Jamaica's libraries still relevant
The Chairman of the Jamaica Library Service (JLS), Paul Lalor, is dismissing the suggestion that the physical libraries in the country are struggling to remain relevant, especially due to the spike in Internet services being made available to would-be library goers.
He says those people who question the relevance of the JLS "clearly do not understand the need for libraries in the furtherance of education".
"Where else would the kids who do not have access to information technology get the information they need? If they need to access curriculum books they cannot afford, where are they going to get it?", he questioned in response to the suggestion.
Lalor said that the JLS has been an integral part of Jamaica's culture. He said, "It continues to be a shining star of what Jamaica can do and what Jamaica needs to do to continue to educate our people."
He boasts that the 14 libraries across Jamaica are the largest providers of free Internet services to the public. He also said that the JLS has more than 1,000 computers across the country providing the Internet access to users.
While he could not provide a figure on the number of persons using the services of the library at any period, Lalor told The Gleaner that the information technology services of the library is most utilised.
Access to information
Lalor said it was not likely that the use of physical books will increase in the future, but the library was committed to ensuring users can access the information that they need.
"Not everybody has access to, or can use a computer, so the books remain an important part of the library. To remain relevant to the entire society, the library realises that it needs to continue to expand on its ICT initiatives to ensure that we are proving information to everybody," Lalor said.
In April of this year, the Government allocated $842 million to be spent on the country's library services, but according to the chairman, that money is not enough.
"A lot of the initiatives that we have to do, we have to go out and raise money internationally. We get a lot of donations from our international partners," he said.
In the meantime, Lalor said that the board of the library service will push ahead to remain relevant to the country's educational needs.
"We are strategically looking to see how many more electronic providers of books we can access and continue to build our portfolio of books."