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January 2021 edition

A good reason to visit your public library

Written by Noluthando Mkhize

Sports, arts and culture

In today’s world of making things happen for yourself, knowledge is the most valuable tool you need to push yourself to the next level. This is why government is putting the power of knowledge at the fingertips of communities through the Mzansi Libraries On-Line pilot project.

Mzanzi Libraries On-line pilot projects give communities access to information that can improve lives.Government has set aside R32 million for the project, which will provide free internet connectivity to South Africans through public libraries. Communities can then access information on government services and other information, which can be used to better their lives.

Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Rejoice Mabudafhasi officially launched the pilot at Mapoteng Public Library in Gamagara Local Municipality, in Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

Rietfontein and Galeshewe Public Libraries in the Northern Cape will also benefit from the project.

Each library will receive equipment estimated at R470 000, which includes 20 computers, two printers, one document scanner, software, 10 tablets, 10 e-Readers and gaming gadgets.

The pilot project will run for two years and could be extended to five if the results are successful.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together with the National Library of SA, will run the pilot in all nine provinces to put digital resources in the hands of people.

“The main aim of Mzansi Libraries On-Line is to provide free internet connectivity for all South Africans through public libraries and create an informed and information literate society, in support of the goals of the National Development Plan,” said Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi.

She said by giving South Africans information, Mzansi Libraries On-Line will enable citizens to participate meaningfully in a democratic and knowledge-based society.

She added that information communication technology could be used to fight poverty, increase employment and educate the community on entrepreneurship.

“People use broadband for different reasons but mainly for communication, work and research. With universal access, people will not need to call their municipality or go to Home Affairs or Social Welfare. They can do everything online at their local library.

“In many communities, the only free public access to computers and the internet is available at public libraries, which indicates that government’s investment in public libraries delivers a good return.”

She encouraged communities to make good use of these libraries. “The community must develop a culture of reading and a life-long desire to learn and develop intellectually, emotionally and culturally.”

The launch of the Mzansi Libraries On-Line project was also attended by Northern Cape MEC for Sport, Arts, and Culture Lebogang Motlhaping, who said that libraries were the nucleus of communities.