Re-open public libraries in South Africa on Saturdays
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I grew up in a time before smartphones and wifi. During the 1980s I used to visit the public library and read books, comics and magazines. Some of my favourites were Asterix and Tintin. Getting a new copy of these books I was so excited I started reading them while walking home. This was also a time before Uber �
One of the people who inspired me all along is my aunt, Mrs Elizabeth Muller, who retired in 2009 as the head of the Uitenhage Town Library. Since that time, all libraries in Nelson Mandela Bay are no longer open on Saturdays. The main reason is the local government refusing to pay overtime for the staff. It’s not clear whether libraries in the rest of South Africa are open on Saturdays.
Anyway, we can all agree libraries are safe environments for children to learn, read and sometimes gain access to the Internet. When a library is closed, it prevents the local community from improving their literacy rates outside of schools. I believe the fact that libraries are closed on Saturdays violates the South African Bill of Rights, especially the right to Education.
With such high crime and unemployment among our young people, can we can’t afford to keep libraries closed. They are the ideal environment for adults and children, to connect with each other. So I encourage you to join me in petitioning the Premier of the Eastern Cape, and the Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, to re-open public libraries on Saturdays!
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Steve Biko said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Library Service is made up of the 20 public libraries of the former City of Port Elizabeth, and the towns of Despatch and Uitenhage. Libraries are situated in Algoa Park, Allanridge, Booysen Park, Chatty, Despatch, Elukhanyisweni, Gelvandale, Kwadwesi, Kwamagxaki, Kwanobuhle, Linton Grange, the centre of town in Port Elizabeth (Main Library), Motherwell, Newton Park, North End, Walmer, West End, the Uitenhage town centre, and Zwide. In addition there are 3 modular libraries at Colchester, Kwazakhele and Kuyga which will open their doors to the public soon. A new library in Qeberga township, Walmer was opened in June 2017. All these libraries provide lending and reference books, and photocopy and faxing services.
Specialised research facilities are also available. The Red Location Library is a digital library which has as its main objective documenting the history of apartheid in South Africa, with further information on colonialism and liberation struggles world wide. Although the library is not yet open to the public, a number of books on the topic are available on the e-Media Library via the metro website. The Africana Library housed within the Main Library building concentrates on the social and cultural history of the metro area in particular and the Eastern Cape in general. This library is currently closed for renovation.
The contact numbers of the libraries are available under "Libraries" in the Services Directory on this website.
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