By Marita van Rooyen
It felt as if the library had been closed for a decade. A Comedy of Errors took place at the library: ranging from substandard renovations, honeybees taking over the building and making honey in the ceiling, to removing roots growing inside the plumbing pipes.
Minister of Education, Abraham Iyambo, sharing comments from the frustrated public at the delayed reopening of the Windhoek Public library, noting that he finds it important that citizens air their views to show that they care about our libraries.
After three and a half years of disappointing bookworms with closed doors, the Windhoek’s Public Library finally reopened on Friday. “The importance of this library cannot be overemphasised to the Khomas region and Namibian Community in general. It will be a one-stop shop where citizens can access e-government information. It is often said that the library is the “heart of a society” but I consider it more as “the brain” because it is indispensable to the intellectual growth of a nation, especially to our children. This library is a real lifelong learning centre,” stressed minister Iyambo.
A total of N$ 5.2 million was pumped into renovating what Minister of Finance, Saara Kuukongelwa-Amadhila, and Deputy Minister of Works, Chief Ankama, observed as “the dilapidated state of the library”.
So what was this money used for?
The exterior of the building received new fencing; interlocking and tiling; the roof was sealed and repaired, cleaned and painted, and installed security lights; a new skylight glass dome replaced the previously broken one; broken windows and cracked walls were also replaced and fixed.
Where the interior is concerned, old shelves were replaced with new ones; the old carpets were removed and replaced with tiles; and new additions came in the form of an upgraded server room, with a new server, UPS, surveillance cameras, a book detection security system, and biometric system for the server room; a computer room with 20 computers for free public access; free wireless connectivity; and a new 21st century children’s library, fully equipped with the latest electronic learning materials; audio book corners; and secondary school level software for high school learners.
Unfortunately, no job is ever complete, not even in the case of this already extended project. A library management system still needs to be sourced and implemented, and the e-government information system needs to be finalised. “But,” promised Iyambo, “by no means will the two systems mentioned above interfere with the normal operation of the library.”
Future plans also include “seriously considering the expansion of the Katutura Rössing Library as soon as funds are available.”
“As a country, we are striving to build a learning nation with positive values…a learning nation is a winning nation,” ended Iyambo.
The public library is open Mondays to Fridays from 09:00 to 17:00 and on Saturdays from 09:00 to 13:00. From January 2013 the times will change as follows: Mondays to Fridays from 09:00 to 20:00, and Saturdays from 09:00 to 17:00.
As the renovated public library is now open again for business, here’s how to become a member and use the library, completely free of charge.
Other community libraries in Windhoek
The Windhoek Public Library is not the only place where book lovers can spend some quiet hours. Others include the Greenwell Matongo Community Library, Maxwilili Community Library, Rössing Khomasdal Cuminity Library, Rössing Katutura Community Library, and the Otjomuise Community Library.