Our Celebrating Partners Project aims to recognise and highlight the work that is done by our implementing partners. We look at how book-sharing has benefited them as an organisation and their beneficiaries. Today we celebrate our partnership with: City of Cape Town Libraries.

Libraries play a fundamental role in our society. They act as gateways to knowledge and culture. They provide resources and information, and they support the development of literacy and education. The City of Cape Town librarians were our first ever group of book-sharing facilitators to be trained online – when South Africa went into the first national lockdown. Lessons were learnt together and this partnership continues to be a fruitful and valued one.

The Cities Libraries

Christelle Lubbe, Head of City of Cape Town Library and Information Services, explains that there are slight misconceptions around the roles that libraries play. “People see libraries and they only see books…but we have so many other services to offer. Especially during these different times, it’s something to keep your mind away from what’s going on and it’s a place that provides the right information about what is going on.“ With 102 libraries in the City of Cape Town, Christelle says that they “serve the public in our communities.”

At the moment, the City of Cape Town libraries are doing “a lot of virtual programming” and preparing information and packages for reading programmes.

Book-sharing in public libraries

Eight librarians were trained online to conduct book-sharing sessions at the libraries where they work. Since then, “they have been sharing the book-sharing skills and what we have taught them, within their libraries, incorporating it into some of the programmes that they have,” says Puseletso Mofokeng, Training Coordinator at Mikhulu Trust.

The librarians are focusing on children who are part of their “A Thousand Stories Before School” campaign. “We want to target the pregnant mum to read stories to her unborn baby, to sing songs and to rhyme. When the baby is born, that connection, that sharing, is so important,” Christelle explains. Book-sharing is then the natural next step for the mother and baby to spend quality time together.

With the libraries being “nicely situated” in the middle of communities, they are working to make sure that every community has the “tools they need to develop”.

Important Partnerships

Mikhulu Trust has been in partnership with the City of Cape Town libraries for a few years, as the libraries are focusing on programmes for babies and young children.

“Mikhulu Trust is going to be a very important partner to assist the libraries to start family groups.”

From these groups, the City of Cape Town envisions families teaming up with libraries to support their children before going to school and to then become “life-long users of libraries.”

Christelle sees wordless picture books being the perfect draw card to begin building these relationships with parents and families because “it does not matter how much you know or what your home language is.” She is hoping that soon, libraries across South Africa will begin rolling our book-sharing techniques and training for parents. “That link is forever because libraries will forever have a place for children and of course all our partners that help our children to develop.”

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Contact Info

Early Learning Centre, Athlone, Cape Town, 7764

Phone: +27 72 295 5959

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