A shining diamond in the rough
DANIE VAN DER LITH DANIE.VANDERLITH@INL.CO.ZA Pictures: Danie van der Lith
African News Agency
TECHNOLOGY is all around us. Who could dispute that? These days we have instant access to a surplus of information thanks to the world wide web. You can search for 'Kimberley' with a few mouse clicks or taps on your smart device and, yes, diamonds will most likely be the top result. We all know that diamonds are mined from deep underground and then cut and polished to become those gorgeous, gleaming 'girl’s best friends'. But there is more to Kimberley than just diamonds. You will, if you take the time, notice several jewels in the Diamond City if you just look around a little bit. And here’s the thing, these jewels are not even buried; they are there for everyone to see and appreciate. The Beaconsfield Library, located at 39 Central Road in Beaconsfield, is one of these seemingly forgotten gems. Gardner Williams Hall has long been the home of the Beaconsfield Library. And when we say ‘long’, consider that this library opened for business on May 10, 1889, and the official opening, with all its pomp and glory, was 10 days later, on the 20th. So the Grand Old Dame in Central Road has been serving Kimberley for 133 years, and that’s something special. That’s definitely something worth commemorating. I visited the library recently, and a few special qualities stood out for me. When you enter the library, the first thing you notice is the cheerful personnel who greet you with friendly smiles. And you know what they say about librarians, don’t you? “Librarians don’t know everything … they just know how to find out everything.” Speaking to the staff for just a few minutes, I immediately got the reassuring feeling that they were more than willing and able to help if I needed any assistance. The second thing that struck me after the cheerful and friendly smiles you encounter when you enter the facility, is the immaculately clean environment and surroundings, which creates a welcome atmosphere, almost inviting you to sit down and forget your worries. But what are libraries for if not for the books? And at the Beaconsfield Library, when you begin exploring, you cannot miss the fact that there are plenty of books with volumes of interesting and exciting information on the shelves. And once you have selected a book, you will find one of the many comfortable chairs - available and inviting. Students, who these days are sadly so dependent on the internet, can find a haven of peace and quiet where they can find time to focus while working on a project or preparing for a test. Yes, admittedly having access to the world of knowledge at your fingertips at all times is extremely convenient, but the serenity and quiet that a library provides is an indescribable experience. The staff at the Beaconsfield Library have extended a warm invitation to local residents as well as visitors to the City to visit their library, bring their children along and, like in the good old days, read to them from a book in a tranquil and still environment. After all, doesn’t it sound like a good idea to have your children listening to your voice while their imagination is being stretched and developed, as opposed to them staring at a screen all day? Neil Gaiman said, “If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.” Novelist Zadie Smith has another valuable insight into the value of a library; something worth considering. She writes: “What a good library offers cannot easily be found elsewhere: An indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.” Think about it … a wealth of information without stressing over data. That’s truly special! So, for the month of May, we hope that Kimberlites will make a point of swinging by to wish the Beaconsfield Library a happy 133rd birthday and many more to come.