Nat’l Li­brary al­lows lap­top use – for a fee

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY -

Re­cent data in­di­cate around a 30 per cent HIV preva­lence among ac­tive male ho­mo­sex­u­als, especially those with mul­ti­ple sex part­ners. Ja­maica is still largely a ho­mo­pho­bic place, where gay men, fear­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and stigma be­cause of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, are likely to hide in the shad­ows. Fe­male sex work­ers fare bet­ter, and their rate of HIV has fallen sharply in re­cent years. That, how­ever, doesn’t mean that they are im­mune to the stigma that still pre­vents many from tak­ing full own­er­ship of their health.

In the event, fight­ing stigma and dis­crim­i­na­tion and fur­ther ad­vanc­ing pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of the dis­ease as one that isn’t con­tracted by ca­sual con­tact re­main im­per­a­tives in the cam­paign against HIV/AIDS. There is, too, the is­sue of em­pow­er­ment, especially for women, in ne­go­ti­at­ing sex­ual relationships.

It used to be that sig­nif­i­cantly more men than women con­tracted HIV. The sit­u­a­tion has flipped, especially among younger women. Part of the rea­sons, per­haps, rests in the data on con­dom use among women, some of whom may have pro­mis­cu­ous part­ners. This ar­gu­ment, how­ever, is not ir­rel­e­vant to men who have sex with men.

Ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness, there­fore, are ef­fec­tive weapons in the ar­se­nal against HIV/AIDS. THE ED­I­TOR, Sir: WITH RE­GARD to a let­ter to the ed­i­tor pub­lished on De­cem­ber 1, 2016, cap­tioned ‘Back­ward move, Na­tional Li­brary!’, I be­lieve there has been an er­ror on Chris­tine Clarke’s part, as the Na­tional Li­brary of Ja­maica (NLJ), lo­cated at 12 East Street, Kingston, which is Ja­maica’s premier re­search li­brary, un­doubt­edly recog­nises the need for li­brary users to use their lap­tops while con­duct­ing re­search at our fa­cil­ity.

As such, the NLJ al­lows users ac­cess to plug in their lap­tops while on-site. In fact, the elec­tri­cal out­lets are strate­gi­cally placed to fa­cil­i­tate this so as not to con­trib­ute to any trip­ping ac­ci­dents that may oc­cur as a re­sult of the charger be­ing strewn across the walk­way. We, how­ever, charge a nom­i­nal fee of $150, which guar­an­tees us­age for the en­tire day.

I be­lieve Ms Clarke may have vis­ited the Kingston and St An­drew Par­ish Li­brary, which is part of the is­land­wide net­work of the Ja­maica Li­brary Ser­vice, which is a to­tally sep­a­rate en­tity from the Na­tional Li­brary of Ja­maica. The Na­tional Li­brary of Ja­maica has one fa­cil­ity lo­cated at 12 East Street.

Based on the na­ture of our col­lec­tion and the fact that all ma­te­rial must be used on-site and not avail­able for lend­ing, we re­quire that per­sons regis­ter be­fore us­ing the li­brary, and a check of our user data­base did not re­turn a re­sult for Chris­tine Clarke as a reg­is­tered user.

I have even gone a step fur­ther to ver­ify if Ms Clarke had, in fact, vis­ited our lo­ca­tion in Oc­to­ber and have found no record of this. I, how­ever, would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to in­vite Ms Clarke to visit our fa­cil­ity on her next trip to Ja­maica, as we stand ready to sat­isfy her in­for­ma­tion needs, in­clud­ing the use of her lap­top, which she is more than wel­come to plug in for the en­tire day. WINSOME HUDSON Na­tional Li­brar­ian/CEO Na­tional Li­brary of Ja­maica

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