The City of Cape Town’s 103 libraries and three mobile libraries are home to a stock of more than four million books and in a year borrowers take these books home 10 million times. The value that libraries bring to communities will be in the spotlight during National Book Week, from Monday to Sunday, September 5 to 11. It will also be an opportunity for borrowers to return late items without being fined.
The City’s libraries will offer various events and activities during this time and residents are encouraged to visit their local library to see what is on offer. For example, the Bellville Library will host a children’s storytelling programme on Wednesday, September 7, at 10am, with a Xhosa reading programme at 3.15pm on the same day. On September 8 the library will host an author’s evening at 6pm and a teen’s obstacle course on Friday, September 9, at 3pm.
The Edgemead Library will host a book discussion on Tuesday, September 6, at 10am, and will launch their weekly colouring-in project on September 8 at 10am.
The Elsies River Library will host various authors on September 7 from 10am.
National Book Week was established in response to a 2007 study into the book-reading habits of adult South Africans.
“This study and subsequent research revealed that South Africans do not have a strong reading culture, which is alarming. The results further highlighted how our reading culture is a barrier to the country’s development plans because reading and literacy are at the heart of personal growth and community development. Having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact in terms of propelling a child to higher levels of education.
“Children who read are able to better overcome socio-economic challenges. Events during this week aim to encourage reading as a fun activity, with a strong focus on promoting indigenous languages, local authors as well as library awareness and access,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services, Councillor Anda Ntsodo.
National Book Week also provides an opportunity for patrons with late items to return them to the library without incurring a fine as it coincides with Fine-Free Week.
No fines will be levied for items returned during Fine-Free Week. However, fines accrued on previously returned material will have to be paid.
“We know that with today’s fast-paced lifestyles, returning library books is often just one item on a long list of things to do. We want to provide residents with an incentive to bring back forgotten library books,” explained Councillor Ntsodo.
International Literacy Day is also celebrated during this week on Thursday, September 8.
Membership of the City of Cape Town libraries is free and can be granted from birth. Residents are encouraged to join, as libraries offer access to more than just books. Library users have access to CDs, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, and electronic resources. Public access computers and regular programmes and events are also on offer.