The City of Cape Town’s libraries joined the rest of the country in commemorating South African Library Week that took place from Monday 18 March to Saturday 23 March. However, despite a good turnout, programmes scheduled at Lotus River library were limited, with children having to find alternative activities because the library close during the time the area was experiencing loadshedding.“Loadshedding was affecting the project badly, because the kids were practically – for lack of a better term – being chased out and it is not their fault. Any business, when it is loadshedding, they close down no matter where you are. They try to be busy inside the community centre, but all the kids can’t always be catered for, because the Library Week programme is for children aged between seven and 15, and were just roaming around,” says ward 65 councillor Patricia van der Ross.As a result, libraries and the Lotus River community centre had to collaborate to ensure the children were kept occupied most of the time.The City says while the emphasis was on the important role that libraries play in a democratic society, patrons were also urged to bring back unreturned items to ensure access for all.This year’s theme for the commemorative week was “collaborate @ your library”.Nationally, Library Week was initiated in 2001 for libraries across the country to use as an opportunity to market their services and to promote the important role that libraries play in a democratic society by advancing literacy, making the basic human right of freedom of access to information a reality, and promoting tolerance and respect among all South Africans.“Library Week also coincides with Human Rights Day. The Bill of Rights recognises the freedom of access to information as a basic human right. “It is therefore concerning that four of the top titles not returned last year are study guides. By not returning items, someone else is being deprived of the right to access those materials and, in this case, are denied an educational resource,’ says Mayco member for community services and health for Zahid Badroodien.During South African Library Week, City libraries were hosting various special programmes for all ages including a road march to promote library services, storytelling, arts and crafts, membership drives and poetry sessions.Van der Ross said they had a morning session from 09:30 and then the library programme started at 11:00, which included the returning of books. Normally they would start at 14:00 with a social development programme and EPWP staff come out in the afternoon and do outside games with the children.She lamented the shortfall caused by loadshedding, because it meant that children did not always have a meal available for them in the morning because the electricity was off.“No loadshedding makes for a better Library Week. Last year and the year before it was awesome because we had up to 100 kids a day and they would do the feeding and everything. Now, they couldn’t even cook because we had loadshedding from 08:00 – 10:30 that is why we had them in the morning, then at 10:45 they went to the library, so it was too little time to do it (cook), but it will be better next year,” says Van der Ross.In other parts of her ward, a separate holiday programme for children between the ages of five and 18 was conducted at Heron Park. More than 100 children from Montague’s Gift, Parkwood, Perivale and Plantation primary schools attended the programme.