The Library serves a specific constituency and therefore it is socially committed to strive, by its own efforts and in co-operation with others, for the removal, as far as possible, of barriers to accessing information.
It is committed to providing a quality service to meet, as fully as practically possible, the information needs of all South Africans who are blind or print handicapped.
The Library is an entity of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.
From Humble Beginnings
The South African Library for the Blind (SALB) was conceived and born of humble beginnings in the then tiny Eastern Cape township of Grahamstown during the height of the 1918 global Influenza pandemic.
While nursing local influenza victims, Josephine (Josie) Wood met Miss Comber, a British nurse who wished to establish religious study groups for the blind. Later and having been recalled to England, Miss Comber, who had developed a personal collection of 100 braille volumes, convinced Josie Wood to develop an accessible library for the visually impairs.
Her acceptance marked the beginning of the library for the visually impaired in South Africa – and led directly to the proudly South African institute today.
The Library has minilibraries across South Africa and assists blind people with accessing information proudly, as they have these past 100 years.
- 1919: Josie Wood establishes a small library in a little room in her house
- 1923: A Library Committee is appointed to give the Library official status
- 1930: The Library pays off the bond on the building a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York
- 1949: The Library receives the first talking book machines from overseas
- 1953: The S.A. Post office grants the Library and its members a free post concession
- 1968: The Library is declared a Cultural Institution and National Library for the Blind
- 1970: The National Union Catalogue for the Blind was started as a card catalogue
- 1985: The four track tape system comes into operation
- 1992: Audio and Braille in-house production units are established
- 2004: Production of Digital Audio books in Daisy format commenced
- 2008: Raised funds to purchase 2,831 Daisy players for free distribution to members
- 2019: SALB celebrates 100 Years!
General Mandate of the South African Library for the Blind
The South African Library for the Blind’s mandate is subject to and operates in accordance with the South African Constitution and the South African Library for the Blind Act 91 of 1998. It is legally committed to the values upon which the democratic South African state is founded and in particular to those of equality, human dignity, the advancements of human rights and freedoms, non-racial, non-sexism, accountability and democracy. In addition, it strives to make a contribution to Africa by being an available resource of advice and expertise in its focus area.
The South African Library for the Blind Act 91 of 1998 mandates the Library to:
- Provide a free library and information service that is responsible to the needs of the Blind and the print-handicapped user
- Build up a balance and appropriate collection of South African and other documents and on to make them accessible for the use of blind and print-handicapped readers
- Produce documents in special mediums such as Braille and audio formats for use by its readers
- Develop standards for the production of such documents
- Research production methods and technology in the appropriate in the appropriate fields
- Acquire and disseminate the technology required by blind and print-handicapped people to read
This mandate commits the Library to:
- Maintain and develop the quality of its books production services through appropriate resources and within the Copyright and Intellectual Property Right legislation
- Expand its products and services to the print reading handicapped
- Expand its collection of reading material and provide access to it
- Sustain sensitivity for the reading needs of its constituency
- Research applicable technology and Braille codes for potential application
- Develop and preserve its human resource skills base
- Maintain and develop good relations with its readers, suppliers, funders, the State and publishers
- Expand its marketing and fundraising program
The SALB creates accessible reading opportunities for blind and visually impaired people.
The South African Library for the Blind renders a library and information service to blind and print-handicapped readers through the production of accessible South African reading material in development of a comprehensive library collection and rendering of advisory services to promote access to information.
The focus of the South African Library for the Blind is to make a difference and add value to the lives of print disabled people. To make this possible, all our activities are guided by the following values:
We base our working relationship on honesty, and integrity.
We respect people, time and property equally.
We work together as a dedicated and loyal team.
We approach everything in an enthusiastic and constructive manner.
We communicate in a responsive, clear and appropriate manner.
We actively support staff and infrastructure development to promote individual and organisational growth.