The Library, Archival, Museum Services
Library and Information Services in Grenada began as early as 1846, with the passing of a bill by the Legislative Council, for the establishment of a library and museum. In 1853, a subscription library was then declared open and moved from a subscription library to a free public library in 1949.
The Grenada Public Library now functions as the National Library and Archival Repository as well as the administrative headquarters for the Department of Library Services, Ministry of Education.
The Grenada Public Library system encompasses about 11 community branches. The main branch (also known as the Sheila Buckmire Memorial Library) serves as the national library and the national archives center; it is also the site of the administrative offices of the Department of Library Services, Ministry of Education. The St. George’s University Medical School also maintains a collection of 13,000 volumes. There is even a mobile library that services the island’s schools. The Grenada National Museum, founded in 1976, is located in St. George’s and focuses on the history and archeology of the island.
- Our main library staffing currently consists of one Librarian, 2 Assistant Librarians and 6 library assistants.
- Carriacou Resource & Regional School Library was established in 1978 with one library assistant.
- St. Patrick’s Community Library established 1987 serves three schools has one library assistant and one trainee.
- River Road Community Library was established in 1989 and has one library assistant.
- St. Andrew’s Community Library established 1994 has 3 library assistants.
- Carriacou Community Library was established in 1994 with one library assistant.
- St. Mark’s Community Library and January 16th Library established 1994.
- St. John’s Community Library established in 1995 (now merged with St. John’s and St. Mark’s) has two library assistants and two trainees.
- Founders Library at True Blue, St. George’s University initially established in 1977 as Marion Library was replaced in 2000 and renamed after the group who assisted in the establishment of the University. It houses a collection of some 13,000 items.
- T. A. Marryshow Community Library started on 1 July 1988 as a merger of eight colleges and institutions. It consists of a main library at the Tanteen Campus and satellite libraries at Carriacou, Mirabeau, General Hospital, and St. Patrick’s Multi-purpose Centre. There are 15 members of staff (including one at the hospital and another on Carriacou).
All our libraries suffer some challenges.
- Library Automation, using the Alexandra Library Software was almost completed in 2004 when the island was struck by Hurricane Ivan, the project was resumed in 2007 and is almost complete.
- Lack of trained staff on the island. At our college, Library Science is only an elective for the Baccalaureate Degree.
- Natural Disasters – each hurricane season the island and it’s libraries are at great peril.
Unlike the institution of library services, currently no legislation initiated the establishment of Archives. In fact, it was not until the then Chief Librarian took the initiative to build up the historical records section of the Public Library during her tenure (1959-1985) that any semblance of an Archive was recognized.
We still, however, suffer from many constraints including the lack of human and technical resources and the apathy exhibited by our government. One way in which the latter situation could be addressed is by mandating them (championed from the highest level possible) to give topmost priority to libraries and to aid their efforts to preserve, acquire, organise and disseminate information to all.
Hope for our future
The collection consisted of local newspapers; government documents gazettes, estimates, departmental reports, electoral lists, blue books, letter registers and letter books, legislative council papers, colonial documents and school publications both local and Caribbean dating as far back as 1764. Since then other pockets of archival material which are similar in nature have been identified in other places including the Supreme Court Registry and Office of the Governor General. Efforts to harness these resources, organise and house same under one entity is ongoing.
Up till recently primitive methods of preservation and conservation have been employed and it was not until the realization of the Grenada Endangered Archives Project (an initiative of the British Library and University of Manchester) in January 2010 that digitisation was even heard of in some circles. This project focused on digitizing 132 volumes of deed records and local government correspondence which provide a crucial source for understanding the major political, social and economic transformation of the southern Caribbean.
The project is expected to run for eighteen (18) months thereafter it may be possible to boast the acquisition of digitized materials then. Until such time Grenada does not have any records which may be offered as part of this exercise.
For the current status check-out our page at Grenada’s Endangered Archives.