Today, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, opened the newly built Bolokanang Community Library and launched the R120 million Mzansi Libraries Online in Petrusburg, Free State.
Bolokanang Community Library was built at a cost of approximately R15million and it was developed as a dual purpose library which will be rendering services to the general community as well as to schools. The project was funded from the Community Library Conditional Grant which is made available by the Department of Arts and Culture to provincial departments to transform and upgrade public library services in the country.
Speaking at the official opening of the library, Mabudafhasi, said “To date, through the community library conditional grant, we were able to build 81 new libraries, and 343 libraries have been upgraded which provide better facilities and services to their users. We are looking forward to build 23 more new libraries and upgrade 55 existing libraries in the 2016/17 financial year”.
“Libraries play a vital role in developing communities. As the Department of Arts and Culture, we are committed to build new public libraries, specifically in previously disadvantaged communities,” said Mabudafhasi.
At the same ceremony the Deputy Minister announced the commencement of the R120million Mzansi Libraries Online project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen and enhance public libraries in South Africa. The project is set to upscale delivery by increasing access to technology free of charge and ensuring uninterrupted use of ICT equipment and internet services at 667 libraries/ communities across the country.
“Apart from traditional library services such as lending, reference and information services, each of the 667 libraries including Bolokanang will offer on line public internet access to the community. An ICT infrastructure of 30 computers, tablets and educational computer games will form part of the ICT services. A Wi-Fi area is available for users wanting to use their own equipment such as smart phones, tablets and laptop computers” added Mabudafhasi.
A well-equipped educational toy library service will support early childhood development and provides access to educational toys which are building blocks in the development of skills essential for learning to read, write and count.
Mzansi Libraries Online (MLO) is a programme of the National Library of South Africa, in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the Provincial Library Services in all nine provinces.
As part of the Global Libraries Programme, it (MLO) is based on the reality that libraries have the potential to serve and engage the entire community through targeted outreach programmes aimed at improving the lives of information-deprived communities who currently lack adequate access to information needed to live healthy and productive lives.
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