Storehouses of knowledge? The role of libraries in preserving and promoting indigenous knowledge
Department of Information Science,University of Pretoria, South Africa
Librarians are generally more comfortable dealing with publications than with unrecorded and unpublished knowledge, and library theories and systems are geared mainly to dealing with published documents. Compared with many other developing countries, South Africa has an extensive network of libraries. This article poses the question whether South Africa\'s libraries have a role to play in preserving and promoting indigenous knowledge. It focuses on three categories of libraries: research libraries (including academic and specialist libraries), public libraries (including community libraries) and the national library (the National Library of South Africa). It considers not only the traditional library functions of collecting, organizing, preserving and providing access (making recorded indigenous knowledge available), but also possible roles in identifying, locating and recording indigenous knowledge, raising awareness about it and promoting it. Some implications of these roles are identified and some practical measures suggested.