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The research of a postgraduate study into joint use libraries internationally led to the development of a proposed model for a community-school library relevant for South African conditions. This model was proposed to the Provincial Library and Information Service of Mpumalanga. Based on the requirements to successfully implement the model, the rural community of Maphotla was selected as a pilot site. The proposal coincided with the building of a new library. The framework of the research was used as a guide to draft a project plan that was used during implementation. During implementation of the plan, minor changes were required for practical reasons. Although the implementation of the model is in its beginning stages, it already has proved to be successful in relation to factors such as school participation, learners participation in library activities during and after school, and the participation of various other role players. It is envisaged to implement the model in other areas where there is a dearth of public and school libraries to improve access to libraries and information.
There are substantial backlogs in the development of public and school library services in South Africa, especially in the remote rural areas. One way of achieving improved provision of public and school library services appears to be through joint use services. This article describes a study that investigated the variants of the school-community library model worldwide with the aim of defining a South African prototype, which would satisfy the needs of a rural, tribal community (Le Roux, 2001). The article further describes how the prototype proposed in this study is currently being piloted in a remote rural area in Mpumalanga by forging partnerships with various stakeholders.
In the context of this article, a community-school library refers to an integrated public and school library service, operating from a single building according to an agreement between the school and another tax-supported agency or agencies, for example, the provincial or local government authority. It aims to serve learners, educators, and the community (general public) within the particular municipal boundary by means of the facility (Le Roux, 2001, p. 19). Remote rural communities are tribal communities living in dense, planned settlements with populations of over 5,000 people, and they are common in the former homeland areas. These settlements are referred to as "betterment" settlements in local government planning in South Africa (South Africa Ministry for Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development, 1998, p. 13).
SCOPE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN STUDY
Although several variants of the school-community library model that could be considered for South Africa do exist in other countries, a need was felt to develop models geared to the information needs of the diverse communities in South Africa. As the people living in the remote rural areas in South Africa are particularly disadvantaged as far as access to information to improve their lives is concerned (Le Roux, 2001, p. 254), the study investigated a possible variant of the school-community model that would suit the communities living in these areas. The study examined the variants of the school-community library in their particular geographical, social, and educational contexts in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and Australia (South Australia) to determine whether comparable conditions existed that would justify the implementation of this model in the rural, tribal areas of South Africa. The study examined the reasons for the historical development of the school-community library model in the selected countries, as well as the practical application of this model through a critical review of the literature, an analysis of published case studies, and a study of official documentation.
Prerequisites for the successful implementation and operation of the school-community library, as identified in the study of the selected countries, provided a framework for evaluating the possible application of the school-community library model to the rural, tribal communities in South Africa. The suitability of the different variants of the school-community library model for these communities was then considered. After examining all these factors, the school-community library model, housed in a public library building, was proposed in the study. The characteristics and the perceived advantages of this variant of the model were indicated as well as the conditions needed for the successful implementation of this variant of the model. Finally, a set of guidelines was presented for the establishment and operation of this library model in a South African rural community in the tribal areas (Le Roux, 2001, pp. 275-291,343-366); the guidelines could be used for piloting this model by provincial and local authorities in South Africa and also by government authorities in other African countries with comparable conditions.
RELEVANCE OF OVERSEAS EXPERIENCE TO SOUTH AFRICAN RURAL AREAS
The factors found to be crucial to the successful establishment of the combined school-community library in the selected countries were determined and examined in the South African context. These factors are set out below.
Political Commitment by the Government to the Idea of School and Public Library Cooperation
After a review of the relevant legislation governing school and public libraries, it became clear that nothing in South African legislation prohibits government bodies from initiating plans and actions involving cooperation between school libraries or between school and community libraries. Chapter 3 of the new South African Constitution requires all spheres of government, as well as government departments, to conduct their activities in a cooperative way (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996). It appeared that South African legislation actually provides an enabling framework for cooperative ventures between various partners (Le Roux, 2001, p. 216).
Commitment of Funding Authorities
A commitment by all the cooperating partners to funding the combined school-community library has proved to be crucial. This would present a problem in the South African context, as the funding of school libraries and community libraries, under the new constitutional dispensation, presents serious problems for provincial as well as for local authorities. The restructuring of local government particularly poses serious financial implications for community libraries in the light of new funding priorities for municipalities. In addition, the establishment of new library models, although cost-effective in the long term, would initially create additional expense (Le Roux, 2001, p. 228).
Provision of Adequate, Suitable, and Compatible Staff
In South Africa, the provision of adequate, suitable, and compatible staff would also create problems. In most schools during the past ten years, teacher-librarians have been retrenched or reassigned to other duties. The government's commitment to reduce personnel spending would impact negatively on the staffing of the combined library model, on the range of services offered, and on the opening hours of the facility. Furthermore, the South African School Library Survey 1999 (South Africa Department of Education and Human Sciences Research Council, 2000, p. 26-27) did find that, with the exception of Gauteng, in all the provinces fewer than 20 percent of personnel responsible for the school library were in possession of the appropriate qualification (Le Roux, 2001, p. 231). The appointment of sufficient and appropriately qualified staff in public libraries is also a continuous challenge.
Request from Local Community and Ongoing Community Support
Several factors work against the potential use of public libraries in rural areas. The adult population in the rural, tribal areas is mainly illiterate or semiliterate, and there is an absence of a reading culture (Raseroka, …