enrol us in a good school
The society determine that we should
Social inequality: the cause of three major
social problems in developing countries
773.5 million adults in the world illiterate
64% of adult illiterates are women
(UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)
123.2 million of our youth illiterate
To be literate, provides you with
Contribute towards the economic growth
of the country (Yeoh & Chu 2012: 12)
Means survival and an opportunity to
change your socio-economic status
(Nassimbeni & Tandwa 2008: 83).
Aim and objectives of the paper
To highlight the important role public
libraries are playing through the library
programmes they offer to reduce poverty
Create awareness of public libraries’
potential as mechanism to fight
To evaluate the success of the library
programmes in improving the lives of
the people they are serving
Public libraries – services to the poor
Family literacy programmes assist with:
Creating literate societies
Educating parents to help understand their child’s literacy
Assistance with finding suitable reading material
appropriate for their child’s age group or level of reading
Adult literacy benefits assist with:
Developing and improving an adult learner’s basic
reading and writing skills
Boost their confidence
Create a culture for lifelong learning
Value the importance of reading and writing
Investing in their children’s education
Early Childhood Development assists with:
Create an environment for early information literacy to
babies and toddlers
Exposing children to books by introducing story times,
puppet shows, crafts, rhymes, songs and poetry
work hand-in-hand with the health professionals to give
to new moms, moms to be, caregivers and nannies expert
information on baby and mom health/nutrition and
PUBLIC LIBRARIES – INFORMATION ACCESS
Libraries and Access to Information
The library plays a role in bridging the
digital divide (Hart 2010:83; Aabø
The library gives to the poor and
opportunity to have access to the
Internet (Kinney 2010: 114).
The digital age require that people
become information literate
The library equip the poor with skills
that is required in the digital age such
as computer and information literacy
skills, needed when searching for a job
(Book Aid International 2006).
Emfuleni Local Municipality Library and Information
Service – vegetables gardens
Free State Provincial Libraries – assist with job seeking skills
The Glenwood Branch Library of the Greensboro Central
Library Information and Reference Division provide employment
assistance through workshops (Young 2012: 30).
The Minneapolis Public Library teaches prisoners out on
parole computer and job readiness skills (Berry III 2012: 23).
The Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) Public Library
Innovation Programme (PLIP) (2011), an international non-profit
organisation based in Europe with global network partnerships
with its mission to enhance the quality of life through innovative
public library services, identified several initiatives where
libraries had made a difference by empowering their
communities. These initiatives focus particularly on the
Zagreb City Libraries in Croatia reached out to the homeless
people in Zaghreb and assisted with employment of 22 homeless
people living in one of the largest shelters in Kosnica by teaching
the homeless people how to study ICT skills.
The Lyuben Karavelov Regional Library in Bulgaria assisted
44 people over the age of 40 who had also been unemployed for a
long period of time. The library helped them to acquire
employment by equipping them with ICT and interview skills.
Remember the early story about the
woman and her daughters?
This is the story of my mother, about
wellbeing, self-confidence and
opportunities made possible by the Public
Library. I am one of the daughters.
Aabǿ, S. 2005. The role and value of public libraries in the age of digital
technologies. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 37: 205-
Akparobore, D.O. 2011. The role of public libraries in promoting adult education in
Nigeria. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal).
ac. Date accessed 1 May 2014.
Book Aid International. 2011. Libraries, literacy and poverty reduction: a
African development. London: Book Aid International.
overty.pdf. Date accessed 3 May 2014.
Gambari, S. 1986. Nigeria: a nation in dilemma. Nigerian Tribune, 27
Hart, G. 2010. New vision, new goals, new markets? Reflections on a
South African case study of community library services. South African
Journal of Libraries and Information Science, 76(2): 81-90.
Kinney,B. 2010. The Internet, public libraries, and the digital divide.
Public Library Quarterly, 29: 104-161.
Nassimbeni, M. & Tandwa, N. 2008. Adult education in two public
libraries in Cape Town: a case study. South African Journal of Libraries &
Information Science, 74(1): 83-92.
Stilwell, C. 2011. Poverty, social exclusion, and the potential of South
African public libraries and community centres. Libri, 61(1): 50-66.
UNESCO INSTITUTE FOR STATISTICS. 2013. Adult and youth literacy.
literacy-en.pdf. Date accessed 1 May 2014.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2006. Human
development report. Beyond scarcity: power, poverty and the global water
Date accessed 18 October 2014.
Yeoh, E. K-K. & Chu, K-M. 2012. Literacy, education and economic
development in contemporary China. China ASEN Perspective Forum,