South Africa : Cape Town state of the art library opens

Cape Town - A $2 million state-of-the-art library has been opened in Cape Town.

The new central library, which will contribute to the regeneration of the Central Business District in Cape Town, was officially opened on Tuesday by Cape Town Executive Mayor Helen Zille.

The library was previously housed at the City Hall but it was moved to Old Drill Hall to be used a centre for excellence by all Capetonians.

Carnegie Corporation awarded the City of Cape Town an initial funding of $2 million in 2004 to upgrade of the new library.

The bulk of the grant was used to purchase books as well as computer equipment, the City of Cape Town contributed R36.6 million for the refurbishing and upgrading of the library.

This resulted in extensive changes to the interior of the Old Drill Hall.

As it is a historic building, most of the changes have been to the inside of the building such as the construction of a basement level to accommodate the Children's Library.

Speaking at the opening of the new library Mayoral Committee Member for Amenities and Sport, Councillor Shehaam Sims said that from a historical and architectural point of view, the library is one of the most significant buildings in the city centre.

"I am delighted by what has been achieved, the provision of this amenity, which can be used by Capetonians from all walks of life and social and economic backgrounds is also a major contribution to the regeneration of the Central Business District," Councillor Sims said.

The library will offer free internet access on 40 computers as well as access to a wider selection of books than previously offered in the old library.

It will also house a professional children's collection, intended for research purposes, an extended Art Library and Music and Performance Arts Library.

A new innovation is the American Corner, which will house additional books and computers donated by the United States Embassy.

During the event on Tuesday, Carnegie Corporation announced that it would donate a further $2.495 million to upgrade the library over a three-year period.

Carnegie Corporation President, Vartan Gregorian said the public must be reminded that libraries are invaluable to those who are engaged in lifelong learning and cannot imagine an existence without something new to learn about and discover almost every day.

The facility will also have a coffee shop, bookshop, meeting rooms, seminar rooms and an auditorium.

The music library will have listening posts for CD's and the DVD/Video collection which will include South African and African content.

The book stock will have a similarly strong focus on local content and it will be the only library in the city that will have reading materials in all 11 official languages.