Thank God for Libraries and Librarians. They Are Sources of Hope

Cape Times (South Africa), September 6, 2013 | Go to article overview

Thank God for Libraries and Librarians. They Are Sources of Hope


The boy is mad about the girl. She's not like the other children. She's very quiet and she likes to read. She reads him poetry and he wouldn't mind so much, if only she'd allow him to rest his head in her lap while she does.

Later, she asks him to walk to the library with her. They walk through Valhalla Park, which he says is like walking through Bosnia: depressing and dangerous. At the library, he makes fun of the covers of the Afrikaans Mills & Boons-type book she likes and she laughs at him. Then, she finds an Andre Brink book. She loves Brink's books. She reads him the rude bits and they laugh. Later they walk back through the "war zone".

This story is sketched in one of the poems by Nathan Trantraal in his debut collection of poems, called Chokers en Survivors. If his name seems familiar to you - and not from his Afrikaans poetry - then you may have seen it on the Cape Times' weekly comic strip called The Richenbaums.

Not long after reading the affecting story of teenage love in a library, Valhalla Park library bleeped on my radar again.

Apparently, many readers there have an insatiable appetite for the books of Sophia Kapp. Kapp writes popular Afrikaans novels. So popular that the librarians at Valhalla Park called her publisher and asked whether there was any chance she could be a guest at the library during women's month to talk about the empowerment of women through reading.

Although she lives Gauteng, Kapp flew to Cape Town and braved last week's spectacular Cape Town storms to speak to her fans at the library, where she made an impassioned plea for women to claim their rights, not just be aware of them.

Then, on Saturday, I read a long piece in an Afrikaans newspaper weekend supplement in which the writer visits his local library for the first time in many years, after having slid into the comfortable middle class happiness of being able to afford to buy his own books. …

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