As someone who grew up in the rural areas, where we never had any libraries, I only got to see them when we went in to town. In the rural areas, we know that libraries are for studying, but I thought that even if I did grow up in town, I would have not be interested since I am a person who prefers mostly to study alone.
However when I came to Johannesburg to further my studies I got to know and understand the e-learning services. In the second semester of 2015 I could not go back to school due to personal circumstances. That is when I decided to start going to the public library in Sauer Street. I went there with a purpose of just exercising and keeping my mind from memory loss by reading books, magazines and newspapers. But I was surprised when I entered – I had to ask at reception where can I go to read. The room was filled with books where I was, some people using their computers and I just thought that they were reading also.
The next day I decided to go upstairs – where the computers are – and I just thought I am going to search this whole library. And I think it was on that day that my wi-fi was open on my cellphone, so I started seeing messages coming through and when I checked I saw my phone was connected to COJ Smart Wi-Fi – that’s when I knew that some of these people here are using it.
For me the Wi-Fi has been my favorite thing to the elearning services. Because I’m a job seeker it has helped me to apply for a lot of jobs, to check my emails and download books – I won’t lie data is expensive, especially that I have no income.
But when I moved to Rosettenville, where I am now, the library is so different from the one in town. Firstly it’s so small. I understand that it can never be equal to the one in town because there are so many people there. But now here you have to be there when it opens if you want to find a space. Also I struggled to connect to Wi-Fi and I am still not connected even though I put all my details and it said am connected. So I gave up on that and just go there to study.
When I look at these elearning services that are offered at the public libraries, there are some which I have not used, like e-resources and e-books, and I had no clue that Techno-literacy training was offered.
These things can change our lives, from young children who are at school to adults. Some people have dreams of starting their own businesses but they have no information on how to do so. And, if they start to think about classes, lack of money is an issue.
I am young person who is at home and my desire and passion is to study Theology. Because I am a person who does not allow my circumstances to describe me, it has been difficult for me to get those kind of books in libraries, but with e-books and e-resources it is possible for me to get those books.
Also as I am still a jobseeker and more of jobs and almost everything now is online, so it can be very helpful for us to be provided with those services easier.
And also from a young person who thought that library is just only for people who want to study, I have been proved wrong. The City of Johannesburg libraries have shown me that it’s not only for that, but much much more.
* This essay was submitted as part of the City of Johannesburg Libraries eLearning Essay Writing Competition. It was selected as the second runner-up in the competition.