Bookery Blog ProfileBuilding school libraries as dynamic centres of learning, The Bookery is helping to expand young minds through great books and passionate librarians.

School libraries are so important in any school. They’re a quiet, safe place where children strengthen their literacy and numeracy - where books grow knowledge and creativity and help kids explore the way they see the world.

Sadly over 90% of public schools don’t have access to functional libraries, and there is a severe shortage of school libraries across the nation.

Started as a project of Equal Education, The Bookery is helping to change this by working with schools and partners to set up and support sustainable, functional libraries in South African public schools. Its vision is to create a model that government and other organisations can adopt to give all learners access to libraries.

Vuyelwa Zweni library assistant Ummangaliso Primary Khayelitsha

Vuyelwa Zweni, library assistant at Ummangaliso Primary in Khayelitsha, sorting through thousands of incredible new books donated to The Bookery by Oxford University Press SA – Schools. Ummangaliso Primary’s library is in collaboration with University of Cape Town’s Schools Improvement Initiative.
Bookery kids inclass

A functional school library needs a relevant, quality and diverse book collection. Donated by individuals and publishers, The Bookery builds libraries of books in good condition that include a mixture of non-fiction and fiction. It only uses books published after 2000 and suitable for school learners. The Bookery does not include textbooks as these are already supplied by the government, and textbook donations are often out of date.

Since setting up its first school library in Khayelitsha in May 2010, The Bookery has brought 40 libraries to life across the Western Cape. Going beyond being a room full of books, these libraries are being set up to create a space and base for all activities that respond to the needs of learners, teachers and the greater school community.

Setting up school libraries is easy, but keeping them open every day is far more challenging. For The Bookery, this means nurturing a culture of reading, where schools see their libraries as an integral part of learning life. That’s why it has brought universities and other organisations to intensively train and motivate library assistants to fuel a passion for reading. For schools, teachers and principals, school management and governing bodies need to commit to maintaining them for the future.


Andiswa Buwa, library assistant at St Paul’s Primary in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town at her new desk. This is The Bookery’s latest project, in partnership with Bishops Preparatory School.

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