Nal’ibali launches library card drive

Nalibali has embarked on a national library card drive. Picture: Daniel Born

Nal’ibali, South Africa’s reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has partnered with municipal libraries nationwide to challenge all adults to get the children in their lives a free library membership card.

In a quest to overcome illiteracy in South Africa and to make distance less of a barrier to reading, Nal’ibali will be giving new bicycles to 50 lucky children who have registered for a library membership card.

Right now in South Africa, only one in every five children in Grade 4 can read for meaning. This means that most children struggle to read with ease and, as a result, suffer academically with low grades.

In addition, most homes in South Africa have very few books, largely because books are too expensive for the average family to buy. The sad reality is that, without a culture of reading in ordinary homes, the domino effect of illiteracy, poor grades and unfinished high school will make underskilled and underemployed youth South Africa’s legacy.

Nal’ibali embarked on a campaign last month to rally all South Africans to take up a free library membership card in any one of three ways.

Firstly, online at Secondly, Nal’ibali literacy mentors will help children register for a card through a series of events at local libraries and registration drives at malls and community centres throughout the country. Thirdly, literacy mentors will be visiting selected schools to distribute library membership application forms to motivate children (and their caregivers) to join. Caregivers will be encouraged to complete the forms and to attach the necessary documents to ensure their children can be registered at their chosen library.

In whichever way people choose to sign up, library membership cards will be fulfilled by the applicant’s selected library and caregivers will be notified
to collect the cards when they are

Nal’ibali hopes to increase library membership by 120 000 new members by Friday November 29.

Children often visit a library after school to work on school projects or because they simply don’t have anywhere else to go after school. While children can spend the whole afternoon at the library, they usually leave without taking a book home to read because they don’t know that they can.

Many parents think a library membership card must be paid for – but, according to municipal libraries, your first library membership card is free and a replacement fee is charged only if the card is lost.

As well as being able to collect membership forms at the nearest library, readers can find out there about becoming a FUNda Sonke (isiXhosa for “everyone read”) leader (literacy volunteer).

Formoreinformation about Nal’ibali’s library membership drive and how to sign up online or in person, visit You can access their selection of multilingual children’s stories at