City marks Library Week
City marks Library Week

If you have been avoiding the library like the plague because of overdue books that now carry a hefty fine, stress no more.

From Friday March 11 to Thursday March 31 you can return the books without having to answer embarrassing questions or asked to pay stiff fines. As part of the National Library Week celebrations, the City of Johannesburg Library and Information Services has declared March 11-March 31 2016 as a fine-free period.

“There will be no fines paid and no questions asked. And upon the return of your long-overdue books, your membership could also be reinstated at your request,” says Nobuntu Mpendulo, the City’s Director of Library and Information Services. The City has a network of 187 libraries whose sole mandate is to “develop an informed and educated nation” because a "reading nation is a winning nation".

Every year in March librarians across the country host special programmes to highlight services and resources provided by libraries.

“This is an amnesty for all Joburg residents who have ‘forgotten’ to return library books in time. The City is saying we should let bygones be bygones as we wipe the slate clean and start afresh. So all that needs to happen is for residents to bring back what belongs to the City and all will be forgiven,” says Mpendulo.

She says the City aims to create a reading nation and the 20-day amnesty is to encourage more people to visit libraries. Library Week was first celebrated in May 1998 by the South African Institute of Library and Information Services to promote the culture of reading. In 2003 the week was moved to March.

During this year's Library Week celebrations, the City will host 160 crèches in all the regions to promote the "Ready to Read" programme.

“Although reading should start at home, we're hosting crèches to get the children ready to read so that when they go to school, they're able to cope with the new pressures,” said Mpendulo.

Being able to read is the most basic survival city skill. Librarians know how to get kids hooked on books and storytelling sessions take place daily. Most public libraries offer pre-school story-hour programmes. Learning to use technology to access information is crucial. Although many people don't own a personal computer, no parent is too poor to give his or her child the key to technology - a library card. Libraries provide a great alternative to video games and television.