Celebrating a new chapter for Plumstead library

Friends of Plumstead Library secretary Toni Balona, was among those who celebrated Plumstead library remaining open. Picture: Janice Matthews

Plumstead library staff, patrons and community activists who helped to keep it open in the face of a City plan to close it gathered last Friday to celebrate its continued existence.

In June, the City announced that both Plumstead and Tygervalley libraries – which had faced closure – would remain open.

Both libraries were in malls and the City had wanted to end their leases as it sought to contain the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the City reviewed the decision following community blowback.

Some of that opposition came from a 2000-signature petition started by Friends of Plumstead Library secretary Toni Balona. The 80-something-year-old said the library was a refuge for children where they had access to computers.

“We have a wonderful support group here, and we do a lot of charity work, but we can only do it with all of you and your participation and we would like more members to join the Friends. It would be lovely because we work very hard with our book sales and this is how we raise our funds,” Ms Balona said.

A message from senior librarian Jean Pappas, which was read by her colleague, Vuyokazi Lose, said the library owed a great debt to the Friends, community activists and residents.

“We trust that the role that libraries play in the community, both seen and unseen, will be recognised for their vital importance. In a world where little is guaranteed, let’s work together to guarantee the existence of libraries. All we can do in return is continue to deliver the same way we always have, and with continued support of the Friends of Plumstead Library, ward councillor Eddie Andrews, the library team and that of the community we will do so.”

Mr Andrews said the library closure had been one of the first issues to confront him following his election as ward councillor in late 2021.

“I supported that we should keep it open for obvious reasons but was also aware that the conversation started way before my tenure and the decision has been made. Behind the scenes, I spoke to the team. I said, ‘Look, let’s try to push to have this one and Tygervalley to remain open.’ And we were successful that we were again able to sign the lease, and the library is open.

“We are still not out of the woods yet,” he warned but added that he hoped the library would “remain open for as long as you and I are here to come and take out books and just gather”.

From left, are ward councillor Eddie Andrews, CapeTalk host Sara-Jayne Makwala King, Plumstead librarian Vuyokazi Lose and City libraries sub-area manager Gilbert Isaac. Picture: supplied