Saturday, December 16, 2017

Not everyone has access to the Internet

 The Mayor of Chaguanas, recently confirmed the purpose-designed library that is nearing completion in Chaguanas, will be converted into a courthouse, and instead, the library will occupy a building on Ramsaran Street. I become very suspicious when municipal authorities demonstrate a preference for rentals in place of making use of a purpose-built structure. What is the wisdom in renting a building that must be retro-fitted for library use when a purpose-designed ICT-equipped facility is almost complete?

The ignorance of decision-makers in this “wanna-be” city becomes glaring when we hear views that the Internet has reduced the need for a library because most people can access information from their homes.

There is also a belief that by merely hooking up Internet to a building can convert that building into a modern library. They should note that quite often a document ceases to be available on the Internet, because the link was removed. Furthermore, not all documents have been digitised for Internet access, and many historical documents and artefacts that reflect the social, political and cultural heritage of the people of central T&T must be stored in a library.

The Chaguanas Borough Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce must recognise that not all the inhabitants of Chaguanas can afford computers, nor are they all able to pay for Internet access. Hence modern libraries all over the world serve to bring online services to the masses. 

Libraries in T&T also have trained staff who can guide users in the selection of credible sources of information rather than accessing supremacist or propaganda sites. Take note that information is on sale everywhere, but libraries provide credible information for free. 

For example, subscripted sites such as EBSCO HOST hold millions of journal articles which are costly to individuals, but are accessed freely by library users.

Are the Chaguanas Borough authorities aware that if more people were making use of libraries, there would be a reduced demand for courthouses? They seem to regard libraries simply as places for borrowing books. This is a limited and short-sighted view because modern libraries are at the hub of cultural and social interactions.

Libraries can provide venues for reading poetry, launching books, discussions, feature addresses, debates, art displays. A city is not restricted to large buildings and well-adorned officials. 

A city must comprise people who are critical thinkers and intellectuals, capable of sophisticated thinking. A purpose-designed library can nurture and sustain such people.

I call on Mayor Boodhan and the elected members of the council to reject this scandalous idea of converting a library to a courthouse, otherwise your reputation will go down in history as a group of people who were so obscured by hidden agendas that you were incapable of serving the people’s interests. What has Nalis to say about this development?

David Subran PhD. 

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