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The Yeoville Library will build a culture of reading, and can help to form an integrated community, uniting locals and immigrants, say locals.
AWANDE Mkatala peered curiously at a row of books neatly arranged on a shelf at the Yeoville Library, on Rocky-Raleigh Street in the densely populated eastern suburb.


Executive mayor Amos Masondo and MMC for community development Bafana Sithole tour Yeoville LibraryExecutive mayor Amos Masondo and MMC for community development Bafana Sithole tour Yeoville Library“This is a gem of a facility and is going to be a real asset to this community,” said Mkatala, a self-confessed lover of horror stories. She spoke about her intentions to register at the facility and her hopes to meet many people in the future.

Another Yeoville resident, Margaret Ide, said the library was visionary and offered something meaningful to the community. “It is a nice library and very exciting to see this kind of development in Yeoville.”

A voracious reader, she emphasized that the community was eager for a library of its own. “We really needed it.”

Yeoville Library was officially opened by Executive Mayor Amos Masondo on 7 May. It covers an area of 1 200m2 and was originally a tram shed, before becoming an electricity substation. The conversion cost R7,3-million and was undertaken by the Johannesburg Development Agency.

The architectural features of the original building have been preserved, including the façade, hoisting machinery, steel roof beams and underground cable tunnels.

The old building contained bollards, a well and concrete lumps. Today it features thousands of books; three sections, for children, teenagers and adults; a study section; and a designated story time area.


The library caters for the young as wellThe library caters for the young as wellIn a colourful opening ceremony Masondo said Yeoville Library was part of a broader initiative to regenerate and rejuvenate the inner city. “The government continues to strive and remain committed to a vision of a better life for all.”

He noted that libraries advanced the concept of an information society by promoting education, research and development.

Nomaswazi Mohlala, the Ward 67 councillor, said the opening of the library was an indication that the City valued the importance of libraries. Mohlala challenged people to take advantage of the facility by ensuring that it was used all times as a “university of information and knowledge”.

The chairperson of the Yeoville Stakeholders’ Forum, George Lebone, urged students to use the library for studying and for borrowing books to read. “We should all become frequent and regular readers and users of this library.”

He also encouraged parents to cultivate a habit of checking whether their children borrowed library books to read during their leisure time at home. “We as parents should be the first to be exemplary and take out books to read instead of spending so much time on watching TV soapies.”

Marc Gbaffou, the chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum, expressed the hope of seeing the library build an integrated, open-minded and creative community in Yeoville.


African Diaspora present executive mayor Amos Masondo with a token of appreciationAfrican Diaspora Forum present executive mayor Amos Masondo with a token of appreciation“It is a way of building up a pan-African culture [and] celebrating its diversity and unity.”

He said the library would open horizons for youths growing up in the low-income neighbourhood.

Nobuntu Mpendulo, the Joburg director of library and information services, said there was a still a lack of understanding regarding the value of a library.

“They are those who still think that libraries are for children and do not see [them] as a recreation centre,” said Mpendulo, who added that the service would hold a lot of programmes that would encourage people to read.

After the speeches, Gbaffou presented a certificate of acknowledgement to Masondo in recognition of his hard work in integrating immigrants and South Africans.

Yeoville Library is at 51 Raleigh-Rocky Street, Yeoville.

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