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Jamaica Library Service reviewing islandwide network

Friday, November 08, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Library Service (JLS) has embarked on a strategic review of its islandwide network in a bid to improve service delivery.

Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information, Karl Samuda, said based on preliminary data, 14 branch libraries are under review to identify the options for strengthening the programmes and services offered at these locations.

He was making his contribution to a Motion brought by Member of Parliament for South Manchester, Michael Stewart, which urged the Lower House to debate the issues surrounding parish libraries and branch libraries to ensure that these research-based centres remain open to the general public.

The minister noted that these libraries are characterised by deficiencies in a number of areas.

“There is the low usage due to location, inadequate physical infrastructure [and] insufficient collection to efficiently and effectively deliver library programmes and services,” Samuda said, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

He also informed that $169 million has been allocated in the Supplementary Estimates to repair and upgrade libraries this fiscal year.

“The repairs and upgrading will take various forms, including major roof [repairs] and major repair work at the Kingston and St Andrew parish library to open some spaces that are now closed,” he said.

The funds will also be used to pay outstanding tuition refunds, purchase books and resources for 116 locations, enhance information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and software upgrade, replace equipment to enhance document services, and purchase vehicles for libraries currently without.

The 14 libraries under strategic review include Mount Pleasant Branch Library in Portland; Cross Keys and Lancaster Branch Libraries in Manchester; Sturge Town, Runaway Bay, and Mount Zion Branch Libraries in St Ann; Point Hill and Riversdale Branch Libraries in St Catherine; Beeston Spring Branch Library in Westmoreland; Springfield Branch Library in St James; Pondside and Chatham Branch Libraries in Hanover; and Pennants and James Hill Branch Libraries in Clarendon.

The Jamaica Library Service provides a library service to 116 public libraries and support to 898 government school libraries.


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