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Discover a wealth of information

Written by Samona Murugan

Library Building Programme

Improving access to public libraries for communities throughout South Africa is the driving force behind the Department of Arts and Culture Library Building Programme.

Libraries are vital for the upliftment of communities. They provide a wealth of information through books ranging from those with advice on how to cope with personal problems, to those containing academic information for study and learning purposes.

Libraries also promote a culture of reading and help people to increase their knowledge by learning about the rest of the world and other cultures.

Upgrade

As part of the Library Building Programme,more than 115 libraries have been upgraded and 15 new libraries have been built countrywide.

To this end, six libraries have been upgraded and completed in the North West Province, five in the Western Cape, two in the Eastern Cape, one in Gauteng and one in Mpumalanga.

In Limpopo, six new libraries were built in Thulamela and Fetakgomo municipalities. In the Northern Cape, six libraries were built in Barkley West and Hartswater.

Equipment

Many libraries received new furniture, equipment and computers, as well as new library material such as books, magazines and audio-visual material. Infrastructure has been upgraded and Internet access in various communities has improved. New staff have also been appointed and trained.

Currently, 19 new library projects are underway in the following municipalities: Tugela Ferry in Msinga, Imbabazane, KwaDukuza and Ndwe-dwe, Malangeni in Umdoni, Ezinqoleni and King Dinizulu in Umlalazi and Kwa Ndwalane on the Hibiscus Coast.

Rural areas

The new library being built at Tugela Ferry in Msinga is a fine example of the department's drive to address the need for libraries in rural areas. The library is due to be completed and handed over to the Msinga Municipality this year.

The department has funded the full building cost, as well as professional fees, furnishing and equipment, including books and other library material totalling over R2,5 million.

Promoting a culture of reading
There are different kinds of libraries in the Library and Information Services sector. They include national libraries, public or community libraries, special libraries, government libraries and higher education libraries.
The main goal of libraries is to develop human capital, eradicate illiteracy and to promote a culture of reading. Libraries are not only fun places to visit but are also places of opportunity and discovery.
The department's Provincial Library Service provides a variety of library material including books, magazines and audiovisual material such as music, DVDs and videos for public use. These libraries are built by the province in local municipalities and serviced on an ongoing basis by the Library Services. The local authority provides staff to run the libraries.
In 2009, the department created a Library Transformation Charter. In line with this charter, an amount of R1 billion has been set aside to be used over a period of three years to revitalize, improve and transform the country's community libraries.