Ja’s li­braries still rel­e­vant

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL SOMETHING EXTRA - Ro­mario Scott Gleaner Writer

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

LALOR

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.

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.”

FILE

Two stu­dents are seen in this file photo mak­ing their way into the Kingston and St An­drew Parish Li­brary.

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