Call for community to help Tokai library

Senior Librarian Natasha Segers, right, is seen here with Friends of Tokai Library member Carol Moody at the library’s AGM on Thursday December 1.

Budget constraints and the impact of Covid have made Tokai library reliant on support from the Friends of Tokai Library, says senior librarian Natasha Segers.

The volunteer group’s support of programmes and maintenance at the library has helped staff see to things they couldn’t have without them, she says.

Speaking at the Friends of Tokai Library’s annual general meeting, held at the library on Thursday December 1, Ms Segers described how the library had navigated the challenges presented by Covid.

“During Covid, we paid quite a price, we had staff constraints, we had staff that could not work and staff that had to work from home. I started off with ten staff members; up until September, we had three staff members.”

Despite those constraints, the library had continued to pull through. “We just went ahead and tried our best. We worked hard to provide a very good service through Covid. We were the first of ten libraries out of 104 to come back and open the library whether it was a service through the gate or it was online.”

During the pandemic, one librarian had retired and two others had resigned, one of those because of Covid, she said, adding that budget cuts posed another difficulty.

The library used to get R100 000 for media and R50 000 to run educational programmes from the ward allocation, but this year it had received R50 000 from the ward budget and R78 000 from the City for media but nothing had been set aside for educational programmes, she said.

Ms Segers said the library worked extensively with schools and money was needed to provide snack packs to children who attended programmes. “Believe you me, they will not attend a programme without it. But what I take out of that, even if it is Nik Naks and lollipops, is that that day they have learned something. So we have done all of that with the help of the Friends,” she said.

Ms Segers thanked residents who had helped to clean the library’s gardens, and she encouraged others to come forward and see how they could help.

“We can point out that the City needs to do this or that,” Ms Segers said, “but supporting the library is a responsibility that communities should shoulder too.”