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The City of Cape Town’s Bellville Library celebrates its 100th birthday next week. The library has grown from a building on the Elsies Kraal River to the landmark building in Charl Malan Street and boasts more than 11 000 patrons. Read more below:

The City’s Bellville Library will be celebrating its centenary with a range of events next week which caters for its 11 495 patrons who range in age from five months to 91 years old.

Bellville Library came into service in 1918 and was first housed in a building in Durban Road on the banks of the Elsies Kraal River with members required to pay an annual subscription fee.

A free public library service came to Bellville in 1964 in what is now Kruskal Avenue, but 25 years later the present library in Elizabeth Park was built. There is still some of the Kruskal history left, as some of the shelves are still being used in today’s Bellville Library.

‘Bellville is one of our flagship libraries and it is truly a beacon within the community. It is more than just a space for books and provides a place where knowledge can be promoted and where residents can interact, learn, hone skills and acquire new hobbies. All libraries play a significant role in our lives and help to shape our world view. Bellville has also shown us that librarians are not just your original search engines, they’re also innovators,’ said Alderman Smith.

Four years ago, library patrons expressed frustration due to the increasing pressure for parking space within the Bellville CBD. In order to mitigate against a decline in the use of the library, staff worked together and introduced a takeaway service which makes getting your books as easy dropping by and picking up your order.

When the patron comes to collect their takeaway, they can simply stop in front of the library and pop in to information (which is right at the entrance) where the books will be issued to them, without encountering any parking hassles. Loan items are only issued on production of a library card.

The drop box, which is part of the service, allows patrons to return material when convenient and has been a hit, especially over long weekends. The box is located inside the library doors but a slot allows patrons to return items after hours.

The Early Literacy Play Space in the children’s department at the library offers a stimulating, interactive play area with a play kitchen and farmer’s market stand, block play area, and puppet theatre.

The library’s ReadySetRead reading programme encourages young children to read 100 books with their parents or teachers for which they receive a certificate and prize. The Bookbuddies reading initiative pairs young people with younger children to improve both spelling and literacy. In addition, the library supplies a selection of books in a crate and delivers it to crèches and preprimary schools to encourage reading in the classroom through their Books-to-Go service.

‘Bellville is one of our top circulating libraries with more than 389 955 different items accessed by patrons annually. The library has a stock of 109 794 items and it’s the place where the community gets together to spend time empowering themselves. Time spent at the library, whether it is to read a book or newspaper, to search for employment, or just to relax, is never wasted. The Bellville Library has become a landmark and a space which facilitates cultural and artistic activities, contributing to a community that is well-rounded and grounded,’ said Alderman Smith.

Other libraries which celebrated milestones this year include Durbanville (45), Tygervalley (30) and Kensington (25).

Some of the activities that are planned for the Bellville celebrations next week include the launch of an online book club, a high tea, and a zero waste fashion show.

For details about library activities, please call 021 444 0300 or email Bellville.Library@capetown.gov.za.

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