The National English Literary Museum of Grahamstown was begun in the 1960s at Rhodes University with a small collection of South African literary manuscripts. Its mission was to promote reading, storytelling and research by providing access to its diverse collections, exhibitions and public programmes. It would move to new premises (which would be the first green museum) in 2015 and it need to re-orientate the way it worked and the way it served the public when it relocated to this new, purpose-built facility. It spoke to its priority focus areas, preparations for change and its strategic outcome objectives and targets for its three programmes: the curatorial division, the exhibitions and education division and the administrative division.
Discussion covered the following topics: organogram of the organisation, the areas that would be addressed during the preparations for change, national cohesion and identity, the need to raise awareness of the work done by Museum, the number of exhibitions curated, wasteful and fruitless expenditure, compliance with the Public Finance Management Act, the focus on English and the exclusion of the other official languages, the challenges faced and targets.
The South Africa Library of the Blind, based in Grahamstown as well, had done a situationl analysis and looked at the opportunities open to the Library. Its challenges included scarce skills, building constraints, the fact that SALB was not national funding priority, legal compliance with operations and finances and national copyright legislation and international access to material. The presentation covered the performance environment nationally, in Africa and internationally as well as issue of intellectual property. It looked at organisational development, an overview of the 2013/2014 budget and the possible obstacles that meant inability to expand. The strategic objectives were outlined according to its programmes which included: library and information services, braille production and audio production.
Discussion centred around collaboration with the School of the Blind and other libraries, publishing rights, its small library membership of 4000 members, the audit report, fundraising, the mini libraries, advertisements, the toll free number, disciplinary action, the African countries that had been part of its outreach, provincial outlets, advocacy, expenditure and its organogram.
Ms L Moss (ANC) noted she was chair as the Chairperson was not feeling well. She would have to leave halfway through the meeting and Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) would take over.
Annual Performance Plans by National English Literary Museum (NELM)
Ms Beverly Thomas, NELM Director of the National English Literary Museum, said that NELM was begun in the 1960s by Professor Guy Butler of Rhodes University with a small collection of South African literary manuscripts and was declared a Cultural Institution in 1980. Collections included authors’ manuscripts, printers’ proofs, diaries, correspondence, publishers’ archives, photographs, posters, play-scripts, theatre programmes and over 20 000 published works. All genres of literature were represented: poems, short stories, novels, plays, autobiographies, travel writing and children’s literature. Included within NELM was the Eastern Star Gallery (1985) and Schreiner House, Cradock (1986).
The vision was to be a leading literary heritage institution, dedicated to the collection, preservation and promotion of South Africa’s rich and diverse heritage, in partnership with related institutions. Its mission was to promote reading, storytelling and research by providing access to its diverse collections, exhibitions and public programmes.
Mr C Malan, NELM Chief Financial Officer, said the new premises was one of the Department’s capital project and the planning and architectural design had been completed in 2012. It was to be the first ‘green’ museum building in South Africa and was the first museum to be planned from scratch. It was scheduled for occupation in early 2016. It was to include indigenous languages.
Ms Thomas spoke to the priority focus areas which included digitisation, improving educational services and materials, the preparation for the move to new premises and its effect on exhibition planning and communication and marketing strategy. Other areas included development of the Eastern Star Gallery and
Schreiner House, human resource development and effective planning and reporting.
There had been preparations for change which included the organisational environment, under which fell the restructuring and the new management posts (Manager: Curatorial Division and Manager: Education and Public Programmes). It also included staff training and development and management systems.
She presented on the strategic outcome goals which included:
-To be a pre-eminent source of expertise in South African literary heritage.
NELM collected, documented and researched South African literary heritage and made it accessible through exhibitions, education programmes and public events. NELM needed to ensure that it practiced the highest level of care in managing its collections and urgently addressed the issue of digitisation. Collaboration with similar literary and heritage institutions will enhance this goal.
-To promote the understanding and enjoyment of South African literature.
The richness and diversity of South African literature was an ideal medium for building a national identity and social cohesion. The challenge was to make more people, especially children, aware of this national asset and to encourage reading for pleasure and writing as a means of creative expression.
-To develop the institution within the framework of sound corporate governance.
NELM would soon be challenged to re-orientate the way it worked and the way it served the public when it relocated to its new, purpose-built facility in 2015. In preparation for this, NELM would need to develop a sound policy framework, implement its organisational structure and build partnerships that would ensure its sustainability well into the future.
Ms Crystal Warren, Manager: Curatorial Division of NELM presented on the programme plans for this division saying that the programme purpose was to ensure collections development, preservation, documentation and research. The strategic objectives were:
-To collect, document and ensure the long-term preservation of literary heritage artefacts.
-To provide access to southern African literary heritage resources.
-To contribute to the body of knowledge on South African literary and cultural heritage.
A table reflected the indicators and targets for these three strategic objectives showing the actual achievements for 2012/13 as well as the targets for 2013/14/15/16. (slide 10).
Exhibitions and Education Division
Mr Zongelize Matshoba, NELM Manager: Education and Public Programme, presented the Exhibitions and Education division programme. Its purpose was to ensure exhibition production, educational services and events. Its strategic objectives were:
-To present engaging exhibitions by interpreting our collections and research.
-To support the teaching and learning of a range of subjects through southern African English literature.
-To present public programmes that promote the discovery, understanding and enjoyment of South African literary and cultural heritage.
The table for the targets for these three strategic objectives showed actual achievements for 2012/13 and the targets for 2013/14/15/16 (slide 13).
Mr Malan said that the purpose of this programme was to ensure administrative and support services including advertising, marketing and communication. The strategic objectives included:
-To build the public profile and image of NELM.
-To build relationships with organisations with similar aims and objectives to NELM.
-To develop a policy framework that reflects the vision and governance mandate of the Council of NELM.
-To ensure compliance with the Cultural Institutions Act, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and applicable National Treasury Regulations.
The table for the targets for these three strategic objectives showed actual achievements for 2012/13 and the targets for 2013/14/15/16 (slide 16).
Ms Moss (Acting Chair) asked that he keep the remainder of the presentation brief in the interest of time.
Mr Malan outlined the financials showing the 2013/14 budget and the MTEF estimates. Totals for 2012/13 were: Total revenue and total expenditure was 8.04 million. Current expenditure stood at 7.67 million. He outlined expenditure per programme for the Curatorial, Exhibitions and Education and Administrative divisions.
Mr Matshoba presented on the long-term infrastructure and capital plans, saying that there was to be a surrendering of the Schriener House. The Cradock precincnt development included the Chris Hani District Municipality Liberation Heritage Site, an institution dedicated to champions of human rights, the Indigenous Karoo Garden (Peace Park), the expansion of exhibition, retail and office space with parking area, perimeter security. In terms of Calata House at Lingelihe there was to be restoration of the house, conservation of manuscripts and book collection and a linked site museum. There was also to be the promotion of tourism in rural Eastern Cape plus the support of local economic growth and job creation.
Mr P Ntshiqela (COPE) asked where the staff organogram was so that one was able to understand NELM’s ‘style of governance.’
Mr L Khoarai (ANC) asked for the organogram for race and gender. He asked if there were any disabled employees within the institution.
Ms Thomas replied that the new organogram aligned NELM into the three areas: curatorial, exhibitions and education and the administrative divisions. There were 25 staff members.
Preparing for Change
Mr Ntshiqela asked for more information on the areas that were to be restructured.
Ms Thomas replied that there had been a focus on collecting and not research and assistance of the education department with its mandate.
National identity and social cohesion
Mr Ntshiqela wanted to know what challenges there were in building national identity and social cohesion. He said this was not just about uniting and speaking with one voice but there was also a need to engage with those who spoke other languages. There seemed a need to ‘stick to English and Afrikaans’. Social cohesion meant different things to different people.
Ms Thomas replied that South African literature was one of the greatest international exports. South Africa had two Nobel laureates. Our national identity was rooted in our literature. If more people read literature and engaged with it, they would understand what bound the country together and it would help social cohesion.
Ms H Van Schalkwyk (DA) asked which indigenous languages did they envisage they would accommodate? She knew that in the Eastern Cape, Xhosa was a prominent language but would the others be accommodated and how would this be done?
Ms Thomas replied that at the moment the entity had been declared an English literary museum and this was what programmes were based on. NELM, however, really looked forward to the conversation on how to incorporate languages over the next few years as the move took place.
Mr S Ntapane (UDM) asked what was being done to make people aware of NELM’s activities.
Mr Matshoba replied that a big challenge with museums in South Africa was many who had not grown up with museums, shied away from them. The biggest challenge had been to take what had been ‘researched and brought to the museum’ and take it to the people ‘out there’. His personal biggest challenge had been to assist disadvantaged people. NELM had focused more on the university campus but it had been decided that there was a need to assist learners and the aged. Thus there was a move to take exhibitions and the like to deep rural areas and share the challenges of people there. There had been initiatives to take prescribed works to learners and give them the capacity to deal with the works within exams.
Mr Ntapane asked what was the target number for curated exhibitions?
Wasteful and fruitless expenditure
Mr Ntapane asked if NELM had attended to the wasteful and fruitless expenditure that they themselves had identified?
PFMA and audit report
Mr Khoarai asked why the financial statements had not been prepared according to PFMA regulations.
Mr N van den Berg (DA) also asked why had this not been done. He did not understand why so many entities did not comply with basic regulations. This was ‘unforgivable’. South Africa could not go from one year to another stumbling over the same obstacles.
Ms Moss (Acting Chair) said no one was ‘bigger than the PFMA’ and she wondered what the Department was doing about these breaches of the PFMA. The Department was meant to play an oversight role as they gave the entities money. Was the Department providing support to these entities? This was a great concern. The Department also had a CFO and other people who could provide support.
Mr Malan replied there had been some challenges as there had been a change of bookkeeper. In order to make some changes and improvements to the audit report, there had been a service level agreement with an accounting firm which hopefully would aid with compliance.
Mr Khoarai asked why creditors were not paid on time?
Mr Malan replied there had been two who had not been paid and this had been because of the change in bookkeeper but the situation was now under control.
English taught programmes
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) was worried that English was becoming overly dominant. She argued that the Committee and the country spoke of diversity but it seemed the move was towards one language. People were bound to speak English in order to be understood. One needed to look to the future of the country as there were 11 official languages and she was not sure that they were all being protected. She had a problem with the lack of plan for strategic objective number five. The official languages needed to survive and she was not convinced that this plan “would take us to a future of 11 official languages”. Language was the greatest divider as well as the greatest unifier.
South African context and NELM
Mr D Mavunda (ANC) asked for more information on how NELM operated in the wider South African context and how they tackled issues of language.
Mr Mavunda asked for more information about the notion of the museum being ‘green’? What did this entail?
Ms Thomas replied that this spoke to how environmentally friendly the museum was to be. The storage facilities were to be underground which allowed for temperature control without relying too much on air conditioning systems that would use a lot of electricity.
Mr D Mavunda asked why NELM would face challenges when it relocated to its new building and what were these challenges? Why did they have to re-orientate the way they served the public? This made one wonder how NELM was working now and to whom they were catering. Could more clarity be given?
Ms Thomas replied that NELM had always been a small institution. The new building would have far more room for classrooms, exhibition space and other rooms. Psychologically this was the challenge that NELM faced as there was far more space to work within.
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked why had the number of guided tours and visitors had decreased when one looked at future targets? Why were the targets being set low? The numbers seemed to decrease from the actual 20112/3 figures and the targets for subsequent years.
Ms Thomas replied that there had been travelling exhibitions and information on attendance numbers at these host venues was sometimes hard to come by. The targets had thus been done on the information that had been gathered despite the fact that there had been a good reception in these various locations. The information about how many people had attended had not come in, thus the numbers were lower.
Ms Moss (Acting Chair) stated that any questions which were not answered could be put in writing. She suggested that there might be a need for an oversight visit to the museum to see the work that was done.
South Africa Library of the Blind 2013/14 Annual Performance Plan
Mr Franz Hendricks, Director of South Africa Library of the Blind (SALB) based in Grahamstown, said the structure of the presentation was based on the annual performance plan.
Ms Dudu Nkosi, Vice Chairperson of South Africa Library of the Blind (SALB), said her responsibility was to present the oversight of the strategic plan. A great deal of analysis had been done on current circumstances and the identification of challenges. These included the lack of scarce skills, building constraints, the fact that SALB was not a national funding priority, legal compliance in its operations and finances and national copyright legislation, and international access to material. Opportunities included the fact that SALB was the only national library for the blind in Africa and serviced the whole continent, there was specialised training and skills, the collections were digital and tactile, there were national collaboration initiatives and there was also international collaboration with entities such as the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
Ms Nkosi spoke to the national performance environment stating that there had been a focus on job creation, access to information, an expansion of service points to all provinces and areas, accessible media in indigenous languages, internet access (there was the problem of lack of internet access to clients in rural areas) and marketing initiatives (about which SALB was very vigilant).
In terms of the performance environment in Africa there had been outreach to African countries to establish services for the blind in countries such as Namibia. Internationally there was to be collaboration with WIPO and the Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resource (TIGAR) Project which would aid in procuring materials. There was also work being done for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Ms Nkosi spoke to organisational development saying there was to be staff training and development, an apprenticeship program, an analogue to digital conversion program, building layout needs would be addressed and a new SALB organogram would be produced.
Mr Franz Hendricks asked the Committee to look at slide 6 for the overview of the 2013/14 budget. He noted that the budget had been fluctuating and the budget increase was between 5 to 6% per year which did not allow for expansion as an institution. It was more a maintenance budget rather than an expansion budget to expand membership and give more people what they needed. This was an opportunity to link up with provincial government and the Department of Arts and Culture to engage on ways of expanding membership. SALB was not expanding at the rate they should. For example, there were only five people involved in the production of Braille for the whole country. Nowhere else was this the case; the budget did not allow for expansion. This was the only library on the African continent and SALB would like to expand and share expertise with others in the sub Saharan region.
Mr Hendricks went through the budget and strategic objectives for programmes from 2010 onwards:
Programme 1: Library & Information Service
Programme 2: Braille Production
Programme 3: Audio Production
Programme 4: National Braille Consultancy
Programme 5: Technical Services
Programme 6: Management Services
Programme 7: Marketing
▪ The strategic objectives of Library and Information Services included targets for new audio and Braille book titles, the procuring of copyright free titles, production of audio and Braille magazines and newspapers; increase membership; construction of mini libraries and the circulation of material.
▪ The strategic objectives of Braille Production noted targets for Braille pre-production, Production of new titles, Copyright free titles, Braille Magazines, Indigenous braille titles and Braille newspapers.
▪ The strategic objectives of Audio Production gave targets for Pre-production, Newly narrated digital titles, Prepare acquired titles from suppliers, Analogue to digital final check, Audio newspapers and magazines.
Due to time constraints the remaining programmes were not presented on (see document).
Ms Noluvuyo Yona, SALB Manager: Braille Production, said that it took around a year to train someone to produce Braille. One also had to do regular refreshers courses as Braille changed from time to time. She said 99% of the time SALB produced leisure material. There was a challenge in the lack of qualified Braille transcribers in African languages. There had been the identification of 136 titles in African indigenous languages and so far 95 titles had been produced. This job had been done by an outsourced service provider in Johannesburg as there was no capacity within SALB. There were also challenges in the technology used in producing Braille as it was expensive and imported and it needed to be updated every year. There were also delays in production processes, for example, there were only five staff members producing material for the whole country. They were aided by 90 volunteers but they were difficult to keep track of as they helped on a very ad hoc basis.
Ms Yona went through the strategic objectives of Braille Production. She said that the objective of copyright free titles would not be pursued as there had been a problem with the Canadian supplier. Oprah, Drum (in Zulu) and True Love and an Afrikaans magazine were among those produced as Braille magazines. More indigenous magazines were to be identified. Braille newspapers included the Herald and Sunday Times.
Mr Melton Kivitts, SALB Manager: Audio Production, spoke on audio production and emphasised that out of all the books accessible to sighted persons, only about 5% were available to blind persons. SALB was trying to make a difference by making more titles accessible.
Outreach and School of the Blind
Ms van Schalkwyk asked if SALB conducted outreach programmes? Did they have any connection with the School of the Blind?
Mr Hendricks replied that legislation provided that SALB was recreational but did not preclude them from other responsibilities. SALB had raised funds for the blind and had interacted with schools. They had raised funds and identified school libraries in those schools and seek to capacitate the libraries and also the teachers and create leading programmes in the library. There had been 7 libraries done, this year there would be another 7 and then next year would be another 7. This had been an initiative outside government funding and had been done on their own initiative. School kids could also join the membership and get increased material that was not in their library.
Mr van den Berg asked if SALB had asked writers who could produce their books in Braille as they may be surprised what could happen. He argued that costs could be cut.
Mr Hendricks replied that publishers had been a problem. That was why South Africa had a representative internationally pertaining to copyright. There had been a pioneering treaty under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation that was hopefully soon to be signed that would allow for the sharing of material without the issues of copyright and publishing rights. The treaty would make such hindrances a thing of the past.
Collaboration with other libraries
Mr Ntapane asked if there had been collaboration with other libraries so blind people could get books that way.
Mr Hendricks replied that SALB had collaborated with public libraries. There had also been work that had been done with some university libraries on a more consultative role.
Mr Ntapane said he was concerned about the membership number of 4000. The number was small. Thus what had been done to raise awareness by people who were outside Grahamstown?
Mr Hendricks replied that the number of members was low. He said the international standard was that if more than 2% of the population had problems reading print then that was the market. He argued that this was about 200 000 and SALB sat with 4000. One had to be realistic about how much there was an ability to expand and market. Marketing had been done to persons with disabilities and persons with sight (which included events such as book fairs). There was a need to market to sighted people so that all people knew what options there were.
Mr Ntapane said that even though the audit report had not been bad there had been some concerns, he was glad that these had been tackled.
Mr Ntshiqela asked what strategies were made use of for fundraising as clearly there was a much work to do and SALB had a great deal of responsibility.
Mr Ntshiqela wanted clarification on what a ‘mini library was’.
Mr Hendricks replied there were two models of mini libraries. One was to provide material to a public library and the second model entailed technology and training. This had included training for people within the community and even the librarian and SALB also supplied the technology to produce material that blind people could use. This second option had been rolled out to some communities.
Mr van den Berg said that there was a need to approach radio stations and ask them to advertise; surely they would do it for free?
Mr Hendricks replied that they had approached national radio stations and they had been told that if they wanted to advertise, they needed to pay.
Mr van den Berg replied that the radio stations could not ask for money and that there were often initiatives and themes on the radio that SALB could be a part of. For radios to ask for money from SALB was ridiculous. He gave advice on persons who SALB could contact within the SABC and the radio sector in general.
Toll Free Number
Mr Ntshiqela asked what the toll free number had been used for and how it benefited people?
Mr Hendricks replied that the toll free number had been something they were exploring. It was a means of appreciating that blind people faced financial constraints, as many did not have jobs. This had allowed them to phone in without using their money. This was the same notion as the free post through the post office (even though the post office charged for the postage of reading devices).
Person with disability
Mr Khoarai said he was concerned there was only one person with a disability within the whole component of SALB.
Mr Khoarai said he was concerned with the high number of disciplinary actions. Could more be said on what stage these were at?
Mr Hendricks replied that the number of disciplinary cases was within industry norms and mostly related to absenteeism and coming in late to work. The issues were not very serious.
Ms Mushwana said she would have liked to see the exact countries in Africa where there had been outreach.
Ms Mushwana argued that helping learners could be a means of job creation. There needed to be a more intensive learners to teacher ratio than the ratio for average learners. She felt that 1:1 would be a better ratio and would assist in job creation.
Mr Hendricks replied that job creation was being tackled through the apprenticeship programme. It would allow a small number of blind matrics exposure to work life; however this is all that could be offered. This would allow them work experience for when they went to tertiary and work environments. Picture books were being produced and SALB had come up with the design and material and had given it to two institutions who produced the material (by employing blind people) and this was then sent to schools. This was how SALB contributed to job creation.
Ms Mushwana asked if SALB saw the need to expand to other libraries as there were blind people in every province. Was there an ability to expand to other provinces as time went on?
Mr Hendricks replied that it would be ideal to have a replica of SALB in the nine provinces but there was the issue of finances. One possible model was to have a national library and then have provincial ‘dispersions’ which the provinces then paid for. There were logistical and financial constraints.
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked to what extent had there been SALB advocacy programmes to help educate South Africans about blind people?
Mr Hendricks replied that in advocacy work, SALB collaborated with the National Council for the Blind. They interacted with various government and other stakeholders to further advocacy. SALB had not worked specifically with such issues but did support and did what they could from their field of expertise.
Ms Nwamitwa-Shilubana asked what had gone wrong with the budget. There had been a surplus before but now there had been over expenditure; what had gone wrong?
Mr Hendricks replied that the over/under expenditure was because as an institution SALB was one of the only libraries in South Africa that got funding from donations from institutions and the like. These were funds that were over and above what funds came from the Department. This funding was never used for operational costs and was used to enhance the services of SALB. They thus sat with this money at the end of the year.
Mr Ntshiqela said that it would be good in future to see the organogram in order to see how management was linked to the board.
The meeting was adjourned.
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