City Takes Immediate Steps to Prevent Further Closure of Libraries | Western Cape Government



City Takes Immediate Steps to Prevent Further Closure of Libraries

11 October 2006
With the closure of one library in Hangberg, and with a number of other libraries at risk of closure due to staff shortages, the City is taking immediate steps to rectify the situation.

While no citizen wants to see the different spheres of government bickering over funding, it is now critical that the issue of what proportion of funds should be provided by the Provincial Government and the City respectively, be resolved.

The City has written to Premier Ebrahim Rasool asking him to intervene in this regard. The Premier referred the matter to Minister Whitey Jacobs, but we have yet to receive a response to our concerns.

The City is therefore going to obtain senior legal counsel opinion on what the constitutional obligations of each sphere of government are in this regard.

In the interim, and without prejudice, we are taking urgent measures to prevent further closures of libraries due to staff shortages.

A short term intervention has been launched to ensure that Hangberg Library re-opens immediately, and that no further closures happen in the months ahead.

We have sacrificed a portion of the City's budget for events and marketing in order to secure an initial sum of R2 million, and we are looking at sourcing further funding where necessary. These funds will be used to:

  • Employ part-time librarians on a one-year contract and deploy them to libraries with critical staff shortages. This process will be completed by mid-November 2006.
  • Employ part-time library assistants to assist the core professional staff from each library. A call for retired librarians, and teachers will be made to beef up this category of staff. Staff displaced as a result of the current restructuring process and ambulance staff will be deployed to assist in the libraries.
  • Permanent, qualified staff will also be employed and deployed in areas where there is a lack of or insufficient permanently qualified staff. This process will be completed by early next year.

Funding that becomes available due to vacancies occurring will also be utilized to fill critical, permanent vacancies.

We have also arranged for a medium to long term plan.

This includes the implementation of a staffing strategy that is currently being developed for implementation as of the 2007/8 financial year. This strategy will specifically focus on the following:

  • Filling identified critical vacancies
  • Ensuring that the required number of professionally qualified staff are appointed and deployed to all service points to deliver an acceptable level of professional service
  • Conversion of certain current contract part-time posts to permanent posts
  • Filling "In-Charge" vacancies to ensure that the current situation is no longer perpetuated, i.e. certain staff members performing in-charge duties on an acting basis for multiple years and at the same time performing the functions of two official posts
  • Identifying service needs, e.g. areas where new libraries must be constructed, and the resultant staffing needs and ensuring the necessary budgetary provisions.

Issued by:
Directorate: Communication and Marketing
City of Cape Town
Tel: 021 400 2201
Fax: 021 957 0023

Media queries:
Wesley Douglas
Tel: 021 400 1309

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