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Libraries- places of social interaction

By Gwyneth Perry: Senior Librarian -Weltevreden Park Library

Libraries are not only repositories for many books, journals, audio-visual material, and digital sources of information. They are also places where people can talk, socialize and find common ground in their love of books. Users can shoot the breeze with the librarians, high school learners can gather to work and socialize, and children can visit for library orientation and storytimes. Libraries should not only be places of quiet contemplation but also social hubs in the heart of their communities.

Libraries have always been sources of interaction for members of the communities in which they are located. Programs can range from children’s holiday programs to book clubs to community talks for adults, to name a few.

These events all had to be stopped when the Covid pandemic arrived and are gradually beginning again, as life begins to take on some form of normalcy.

During children’s holiday programs the libraries buzz and hum with excitement as the children arrive to get involved in whatever is planned for them. It is heartening for the librarians, who go out of their way to make these programs fun and entertaining. The children enjoy meeting up and there is always a lot of chatter and laughter. If you’re looking for a quiet place to study, the morning of a holiday program isn’t a good time to visit the library! It’s a fun and noisy space, geared to our younger members, who run and chase each other and usually have a ball. These programs educate and stimulate and friendships are established between the various parents, while the children develop friendships of their own.

Adult events also provide time for fun and interaction. I used to hold a reading circle in the library and some of those friendships have endured since 2005 when it was established. We learned about a wide variety of books but were also able to share life together. Weddings, births, work promotions, illness, and hardships were all shared and discussed amongst the members…usually over a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

Libraries also have the space and infrastructure to allow for learning and development. The free wi-fi in the libraries allows children to be taught skills such as coding. These coding games teach important life skills while providing much socializing and fun for the children taking part in them.

To me, there is nothing like a library buzzing with activity. Laughter, chatting, and learning, are all in the safe and friendly environment provided by public libraries. Do yourself a favor and go and join your local library. It will become a place where you are known and where friendships develop. A community hub catering to the needs of all ages, through a variety of programs and events. The library staff is ready to welcome you.

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