One library built, while many languish

2013-10-10 00:00

WHILST more than R500 million is being spent on establishing one central library in the Durban CBD, various libraries around KwaZulu-Natal are left extensively under-resourced.

The new glass-fronted building will be built on the Centrum site near The Workshop shopping centre in town. It will include such services as early childhood development centres, facilities for children with special needs and autism, as well as video conferencing facilities.

The costly project will have spaces for book clubs to meet and over 200 computer stations.

This state-of-the-art library will also be equipped with modern technology, dedicated reading spaces, a research hall and will even incorporate a space dedicated to the recipients of eThekwini’s Living Legends Awards.

When asked about investments into existing libraries that are under- resourced, Guy Redman, head of department: libraries, heritage and arts & culture, said: “Libraries now need technology that will take people into the future. As we move from the information to the knowledge era, we cannot build libraries with yesterday’s benchmarks and standards.

“Rather we need to have a focus on the future of our city and province. This library will be a place not just for receiving knowledge, but for directly creating knowledge.”

Preparations for the Central Library, which will be headed up by Project Management South Africa — PMSA Pty (LTD), are well under way, according to Redman.

The bulk of the budget will come from the provincial Department of Arts and Culture, and from the Information Services Directorate.

The New York-based Carnegie Foundation has also donated R20 million to the venture.

Deputy principal of Greenwood Park Primary School, Joan Smuts, however feels the city should invest in school libraries, which are more accessible for children to use.

“Our school does have a small computer room but unfortunately we do not have space in that room to install bookshelves for books. We are also unable to finance a fully functioning library and it is quite sad and unfair to the children that would have to travel into town to use the library.”

Smuts said it would be difficult for children to travel and be very costly for them.

“School libraries are more accessible to school children and a portion of R500 million could be used to provide schools with resourced libraries.”

Many such schools in KZN suffer the same fate.

Redman said they are currently rolling out a maintenance plan for all library branches and recently introduced a new mobile service with two trucks that service areas with poor coverage.

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