The purpose of the article is to review the historical development in South Africa of library and information service associations, and to highlight events in the process that culminated in the founding in 1997 of the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA).
This is a general review from 1930 to the present, based on published and unpublished material and personal engagement. Some analysis of the significance of events from a current perspective is included. The paper covers the founding in 1930 of the South African Library Association, attempts in the 1960s and 1970s to achieve greater recognition for libraries by government, the transformation of SALA in 1980 into the graduate South African Institute for Library and Information Science; and, in the early 1990s and the first years of democratic rule in South Africa, the emergence of “alternative” “democratic” library and information science (LIS) associations and initiatives. Participation in the 1991‐1992 African National Congress‐based National Education Policy Initiative (NEPI) led to a number of shared LIS events in the mid‐1990s that bridged the apartheid years and prepared the ground for LIASA. The rise of other significant but smaller specialist associations and their subsequent relationship with LIASA is also described.
In addition to documenting events, this paper reveals the continuing efforts on the part of members of the LIS sector over 75 years to exercise influence on government and in the broad community. Problems identified in 1929 are still reflected in 2005.
The value of the paper lies in its use of unpublished ephemeral records and the use and consolidation of information in scattered and previously unused published sources.
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