Adult education in South African public libraries: A profile of activities

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South African Journal of Library and Information Science

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University of Cape Town

This paper reports on the findings of a research investigation into the role of South African public libraries in adult education3. A questionnaire was distributed to 1295 public libraries for the collection of statistical and qualitative information in an attempt to build national and provincial profiles of adult education activities. There was a good response rate of 45.5%. The survey was complemented by site visits to eleven public libraries in order to illuminate the issues facing libraries in this field The results show that most public libraries do not participate at all in any adult education initiatives: 76.9% do not participate while 23.1% do. A profile of activities is presented. A case study of a single anonymous library is presented to provide an opportunity to understand the lived experience of the activities from the perspective of the providers and of the learners. The paper concludes by speculating on the reasons for the low level of engagement in an area that is theoretically espoused by the library community.