Above: the new National Library in Antigua
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Antigua and Barbuda has completed construction on the country’s new national public library.
The completion of the project comes four decades after the country’s public library was damaged by an earthquake.
The 20,000-square-foot project on Hails Prominard Road succeeds a temporary library which had been operating on Market Street.
“Whenever we lament the weakness in literacy over the last four decades we should look back at how culpable we are as a nation in not providing the appreciation for books, for intellectual stimulation, which is a symbol in a national public library,” said Education Minister Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro. “Any Antiguan and Barbudan forty years or younger would not have known or had the benefit of a properly, well run, well resourced national public library. And I say without equivocation this is a burning shame, a disgrace and a national travesty. However today is a historic day.”
The government said the library would become fully operational after completing finishing touches like custom-made shelving and special furniture.
“It is a key component of our drive to develop a pluralistic participatory and inclusive knowledge based society. Libraries are key institution in the context of achieving this goal. At the core of libraries are their missions to provide information, literacy education and culture,” said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Dr Baldwin Spencer. “This structure which we dedicate and which forms part of our mandate to the people to provide the greatest good to the greatest number of people will be the watering hole for individuals which hunger for free and equitable access to information be it in written, electronic and in audio visual form.”