Roni Snitcher’s passion has always been for working with books and children.
Now, the children’s librarian at the Colin Eglin Sea Point Library has been awarded for community service by the City of Cape Town.
Ms Snitcher said she started at the library in 1995 and since then has worked on several programmes including the Atlantic Music and Arts Society and The Pram Jam reading programme which is now 10 years old.
She trained as a teacher before working as a librarian and had always enjoyed working with children, she said.
“When my children had been brought up, I was really craving to be with children again. I worked at the National Library before that and it was really nice but all adults. It was time for me to work with children again,” she said.
“I put in hours and hours of voluntary work in an organisation called the Children’s Book Forum. When there was an opening here at Sea Point library, they needed someone and they asked ‘would you like to work here’.”
She has now worked at the library for 22 years. Even though she will soon be retiring, Ms Snitcher says she would still like to continue work at the library as a volunteer.
“I love the community so much. It will be different if I’m not here every day but if I’m needed I would really love to be a volunteer.
“To have a reading mother is a great treasure for a child and I sort of want to be the reading mother if they haven’t got one. I want children to love libraries and I really want children to know that when they are managers one day that libraries are important.”
The Pram Jam reading programme, which marks its 10th anniversary at the library in December, caters for children from four months old to when they start pre-primary school.
She said the original idea of the Pram Jam came from southern Australia. “Reading is important and imagination grows with reading. My work with babies has taught me so much. I never knew that babies had such a capacity for loving books and loving libraries at such a young age.”
She said what she loved most about being a librarian was the combination of the books and the people. Ms Snitcher feels that libraries would always have a place in our communities. “I don’t think that libraries are fighting the internet. Libraries and the internet go hand in glove. They have so much to offer. You make of your membership what you want. We manage to get a few new books every month and what household can manage that. If you love books then the library is the place for you.”
She said it was important for communities to support the local library. “We have a civic responsibility, I think, to be part of the library. If we don’t visit the library then it might fail without our passion. For me the library has been the most magnificent thing.”
In her motivation for nominating Ms Snitcher for the award, her manager Katherine Moon, said: “The two programmes are designed by Roni to be sustainable and to serve the community long-term. She runs the sessions over and above her normal duties as children’s librarian. which include story times with creches, running a book club, outreach at schools, liaising with schools and members of the community to run reading programmes and educational activities.”