Borrowing privileges at City libraries will revert to pre-pandemic arrangements

The City of Cape Town has announced that the original borrowing privileges at its libraries will revert to pre-pandemic arrangements from February.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries extended the number of items that patrons could borrow, as well as the borrowing period. However, it said from 1 February 2024 borrowing privileges will revert to pre-pandemic arrangements. In addition, printed newspapers and magazines will be discontinued as their subscriptions come to an end.

“During the pandemic, borrowing privileges were extended to a one month lending period and a maximum of 20 items for all borrowers. Those were extraordinary times and the city made the adjustment to benefit our patrons who couldn’t access the library or materials as readily.

“The longer borrowing period means other patrons wait longer to enjoy all the material our libraries offer. It also meant fines accumulated quickly due to the higher number of items that could be borrowed,” said Patricia van der Ross, Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health.

PHOTO: Bush Radio's Mitchum George reading a children's book

Prior to the pandemic, the frequency of access to available material was higher and could circulate as often as 24 times a year (twice per month), whereas at present it can only circulate 12 times.

“We want all our patrons to enjoy as much of our libraries’ offerings as possible. Therefore, the number of items that can be borrowed will go back to 12 for an adult and seven for children for a borrowing period of two weeks with an opportunity to renew the items for a longer period. This will help us provide a better and more efficient service,” said Van der Ross.

The change will also ease fines on patrons. Patrons with 20 overdue items quickly reached the maximum fine limit on the system, resulting in their accounts being blocked.

“This discouraged the return of overdue material and affected circulation, as patrons do not want to borrow material for fear of not being able to pay once the material becomes overdue; also for fear of being blocked on the system.

“It is anticipated that this change will also reduce annual losses, as staff will contact patrons sooner to return overdue material. It will also reduce the risk of accumulating fines. City libraries offer a reservation service, which allows patrons to reserve popular items that are always out on loan.

“By shortening the borrowing period, patrons are encouraged to prioritise the popular material they truly want to borrow and return them promptly for others to enjoy, thus reducing waiting times,” added van der Ross.

Patrons are also advised that the provincial grant for printed newspapers and magazines will be cut from this year, which means libraries will only have electronic copies available via Pressreader, free of charge for all library members.

Patrons are able to access this resource from their desktops, as well as from smart mobile devices by visiting the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) at https://opac,

Done by: Mitchum George


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