File picture: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg.

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town on Wednesday said it was planning to spend more than R40 million this financial year on library maintenance and upgrades across the city.

In a statement, the City said its Library and Information Services (LIS) plans to spend more than R43 million on library upgrades, the completion of the Dunoon library, new Wi-Fi connections, services and the acquisition of reading materials.

LIS will spend just under R18,5 million on books, magazines, newspapers and e-resources subscriptions to ensure that the City’s libraries have appealing reading materials to engage all library patrons. Other City libraries will receive R7,7 million for proactive maintenance.

“In a technological and digital age, the City is often asked why it spends money on upgrading and maintaining these spaces. Libraries have always been at the heart of the communities they serve and are accessible and safe spaces, providing access to a huge repository of information and knowledge,” said the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith.

“The public library is an essential part of creating and maintaining an educated and literate population. 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 added.

Smith said, “this is in addition to the new library management system, Symphony, which will improve the service for patrons and staff and which has just been rolled out to libraries”.

Fish Hoek Library, Kraaifontein Library, PD Paulse Library in Kuils River and Goodwood library are among the libraries to be renovated. The upgrades to these libraries are due for completion early in December, with the exception of the Goodwood Library.

Upgrades to the Meadowridge library are due to start in February 2019.

“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,” Smith said.

Last year, the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) was adopted by the Council to improve how the administration works.

“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.

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African News Agency (ANA)