R250m for KZN libraries upgrade
KZN department of arts and culture dedicates more than half of its budget this year to upgrading the province's libraries.
By Thando Mgaga
KwaZulu-Natal department of arts and culture has dedicated more than half of its budget this year to upgrading the province's libraries and archive centres to state-of-the-art information facilities.
Delivering her R470.8-million budget in the KZN legislature yesterday, MEC for arts and culture, sports and recreation Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha allocated R250177-million of her budget to libraries and archives services, while R132-million would go to cultural activities.
Sibhidla-Saphetha said R116.5-million would be transferred to all 61 municipalities in the province.
"A further 841-million in the 2013-14 financial year (will go) to the full staffing of 220 libraries.
"The department continues to engage with and consult stakeholders on the process of bringing all municipal libraries and museums under the provincial government," she said.
Durban will be the biggest beneficiary of the overhaul of upgrading the province's libraries.
Sibhidla-Saphetha said the five libraries in Durban will be combined into one massive centre of information.
The estimated cost for this library is R568-million, said the MEC. The department will provide R440-million to this project over a three-year period.
"With an additional $3-million (about R24-million) funding secured by the eThekwini Municipality from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the balance of costs will be provided by the eThekwini municipality," added Sibhidla-Saphetha.
The MEC said that her department would pull out all the stops to ensure that the province's libraries are accessible to people with disabilities.
She said the department was also on the verge of establishing specialised public libraries for the blind.
"I have pleasure in informing this house that the department is in the process of signing a cooperative agreement with the SA National Library for the Blind. The department will establish mini libraries for the blind in 10 libraries.
"The service will provide audio books, access to publications in Braille and specialised computer services.
"The department will also continue to provide audio books and books published in large print for the visually impaired in all libraries.
"A budget of R900000 has been allocated for this services," Sibhidla-Saphetha said.