Tech boost for South African libraries

31 March 2016

The Gauteng provincial government on Tuesday launched the third leg of the multimillion-rand Mzansi Libraries On-Line Pilot Project at the Nkalimeng Leutsoa Public Library in Sharpeville.

New equipment at the library includes desk top computers, printers, scanners and tablets; free wifi is now also available. The upgrades will benefit the community of Sharpeville by providing them with access to information.

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“As Madiba said, Sharpeville is the nation’s ‘cradle of human rights’ and it was therefore important that its people (were) among the first to benefit from such programmes, which are intended to contribute towards restoring people’s dignity and providing them with the necessary skills development and access to information,” said the director of library and archival services in the Gauteng department of sport, arts, culture and recreation, Koekie Meyer.

Meyer said the project aimed to enhance and strengthen library services in Gauteng by turning public libraries into spaces for learning, recreation, socialisation and social cohesion.

The R32-million two-year project is being piloted at three libraries in Gauteng; the others are the Suurman Library in Tshwane and Wedela Library in Merafong. It provides free new technological resources and training.

Partnership

The project is an initiative of the Global Libraries Programme of South Africa, and is funded by the National Libraries South Africa, the Gauteng department of sport, arts, culture and recreation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Global Libraries Programme has committed to roll out the project to 44 more libraries across Gauteng over the next three years, with 14 to be completed in the 2016/17 financial year.

“We work to ensure adequate resources and public policy support for libraries, and we help public libraries, library staff, and the library field measure the impact of public access in libraries and strengthen their advocacy skills,” reads the foundation’s website.

Other countries the foundation has supported include Chile, Mexico, Botswana, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, Moldova, Jamaica, and Turkey.

Source: South African Government News Agency