Flippie van der Walt – District 2 Librarian – has just been awarded “National Librarian of the Year’ by LIASA (the Librarians’ Professional Association). He had to create a poster, which he brought with him to the Fish Hoek Library AGM, indicating what he did or planned to do in Libraries. He added QR codes to make it interactive. He also endured a tough interview. He took as his slogan Madiba’s “Education can change the world”.


Throughout his career he has stressed Information Literacy. He has always been active on LIASA Committees. He became a Librarian because of being Media Prefect at school. He did not get a University pass and took a job at a parcel company where he worked from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. He then found a job as Assistant Librarian in Alberton and was sent straight off to register for a Diploma in Library Science. After 9 years of hard work, he had a Masters. After several promotions, he came to Cape Town and eventually became Manager of District 2, which includes 25 Libraries in Southern Cape Town and 3 mobile Libraries.


He assured us that books will not disappear. The poor will always need to borrow from libraries in order to read because they can’t afford to buy books. The Internet is one of our resources, not a replacement. We will soon be able to borrow e-books from our Libraries using the Overdrive application. The Public Library is the only place that can provide books to borrow, Internet access and study space for free. Libraries are also facilitating Skills Workshops. Masi Library is the best example of this.

Library books

The City has 105 Libraries and your Library card gives you access to all of them. BUT we have an unfunded mandate. Municipalities say that the Constitution gives Province the responsibility to fund Libraries. Provinces don’t agree so nobody will pay for any sort of expansion. The City will pay salaries and maintain the status quo but will not open any new Libraries or fund extensions (such as closing in the Herb Garden at the Fish Hoek Library). For this we need sponsors or fundraising, a task taken on by the Friends of Fish Hoek Library.


We are fortunate to have an excellent, vibrant Fish Hoek Library. Our Friends and Library keep in mind the needs of Simonstown, Masi and Ocean View. Flippie van der Walt praised the Friends for their work but challenged us each to recruit at least one more Friend during the year.


Ending on a humpourous note Flippie related a story from when he worked at a small library in  Manenberg. Two little boys were lying at the Library door and he could hear them saying “He’s still there” Eventually, he went to speak to them. “You’ve got a crocodile in the Library!” they said. He got on the floor with them and there- under a bookshelf, was a lizard!”

Submitted by Jenny Strickland