Cape Town Diaries: Biblionef and V & A Waterfront

July 9, 2013
In the morning, our group went out to Biblionef which is an organization that was started in the Netherlands and it's primary purpose is to help with the distribution of books.  We met with a woman named Jean Williams, who is a former librarian.  She informed us Biblionef had helped with opening libraries in the past, but that is not Biblionef's main goal.  What the organization hopes to achieve is to distribute South African books by South African authors to places in need.

We got to take a look at the children's book collection, and five out of five of us agreed that this was the best collection of children's books that we had seen in South Africa.  Biblionef had books published in all 11 official South African languages, and even had special books with different materials and textures developed for the blind to feel. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was one of them.

We were permitted to buy books here, and I purchased One Child, One Seed for my future students.  It is a counting book, but also has cross curricular connections to science and social studies.  Not So Fast Songololo was my other pick because it was one of the first picture books to portray a black South African as the main character in an authentic setting. 

Jean drove us out to Khayelitsha, which is the most populated township in Cape Town.  Here are some pictures of the informal settlements, as seen from the road.


We were headed over to a school in Khayelitsha so that we could visit a container library and learn about how it functioned.  Unfortunately, when we got to the school, the principal told us that a repair man had taken the keys and he was not answering his phone.

Locked out of the container library...

We did still get to meet with the librarian.  She is a 3rd grade teacher who, in addition to working a full time job as a teacher, manages the library.  She shared some of her frustrations with us, stating how they have this facility, yet some teachers never bring their students into the library at all.  We got to visit her classroom, and a few other classrooms.  The students sang to us in English and in Xhosa, which was pretty adorable.

Another cool thing that the school had was a vegetable garden.  Parent volunteers maintained the garden, and the produce grown was distributed to students.

Later on, we met with a guest speaker named Jay Heale, whom my professor knew well from her time spent in South Africa.  Jay Heale is very good friends with South African author Lesley Beake, so Jay was going to informally interview Lesley about her work to our group.  Unfortunately, Lesley was unable to make it, so Jay described her work to us.  He also talked to us about his website called Book Chat.  On this site, Jay reviews South African children's literature, and I intend on using this as a resource to find age appropriate books for whatever grade level I happen to end up in.

The OSU group with Jay Heale

As was typical of most nights, we decided to head out the the V & A for some dinner and entertainment.  We decided to go up in the Ferris wheel, which was so worth it!

It was another great day in Cape Town!
8 comments on "Cape Town Diaries: Biblionef and V & A Waterfront"
  1. What a fun experience it must have been. I've been a library worm but now , I hardly get a visit .
    Noor @ Noor's Place

    1. I wish we could have seen the inside of the container library! We did get to visit another library and talk with librarians there about what their jobs were like/obstacles they faced.

  2. Hey there! Here from the Blog Hop! Just wanted to let you know I'm following you via Bloglovin', Twitter, and GFC! I also Iiked your Facebook page :o) Hope you'll get a chance to check me out!

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    1. Thanks for all the follows! I will be sure to return the favor. xx

  3. Hey Lisa, that sounds like a good program, I actually read that little caterpillar book when I was a kid lol. Literacy is so important!

    That town looked...harsh was it hard to see that?

    1. We went on a school visit, and the kids all seemed happy. The actual township visits were not hard to see, but what did make me sad is that the "New South Africa" is still racially segregated in the sense that you just don't see white people living in these townships.

  4. He what a lovely stoty, I have shared your adventure on our facebook page, regards Karen

    1. Thank you so much! My friends and I really did have a good time riding the Cape Wheel!