Librarian retires after 40 years

Fatima Daniels, retires after 40 years of service.

Lansdowne librarian Fatima Daniels is retiring, but she’s not completely closing the book on her 40-year career.

Ms Daniels has been the senior librarian at Lansdowne library since February 2016, but she started out as a library assistant at the Bellville South library in April 1979.

She was promoted to senior library assistant in 1985 and librarian-in-charge in 1997.

Ms Daniels headed the Bellville South Literacy Project for 12 years.

In 1999 she helped to establish the Friends of Bellville South Library, and, from 2000, she mentored University of the Western Cape library-science students doing experiential training.

She has enjoyed watching children grow from creche pupils visiting the library for the first time to university students, she says, and watching their reading improve and their choice of books become more advanced has given her a sense of achievement.

In 2016, Ms Daniels re-established the Friends of Lansdowne Library, and, in July last year, she started a collaboration with Ruth Ely,
of 67 Blankets for Mandela. She
also started a knitting club at the library.

To get teens in the area reading more she worked with children’s librarian Rowayda Ahmed to develop the Book Buddies reading club as well as a programme to help children from the Flamingo informal settlement, and last year the library was runner up in a library programmes competition held by the Western Cape branch of the Library and Information Association of South Africa.

“Over the years I’ve concentrated on nurturing my staff and developing them while still liaising with the community. I love working with people and children, every day is different and each person is different.”

Libraries are important in communities, she says, because they are safe spaces that promote literacy.

Although she is retiring, she still plans to volunteer at the library on Fridays and be part of the Friends group and the knitting club.

She’s also a commissioner of oaths and is part of the community police forum and the Lansdowne Children’s Forum.

“I feel that I need a break now to do the things I haven’t been able to do all the time,” she says.

“I will still help out with the Facebook page and give advice where I can. I will really miss having my finger on the pulse and being able to know what is going on all the time. Now I will have to restrain myself and not be able to just jump in.”