Lavender Hill community library: The latest facts

Lavender Hill community library: The latest facts

-Previous stories indicating that the city had forced the library to close have been refuted by both the city and a benefactor of the property owner

- A storm of reactions on social media has also drummed up a lot of extra support for the John Nicholson and his community library

- Offers and promises of help has come from as far as Australia and Wales and from musicians, authors, organisations and architects back home

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We all know how it goes, a feel-good story hits social media, and before anyone can even say "fact-check" the story has developed a life of its own as the initial facts are shared and reimagined in a story that sometimes even moves so far away from the truth it ends up attracting the dreaded label of "Fake News!"

It seems the all too familiar pattern has once again occured with the story about a well-meaning Cape Town man who set up a little library in his garage for his community.

As reported by a few days ago, the "community library in Lavender Hill, Cape Town is being forced to close after the owner was told by the city that the garage that the library operates out of is illegal."

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One politician took it upon himself to look into the situation and was rewarded for his efforts.

But things soon took a turn when reports of the story being factually incorrect began to surface on social media.

To say tweeple were annoyed would be an understatement.

Eventually the full story came out and it was admitted that the city had not, as the initial story seemed to indicate, "forced" Nicholson to close the library. As the official statement from the city in response to the story explained: "The City of Cape Town’s Development Management Department has been in discussion with the property owner regarding the land use and building applications that he needs to submit to regularise the unauthorised structure (i.e. garage) to make use of it for any other purpose, as per the National Building Regulations and Buildings Standards Act and the Municipal Planning By-law," said the statement by mayoral committee member for Area South, City of Cape Town, Eddie Andrews.

Then the City issued a new statement on Friday saying that it had not given instruction for library to be shut down. "I can confirm that the City’s Development Management Department did not give an instruction, nor serve a notice on the property owner, John Nicholson, to shut down the library that he has been operating from his garage in Lavender Hill," Andrews said.

Meanwhile, literally thousands of people have offered assistance to Nicholson.

The whole saga kicked off a few weeks ago when Nicholson was approached by a sponsor, Jean Williams of Biblionef SA with an offer to help repair the leaking roof of the structure. It was when Nicholson and Williams approached the City, that they learnt that there was no plan for the structure and given the advice to remove the entire roof or face consequences including a massive administrative fee.

Williams and Biblionef SA then helped with storing the books until everything was settled while offers of both financial and material assistance as well as offers to help draw up the plans have come flooding in from all over the globe.

Yesterday Nicholson shared on facebook that he was overjoyed by the response from the public to the plight of he and his library. “Good Morning All. As You can see I'm still smiling after all the drama yesterday," he posted on Friday morning.

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“Our Library is here to stay. We have been doing this voluntary for 16 years. No one is going to stop something God has started. Read James 2v14. Then You will see why we do what we do. Love must be shared.”

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