‘Libraries, our living memory’

Leoni Golding, Fish Hoek

Is our library still a special place? News reports of late regularly feature burning of libraries, newspapers sell because of this. Those responsible for these criminal acts no doubt look at, and read about their actions with glee, enjoying their five minutes of fame. They proffer justification, in various guises, none of which are acceptable – the end cannot, and must not, ever, justify these means.

Toby Shapshak’s ode to a library was featured in the Financial Mail recently (September 29), saying that libraries were “humanity’s memory”, in fact “our living memory.” The “pursuit of knowledge was a library’s prime reason for being”’ and its “central role as the repository of human knowledge remains as true now as it was 20 years ago, or several hundred years ago.”

Unfortunately, arson is not the only way in which libraries can be destroyed – apathy achieves this, with equal ease.

The Fish Hoek library is 62 years old and has some 8000 members. Its collection includes 92 000 books, a wide selection of magazines, more than 4000 DVDs, a large number of CDs and jigsaw puzzles and 300 audio discs.

A visitor to the library will find a total of 10 computers, at their individual workstations. A block loan from Tape Aids for the visually impaired, and those with reading difficulties such as, but not limited to, dyslexia, are also available.

The library boasts an Online Public Access Catalogue (Brocade OPAC), available on www.capetown.gov.za/library/opac, which, when accessed, feature, amongst others, the link “My Library”. A click on this link will allow the user access to E-Resources (Britannica) and catalogue, both of which open up a whole new world. There are 41 language courses, with Xhosa being the most extensive. The library also has a Facebook page.

All of this is available to members, free of charge.

Funding is from official sources and as such is not available for expenses linked to all the extras the library needs to make it a place where members of the community want to be. These supplementary funds are raised through the activities of the Friends of the Fish Hoek Library, a voluntary association, established in 1960, by staff members and volunteers from the community. Membership is
open to all library members, with an annual subscription of R20.

The Friends remain active, but membership is dwindling. If the association is to continue, more members are desperately needed. Attendance at AGMs is poor – at the last meeting only 15 of the 150 members were present, while four librarians attended.

The next AGM will be on Tuesday November 8 at 2pm in the activity room of the library.

An executive committee, consisting of seven members, is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the association. These members are to be elected during the AGM.

All members with paid-up subscriptions are eligible for election. However, if the committee is to discharge its duties properly, a secretary and a treasurer, respectively, are needed. Should you have the required experience, or know someone who does, kindly furnish these details on the request for proposals/comments slips, available from the desk. Continued existence of the friends is only possible with your assistance.

You are needed at the AGM. Do not allow apathy to destroy the library, and with it the Friends.

You may ask whether I am passionate about libraries. The reply is simple: Yes, I am. I have no doubt that you all share these passions.

Our library is still
that special place. Help us to preserve this special place, yours and mine.