UCT staffer joins national library board

10 October 2007 | Story by Myolisi Gophe

Reinette Popplestone, head of UCT's Disability Unit, has been appointed to the board of the South African Library for the Blind.

Popplestone, 55, will serve on the board of 10 from 1 October 2007 to September 2010.

The Grahamstown-based library is public-funded and is the only institution in South Africa that provides academic and recreational information to blind people. It also services other African countries. Popplestone, who obtained a BA at UCT in the mid 1980s, has been connected to the library from the age of nine.

As a board member, Popplestone will oversee the management of the library, dealing with policies, services and funds, among other things. The challenge, she says, is to provide information other than in Braille and audio formats.

"We need to explore technology and see how it can improve our service," she says. Providing information in MP3s and creating an on-line catalogue are some of the improvements she wishes to bring.

The literacy levels of blind children are at risk because teachers lacked the necessary skills to teach them Braille, Popplestone notes.

"And while the library needs to provide reading material for both adults and children, it also has to encourage and foster improved literacy and a love of reading. If kids stop reading, the library will cease to have a role to play."

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