I had the
wonderful opportunity of being a first time visitor to
Windhoek when I attended the above workshop as a
presenter and co-facilitator with a colleague from
Germany, Dr Hannalore Vogt, the City Librarian at
Goethe-Institute is the cultural institute of the
Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. It
actively promotes knowledge of the German language
abroad and fosters international cultural cooperation.
It conveys a comprehensive picture of Germany by
providing information on Germany's cultural, social and
in co-operation with the Namibian-German Foundation for
Cultural Co-operation is the only German cultural center
in Namibia. Their aim is to promote the German language
through language classes and through courses for
teachers of “German as Foreign Language”. They
furthermore thrive to foster intercultural co-operation
between Namibia and Germany with a special focus on
reconciliation between the colonial history and the
Namibia of today.
The Goethe-Center and the British Council
share a historical space and present their services in
the colonial Estorff Building in the heart of Windhoek.
The two institutions use this exceptional opportunity to
coordinate their work especially in the fields of
library and information services.
Gateways to Information & Democracy: Improving
This is a series of workshops being held
by various Goethe Institutes and Centres during the
course of 2008 on improving networking,
advocacy and lobbying strategies for public libraries
in five Sub-Saharan African countries.
The countries involved in this initiative are Ghana,
Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria and Togo.
The aim of this project is to invite
political stakeholders, key persons from civic society
and information professionals to discuss and develop
strategies to improve the situation of (public)
strengthening library associations
drawing the attention of politicians
to the importance of libraries
securing better funding,
infrastructure and training,
in order to empower libraries to better
fulfil their role in providing access to information and
education. Furthermore, the role of libraries in
providing access to information and supporting democracy
is discussed and strategies for improving networking,
advocacy and lobbying for libraries are developed. The
final results of these workshops will be presented at a
conference to be held in Johannesburg on November 28
The Windhoek workshop, which was attended
by 40 librarians representing public, school, and
government libraries, brainstormed ideas for a national
advocacy campaign to raise awareness of and the profile
of public libraries in Namibia, as well as the design of
a marketing strategy for the Greenwell Matongo Community
Library, which is a partnership initiative with Finland.
This workshop received wide media
The programme details are available at
Brainstorming session in the courtyard of
the Goethe Centre.
My presentations focused on the need for
public libraries to be seen as active partners for
community and local economic development; elements of
partnerships; examples of and lessons learnt from
These presentations were:
Strength in Partnerships: The Way for
"Libraries: Partners for Development"
– a public lecture hosted by the Namibian
Information Workers Association (NIWA)
"Librarians are Leaders! Developing
leadership skills amongst new professionals" - a
presentation made to LIS students at the University
As with many other interactions with
colleagues from neighbouring countries, I strongly feel
that we need to work closely to share our skills and
knowledge with these colleagues as the differences
between our services are extremely stark. Despite our
own challenges, South African library services are again
upheld as a shining example in a country that has only
25 public libraries!
Contributed by Ujala