Theft and vandalism halt library services

Computer equipment was stolen at the Athlone library.

Athlone and Heideveld library users can once again no longer make use of library services after vandals stripped the libraries of all equipment, forcing them to remain closed while other libraries have opened.

The latest break-in at Athlone library was on Thursday September 24.

Athlone ward councillor Rashid Adams said that all computer equipment, the geyser, DVDs, cleansing equipment, crockery and cutlery, copper piping, and wires were stolen, amounting to damage worth R60 000.

The library closed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was scheduled to open on Monday October 5 but the break-in prevented that.

In early May, burglars broke in and stole computer equipment and wall plugs.

Security guards had now been posted at night to stop further burglaries, Mr Adams said.

“A request for security beams has been filed as entry was gained via the roof,” he said.

Trees would also need to be cut back to stop burglars using them to reach the roof, he added.

Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said the latest break-in at Heideveld library had caused R20 000 in damage to the roof.

“The insurance process needs to be completed (for both libraries) and an opening date cannot be established as yet. These libraries now have 24-hour security.”

Gwynne Philander, the principal of Ned Doman High School, said the library closures were a blow to children’s learning because libraries and schools worked together to help children develop reading skills and expand their general knowledge.

He blamed the lack of security at vital community facilities for the continued closure of the libraries.

“The library is such a vital tool in the community, a treasured place. It allows one to explore and learn about various things. Closing the library means children become stagnant in their experiences as a book allows you to travel. Children read to expand their thinking. Writers write books so that people can learn. Where is the security?”

Ned Doman High School teacher and avid reader, Sandra Jackson, said the library closures saddened her.“Where will we get books from now? Kids can’t go to the library; it’s really not fair.”

Libraries across Cape Town opened on Monday October 5, but book browsing is still not allowed.

The libraries will be open for two-hour study sessions on a first-come, first-served basis, and for internet access, limited to a 45-minute session per user – also on a first-come, first-served basis. The drop-and-collect service will continue for borrowing library materials.

There will be three sessions per day, with 15 minutes between sessions to allow for cleaning and sanitising of surfaces. Session one is from 9am to 11am, session two from 11.15am to 1.15pm, and session three from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

Bishop Lavis and Manenberg libraries will have drop-and-collect for library materials, study access and internet access.

Bonteheuwel library will have drop-and-collect and study access only.

Bridgetown and Hanover Park libraries will have drop-and-collect and internet access.

Lansdowne library offers the drop-and-collect service only.

Libraries are open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4pm and Saturdays from 9am to noon. Loan periods are for 30 days.