Volunteers and Friends from the Library and Information Services District 2 which includes about 14 Libraries from Camps Bay to Simon’s Town, Lansdowne to Kommetjie were invited to a thank you function.
We were welcomed with tea and coffee and clarinet music supplied by Ian Gordon from Lansdowne Library.
Flippie van der Walt (Chief Librarian for the District), spoke of their appreciation for the contribution made by volunteers. He quoted “Because I know, I can; because I know, I can, I can contribute; because I know, I care, I can volunteer”
We then had short ‘Showcase’ talks from 4 Libraries.
For Fish Hoek Library, Jen Strickland told the gathering about our Literary Teas and Book Discussion Group; Tessa van Rooyen from Lansdowne Library mentioned their children’s Pyjama Party evening; Masi told of their computers and Philosophy classes and Rondebosch about Book Mending – vital because the City no longer does the job and many books would need to be thrown away if volunteers didn’t mend them.
Masiphumelele were an inspiration. Polly and Caroline Brawner spoke about their Philosophy groups which teach independent thinking –so important – mostly for High School pupils. Incidentally, attendees also improve their English – and, often,that’s why they come. Ray Steel and Nyasha Sithole told how the Computer Instruction at the Library had grown. They had to change from formal, structured classes because attendance is necessarily erratic. What has worked is to do a complete project in each class which teaches various skills and sends the pupils home with a coloured calendar page, poster or whatever. This, in turn attracts other young people to come. The Computer room also functions as a free ‘Internet Café’ outside class time. They now have 20 computers and there were 12 000 individual Internet sessions and, counting each attendance as one, 2500 classes of 2½ hours in 2012. Nyasha was originally a pupil but is now the main instructor.
Our Lyn Steyn was the main speaker telling us a little about the change from one side of the counter to the other. She said that being a friend is a 2-way street and it doesn’t matter what age Friends are. At one Library she worked at, all the Friends were of Primary School age! We are a vital support for each Library and an Outreach as many people in the community have no idea what a Library offers – other than books to borrow.
Lyn attended a talk by Prof Fourie recently. He said that Libraries in their current form are dying. Are Libraries like the Sundial? They need to be accessible and up-to-date.
Lyn quipped that sometimes a ‘dark force’ takes over when she’s on the customer side of the counter and she’s tempted to give the Librarians a hard time – make impossible requests and such. Seriously, she sees her new role as Chairman of Fish Hoek Friends as a support and listening ear for our new Librarian, Janusz.
Councillor Ian Iversen, Chair of Sub-Council 20, thanked us for our community spirit. He said there were 13 Friends groups in the District. Among other things we have donated more than 200 000 books and given more than 3000 hours in shelving, bookmending, story-telling and many other tasks.
Lastly, before generous refreshments, Ninnie Steyn, Cape Town’s Director of Library and Information Services, pointed out that the Libraries had more Friends than Staff Members. She complimented Flippie and the District 2 Staff who were always striving to improve and thanked us for continuing to support Libraries.