Harare Library: More than just a library #WDC2014

Cape Town’s newest library not only contains books and magazines, but also a gaming room, computers with internet access and an early development centre to stimulate learning and benefit the whole community.

The City of Cape Town’s Library & Information Services Department opened the doors of the Harare Library to the public on Friday, 3 June 2011 and it has already had an overwhelmingly positive response.

The 1800m² library is situated at 42 Ncumo Street, Harare Square, Khayelitsha, and forms part of a greater upgrading of Harare Square.

It is a multi-purpose centre, with the building containing the library, office space for other groups such as NGOs, and living quarters for the caretaker of the facility.

According to Nazeem Hardy, Library Marketing & Research Officer, the library is unique in many aspects and features spaces and services that will not be found in any of the other public libraries in Cape Town.

While the library provides access to books, newspapers, magazines, CDs, DVDs and videos, it also boasts one of the highest numbers of public access computers available in the city, with 18 computers providing internet access and word processing facilities.

There is also a study hall and additional meeting rooms.

One of the unique features is an Early Childhood Development section, known as Funda Udlale, which caters to children up the age of six. It has books, soft toys, educational computers, games and facilities to do role playing and learn specific skills. Based on a concept seen at an American library, crèches and daycare centres can bring their children to a place which not only uniquely caters for their needs, but also provides caregivers with a space to explore the possibilities that can be showcased to the children.

Funda Udlale’s doors open onto an artificial lawn and one of its walls has a chalkboard, giving children an opportunity to draw.

The library also has a teen space, which opens up to a giant chess board situated just below the artificial grass patch.

Another exciting feature of the library is the gaming room, which boasts computers on which users can play against each other in both educational and “fun” games, as well as Wii gaming consoles.

“Many people are familiar with Nintendo’s Wii console by now and visitors to Harare Library’s gaming room can now have the opportunity to play with this fun toy,” Hardy said.

The library materials were made possible with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, while it was built with funding from the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) Department, the German Development Bank, the Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant and Provincial Grant funding.

“Since the library has opened its doors it has been wholeheartedly embraced by the community, especially the children, and the library staff are still trying to catch their breath,” Hardy said.