The City of Joburg says most people who use the city’s libraries are pupils and tertiary education students.
It also says Soweto libraries have 47 696 members and are equipped to serve all members of the community, including children and senior citizens.
People with disabilities are also catered for. Furthermore, some libraries have facilities for illiterate members of the community.
Among other programmes being run at the libraries is the Community Literacy Programme at the Phiri, Emndeni, Jabavu and Diepkloof Zone 1 libraries.
There is also the Homework and Information literacy programme targeting vulnerable children at Emndeni, Meadowlands, Klipspruit West, Protea Glen, Phiri and Jabavu.
Libraries in Soweto run story hour for creches.
A strong focus at all the libraries is increasing children’s membership and reaching out to people who were previously excluded.
Business Corners and entrepreneurial workshops are held at the Pimville, Jabavu and Emndeni libraries. Early childhood development reading programmes are held at the Klipspruit West, Klipspruit Children’s and Diepkloof Zone 5 libraries.
Klipspruit West Library
This is the only library we visited that had working air conditioning.
The library is very neat and tidy. The children’s section is in a separate room, and there is are young adults’, referencing, lending and study sections. The shelves are well stocked. An adult section offers fiction and non-fiction English and Afrikaans material. The library becomes busy with junior primary and high school pupils after school.
Phone 011 947 1390
Orlando East Library
This spacious library has many students coming in for study sessions.
There is a lending section with fairly full shelves and a reference section that has dictionaries, encyclopedias and textbooks. Though the ceilings are high, there is still a need for air conditioning.
The library is neat, with signs that show the different sections. The toilets are well kept.
The upper level houses the children’s section as well as the media room. This room is used as a learning centre and holds Abet training sessions three days a week.
Some residents say the books need an update as many are old, especially the reference books.
Phone 011 935 1051
This library leaves a lot to be desired. The small library’s main section has only five shelves. There are not nearly enough books.
The only computer available to the office staff has been broken since July.
“We can’t really do much without it, we can’t help the children with additional information they might need,” said a librarian. The phone doesn’t work either.
The children’s section is much better equipped than the main library.
There is a separate room behind the community hall where tertiary students study.
The librarian said he would prefer the library to be a resource and reference library because the pupils hardly read the novels available.
“A lot of books are needed in this library. I’d fill it with textbooks because most of the children don’t read novels. They come here to source information for schoolwork,” he said.
Phone 011 980 7932
Protea North Library
The children’s section at this library comes alive at least twice a week when reches from around the community come in for story hour.
This is one of the programmes the library has on offer to promote reading. It also has a holiday programme where children come in to watch educational videos.
Children come in after school to do their homework and projects.
The library has two levels. The main library, downstairs, has a lending area, two study sections, a reference area for juniors and another for seniors and an African heritage collection.
The upstairs area is exclusively for tertiary students. The whole area is a study section with reference material.
There is a multi-activity room outside the library that serves as a space for workshops.
“We’ve partnered with Youth in Action, where we work together on HIV/Aids programmes.
We also host the Soul Buddies group here,” said the librarian.
Phone 011 980 3825
Protea Glen Library
This library is split into two sections. One is for children and young adults while the other is a study area, lending section and referencing section.
There is also a business corner where a table is set up with entrepreneurial books and other business-related resources.
There is no computer available to the children, but when they need internet sources they are helped by the library assistants on the two computers reserved for staff.
The library has a reading development programme where it invites neighbouring schools to come to the library to learn about books.
“We cater for nearby schools mostly. Many children who come from schools across the busy main road have a hard time getting here because they’re afraid of being run over,” said the librarian.
She said many residents did not know there was a library in Protea Glen, and most of the time they went to the Protea North Library.
Phone 011 987 3479
Of all the libraries visited, Emndeni was the only one where computers were working and being used.
The entire upstairs section is a digital library with over 20 computers. Downstairs there is a separate children’s section, a main study area, referencing section, newspaper/magazine section, political heritage section and an activity room with six computers for Abet training. Computer skills training is available to residents who visit.
“Students can register for a six-month computer training course here at the library,” said the librarian. There is also a homework section where pupils can come in on weekends for extra help.
Audiovisual educational material is also available. The library is spacious but could do with more shelves and books.
Phone 011 934 0686
The benches outside the library are literally used for cooling off.
The library is small and can get very hot in summer, and the lack of air conditioning results in some of the students sitting outside.
This library has three main areas: a children’s section, a lending section and a study section. There is also a referencing section.
The shelves are few but fully stocked with fiction and non-fiction.
Phone 011 988 9249
The shelves at this library are not full, with both the adults’ lending and the young adults’ sections lacking books.
The children’s section is not too bad but could do with more books.
There is a study area, a referencing section, a children’s section with a study area for young adults, a lending section, and one visible computer that was switched off when we visited.
There is also a science display area. Outside the main library there are two separate study areas for adults and students.
Phone 011 936 5699