While Theresa Kandan closes the book on being a librarian, a new chapter in her life will see her teaching young people to read.
Ms Kandan, 55, from Lentegeur, said at her farewell at the Town Centre library on Friday March 29, that her heart was filled with love – and that she refused to cry on her last day as a librarian.
Rosalind Hendricks, a former colleague who worked with Ms Kandan for 14 years and is the principal librarian at Pinelands, said she could not imagine the service without Ms Kandan, whom she described as being “in tune” with the community.
“She is passionate about reading, the children are always happy to see her when it’s time to visit the library. Ms Kandan is happy to see her children achieve their best in school. She makes sure the community grows. It’s sad to see her go and I hope the ones left behind will take it forward,” said Ms Hendricks.
Daughter-in-law Chemon Kandan said she was in awe of the length of Ms Kandan’s service.
“She invested 32 years of her life and I look up to that. She shows commitment and involvement in the community. She has given so much of herself and she never lacks; she’s always willing to help. I pray to be like that in my own life.”
Chantel Sauls, a close friend and teacher at Imperial Primary School in Beacon Valley, said she met Ms Kandan through her son Ethan who regularly used the library, eagerly making his way to the children’s section. “When Ms Kandan saw Ethan, he was always talkative and running around. She would say she is Ethan’s grandmother and treated him like her very own grandson,” said Ms Sauls.
“Ethan would remind me that we need to go to the library to see Ms Kandan. He would even chase people off her chair as he memorised where she sat. Ethan would play with the stamps and act like a librarian. He is still going to come to the library and ask where Ms Kandan is,” said Ms Sauls.
To this, Ethan added: “Aunty Theresa is like my grandma. On National Read Aloud Day, I taught my mom’s class how to get a library card and how to borrow books. I also gave them membership forms.”
The principal librarian at Town Centre library, Babalwa Nqiwa, said she would miss Ms Kandan’s “vibrant spirit”.
“When she walks into the library, she would start singing loudly. We would immediately know who walked in. She would then ring the bell, initially for the purpose of the staff assembling for an important notice.”
Of Ms Kandan’s 32 years in library services, 22 of them have been at Town Centre library. Before that she worked at, among others, Wynberg, Meadowridge and Sea Point libraries.
While she loved being of service to the community, Ms Kandan said before moving on to something new, “I am going to take a good break first”.
“After that,” she added, “I will do my ministry, I want to assist children. There is a lack of teachers in overcrowded classrooms who do not spend enough time with the children. I would like to do this in my personal capacity to assist those who need this.”
She said while she hadn’t known what she wanted to be when she was younger, she fell in love with her job when she became a librarian. “It was good to have been part of this journey, good to invest in good people, and good to set the path for those who strive to be successful. Reading is the ultimate goal, read more and more every day,” she said.