Libraries have always been at the heart of the communities across the Cape and serve as accessible safe spaces that provide access to a huge wealth of information and knowledge. The City of Cape Town is upgrading its libraries, which will improve and modernise the experience of bibliophiles.
“In a technological and digital age, the City is often asked why it spends money on upgrading and maintaining these spaces. The public library is an essential part of creating and maintaining an educated and literate population,” said the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, JP Smith.
“Information is essential to survive and prosper; and the City needs to ensure that all residents can access vital information about health, safety, nutrition and public services. Libraries also provide opportunities to develop literacy and learn skills for employability,” he said.
The City’s Library and Information Services (LIS) will spend approximately R43-million on library upgrades, new Wi-Fi connections and the acquisition of brand new reading and study source material.
LIS will spend just under R18.5-million on books, magazines, newspapers and e-resource subscriptions to ensure that libraries have attractive and appealing reading materials to engage and satisfy all their patrons.
A new library management system, called Symphony, will improve the service received at libraries. The following libraries will also receive R7.7-million for proactive maintenance:
– Fish Hoek Library closed in August and maintenance work will include upgrades to the floor, paving, and drywalling to create a new study area and staff kitchen
– Kraaifontein Library closed earlier this week for three months to allow for the construction of a toilet for the disabled, as well as for painting, flooring and the extension to staff working area
– PD Paulse Library in Kuils River will refurbish the toilet facilities; internal and external painting will take place; floor coverings will be replaced; front entrance shopfronts will be replaced; a new issue desk will be provided, and some new external paving will be installed
– Goodwood library closed on Friday, 21 September and will reopen in January 2019 to allow for the replacement of carpets, new staff toilets, shelving, restructuring of the children’s section, and the replacements of blinds
– Scottsdene Library will close at the beginning of October (to re-open in December) and work will include fencing, the construction of a toilet for the disabled, paving outside the library and general internal refurbishment
These upgrades are expected to be completed in early December – provided that there are no unexpected delays. The cost for the maintenance and upgrade of these five libraries will cost approximately R6-million.
“The money spent on these facilities is an investment in the education and empowerment of communities. Libraries culturally enrich the areas they are in and serve as a community focal point. Libraries offer a safe space and vital resources that might not be available elsewhere,” said Smith.
Last year, the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) was adopted by Council to improve how the administration is conducted and delivered.
“A key commitment of the ODTP is excellence in service delivery and leveraging technology for progress. We are fulfilling that mandate by providing internet access and making sure our systems benefit patrons and staff,” he said.