Director General of the Jamaica Library Service, Patricia Roberts, has emphasised the critical role of an informed and literate populace to the process of national development.
Speaking on April 27 at an exposition and panel discussion on, ‘Libraries, contributing to national development’, staged by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Special Libraries Section of the Library and Information Association of Jamaica (LIAJA), at the PIOJ Training Room, in New Kingston, Mrs. Roberts said that, “until we rid ourselves of the scourge of illiteracy and have an educated populace at the required levels, the vision of developed country status could indeed prove quite elusive."
Citing the National Development Plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica, Mrs. Roberts said that “world class education and training, one of the outcomes of our national development plan, is achievable provided we all remember that education is everybody’s business."
The country’s Chief Librarian observed that the world has changed and is changing constantly, and that “we are now in the age of the knowledge society and the information technology super highway."
In response, most public libraries have shifted from their traditional role and are now offering free internet access and related educational enrichment services.
She said that within the context of the “many challenges facing the Ministry of Education” in securing a standard of performance by all children that will prepare them for life and productive engagement as citizens, librarians and related professionals play a critical role.
“We are also cognisant that the 21st Century requires competence in multiple literacy, and librarians and libraries and information professionals play a critical role in supporting teachers and parents in empowering our students,” Mrs. Roberts emphasised.
She disclosed that the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Jamaica Library Service, has been reviewing the status of libraries in government owned schools and that as “part of this process, a committee has been convened in support of having all school libraries in government owned schools functioning at an acceptable level."
Meanwhile, International Consultant, Carlton Samuels, while endorsing the critical and increasing role of librarians and libraries in the process of national development, emphasised the changing role of the librarian in the digital age.
He argued that as “information brokerages and brokers,” libraries and librarians must utilise information and communications technology as critical tools.
The exposition and panel discussion is an annual event which seeks to recognise and educate its stakeholders on the role of special libraries within their respective organisations and to create public awareness of the contribution of libraries to national development.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter