Msunduzi set to tackle ‘doom and gloom of libraries’

2015-08-05 09:23

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Pietermaritzburg - With the increase in the theft and destruction of library books across the country, libraries in Pietermaritzburg have introduced a range of security measures to prevent further damage to library material.

With over 30 000 visitors and 2,5 million library materials, Msunduzi municipal acting spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said it is “increasingly common” to find security tags removed from books and covers and the insides of the book removed.

“We used to experience that problem and in most cases people were tearing pages out of the library books during the times when they could not take the book out or make copies. Therefore currently we are not experiencing this challenge as we provide photocopying services within our libraries and our reference service have a controlled and secured environment,” said Madonda.

Msunduzi Library Services also introduced an automated system, Sita Library Information Management Systems (Slims) for the issue and return of library material. Slims allows for the extraction of records to ascertain the location of library material.

“At Msunduzi Municipal Library Services we endeavour to provide measures that assist in safeguarding our collections. We have newly purchased book security systems at the exit points of certain critical sections and main entrances and we have also enhanced our security through security guards who are stationed at these points and staff who maintain vigilance,” said Madonda.

She added that the non-return of library material is an on-going challenge in libraries and Msunduzi has now introduced an array of strategies to prevent this. Librarians first SMS or e-mail a defaulting patron and if there is no response, the librarian will note the default on the patron’s account which may lead to blocking the patron on the system to prevent them from borrowing more books. This block will only be removed once the patron returns the item in the condition it was loaned or payment for the item is made.

“It is not all is doom and gloom for libraries. Yes, challenges are consistent but this should not be seen as to the detriment of the public libraries as services rendered by all public libraries are adding value as they have free access to information and are for all,” said Madonda.

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