Start on R200m library

The three universities that have campuses in East London have clubbed together to build a R200-million library for students to be located at the University of Fort Hare’s East London campus.

The massive project is being funded by government but the Walter Sisulu University has contributed a portion of the funds.

The building, which is situated at the intersection of Oxford and Church streets, and through to Hill Street in the vicinity of the East London Magistrate’s Court, will cater for students from Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu as well as University of South Africa.

UFH spokesman Khotso Moabi said: “This library is envisaged to have a capacity to deal with the volume of students from all these universities, and to be easily accessible to students and staff of these institutions.”

He said the facility would cater for about 18000 students and have the capacity to seat at least 2500 students at any given time.

Currently Fort Hare students have to make do with the current library, which has limited material to accommodate the needs of the ever growing university community in East London, while WSU and Unisa students rely on the Buffalo City libraries based in Vincent and the City Centre, both of which have limited material to accommodate students’ academic demands.

The Dispatch reported on the plight of Buffalo City Metro libraries recently. A report tabled before councillors last November revealed that the metro’s libraries were underfunded. This after the department of arts and culture gave the metro a R10-million budget for this financial year, leaving a R19-million shortfall for the libraries’ operational budget. The R29-million operational budget for BCM libraries needed for the 2016-17 financial year excluded the repairs and maintenance budget needed for buildings as well as other administrative costs.

The library will house a multi-media centre, book collections, e-resources as well as administrative offices.

WSU spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo said her university contributed R20-million towards the project.

“We decided to collaborate in order to consolidate our scarce resources for the benefit of all our students. WSU students will have access to the entire wealth of learning resources from the partners,” she added.

Each university will second staff to administer and manage its collections and resources, Tukwayo explained, while the entire administration of the structure would be the responsibility of Fort Hare’s facilities department.

UFH Business Management Masters student Darlington Chigori said the idea of a collaborated library was long overdue.

UFH has been assigned to coordinate and manage the development phase of the project as administrators, through the guidance of a steering committee to which UFH is accountable.

The new library is expected to open its doors in March 2018. —