The Hanover Park Library celebrated its 40th anniversary with current and former residents who shared their inspirational stories about the library’s role in their lives, on Thursday November 10.
Among the well-known figures who grew up in the community, and who attended the celebration, were ward councillor Antonio van der Rheede, who helped to establish a teen corner; former Cape Times editor Ryland Fisher; author of the book Many Miles, Ivan Koopman; Western Cape Top Teacher of the Year for 2015, Charnelle Hector; and Eric van der Byl, who achieved his teaching degree against all odds.
Mr Van der Byl used to walk from Hanover Park to the University of the Western Cape (UWC) to attend classes.
The City’s mayoral committee member for community services, Anda Ntsodo, was also among the guests.
“At a time when there are many people questioning the place of libraries, this facility has cemented its place and importance in the community. This library is at the heart of the community and, like our other libraries, has become a community hub and a focal point for education and recreation. I congratulate the hard-working and dedicated staff of the Hanover Park Library on this milestone, and am honoured to be a part of such an auspicious occasion,” Mr Ntsodo said.
Mr Fisher, an author, columnist and former editor, said it was this library and music that had helped him not to get involved with gangsterism.
“This library might be a small building, but it is here that I found solace. I can never overestimate the importance of libraries in underprivileged areas. The library is free, which means I could access books my parents could not afford. The library played a significant role in my life, and I still have a library card. This is where I decided that I wanted to become a journalist. The library taught me to use my imagination, and my love and desire for travel started in this library. My wish is that we celebrate this important institution, and those who benefited, must make sure it continues its good work. I hope the young people of today find as much inspiration as I have found,” Mr Fisher said.
Diarmaid Wessels, the library and information services’ district 4 manager, started his career at Hanover Park library. “This is where I decided to make a move in my life and started my studies. This library has always been led by women. During the challenging times, when shooting occurred, they always insisted on keeping the library open. There was always a plan. And up until today, they still provide a safe place and service for our children.”
Mr Van der Rheede said he could be a “difficult” councillor, because he demanded the best for his community. He added that he had great respect for the staff of the library, and excitingly announced that mayor Patricia de Lille had signed off plans for a regional library for Hanover Park.
“Our children are despondent and they need inspiration. We need inspirational stories up on the walls of this library. Schools must also be excited to bring their pupils here.
“I envision a state-of-the-art library for Hanover Park. Take photos of the current building, because soon you might not see it again, as it makes way for a bigger one. Libraries get the smallest budget, but they have the biggest output, because of people like (senior librarian) Bernadette Daniels. I want to thank you all who made this possible. I have goosebumps and admire all the inspirational stories,” Mr Van der Rheede said.
Hanover Park was established in 1969, but by 1972, funds were still not available for a proper library. Efforts were made to provide a library service in temporary accommodation, and, in 1973, an old farm house was used for this purpose.
The permanent library was eventually built at a cost of
R180 000 (at that time) and officially started operating in July 1976. The library has a children’s section, adult library, juvenile workroom, and lecture hall.