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​A full set of encyclopaedias has been added to the Reference Section of the newly reopened and restored Joburg City Library, to help students with their classwork and school projects.
IN the words of Nelson Mandela: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and as a result the United States government has donated a collection of books to the Joburg City Library in the hope it benefits the masses.

A set ofNobuntu Mpendulo receives a volume of the World Book Encyclopedia from Earl MillerTwenty-two volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia will now be housed at the Joburg City Library following a generous donation made by the US Consul General, Earl Miller.

These books, which will be kept in the Reference Section, were donated on 30 March to the facility, which Miller described as a beautiful library. He said the library is as good as any such establishment in the US.

The Reference Collection houses materials ranging from practical handbooks to advanced scientific treatises, in areas not covered by the Art, Performing Arts and Africana Collections. A total of over one million items are kept in the Reference Collection, which also has underground stacks of 40km of shelving holding, among other things, back issues of over 6 000 journal titles and approximately 1 500 current journal titles.

At the start of the event, Miller was taken on a walking tour of the newly reopened library to view the extensive alterations which fuse the old and new structures. The tour was conducted by Nobuntu Mpendulo, the City’s director of library and information services, along with members of her staff.

He was amazed at the extent in which the library and information services department took in restoring and maintaining the building’s former glory. He walked by each section trying to get a glimpse of everything in sight and congratulated the department for having such a vast collect of historic materials.

Miller was particularly astounded by the glass-stained window at the entrance of the library. He said, it was beautiful and something one would find in old European churches.

“Johannesburg deserves a world class library and I was impressed by the magnificent restoration of the main library and the dedication of the library's staff to serving the public’s information needs.  We wanted to make a small contribution to the library as a gesture of goodwill and were pleased to give the most recent, multi-volume set of the World Book Encyclopedia.  It is aimed at a youth audience but university students and parents might find it of interest as well,” he said.

Miller said the US consulate in Joburg runs two libraries, one is in their offices in Sandton and another in Soweto which is named after the US civil rights leader Rosa Parks.

After the walking tour, Miller said, “the building is a wonderful mix of old and new.  It is obvious great care was taken to preserve the feel of the old library with its lovely wooden and marble floors, brass railings and door handles, sculptures and woodcarvings, antiques, and spectacular sky lights and floor to ceiling windows.

“The library is as beautiful as any I have seen. The restoration is extraordinary. The citizens of Johannesburg should be proud and everyone should visit and spend time in this beautiful public building.”

US Consul General Earl MillerUS Consul General Earl Miller takes a tour of the Reference SectionSome of the special collections in the Reference Section include government publications, Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed companies’ annual reports, British, ISO and South African standards, Statistics South Africa reports, and a map collection. The Municipal Reference Library established in 1938 and situated in the Civic Centre was closed in 2011 to be incorporated in the Reference Collection from 2012.

The reference services at the library also include the Young Adult Reference Collection and Services, established in 1973 to provide reference material to high school pupils to supplement their textbooks and provide sources for school project work. In addition, study guides and past exam papers are provided.

Apart from textbooks and study guides, the reference services also have a Newspaper Cuttings Collection (currently being digitised) covering historical, biographical and sociological topics pertaining to Southern Africa, with emphasis on Johannesburg and environs.

Other reference services include electronic access to information and electronic databases, the Internet and digitised library material. The section also provides an inter-library loan service. In addition there is electronic access to numerous international and local databases.

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