Friday, December 15, 2017

Robbing us of lifelong learning

 It was disturbing to read the comments made by the president of the Greater Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Mr Sirjoo, when he referred to the Chaguanas Public Library as a white elephant. 

 As a user of the public library for over 25 years, this “elephant’’ has provided thousands of others and myself  access to resources for academic and recreational use, a space to learn and to share.  The public library has offered numerous services over the years to all members of our society—for example computer literacy for senior citizens and young adults; resources for the disabled; cultural, academic and recreational workshops; a venue for ALTA; a forum for local and international authors and thinkers; vacation camps for; a place for recognition of our many celebrations and achievements no matter their social or bank account status—all for free.  

Some like Mr Sirjoo have questioned the value of libraries. Not everything that Google and Wikipedia offer is the best and a  reliable source of information. Not all learning takes place in the confines of school walls, the library is a place for independent and lifelong learning and the only service that is available from 8.30 to 6 p.m. (weekdays) and 8.30 – 4 p.m. (Saturdays). In fact, their opening hours are better than most Government services. 

How is it that over 17 years of effort towards a modern library about to bear fruit are dashed upon the whim of politicians who are not even involved in the public library system, Nalis or the Ministry of Education? Is it legal as the funds for that building’s construction would have been provided by Nalis and their line ministry?  If the judiciary complex is stalled because of lack funds—then lobby for it instead of grabbing what many worked to obtain. 

The issues of the Chaguanas court’s infrastructure did not occur overnight. Why weren’t these resolved when they appeared— instead of waiting for the building to become dilapidated as lawyers claim? Where is the long and short term planning for this soon-to-be city? Maybe these thinkers need to revisit the Law or Parliament’s Library and then they might remember how important the library is. If Chaguanas really wants to be an intelligent city, it needs to have a library service that can represent and spur the cultural treasures that exists in the soon-to-be city. 

T Ready-Archibald