UCT staffer joins national library

15 October 2007

New challenges: Reinette Popplestone is on the new board of the South African Library for the Blind.

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

Popplestone (55) will serve on the board, with nine other people, 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, said she had 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.

She said there was a need to find new ways to provide information, other than the Braille and audio formats.

"We need to explore technology and see how it can improve our service," she explained.

Providing information in MP3s and creating an on-line catalogue are some of the improvements she wishes to bring.

Popplestone said the literacy level of blind children was at risk because teachers lacked the necessary skills to teach them Braille.

"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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