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NC library gathering dust

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The Inasee H Moshoeu Community Library, which was built at a cost of more than R11.8 million remains closed more than a year after the ceiling of the facility collapsed

ABANDONED: Broken ceiling boards and light fittings hang in the middle of the library and the area has been cordoned off. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A MULTIMILLION-rand library in Barkly West remains closed more than a year after the ceiling of the facility collapsed in May last year.

The Inasee H Moshoeu Community Library, which was built at a cost of more than R11.8 million, has been gathering dust, with community members prohibited from entering the premises.

Renovations, which were supposed to have been completed within a week of the closure, have still not commenced.

Community members stated that the closure has deprived them of access to information, especially for pupils.

“Reading and learning is being promoted across the country. However, pupils and community members in this area have not had access to library services for more than a year now,” they said yesterday.

A commemorative plaque at the entrance of the library states that the facility was opened on November 8, 2013 by the then Northern Cape MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Pauline Williams, however, the department said that it was officially opened in 2011.

The department said that the decision to close the library was taken to ensure the safety of the community.

Community members said that since the closure of the building last year, nothing has been done to ensure that it is reopened.

The founder of Building A Future, a community service provider, Irene Fitzi, said yesterday that pupils from De Beershoogte and Mataleng were being severely impacted by this closure.

“Children and the youth are always encouraged to read, instead of playing on their mobile phones. However, when there is no facility where they can actively do this, many have lost interest in picking up a book. Reading is crucial as it has been proven that it assists pupils with their academics,” Fitzi said.

“Many pupils, especially those in high school, are now unable to do their school assignments as they do not have access to the books or the internet to give them a broader understanding of a subject.

“Even applying to tertiary institutions is now a luxury for many who have completed their Grade 12, as they do not have access to the websites of tertiary institutions. This was a basic service that should have been provided by the library but is now lacking in this area, resulting in many youngsters having to give up on their dreams.”

Fitzi said that she had written several letters to the Dikgatlong Municipality, requesting that the library be reopened.

“The closure of the library may seem like a minor problem but so many people are affected by it. Last year I had to assist many matriculants with their applications to tertiary institutions at my own home as I have internet access.

“Some pupils have to travel to Kimberley for internet access or to get material to assist with their school work. They have to cover their own travelling costs and many simply do not have the fare to pay for a trip to Kimberley. This is worrisome. We complain about the pass rate at our schools yet we do not give our all to assist pupils with their basics needs.”

Department spokesperson, Conrad Fortune, said that it was estimated that the renovations would cost around R1.5 million.

“The Department of Roads and Public Works assisted with the assessment and remedy for the defects and a structural engineer was appointed to conduct an assessment and to draw up a bill of quantity for the defects. The cost for the renovations is estimated at R1.5 million. The department is currently in the process of finalising the tender, which will be advertised in local newspapers and on the tender e-portal,” said Fortune.

He did not give any indication of when the library would open its doors again. “The library will only be opened after completion of the renovations and once it is deemed safe for use by the members of the community.

“We have engaged with the local municipality and schools in Barkly West, but unfortunately to date there is no suitable venue which can be used as an alternate library. As a department we are cognisant of the fact that library services are essential to our communities, but unfortunately the safety of community members is a priority at this stage.

“We would like to convey to the community members of Barkly West that it is a work in progress and we request their patience in this matter.”

Fortune added that they have identified a number of areas that need renovation, including the library’s aluminium windows, where rain leaks through.

“This will involve removing the aluminium window frames and ensuring proper reinstallation, removing the existing waterproofing and reinstallation to the underside of the aluminium frames and providing precast concrete coping on the upstand beams.

“Leakages on the roof slab and upstand beams and gutters will also need to be repaired, including removing the existing waterproofing membrane, removing the existing cement screed and re-screed slab to sufficient slope, installing a new heavy-duty waterproofing membrane over the upstand beams and gutters and to the underside of all windows and installing additional downpipes for faster draining of rainwater and to prevent prolonged ponding of water on the concrete slab,” said Fortune.