Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, making a
point to Director of the National Library Service,
Annette Smith (left), and Permanent Secretary
Shirley Farnum, while touring the??Tamarind Hall
Library, St. Joseph.??(C. Pitt/BGIS)

The National Library Service is trying to be innovative as it attempts to respond to the feedback it has been receiving from its users, particularly the young readers.

This assertion came from Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, last Friday after touring a number of the branch libraries, namely, Tamarind Hall, St. Joseph; Valley, St. George; Six??Roads, St. Philip; and Oistins, Christ Church.

However, Mr. Lashley is of the opinion that the Service needed to interact more meaningfully with captured youth audiences so employees could ascertain if any additional services were required.

"My general observation is that our library facilities are under-utilised. I say that, not that there is an intention by persons not to enter libraries, but I think the library needs to do a bit more to publicise the services being offered. Certainly during my tour I was enlightened to a number of new dimensions, services and things that have been done since I was last a member of a community library and I think these are innovations that need to be properly advertised and communicated to Barbadians," he suggested.

Mr. Lashley disclosed that the library was embarking on a pilot project at Tamarind Hall which would see Barbadians accessing the service online, without leaving their homes. He continued: "I am very impressed with the plan to certainly create an electronic database so the books can be properly accounted for and traced. . . The books will now have bar codes as opposed to the issuance of the usual ticket. This is good because it will help us to very quickly track our books."

The Minister underscored the importance of the library, noting that it has helped persons to improve their reading, while facilitating community interaction.

But, Mr. Lashley would like to see more volunteers working with the National Library Service. "I think the existing employees are stretched. Most of these libraries are located within communities and I feel it is a good opportunity to encourage them to see these libraries as . . . facilities that they can help to improve and help with the provision of the service.

"I have mentioned to the staff that we need to revamp our volunteer service and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage not only community groups, but certainly our schools and persons who may have retired and have some time to give back to make themselves available to our library service and help us in that volunteer programme," he urged.

Minister Lashley disclosed that the Valley Branch Library, which is currently being renovated, should be completed before the start of the new school year. He complimented the staff there for ensuring its services could continue in the temporary location.

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