Towards the end of 2016, OSALL (Organisation of South African Law Libraries) was approached to participate in the Hope-Mandeville Disability Careers Expo from 19-20 April 2017. This Careers Expo focuses on learners with physical disabilities - the deaf; the visually impaired and pupils with learning challenges. As OSALL represents a specific field of expertise, we approached Elsabé Olivier, Assistant Director: Marketing & Quality Assurance of the Department Library Services, University of Pretoria and the current LIASA MAIG (Marketing and Advocacy Interest Group) Chair, 2018), to ascertain if she would be interested in a joint expo. She was! This snowballed into a UP Library and Disability Unit, University of Pretoria Department of Library Services, University of Pretoria Department of Information Science, Sensory Solutions, (a South African company with considerable experience in the field of accommodating persons who are visually impaired), National Library of South Africa, LIASA, LIASA MAIG, OSALL joint effort. It was a pleasure being involved with such passionate and enthusiastic people.
On the day of the Expo, the “Library” exhibit was manned by teams of representatives from all the different organisations – a happy mix of cross but related branding!
Exhibitors included Wits University, University of Johannesburg, Edcon, SABC and the SA Police Force, to mention just a few. The inspirational talks included, "IT set me free" presented by Erik Anderson, "Never say Impossible" by Robert Matthews, Edcon, Zain Bulbulia , Office of the Gauteng Premier and Mr Nick Serra, a teacher at St Stithians, that were truly inspirational.
About 500 inquisitive learners, from 8 different schools attended the expo over the two-day period. Many had never even considered the possibilities that were available to them as library or information professionals. They asked questions about being able to be in the profession if you were hearing impaired, whilst the magnification machines from Sensory Solutions, dispelled any doubts as to whether someone with poor vision could do the job.
There were plenty of lighthearted moments from the colorful University of Pretoria team, who encouraged the learners to write down why they wanted to become librarians…
It is my sincere hope that some of these learners are encouraged to pursue a career in Library and Information Science as they have now seen that this is a truly interesting and rewarding career that they can consider pursuing during these challenging economic times. I do not doubt for one second that all those who participated in the Expo felt that the reward by far outweighed the effort. My thanks to them all!