Shh?.?.?. no weddings please

2015-05-05 06:00
MM A new draft policy on the use of library halls across Cape Town is open for public participation. 

PHOTO: 
SAMANTHA LEE

MM A new draft policy on the use of library halls across Cape Town is open for public participation. PHOTO: SAMANTHA LEE

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Literary teas, community-based activities and other events are often held in library halls.

But due to inconsistency in which events are permitted in these halls, the City of Cape Town has proposed a new draft policy to regulate its use.

The draft Library Hall Usage Policy is currently open for public participation and Capetonians are being encouraged to have their say. Use

According to the policy these halls are primarily for activities organised by library staff.

However, they are also rented to the public or made available free of charge. In addition, businesses are able to hire hall facilities for a fee.

Belinda Walker, City mayoral committee member for community services and special projects, says some halls are used more than others and this is dependent on various factors. “Our Central, Milnerton, Bellville and Somerset West library halls are some of the most well-used facilities.”

Problem

The policy proposal describes how the current lack of a policy is the main contributor to inconsistent decision-making and disagreements with individuals and groups wishing to make use of the halls. “In addition, this lack of clear policy directive results in halls not being optimally used or managed,” it reads.

Walker says many of these problems stem from the time when individual municipalities had their own rules and regulations which governed the use of library halls.

“This policy will ensure that there is a consistent approach to the hiring out of library halls,” she explains.

Activities

Walker says while the halls are primarily for library activities, they may be used for other purposes, except for social, religious or political purposes.

She explains the primary purpose of these halls is to host community-based activities and programmes that complement the services offered by the library. “For example, many halls are used as training venues and support the library’s goal of encouraging lifelong learning. The library and information services department would like to prioritise this kind of use.”

She further explains these halls are often linked to and accessed through the library and are not designed for large gatherings or events such as weddings.

“A library is a space that is there for everyone, regardless of race, creed or religious or political affiliation and we would like to ensure that it is as inclusive a space as possible,” she adds.

Tariff

The policy also stipulates strict guidelines regarding payment for the use of these halls.

Community organisations and individuals using the hall for community or cultural events will be allowed to use it for free.

However, use of the hall must be paid for when used for business or commercial purposes. A tariff is also charged when a non-profit organisation charges the public to attend their event in a hall.

Walker says the price will depend on the annual tariff structure.

“When applying for the use of the library hall, the organisation has to state the purpose of use. Based on this, the hiring of the hall would either be tariff-based or deemed a community organisation use and therefore free usage would apply.”

Comment

The draft policy is open for comments until Thursday 30 April. Walker explains after this date the department will consider each of the comments received and amend the policy accordingly.

“The amended policy is then submitted to the community services portfolio committee and then recommended to the mayor and onward to council,” she says. V

The draft policy is available at libraries and on www.capetown.gov.za. To comment, email libraryhall.policy@capetown.gov.za or fax 086 576 1398

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