Cape Town Libraries

Your Expat Guide to the public libraries, borrowing and renewing books in Cape Town

Whether you are searching for Cape Town libraries because you are living in Cape Town and are looking for help when doing research for your homework, want to read some great literature and need internet access or you are a visitor or expat moving here and are looking for help with learning local languages or want to join the local community, the libraries in the Mother City are always worth a visit.

There are over 100 public libraries in Cape Town and almost every fifth of the people living in Cape Town are holding membership cards to the library services.

Library Services of the Public Libraries in Cape Town

• Books and Periodicals

• Audiovisual materials like DVDs, CDs and Videos

• Audio books and language courses

• Internet access, study and research materials

• Arts- and Workshop Programmes

• Children’s Storytelling, film shows and literacy classes

• Holiday programme

• Bookclubs in certain areas

• Language courses in some libraries

• Friends of the Library Club

Where are Cape Town public libraries?

There are public libraries in most of Cape Town’s suburbs. The main city library is located the Central Library in the city centre next to the Company Gardens.

Central Library is where you will find a big foreign language section and the public library in Bellville house the largest collections.

There are however many really well organized libraries all over the Mother City, some of them have won awards for their outstanding services.

You should find easy parking in the vicinity of the libraries.

Check the website of the Cape Town Library and Information Services for a detailed list of the locations here. here.

How to join the Cape Town libraries?

Membership in the public libraries in Cape Town is free for residents in Cape Town. Visitors or expats without temporary or permanent residency permit will have to pay a facilities fee of R60.

Choose a public library in your vicinity and apply for a coded library card. The application process usually takes three days, then you can collect your card and start using it.

For the application you need to bring:

• ID or passport of applicant (also for kids: or birth certificate)

• proof of address in your name (current city account statement with your home address on, not PO Box!)

• two contact addresses with telephone number (neighbors, colleagues) in Cape Town • parent’s signature for kids under 18

Borrowing and renewing books in Cape Town

Borrowing books: As an adult you can take out 7 books/magazines, 1 video/dvd and 2 audio tapes/cds. For kids: they can borrow 6 books/magazines per visit.

The loan period is three weeks for books, two days for audio-visual/audio materials and six weeks for language courses.

Renewing books: Books and magazines can be renewed up to three times. You can renew your book either online or you can renew via telephone if you do not have the time to renew the book in person.

If your books are overdue you will be charged a fee.

Classes and Activities at the Libraries in Cape Town

A quick glance at some special programs offered in some libraries:

Language classes are offered in: Sea Point (English), Masiphumelele (Xhosa), Retreat (English and Xhosa), Hanover Park (Xhosa)

Bookclubs: Central Library, Table View

Computer Classes: Masiphumele, Meadowridge, Pelican Park

Friends of the Library: many libraries around CapeTown offer this excellent program in which you can contribute to your community and get to know other booklovers and join their activities

Foreign language libraries in Cape Town

There is a good foreign language section in Cape Town's Central Library, but there are also some foreign language libraries in the city.

Dutch: Nederlandse Bibliotheek

French: Cape Town Alliance Francaise Library

German: St. Martini Kindergarten and Church Library in Long Street or at the Goethe-Institut Cape Town self-study centre (for course participants)

Italian: Italian School (for course participants)

Do you know of any other Cape Town libraries for the expat communities? Please share your knowledge and let me know so I can add your valuable info here. Thanks:)

For more information about language classes in Cape Town click here

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