By Nkululeko Zondi
The Johannesburg City library remains shut a year after it was closed for renovations. The main library in Johannesburg's CBD has around 250 000 members and more than 1.5 million books. It was shut for renovations in May 2021, a few months after it just reopened after Covid-19 closures.
Some of its members and users include school pupils, who regard the building as a study sanctuary or a neutral place to meet for group school work. When Fray News visited the library, a group of grade 11 learners, including three girls and a boy from a nearby school, were smoking a hookah next to the library. The boy, 18-year-old Thabiso Monare, said they no longer have a safe quiet place to study since the library closed.
“We would like to have a study group where we would study in a quiet place. But we can’t since we live so far apart from one another.”
He said he stays in Zola, Soweto and by the time he gets back home, the local library there is closing.
Godfrey Sadike, a pensioner who preaches to passers-by next to the library, says the closure of the library for so long has been “hard” on him because now, the only book he has to read is his personal bible.
“I used the library to read different newspapers because I like to know what is happening around the world,” said Sadike, who lives in Coliseum Flats with his son.
The notice board at the entrance of the library refers people to the Mayfair and Yeoville libraries. When Fray News went to the Yeoville library, which is twenty minutes away by taxi, it was closed and yet it was only 1:15 pm.
A woman who works at a bakery nearby said could not “remember seeing people entering the place.”
Edith Khuzwayo, a librarian at the Jeppestown Library, said they too did not know when the library in the city centre would open.