Amateur and mature writers from across Ekurhuleni recently gathered at the Boksburg Civic Centre for exciting creative writing workshops and information sessions.
The Ekurhuleni metro, in partnership with the National Library of South Africa and Centre for the Book, hosted a creative writing workshop whose aim was to promote a culture of reading, writing, publishing and enhancing easy access to books for all library users.
The informative sessions were addressed by various publishers who imparted knowledge on various writing genres, and the treatment of cover novels, short stories and poetry.
On the last day of the workshop, renowned poets – Masai Dabula and Mutinta Bbenkele – spoke about their journeys as poets.
Bbenkele is passionate about poetry because of its impact, and how it portrays a message across.
“Poetry is a tool to get young people to understand that their opinions are validated and that their story or pain, is understood.
“We feel poetry is still seen as something that is ‘nice to have’ and to perform it on occasions, but not as revenue [generating enterprise]. Many poets are invited overseas and receive support. However, back home they don’t receive the support they need.
“I encourage people not to stop writing because writing and poetry is our first tradition of telling stories,” Bbenkele said.
Deposit of copies
Harry Nkadimeng from the National Library of South Africa said the Legal Deposit Act, no 54 of 1997, is a statutory obligation that requires any organisation, commercial or public, and any individual producing any type of documentation in multiple copies, to deposit one or more copies to the designated institution.
“The purpose of the act is to provide for the preservation of national documentary heritage through legal deposit of published documents.
“It also ensures the preservation, cataloging and access to published documents emanating from or adopted for South Africa.”
According to Nkadimeng, documents that should be deposited can be (print or electronic) published in or adapted for South Africa for the purpose of distribution such as books, periodicals, newspapers, videos, music sheets, maps, CDs and DVDs and government publications.
“The benefits of legal deposits are that publishers may approach legal deposit libraries for copies of their own work in cases where the documents are lost.
“It also permits comprehensive cataloging and recording of publications to the benefit of libraries, publishers, booksellers, scholars and the general public,” Nkadimeng said.
Meanwhile, Margaret Kibido gave a presentation about international standard book numbers (ISBN).
“The ISN Agency is the mechanism which links the organisation with authors and publishers. ISN Agency is officially responsible for allocating ISBN for book numbers, braille publication, maps, audio books, educational software and ebooks.
“ISBN identifies a specific book, but it is not copyright protection. The change of format requires a new ISBN but a reprint does not require a new ISBN,” she said.
Some of the challenges highlighted by Kibido were ISBN allocations to products which did not qualify as monographs such as colouring books and stationery.
“Other challenges include publishers who request ISBNs to publish books for the Department of Basic Education, often these orders are cancelled by the department and the books are not published.”
Zukiswa Peter from the City of Ekurhuleni highlighted the library literacy skills and programmes the metro offered.
“We have commemorative events and awareness campaigns such as the South African Library week, World Book Day, Nelson Mandela Day, International Literacy Day and learners’ debates.
“Some of the successes of these programmes include forums we have created through creative writing and slam poetry, library committees and friends of the library where they contribute in enhancing a culture of reading and intellectual development,” she said.
Peter encouraged attendees to respond to the metros grant-in-aid by submitting relevant literacy programmes and responses on literacy and skills developmental programmes when beneficiaries are invited.
After the session, the attendees were given a chance to ask questions.
Some of the common concerns raised included funding, with complaints that when writers wanted to publish books they did not receive funding from the metro.
Nhlanhla Siliga from Tsakane said: “I enjoyed the workshops because I learnt about the importance of organising your story as a writer so that the reader can understand and flow with the story.”
To find out more about the National Library of South Africa call 012 401 9700 (Pretoria campus) or 021 423 6320 (Cape Town).
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