Batho Pele (Sotho, for ‘people first’)

Batho Pele was a South African government initiative, started in 1997, to transform public services. It would seem it was to transform them from adeptness to corruption, waste and inefficiency.
However, that is not why I’m stressing the term today…it’s because it fits as a label (mentioned in my Study Guide for AIS3703, by Dr JA Fourie) for my personal image of a professional librarian. Truly someone who is there for the people, regardless of race, culture or social standing!
So why this elitism that exists in the profession? Why do you even find the term ‘celebrity librarian’? I may well understand, one day.
But for now, reading about the attributes of professional service, it’s heartwarming to see that I’ve at least got the foundation rightly formed – a desire for true altruistic service orientation! Yes, expert knowledge, strong ethics, accountability to the community, knowledge of their needs and interests, professional autonomy – all important in the right measure – but all worthless without a heart for selfless service. People first! Batho pele!

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