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Cape Town - Pupils across South Africa are preparing for their final examinations of the year and not everyone is lucky enough to have a home environment that is conducive to studying. Fortunately, most communities have a library which can be both a safe haven and a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

"In some areas, the library is not only the safest space but also the one place where it is quiet enough to allow for study and knowledge retention," says City of Cape Town Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith. 

"Libraries provide free access to educational materials and resources to many who would otherwise be unable to afford them. These facilities offer learners a place to continue and complete the learning process and, for many of our young people, it’s the only quiet or safe space to study."

Through the SmartCape initiative, which provides free internet access to all library users, members of the City of Cape Town’s libraries can access all Britannica resources and, should they require, they can have unlimited access to the service from any internet-enabled phone or other device for registered library users. 

This means that children and students will have access to factually sound information that is updated on a regular basis, and which will be available to them at any time of day at their leisure. Content on the site is tailored according to the educational level of the user and the service also supports those for whom English is an additional language. 

Libraries also offer the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC), which is available remotely via the Internet and will save readers time when looking for library materials. It can also be accessed inside the library. 

A single search returns results from the entire collection, including different formats of material such as books, CDs, magazines, etc. and shows material availability across the libraries in the city. 

The search can be streamlined to indicate only a library of interest, or a search can be conducted for particular titles, authors, DVDs or even by subject. 

Library patrons can also view and renew items on loan to them, except when an item has been reserved by another patron. DVDs and study material may not be renewed. 

To find your library and its opening times, please visit http://www.capetown.gov.za/libraries. 

* Visit our #MatricExams page for more handy advice as well as study guides and other resources.