Cultural Diplomacy takes the lead
The invaluable nature of soft power for inspiring innovation and creating sustainable, mutually beneficial people to people collaborations was given the highest recognition at a renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between The National Library of South Africa and the National Library of China. The role of collecting, preserving and sharing knowledge makes libraries the pivot of the fulcrum of human development.
Louise Graham, Chief Director of International Relations of the Department of Arts and Culture for South Africa pointed to the cultural industries as the new growth sector which challenges the traditional economic sectors like mining and agriculture. Cultural Diplomacy interactions are starting to lead state, economic and other diplomatic interactions, she said.
The work of art not only showcases talent or expression but has become the engine which drives skills, employment and market opportunities in a broad spectrum that range from the unskilled to the highly skilled and technical.
Prof. Rocky Ralebipi-Simela, National Librarian and CEO at NLSA referred to the strengthening of cultural and people to people collaboration mandate. Prof Ralebipi-Simela was appointed with effect from 1 May 2014. Prof Ralebipi-Simela holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a PhD in Library and Information Science from the University of Minnesota in the USA. Her career spans more than 30 years as follows: She spent 23 years in the Higher Education sector in South Africa and the USA, and 10 years in the American Corporate sector as an Information Management specialist.
In his response Mr. Sun Yigang, Assistant Director at the NLC spoke of the significant role of libraries in the preservation and advancement of human civilization. He described the renewal of the MOU as furthering the strategic partnership between China and Africa.
In describing the NLC he said the 250 000 square meter precinct housed over 32 million volumes and pieces, with over 800 terabytes of digital record.
Both librarians pointed out the various exchanges in skills, knowledge and personnel which have characterized the cooperation between them.
Andrew Malotle, Executive Head of Corporate and International Relations showcased the state of the art preservation technique employed by the library, a technology being used in USA, Poland and South Africa making South Africa 1 of 3 countries who have access and expertise to this technology.