Hi Isla, hello everyone,
I agree with you and Grant on the importance of connecting with Libraries. Particularly within a South African space. Ironically enough I was in a meeting with the Cape Town Central Library today to discuss doing activities such as edit-a-thons with them in the future. We have agreed to do very simple one day edit-a-thon that is open to the public and based in that library to test the waters there and with an eye to hosting similar future events there. I would like to expand on this in the future to include specialised edit-a-thons that focus on single issues (smilar to the Feminism edit-a-thon that was done last year or the Black History edit-a-thon Milos did this year) organised in partnership with both the library and another organisation that can help us full up the venue with interested motivated people. That is my current thinking and MO for engaging with at least one library in the near future.
We do however need a longer term vision/strategy for libraries. Additionally I am also open to other ideas and possible projects with which we can engage with libraries on, especially if they lend them selves to scalability. One such possible project is the roll-out of Kiwix (offline Wikipedia) local wifi devices in smaller/rural libraries that dont have internet access in South Africa. Theresa is bringing two such devices to South Africa with her from the Berlin Chapters conference. The idea there is for us to use these 2 demonstration models to show local governments and departments of education the power of this technology so that it could be rolled out across South Africa (or beyond). With smart phones and other wifi enabled devices becoming ever cheaper (for as little as R450 these days) the barrier to access to Wikipedia is increasingly becoming the high cost of data. Kiwix would not have this cost whilst providing a free offline version of Wikipedia in a local area. Great for a small library/classroom/field/town centre that does not have any form of free internet access.
Further more we do have some experience with working with libraries in the Western Cape at lest through CHEC and the edit-a-thons we did with them last year. CHEC has been eager for us to do a similar set of edit-a-thons for other libraries in the rest of country but we need volunteers in these locations who can run them. So we do have some contacts within libraries in the Western Cape but there is still much more we can, indeed should, do in my opinion.