Libraries play a crucial role in a democracy by advancing literacy and making the basic human right of access to information a reality.
This was the key message at a Library Week event at Khayelitsha Library on Friday March 24.
Representatives from various libraries and guests – including pupils from various schools – attended the event.
Community services portfolio committee chairperson, Ranel Viljoen, said it was important that they share with the community the important services they render. She said libraries form an integral part of any community because it encourages literacy among the youth.
Ms Viljoen said they were constantly updating their books and making sure that libraries were safe spaces for youth to explore hidden talents.
Libraries have always been central in collecting, preserving and sharing stories, she said.
“City libraries are transforming the stories that they share and how they are shared. We use a variety of platforms to share our stories whether they are recreational, educational or historical, but we ensure that we stay on top of our game.
“Despite the challenges we face, libraries have preserved and continue to add to the good stories they tell. Libraries in South Africa are transforming the stories they share and how they share them,” she said.
She said many people think libraries are a quiet and formal space but this is not true.
“It must feel like you are visiting your grandmother’s house and be a safe space that you can go to at any time.”
However, libraries were not without their own challenges, such as vandalism, which has caused some libraries to close for repairs.
She encouraged residents to safeguard these “community assets”.
Emerging author, Sanele Nkomphela, said libraries play a crucial role in empowering communities. However, he said libraries needed to have space for local authors.
Subcouncil 10 chairperson, Delmaine Cottee, said libraries should be applauded for playing an integral role in addressing the literacy challenges the country is facing. He urged parents, teachers and pupils to invest their time by visiting libraries and reading books.
He said reading should be a part of each and every home so that a culture of reading can be inculcated among the children.