Director of libraries: They are still relevant
The school of thought that the Internet and social media have replaced libraries is far from the truth, according to Dorcas Bowler, director of libraries at the National Library and Information Services (NLIS).
She says although people read e-books, many people still like to sit with a book in hand, curled up in a warm, cozy chair or bed, to enjoy a beautiful story or read to their children.
“Despite advancing technology and the introduction of the Internet, people worldwide continue to flock to libraries, especially during the downturn in the economy. Students need a comfortable place to study, and conduct research for school projects. Adults use the Internet to fill out applications for employment; we are aware that some entities only accept electronic applications for job placements, and timely assistance [is] given at the local library,” said Bowler as the NLIS celebrates Library Month under the theme “Build Strong Communities and Change Lives”.
With 60 libraries around the country and 11 on New Providence, Bowler said that, during the month, they are encouraging members of the public to visit libraries to view photo displays and learn about the history of the NLIS headquarters and various branch libraries on New Providence at the Carmichael Road Branch Library.
“Library Month is a very exciting time for us, and we are proud to celebrate Library Month every March with a month of activities,” said Bowler.
A number of activities have taken place over the month, which will conclude on March 29 with a Library Cadets and Science Show at the Wulff Road Library. Ongoing events will include book giveaways, free WiFi/computer use, waiving of overdue fees on Amnesty Day and a membership drive to waive the membership fee for the first year.
Bowler also said that they believe people are reading more and visiting libraries to use the facilities.
“Normally what you see, if you were to visit any of our branch libraries, you would see persons using the computer, because many of them may not have access at home, or access to the Internet, so they come to the library not only to read books, but to use the Internet for research. Also many entities do not really accept applications in the paper form, and so electronically they have to submit applications for job and employment using the Internet or computer. Sometimes the patrons aren’t equipped, so we would have our librarians, library assistants and clerks assist persons in filling out the forms for their online applications for jobs,” she said.
The director of libraries said they are encouraging all young people – whether they attend public or private schools to join the library and get involved with the Library Cadets program, which meets once a month on the last Friday in the month at the Wulff Road Library.
“The libraries are democratic and multi-dimensional institutes. We not only encourage patrons to read, but also make the community aware of current affairs locally and abroad, along with a number other functions in the promotion of easy access and the dissemination of information for all,” she said.
“We have an exciting program of promoting library skills, because it’s a given, whatever you do in life, you have to use a library – whether it’s a digital library or physical library.”
Bowlet believes that reading can take the reader around the world.
“You may not be able to physically travel to places in Europe or even in The Bahamas, if you read … we have a lot of Bahamian collection books that will tell us about the various Family Islands, and that may excite us to even go and visit,” she said.
The librarian’s favorite author is Charles Dickens.
“We encourage each and every one to join a library nearest to their home and become a member today. Get their library card, and enjoy many benefits of a variety of databases, ranging from subjects in education to health and other topical issues. The library has a lot to offer to persons of all ages, including excellent Bahamian and Caribbean collections,” said Bowler.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.