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Seychelles' National Library expected to be fully operational by November 2023

Victoria, Seychelles | July 1, 2023, Saturday @ 09:33 in National » GENERAL | By: Sharon Ernesta | Views: 5565
Seychelles' National Library expected to be fully operational by November 2023

President Ramkalawan and Andre, the secretary general of SNICHA, unveiled the plaque at the renovated National Library. (State House)  

Photo license  

Seychelles' National Library is expected to be fully operational by November this year. In a ceremony that coincided with Seychelles National Day, marking Independence Day, on Thursday, President Wavel Ramkalawan officially handed over the keys of the fully renovated National Library to the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts (SNICHA).  

The library, which was constructed in the early 1990s and opened officially in June 1994, closed in 2018 due to a fungus infestation. Renovation works, which started in February last year, were completed in 16 months. 

In his address, Ramkalawan commended the work of all parties involved, namely the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade, GICC - the contractor - as well as the SNICHA. The team he said worked diligently to ensure that the renovation was done in the shortest delay possible. 

Ramkalawan said the renovation was a top priority for his government since assuming office as the situation of not having a library could not continue.

Kalebi said that the library will offer students and members of the public a new and modernised  concept. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY 

He added that during one of his meetings with students from schools of Seychelles at State House, a student asked when the National Library would re-open, a promise made and kept in less than two years.

Meanwhile, the secretary general of the SNICHA, David Andre, said that the re-opening of the library will provide a conducive space for gathering, research, networking, academia, supporting learning opportunities for all and the development of the country.

"The new library would not be only about books and shelves but it will also be an important socio-cultural meeting point for parents, students, and library staff, and accessible to all," said Andre.

In an interview with SNA, the permanent secretary of the SNICHA, Cecile Kalebi, said that the library will offer students and members of the public a new and modernised concept. 

"It is a completely new concept, the interior design has been completely revamped to make more dedicated spaces for our clients, for example dedicated spaces for study rooms, computer rooms and dedicated repositories for the conservation of library documents. More open-air spaces to allow for better circulation and lighting," she said.

The ground plus two-storey building will be equipped with modern library facilities for children and adults, a cafeteria, and an art gallery among other services to be offered, including offices for the institute. 

With the renovation works completed, Kalebi said that work will now begin to set up the library services. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY 

Kalebi added that "every effort has been made to make the building more accessible to the less-abled user." 

With the renovation works completed, Kalebi said that work will now begin to set up the library services such as putting in the books, and setting up the necessary service protocols and services.

She added that while some resources are available more books and IT equipment are needed to ensure that the services being provided are innovative and current, meeting the emerging needs of our clients." 

The aim is to open the library towards the end of the third quarter this year, but according to Kalebi, "we may need to adjust this time frame depending upon other factors such as if there are delays in the shipping of library materials, which is outside of our control."

Preventing another fungus infestation

The National Library, which also housed the National Archives and several other offices for the then Ministry of Culture and Tourism, closed down in 2018, after being infested with mould.

The fungus was first detected in 2012 in the National Archives which triggered a two-week closure to remove it. Its recurrence caused the building to be closed down as it was mostly the National Archives that were being affected by the fungus. 

With the new building completely renovated, all steps are taken to prevent the issue of mould from recurring. In addition, the building will be equipped with a new centralised air conditioning system that will make it resilient to fungus. 

Furthermore, the National Archives will no longer be housed within the National Library and Kalebi said that the plan is to relocate it in a new building to be constructed.

She added that inadequate space at the National Library is the main reason for the relocation of the National Archives to another building so that in the event of another fungus outbreak, only the library will be affected and not the whole system. 

Currently, the Archives are based at Maison Helena at Ile du Port – a man-made island next to the capital Victoria. 

The history of the library in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, dates back to 1910 when the Carnegie Public Library was opened in Victoria. The public library was declared the National Library of Seychelles in 1978. 

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