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05 December 2019 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe
Laptop read more
At the handover were, from the left: Dikgapane Makhetha, Officer in the Department of Community Engagement; Zwelinjani Mbatha; Ntsiwoa Andries (both teachers at Botlehadi); and Legopheng Maphile, Assistant Director: Library Marketing and Community Engagement at UFS LIS.

School libraries are an important resource for young minds. International research has shown that school libraries are beneficial to the academic development and progress of learners. A fully stocked and functional library within a school can improve learner performance and reading abilities by up to 8%. 

A seemingly simple gift of a laptop will therefore go a long way in ensuring that Botlehadi Primary School in Turflaagte has a functional library that will be a reading haven for all its learners.

Inspiring change

The laptop was a donation to the school by the University of the Free State Library and Information Services (UFS LIS) and the Department of Community Engagement. Before the handover on 26 November, it was pre-loaded with software that would allow the school to create an inventory of all books in its library, track their books, and consolidate their learning resources in one central place, like any fully-fledged library. 

Botlehadi was one of the schools that benefited from the Mandela Day project in July, when the two divisions gave the school’s library a much-needed revamp. A laptop was promised, and the school’s representatives were all smiles when they finally held it in their hands. 

Botlehadi teacher, Ntsiwoa Andries, said the school was beyond grateful for the laptop and the stability it would bring to their library. With their learner count numbering 1 800, Andries said keeping track of their books had become quite a daunting task. 

“The books are there, but we have a lacking library system. We don’t even have a librarian to manage the library for us. This laptop will help us to store our books and know which books we have, and which ones have been taken out by learners. It was easy to lose books because we had no effective system.”

Promoting a culture of reading

Andries said the school is a leader in its community by encouraging a culture of reading for both learners and their parents.

“We have books for all ages and even invite the parents to make use of the library facilities. It feels good to know that we will be able to give our community better access to books, because most of them cannot afford to buy books. They will finally know how it feels to have a wide variety of books to choose from.”

As a librarian, Postgraduate Research Librarian, Carmel Nel, said she knows the difference a small school-library system can make for a school like Botlehadi.

“When we first visited the school in July, we felt their strong need for a laptop in order to track their books. After approaching the Bloemfontein Rotary Club for help, we were finally able to fulfil our promise to the school. The laptop’s management software will allow them to effectively plan and distribute their resources and manage book circulation.”

Legopheng Maphile, Assistant Director: Library Marketing and Community Engagement at UFS LIS, said: “We are just planting a seed now, but there’s a lot of watering that needs to be done. We promised to donate this laptop before we even had it, and today we’re excited to be making an impact.”

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