Durban – ETHEKWINI Municipality’s head of Parks, Recreation and Culture, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, said most of the city’s libraries were open except for those short of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Mercury has received complaints that despite a notice about the opening of facilities, in some areas municipal libraries remained closed.
Ngcobo said the libraries that were not open had not received sufficient PPE.
“But we are working on it and we expect all municipal libraries to be operating on October 1.”
Ngcobo said borrowing books was part of the services available.
However, a resident who wrote to The Mercury recently, said he had been informed at Kingsburgh library that he could only return books and library staff did not know when borrowing would be allowed.
Ngcobo said there should only be a delay in borrowing books that had been recently returned.
“Returning books are set for a three-day quarantine period before they can be re-issued, so if you are coming in to borrow a book that has just been returned, you will have to wait for 72 hours for it to be cleared.
“However, those that were on the shelves and have not been (recently) borrowed are available immediately,” Ngcobo said.
Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture said it was preparing a phased reopening of libraries, museums and heritage sites that fall under its department from October 1.
It said libraries would allow limited wi-fi access, limited use of study areas, and the return of materials that were borrowed before the lockdown.
Any fines incurred during the lockdown period will be written off.
KZN Arts and Culture spokesperson Phathiso Mfuyo said: “Our libraries are not yet open for patrons, but we have just received permission from national (government) and we are now preparing all 300 libraries in our administration according to the standard operating procedures and Covid-19 health and safety measures.
“We are currently training our staff to be ready to receive patrons on October 1,” she said.
Mfuyo said borrowing books would not be available from October 1 as they were still trying to finalise a “safe book” borrowing system.
“We are trying out a safe method of borrowing books which will have less contact.
“We are looking into a system where patrons can borrow books ahead of time and come to the library only to collect, rather than touching all the books,” said Mfuyo.
The DA in the eThekwini region said it had been following up with the municipality concerning the reopening of libraries and other facilities.
DA community services whip councillor Mmabatho Tembe said: “The DA community services committee has requested and awaits reports in the next committee on the state of pools and libraries in the city.”