A Message of Support for South African Library Week
A Message of Support for South African Library Week by Acting Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anton Bredell
The theme for this year’s South African Library Week, Connect @ your library, is aligned with the Western Cape Government’s first strategic goal: “Creating opportunities for growth and jobs”.
A total of 361 of the country’s 1 993 public libraries are located in the Western Cape, and there are 1.1 million registered library users in our province. Libraries offer a space to communicate cultural, educational and recreational values to local communities.
South African Library Week is a demonstration of our slogan Better Together. The Western Cape Library Service works with its partners – the Library and Information Association of South Africa, the national Department of Arts and Culture, the National Library of South Africa and the City of Cape Town – on this annual initiative.
In the 2015/16 financial year, our provincial budget allocation to libraries is R304.875 million. This amount includes conditional grant funding of R158.469 million from the national Department of Arts and Culture. The greatest challenge is meeting the increasing need for library facilities and services at a time when the budget is shrinking. In addition, uncompetitive salary levels for librarians make it difficult to recruit and retain suitably qualified staff. However, we are rising to the challenge. In addition to continually improving the more traditional library services and materials, we are also keeping up with the digital revolution. We are providing services to communities and remaining relevant to the youth by providing free broadband Internet access in public libraries. Planning has also started for rolling out wi-fi hotspots in libraries.
I really look forward to the celebrations that will take place in May this year when our provincial library service turns 60 – an important milestone in connecting communities.