THE Bulawayo Public Library is facing closure due to financial constraints and is in urgent need of about $1 million to revamp its operations.
In an interview with Southern Eye yesterday, the chairperson of the library, Joseph Sigoba, said the institution, which was established in 1861 and is among one of the oldest buildings in Bulawayo, is in dire need of financial aid for refurbishment, general maintenance, purchase of two buses for use as mobile libraries and financing its day-to-day operations, among other things.
“We are facing a crisis in terms of funding the operations of the library and if we don’t get aid, the library is likely to close,” Sigoba said.
“The library needs to be computerised. The staff has to be paid. The building needs to be refurbished and we need new contemporary literaturem, but we don’t have money for that,” he added.
The public library is partly funded by a grant from the Bulawayo City Council which Sigoba said had been reduced due to the prevailing restrictive economic conditions.
He also said cashflows from member subscriptions were also declining.
“Our membership has dropped to an average of 10 000 from a peak of 17 000 in the 1990s and that has affected our cashflows,” Sigoba said.
He said the institution was also looking for funds to refurbish its Ascot branch and purchase two businesses for the mobile library and appealed to the Bulawayo business community to save it from closure.
The government used to fund the library, but stopped some years ago due to financial constraints.
The government is also struggling to fund capital project as 70% of its budget is gobbled by civil servants’ salaries.