DURBAN - DURBAN’S Umbilo and Windermere libraries will close their doors at the end of this month when their leases expire.
EThekwini Municipality’s spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, confirmed that the libraries would be closing, but said the city planned to move them to other premises.
“Plans are afoot to move the two libraries to council-owned properties,” said Mayisela.
Bradley Singh, DA Member of Provincial Legislature (MPL), condemned the closure of the libraries.
“This is not the first time that libraries are faced with lease agreement concerns. It is extremely disappointing noting that the department does not prioritise important amenities such as libraries. This has been an ongoing issue for years. Sadly, those who frequent these libraries will now have to make alternate arrangements to use libraries in different areas,” said Singh.
Singh added that the municipality continued to disappoint residents by failing to ensure that lease agreements were signed timeously. He added that they also failed to secure long-term leases before setting up libraries.
“I will personally be writing to the MEC, to ask questions, to get to the bottom of their lack of efficiency, so that the leases can be extended,” he said.
According to community member and avid reader, Priya Murugan, libraries were very important.
“My love affair with books started a very long time ago – the days when we had library days. My sister and I were taken to the local library and got to choose what we wanted to read. Back then you could only have a book for seven to 14 days, depending on what you borrowed. We did our homework using the encyclopedia at the local library and not Google. It has shaped my love for reading, but above that I have learnt to speak well, and develop a vast vocabulary.
“I still read for pleasure, it’s a lifelong hobby. But it all started at my local library. Every child should have that experience and have the opportunity to go through a journey that enlightens the mind through the pages of a book – there is no social media platform that can tell a story quite as well.”
The municipality apologised for the inconvenience and advised residents to make use of all other municipal libraries except for the Reservoir Hills Library (burned down) and Dassenhoek (unrest damaged and looted).