Importance of libraries overlooked by authorities
Once the pride and joy of communities, places where residents could gather to empower themselves with knowledge or just find enjoyment in reading, our libraries have become an embarrassment.
Just this week, staff at the Newton Park Library shut its doors due to a lack of toilet paper.
A peculiar notice stuck on the front gate of the library read: “Closed due to shortage of toilet paper. Hand towels are used instead. Our deepest apologies.”
The unusual episode is believed to have played out after the librarian stopped stocking the products from her own pocket.
Before that, staff were fetching toilet paper from other libraries.
Ward 7 councillor Brendon Pegram said the municipality had not provided sanitary products for the past five months despite repeated requests from staff.
He said staff morale was low.
“All the staff are despondent because there are many other issues such as the water.
“The pump got stolen, tiles are lifting because there is flooding when it rains and some of the windows are cracked.”
While not necessarily matters that affect the libraries' core service, the situation at this library plays a major role in how members of the public view these facilities.
A Newton Park resident, who was at the library on Thursday, said the situation was pathetic.
“Some children cannot study at home because it is noisy.
“They also need to do research for projects and homework,” the resident, who did not want to be named, said.
And this resident is right.
Libraries are more than brick-and-mortar structures — they serve as educational and recreational hubs, equalising access to information and offer a safe space to host a range of activities from book clubs to crochet hookups.
While some might argue they have no place in an era dominated by digital advancements, libraries’ significance remains undeniably crucial and many have adapted to and embraced technology, offering e-books, online databases, and digital resources alongside their traditional collections.
As educational hubs and community centres, libraries contribute significantly to the intellectual and social fabric of our communities.
It is time those responsible for our libraries realise what an important role they play and do everything they can to ensure the libraries operate as intended.
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