06 June 2008

Money for libraries and museums

Community libraries country-wide have been allocated R338 million for the current financial year in an effort to promote a culture of reading. Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan announced that the National Library will receive R65.3 million while national museums will receive R409.9 million.

The minister also allocated R1 million towards the building of a library in Timbuktu, Mali, a donation which follows the signing of a Bi-National Agreement between South Africa and Mali. He said this stipulates commitment to fund-raising and providing assistance toward the construction of a new library and archive for the Ahmed Baba Institute. Other aims are to assist in marketing the heritage value of the Timbuktu Manuscripts. The Timbuktu Manuscripts are the first New Partnership for Africa's Development [NEPAD] Cultural Project which requires the support of government departments. Timbuktu is the historic city in Mali where ancient manuscripts dating back to the early 13th century were found. After visiting Mali in 2001, President Thabo Mbeki pledged to assist with the restoration and conservation of the ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu, which were in poor conditions. An inter-governmental agreement between South Africa and Mali was signed in 2002 and the project to restore the Timbuktu manuscripts was officially launched in 2003. The project has since been declared an official South African Presidential Project and has also been endorsed by the NEPAD as its first cultural project.