Demand to reopen Green Island Branch Library
Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
WESTERN BUREAU:Some major stakeholders in the Green Island area in Hanover are expressing grave concern about the failure of the Jamaica Library Service (JLS) to repair and reopen the Green Island Branch Library to the public after the facility was closed more than three years ago.
In June 2011, the JLS deemed the library structurally unsound and declared it temporarily closed in order for reconstruction work to take place. To date, the facility has remained shut, resulting in scores of users of the facility having to travel long distances to Lucea and Savanna-la-Mar to access library services.
"The library bus comes in the area every now and then, but it is nothing like the real library itself. The library did not only assist the students of Green Island Primary School, but high-school students who live in the area, because I can remember as a child going to Rusea's High School, we used to go to that library to do research," principal of Green Island Primary School Vascianna Mosley told Western Focus.
"I don't know if the Government really takes this literacy thing seriously because the one little library that we have there, even the Internet System that they had, was the only source of Internet that many persons had. So we are two, three steps backward," he added.
The last literacy report done in 1999 by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica noted that Hanover had an illiteracy rate of 25.7 per cent, which means that one in four persons in the parish are considered illiterate.
Mosley said adult users of the library who visited to either read, use computers, or do photocopying were also severely affected. The Green Island Branch Library was the lone library in the westernmost end of Hanover and served several thousand residents, nine primary/preparatory schools, and two high schools.
"Green Island is the hub for that area which entails Kendal, Rock Spring, Cauldwell, Grange, Salt Spring, Pell River, Orange Bay, and other communities, and they would come there to do reading and use the Internet. With the library not there now, persons have to be travelling to Lucea or to Negril to access such a service. It is a poor community; many persons can't afford personal computers or Internet access and the library was the source for that. I think this is ridiculous!" Mosely said.
"I think if the library was up and running, my students would be doing better academically, especially in the area of literacy, because I have to be begging stakeholders for books so we can have enough material for the children to practise reading. If we could have access to those books that the library has, we would have a lot of resources to use in our literacy programme. If the library was open, I know I would be a happy man," he added.
political directorate at fault
Vice-president of the Green Island Development Area Committee Leonard Sharpe said the political directorate in Hanover should be blamed for the protracted closure of the library.
"If the people in authority want to fix it, they can fix it. They are saying that they take literacy seriously, but dem no tek it seriously at all. If they get the library up and running, it would help the children who are doing their GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) because even though most of the schools have computer labs, schools are not open on a Saturday, but the library would be open on a Saturday," Sharpe said.
"Why pay money for a security (guard) to secure the building when the money could be used to repair the building?" he questioned. "Most of the parents down this side don't have the funds to give their children to go to Lucea library, so it affects the children a lot, especially in the summer."
Another resident, Marcel Bogle, says she is pleading with the authorities to move with a sense of urgency to have the library reopened. She said she was taken aback in 2011 when she learnt that the facility was closed.
"It was like you sent over there and they say the library close down temporary because of repairs. So we were here listening to hear them say that it reopened, but after that, we realise that it is permanent. We heard nothing since. My little boy is in grade four now, and he will need the use of the library. I don't have a computer; I can't afford a computer, so at least he could go there," Bogle said.
"Our children, right now, if they have any homework or research, they have to go to Lucea and you have to pay taxi fare, and it is not really safe for you to send them like that. A four-year-old or an eight-year-old - you can't send them to Lucea by themselves, so you just do without it. But it is part of education, so we are not all right without it. We want to see the library come back - soon, too," she said.