Community resource, Family life, Foundations for academic success, Literacy, Parenting, Pre-reading, Reading

Join a public library in South Africa today.

Library shelves with books on them

Join a public library- it’s easy.

What you will need to join a public library

  • ID documents
  • Proof of residence
  • A legal guardian must accompany a child who wants to join
  • Children will need to show their birth certificates

If you have all the correct documents

  • A library card will be issued to you. 
  • In some provinces you have to wait for 5 days after application before you can collect your library card.
  • For those wishing to take four or less books at any one time, membership is FREE.
  • For those wanting to take more than four books, it will cost +/- R30 per year for membership. 
  • The librarian will explain the rules to you.

Libraries improve community literacy levels

Libraries are community hubs that allow for leisure & education, giving community members access to books, magazines and in some cases audio-visual materials. In communities where residents are unable to afford books, the local library can play a very important role in developing and improving literacy levels within the community. Libraries are an invaluable resource and they are often under-utilised.

When you join a public library you will discover that many libraries run reading and storytelling sessions on a weekly basis as well as during during the holidays. Find out where your local library is and what activities they offer.

I’d like to tell you a bit about some of the wonderful libraries I have experienced.

Sandton Public Library

I personally love the Sandton Library, located on Nelson Mandela Square. It is a beautifully lit, multi-storey space with lots of interesting nooks and crannies. A variety of seating and tables to work at throughout the building, make it the perfect place to spend some down time or do some research.

There is a separate section for children. Pre-school children have their own enclosed room with a conveniently located bathroom right there.

The staff are wonderfully friendly and helpful. As libraries go it is well worth a visit. They do run special events for children during the holidays, which they advertise on their entrance boards.

Emmarentia Public Library

The Emmarentia Library on Barry Hertzog Avenue is a small, almost quaint space with convenient parking. I love this library. It is frequented by many children living in the area.

The librarians are friendly and are very keen to get community involvement going. Speak to them for further information or if you have fantastic ideas to share.

Check opening times here.

Johannesburg Main Library

Johannesburgs public library – known as the Johannesburg Main Library – is based in the city centre, in Market Street. It has over 1.5-million books in its collection and has a reported membership of over 250 000. It was first opened in 1935. Due to planned extensive upgrades it closed in 2009 for three years, and was opened again in 2012.

When visiting you will see a beautiful, Italianate structure sitting across the road from the ANC’s Luthuli House. There is a coffee shop located on the premises. The toilets, lifts, electrics and air-conditioning were upgraded in 2009. The new library contains three floors. Of the three floors, the first two floors are a literacy and numeracy centre. There are desks to work at and free internet access is available.

Check opening times here.

Port Elizabeth City Library

This library is one of my all time favourites. I spent much time here as a student and later as an adult, mainly because I loved the building so much. Each time I return to Port Elizabeth I make a point of popping in.

Unfortunately, for now, it is being renovated, and renovations should be completed in 2021. It is the only historic building built as a public library that is still operating as a public library today.

Currently closed for renovations.

Further reading

To read my last article called “Develop a culture of reading in your home”, which is Part 3 in a series of articles, please click here.

To explore working with Lianne in Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her to discuss how she can meet your needs.