About us

The National Reading Barometer project describes adult reading culture and the broader reading ecosystem in South Africa. It is led by the Nal'ibali Trust in partnership with the National Library of South Africa (NLSA). The Survey and Barometer will be repeated in 2026 and 2030.

The project includes two components:

National Reading Survey (NRS) 

The National Reading Survey (NRS) is a nationally representative survey of the adult population aged 16+. It profiles adults’ reading practices, preferences and contexts, and includes questions on reading with children, digital reading, library use and language preferences. The Survey was designed to enable limited continuity with the 2016 National Reading Survey run by the South African Book Development Council (SABDC). 

National Reading Barometer (NRB) 

The National Reading Barometer (NRB) is a new compilation of secondary datasets, plus selected data points from the NRS above, that collates and tracks changes in the overall health of the South African reading ecosystem.


The projects goals are to:

Understand reading cultures

Describe the diverse reading practices of South African adults.

Understand reading motivation and attitudes

Understand why people do or don’t read and how they feel about reading.

Understand access

Map access to reading materials, by type and language, and unpack barriers to access.

Understand the ecosystem

Map reading ability, policies, budgets and system capacities that enable or constrain the growth of reading.

Track change over time

Track changes since the 2016 National Reading Survey, and when the Survey and Barometer are repeated in 2026 and 2030.

Inform research, policy and practice

Inform and inspire research on reading in South Africa; policy shifts that create a more enabling context for reading; and interventions to promote and strengthen reading.

Steering Committee (2023)

Nqabakazi Gina

The Nal'ibali Trust

Nokuthula Musa

National Library of South Africa

Kentse Radebe

DG Murray Trust

Lauren Fok

Zenex Foundation

Lorraine Marneweck

National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT)

Kulula Manona

Department of Basic Education (DBE)

Nazeem Hardy


Heleen Hofmeyr

RESEP, Stellenbosch University

Takalani Muloiwa

University of Johannesburg

Dorothy Dyer

FunDza Literacy Trust

Bafana Mtini

Khutsong Literary Club

Smangele Mathebula


Nontsikelelo Ntusikazi


Catherine Langford


Nadeema Musthan


Janita Low


Stanford Ndlovu

Jakes Gerwel Fellowship

Project Leads (2023)

Katie Huston

The Nal'ibali Trust

Katherine Morse

The Nal'ibali Trust

Funders and Partners

Department of Sports, Arts and Culture NLSA Nal'ibali DGMT NECT ZENEX
The 2023 National Reading Survey and Barometer were funded by the National Library of South Africa (NLSA), DGMT, the Zenex Foundation and the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT).