The UN Information Centre (UNIC) Pretoria Library joined many other libraries to mark the South Africa Library Week by launching its week-long activities on 16 March 2015 with visit by a group of 30 learners aged 6 to 15 years from the NGO Tshwane Leadership Foundation. The South Africa Library Week (14 to 21 March) was held countrywide under the theme “Connect @ your Library”, as libraries connect people to each other and to knowledge and information.
UNIC Pretoria staff and interns, guided by the UNIC Librarian Hope Kabamba, arranged fun and educational activities for the learners focusing mainly on the work of the UN, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the “My World Campaign”. The students were attentive and engaged fully in the different discussions. The UNIC Librarian briefed the learners about the Library Week and its significance and used the platform to highlight UNIC Pretoria Library services and resources it provides to the local population.
UNIC Pretoria Director, Helene Hoedl, elaborated on the MDGs and the “My World Campaign”. She asked the learners about the issues they felt needed to be addressed most urgently. The learners displayed interest and a few hands went up, with replies such as “harassment, abuse, crime, and bullying”.
Learners were divided into smaller groups to further explore the issues that they were concerned with. Participants in each group enthusiastically discussed and selected the top six challenges that they felt should be addressed by governments, out of the sixteen from the “My World campaign”. At the end, learners were given an opportunity to present their findings. The common issues that came out from all groups were good education, health care, access to water and sanitation.
As a token of appreciation for their participation and also as a way of promoting UNIC Pretoria’s Library activities, the UNIC Librarian gave each student a Library Week kit. Each kit contained posters on children rights and the Library Week, a pencil, bookmarks and a booklet on how to prevent sexual abuse in public schools titled “Speak Out”. In addition, UNIC organized a number of activities throughout the week to make UN staff and library users aware of the UNIC Library services and activities and above all to connect with each other and gain valuable information on the work of the UN. These included orientation sessions on UN information and documentation and hands-on sessions to search online UN information. Library users were particularly interested in the websites on UN careers and employment. UN flagship publications on display in the Library created awareness about the varied work of the UN system.