Cape Town city libraries clock more than 11,6 million visits in the last year

reading books

A statistical reflection ahead of International Literacy Day showed that City libraries are doing their bit to foster a love of reading and knowledge accumulation, but also an appreciation of popular culture.


The City of Cape Town’s libraries recorded more than 11,6 million visits in the last financial year. Of the more than one million registered members, roughly one-third actively used the City’s 102 libraries and mobile services during the same period.

Of the nearly 10 million books, DVDs, CDs and magazines circulated, a glance at the most popular items revealed that:

  • Magazines ranging from ‘You’ to ‘Time’ to ‘Kuier’ account for (roughly) the top 30 most popular items
  • Many children still want to watch ‘Frozen’ and build a snowman with Elsa
  • There are a few late converts to ‘Game of Thrones’ as season one is in high demand
  • E.L. James continues to capture the imagination of many with her ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy
  • The best-selling ‘Girl on the Train’ novel is in high demand
  • Matriculants are making good use of the study aids available at libraries to brush up on their mathematics and physical science skills

Libraries that circulated the most items were Brackenfell, Durbanville, Somerset West, Bellville and Fish Hoek.

‘This is such an eclectic mix, which just proves once again that our libraries have something for everyone. I think magazines are hugely popular because many people simply can’t afford to buy them. Ultimately, the important lesson from these statistics is that people are reading and engaging with popular culture and it is wonderful that our libraries can play a role in that journey,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

‘We are continually updating our stock through purchases and donations, and we are also upgrading a number of libraries to ensure that we draw even more users to our facilities. However, it’s not just about the items on the shelves or the access to the worldwide web. The people working at our libraries also play a pivotal role in advancing literacy and the acquisition of knowledge in our communities. I’ve heard many stories of librarians helping children with homework or teaching them to read and it’s these little actions that collectively make a big difference to individuals as well as communities in the long-run,’ added Alderman Smith.

International Literacy Day is celebrated during National Book Week which runs from 4 to 10 September 2017.

‘This week is an important initiative in encouraging the nation to value reading as a fun and pleasurable activity. We also want to showcase how reading can easily be incorporated into one’s daily lifestyle,’ said Alderman Smith.

In celebration of National Book Week, some City libraries are taking part in the five-day Open Book Festival (from 6 to 10 September 2017). The programme includes book launches, readings, children’s activities, and writing workshops, among others. Library events are free, but space is limited. Residents are encouraged to contact their local library to book.

Coinciding with National Book Week, it is also Fine-free Week at the City’s libraries. Any overdue library materials returned late during this week are exempt from a fine, but any fines incurred before this time still need to be paid.

The City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan is geared towards improving the way in which the organisation works and enhancing service delivery by creating even more value for residents.

To this end, a dozen libraries have undergone mini-makeovers in the last financial year and several more proactive maintenance projects are set to happen in the next 12 months.

Sources: City of Cape Town
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