The grass is overgrown due to a lack of maintenance, the fencing, car port and paving have been stolen and break-ins and vandalism are a near weekly occurrence at the Judy Scott Library. Picture: Soraya Crowie
PRISONS in the country are much better-maintained than the Judy Scott Library in Kimberley, which is supposed to be a place of reading and learning for children.
This is what residents in Square Hill Park said about the state of the local library.
The library is surrounded by thick, overgrown grass and vegetation and the premises have evidently not been maintained in many years.
Visitors to the library have been turned away by staff members after being informed that there is no electricity at the library.
One recent visitor walked away frustrated and discouraged before the staff could unlock the huge lock on the burglar gate at the front door.
The woman said she had been turned away several times as the library had been without electricity for almost a month.
I was here last month and was informed that the electricity was off because the cables had been stolen. I came back thinking that the matter had been fixed because that incident happened weeks back. I was surprised to find that nothing has been done about the problem.
“I like coming to this library as it is the cheapest place to print. I am currently studying part-time and have a business. I use the printing services at the library as they are not far from where I stay. I usually just walk and do not need to take a taxi to town to print. This library used to assist so many learners and even elderly people loved coming here.”
The woman sighed and said the library was “falling apart and nothing is being done”.
“As a young child, we used to spend hours at this library. It was a safe-haven and we used to love the many programmes, including shows, that were offered here. I remember there were puppet shows held here. This place is now nothing like it was in the past.
“That is very sad as the children in this area and surrounding areas, such as Homestead, still rely on the services offered here.
“However, the lack of services at the library is nothing compared to the working conditions of the staff. I was surprised when I one day heard one of the staff members saying they have no water in the kitchen because the JoJo tanks were stolen. They said they had to bring their own drinking water from home and have to make use of the toilet at the back to wash their coffee cups or food containers.”
Local residents pointed out that the library had fallen victim to numerous burglaries.
“There had been so many break-ins at the library. There is currently no fence as that was stolen, even the paving had been stolen. The computers were also stolen,” they said.
“The library is also in a dilapidated state and one can clearly see that there is absolutely no maintenance work conducted to repair whatever is broken or stolen. The grass is almost roof-high and we fear that our children might one day have an encounter with snakes.
“One would never know that it is a library if the name was not on the wall. That library just does not look safe.”
They said they were also concerned about the safety of the staff.
“There are only female employees at the library. Those women lock themselves inside the library when they report for work. One has to shout at the front burglar gates if you want to enter the building. We understand that the staff might also just be looking out for their own safety. However, something needs to be done because if the staff are not safe, how will our children be safe.
“It is a library, but the staff are working as if they are prisoners. In fact, prisoners live under much better conditions as their facilities are clean and well-maintained.”
The Sol Plaatje Municipality had not responded to media enquiries by the time of publication.