Meet Phelisa – Librarian Extraordinaire!

The Jabulani Rural Health Foundation has been setting up a library for the past few years. Recently, the library has been passed into Axium’s hands operationally, through an ongoing support partnership with Jabulani. With our education focus, and growing work into foundation phase literacy – it’s become a great fit! So we’re delighted to have a new team member, Phelisa Memeza, who has been working as the librarian for the past few months. Having the library as an Axium resource has us dreaming about lots of possibilities for the months and years to come!

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Phelisa, ready to welcome keen readers!

Here’s some more insight from Phelisa…

How long have you been working at the library?

Since the 9th of September 2014.

What do you love about it?

I love working with kids. I enjoy doing stories and activities with them. That’s definitely the part I like the most! I just love kids.

What do you find the most challenging?

The most challenging… It’s lending people books, when they don’t return them. Trying to follow up is difficult – and if they’ve lost a book and have to pay a fine, they don’t pay. It’s not easy telling adults that they must pay a fine.

What would you say a library does for a community?

It provides free access to information. It can be a place for people to meet friends, a place to hold other community meetings. The library is for everyone!

And for this community in particular?

It gives children around here a place to spend their time. It gives them more knowledge from the books, and from the people they meet with. They get to play a lot of games that open their minds. Because it’s a rural area, schools aren’t well-resourced and so children can get what they need here. There’s also a hospital nearby, so the nurses come to get books with health information or even some novels to read.

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Phelisa helping a client find a good book!

What are your most popular books?

The Harmony High series from FunDza is really popular with youth – those readers that aren’t yet teenagers, but need something more than a children’s book. The younger kids also like the Nal’ibali books that we make from the newspaper supplements. We have Nal’ibali reading competitions – where kids have to read about 15 Nal’ibali books and give feedback on each one. At the end of the month, the children that have read all the Nal’ibali’s can win a prize. So Nal’ibalis are very popular!

Who are your most regular clients?

We mostly have children visiting. There’s Sibusiso  – He’s a grade 4 learner at Seaview Junior Secondary School. He was the first to read all the stories in the first Nal’ibali competition. He comes to the library every day when he passes by on his way home. His parents come to the library too sometimes; they’ve told me that they’re encouraging Sibusiso to come here. He is always kind and willing to do every activity that the library does. He even comes with me to visit children in the paediatric ward at the hospital sometimes, when I go to read with them. He’s a library star! The other person who uses the library a lot is a local pastor who likes to use the Christian books. We have a big selection of those!

What are you dreaming about for this space?

My dream for the library is to have more resources that are helpful for high school kids – like books with recent information. If it’s physics books, they must link with the current curriculum. We have World Book encyclopaedias – that are good, but some information is outdated because they were published in 1984. It would be great to have the internet and some computers. I would also get an alarm at the door, so that I know if someone has taken a book without checking it out. And definitely a heater for winter time!

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The stairs lead up to a cozy reading nook for teen readers.

In 5 years time, what do you hope will be happening here?

I hope the library will be being used by everyone in the community. We’ll have big competitions with all schools being involved. Reading competitions, poetry performance competitions – anything that will get everyone excited. We’ll have events celebrating days like National Library Day. We’ll celebrate some authors – maybe even some local authors! The library will be busy – there’ll be people reading, and borrowing books. During school time, those not working could come and read books; teachers could come to visit the library with their kids. Kids will come after school to do their homework and assignments. It will be a busy place!

And where will you be?

I will have completed my degree in Information Sciences by then and I hope to be working in an academic library at a university. I’d love to be working at UNISA’s library in Pretoria.

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