Unleashing the Power of Saint Lucia’s Libraries this National Library and Information Week: There’s More to the Story

Libraries and Information Units around the island gear up to celebrate National Library Week, from 23rd April to 29th April 2023, under the global theme “There’s More to the Story.” This theme seeks to dispel the notion that libraries are no longer relevant. It is an explicit call for a more nuanced understanding of the importance and uses of many different types of libraries today and of course a call for greater understanding of how libraries have evolved — an invitation for everyone to join, visit, protect and support these public powerhouses of literature collections and information banks – these pillars of the community.

National Library and Information Week is an annual event that promotes the importance of literacy and learning and highlights the important role that libraries play within their communities in this regard.  Despite the expansion of digital media, the rise of e-books, influx of various technologies and technological devices, librarians maintain that the library, like a school, or a church is an institution, legally established by the State as inclusive, accessible, and trusted sources or providers of information, knowledge, and resources for the benefit of individuals and communities. Libraries and information units share common goals that include promoting learning, literacy, community engagement, and cultural enrichment, utilizing the various technologies available today to improve access to information and deliver improved services and innovative programmes.

Some key functions of libraries information units include:

Facilitating access to information and knowledge: Libraries and information units aim to provide access to a wide range of resources, including books, periodicals, databases, multimedia materials, and digital resources, to support learning, research, and information needs of their users. Libraries strive to offer equitable access to information and knowledge regardless of age, background, or socio-economic status. Access to information is free.

Promoting literacy and education: Libraries play a critical role in promoting literacy and education by providing resources and programs that support reading, learning, and skill development. Libraries often offer services such as early literacy programs, homework help, tutoring, and educational workshops, poetry slams, as well as author talks, to foster a love for learning and to promote literacy and educational attainment.

Supporting lifelong learning: Libraries and information units aim to be lifelong learning centers that support individuals throughout their entire lives. Libraries offer resources and services for all age groups, from early childhood to senior citizens, to promote continuous learning, personal growth, and skill development. This support is free.

Fostering community engagement: Libraries and information units aim to be active participants in their communities, promoting civic engagement, cultural enrichment, and community connections. Libraries often host community events, literary activities, workshops, and programs that bring people together, foster dialogue, and promote social cohesion.

Preserving and promoting cultural heritage: Libraries and information units often have collections that preserve and promote the cultural heritage of their communities, including rare books, manuscripts, archives, and local history materials. Libraries aim to safeguard these special collections for future generations and provide access to them to promote cultural understanding and appreciation.

Providing information services and assistance: Libraries aim to provide information services and assistance to help users navigate and utilize the vast amount of information available online. This may include reference services, information literacy instruction, research assistance, and technology support to help users find, evaluate, and use information effectively.

Supporting intellectual freedom and privacy: Libraries and information units uphold the principles of intellectual freedom, ensuring that users have the right to access information and ideas without censorship or restriction. Libraries also aim to protect user privacy and confidentiality in accordance with applicable laws and ethical standards.

National Library and Information Week – 2023 Calendar of Events

During National Library and Information Week, libraries and information units will host a range of events aimed at generating much needed support for libraries and sensitizing the public about the many services available to them as well as highlighting the benefits of utilizing the libraries in their schools and communities. Participating organizations and libraries include the UWI Open Campus St. Lucia Library, Hunter J. François Library, St. Lucia Public Library (Central Library and 16 branch libraries), Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Commission (OECS), the Monsignor Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre (FRC), National Archives Authority of Saint Lucia, National Association of Librarians and Information Professionals (NALIP) – Saint Lucia.

The Official Opening Ceremony takes place at the National Archives Authority in Vigie, Castries on Monday, 23rd April 2023 from 10am to 12 noon. Ms. Keithlin Caroo, Executive Director and Founder of Helen’s Daughters has been invited to give the keynote address. The National Archives also launches its exhibition.

‘Author Talks’ with Sir Calixte George takes place right after from 1pm at the Hunter J. François Library’s Reading Room on the SALCC Campus, Morne Fortuné.

Tuesday, 25th April 2023 is observed as National Library and Information Workers’ Day. It is a day to acknowledge the important role that library and information workers play in connecting people with the information, resources, and services they need to improve their lives and communities.

Wednesday, 26th April 2023 is recognized as National Library and Information Units Outreach Day to highlight and celebrate the outreach services and programmes that libraries and other information units provide to their communities. Outreach services are designed to connect library and information resources and services with people who may face barriers to accessing them, such as those who are homebound, have disabilities, or live in underserved areas.

Take Action for Libraries and Information Units Day follows on Thursday, 27th April 2023, mobilizing library advocates and encouraging library supporters and well-wishers to take action in support of the sustained development and advancement of libraries and the services they provide.

Take Action for Libraries and Information Units Day typically involves activities such as contacting elected officials to advocate for library funding, improved library facilities, sharing stories and experiences about the impact of libraries, and engaging with local communities to raise awareness about the importance of libraries. Library supporters are encouraged to participate and help ensure that libraries continue to receive the funding and support needed. In observance of

Take Action for Libraries and Information Units Day, the Head Librarian at the Hunter J. François Library and Director of Library Services continue with the data collection phase of public libraries located in the south of the island, covering Canaries, Soufriere, Laborie, Vieux-Fort, Micoud, and

Dennery. This data will be used in the publication of a joint report on “The Status of Libraries in Saint Lucia: The Way Forward from a Librarian’s Perspective”,

The Hunter J. François Library’s ‘Author Talks’ Series continues with Rick Wayne at the SALCC Campus on Friday, 28th April, 2023 from 1pm. ‘Author Talks’ is an initiative aimed at connecting various aspects of the College’s curriculum with the works of authors, while drawing reference from the library’s collections to promote reading and literacy. The activity provides a platform for authors to promote their books, share their ideas, stories, and experiences with those in attendance, and for the audience to gain a deeper understanding of the author’s work and creative process.

During the month of June 2023 at a date to be determined, the UWI Open Campus St. Lucia will host a professional development workshop for library and information professionals on ‘Best Practices in Teaching Information Literacy’ (basic and advanced levels). Professional development is critical for library and information workers as it enables them to enhance their skills, knowledge, and expertise to better serve their communities and meet the changing needs of library patrons. More-so, with the increasing use of technological devices and digital resources, information literacy instruction is a key aspect of library and information work, therefore workers must be kept abreast with best teaching practices.

The week closes with a social mixer on 29th April 2023, where library and information professionals will gather to share their ideas and connect with other professionals in the field. The social mixer presents an opportunity for library and information professionals to expand their professional networks, to learn from their peers, to share ideas and best practices, and to collaborate on projects. Building a strong sense of community within the library profession is indispensable.

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