Athlone North Primary School officially reopened its library on Thursday April 21 – four years after a fire destroyed it.
Former principal Beverley Daniels was the backbone of the campaign to rebuild the library and restock it with books, even after her retirement in 2019.
The pandemic delayed volunteers’ efforts to unpack, sort, label and categorise the new books, and Ms Daniels and her team could only return in July last year.
The library was reopened to pupils on Read Aloud Day, Thursday March 3, and pupils, accompanied by their teachers, were able to choose a book.
“What a joy it was to see the learners’ faces lit up as they stepped into the library. It was as if they were stepping into a fantasy world,” Ms Daniels said. “For many of the learners, it was their first time that they had a library book to read.”
Brenda Robertson, a district official from the provincial education department, commended the school and Ms Daniels for their commitment to rebuild the library.
“This is what education is about,” she said. “Sometimes we underestimate the value of a library, and we should especially never underestimate a library for a child in Kewtown. This is their view of the world, and this library stands as a beacon of hope for Kewtown. Let it not stop here. Let us grow the library.”
Principal Tristan Brikkels said 95% of the pupils at his school were not card-carrying members of any library.
“We are so grateful to Ms Daniels and the volunteers for all their hard work. We want to instil the love of reading, and we appreciate that the learners can now visit the library. Our learners have to cross the very busy Klipfontein Road to go to Athlone library, and this is not safe at all. Now they have options and are not just exposed to the books they must read in the classrooms,” Mr Brikkels said.
Ms Daniels thanked Mr Brikkels, the volunteers and the school’s library committee for all their support. She added the school would need a R25 000 computerised check-out system before pupils would be able to take books home.
The school also hopes to receive sponsorship for a stipend for a librarian. If you can assist, call Athlone North Primary School at 021 637 6608.