Communities need to learn value of libraries - MEC

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

bombela - The burning of libraries is proof that communities need to be educated about the importance of these buildings, said Mpumalanga's culture, sport and recreation MEC Sibongile Manana.

She was speaking at the opening of a R3.5 million library in the township of Silindile outside Ermelo this week.

"We have experienced the burning down of libraries in the past. It is evident that the need to educate our people on the importance of libraries cannot be underestimated," she said. 

Libraries have been burnt during service delivery protests in the province. 

Manana urged Silindile's residents to consider their new library a resource centre, and a place for both physical and on-line access to knowledge, information and entertainment available in print, digital and audio forms.

"Libraries can help people to re-engage with learning and improve their literacy skills. We expect our children (and community members) to take advantage of this opportunity," she said. 

Manana said the Fundza for Fun project, which aims to increase reading rates, would be implemented at the library.

Department spokeswoman Sibongile Nkosi said 41 libraries in 15 municipalities in Mpumalanga had formed a committee known as Friends of the Library.

"The committee is a non-profit organisation of volunteers whose goals are to assist and support goals of the library and to establish closer ties between the library and its community," said Nkosi.

Nkosi said the aim of the committee was to promote knowledge and interest in the functions and resources of the library and to assist in raising funds for special needs beyond the budgets allocated to libraries.

She said the committee would also reinforce community participation through the promotion of library awareness and ownership, while also teaching community members to protect and use libraries correctly.

"The committee will serve as the voice and ears for both the library and the community," said Nkosi.

Nkosi said committee members from Msogwaba outside Mbombela had already launched a door-to-door campaign in their neighbourhood and also visited pension payout points.

She said the committee distributed pamphlets containing information about the library's operating hours and the services that are available.