Minister Marais' Speech at Municipal Support Services Library Seminar | Western Cape Government



Minister Marais' Speech at Municipal Support Services Library Seminar

17 September 2019




Good morning, goeiemôre, molweni nonke

I am delighted to address you at this very significant Municipal Support Services Seminar in our beautiful Mother City today.

The Western Cape Government prides itself on our slogan of Better Together. However, more so, we strive to personify this slogan in the planning, implementation and outcomes of all our initiatives, programmes and projects delivered to the people of the Western Cape. This seminar is only one of the many platforms we have incorporated in our bid to encourage innovative partnerships and to improve already established partnerships which will indeed render us Better Together.

Each of us are present here today because we all agree that library services do indeed make a positive contribution to the development, empowerment and upliftment of our communities. We can then also agree that our role as stakeholders in library service provisioning is of utmost importance and there exists an urgency in fulfilling our tasks as effectively and efficiently as possible. All of which is much needed in the current national climate we find ourselves today.

With the largest public library service network nationally and also in Africa, the Western Cape’s 373 library centres count for more than 20% of all public libraries in the nine provinces and holds the highest library membership and by far the highest book circulation figures of all provinces. To put this into perspective, 15.6 million library items were issued to the just over 811 000 registered library users in the Western Cape during 2017.

Since 2009, 53 new libraries have been built and we upgraded a further 18 with a total investment of R1.5 billion, which translates to more communities empowered and uplifted through library services. This is no small feat in maintenance and improvement and I am grateful to each library service official who goes the extra mile with great passion and dedication to enable a well-functioning directorate to afford us these accolades.

I am pleased to know that library services will continue to be used as a vehicle to unite our rural towns while contributing to the social capital needed to uplift and empower our communities. The programme of this seminar serves to enhance the intergovernmental relations between National, Provincial and Local Government. There will also be the opportunity to discuss and engage on the broad plans for the 2019/20 financial year as representatives from the 25 municipalities are in attendance. I trust that you will be capacitated on various aspects of funding sources including planning, implementation and reporting.  The highlight of our seminar is indeed the cheque handovers to 8 municipalities who will receive funding towards new public library projects and upgrades. I encourage all stakeholders to make full use of the funds made available to better understand its application process and how to optimally appropriate the funds in a sustainable manner to deliver on our mandate to all who call the Western Cape home.

Further to education, health and economic opportunities are factors contributing to the strategic goals of eliminating poverty and affording people the opportunity to live lives they can value. By providing access to information, libraries support communities in their exploring and challenging of barriers, values, and behaviours as these relate to social integration. More importantly, libraries engage communities on matters of social importance and encourage the social inclusion of all.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and we have a long way to go, but together we can redress the challenges our communities are plagued with through availing accessible library services. An individual’s circumstances can indeed be improved through comprehensive library services and it is not only the individual’s circumstances changed, but that of their families, their communities, provinces and country as well. I urge you to always be mindful of the very important role you have to play and I leave you with the words of Doug Wilhelm, “A library is a house of hope. It is a place where we all, whatever our situation, can feed our ideas and develop our dreams”. Our library service brings this much needed hope and each staff member facilitates dreams coming true and for this, 

I thank you.