THE EDITOR, Sir:
THIS IS in response to a letter in The Gleaner of November 11, 2002 in which Pastor Shaun Brooks spoke to the ease or lack thereof with which access is gained by citizens to tertiary institutions' libraries.
I would like to assure Pastor Brooks that the UWI Library policy does allow access to individuals who wish to do research. While the library primarily serves the needs of students, faculty and researchers within the university, provision has been made for other persons wanting to consult its materials for scholarly purposes. This may be done on a short or long-term basis as the situation warrants, provided certain normal security and other conditions are met. To avoid disappointment, persons wanting to use the library (including Pastor Brooks) are therefore encouraged to consult with the Loans and Reference Librarian (telephone: 927-2123 fax 927-1926) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) prior to their visit to find out what the requirements are for gaining access to the resources needed.
In many instances, the university library is the only repository in the country for some types of scholarly materials and with this uniqueness comes a responsibility to provide access to information in the library. It also comes with a responsibility to ensure that materials are available for consultation by future generations of users and the rules and regulations governing this latter responsibility often place the institution in a difficult position, not only with its primary clientele, the students, but also with the public.
The community of libraries in Jamaica, including public libraries, also operate an inter-library loan service by which some resources that are unique to one library's collections can become accessible to clients using other libraries. The UWI Library participates in this service, which is also another method by which access to material is available to a wider community of users.
In the situation described, it does appear however, that the discretion that would have been applied in the application of the policy was absent, particularly since Pastor Brooks had travelled all the way from St. Thomas to Kingston for the purpose of using a library and for this the UWI would like to express regret at any inconvenience caused.
I am, etc.,
JUNE V. DEGIA (Mrs.)
Acting Public Relations Officer