The first library in West Grand Bahama was set up in Hepburn Town after a petition was presented by 18 of the advanced pupils of the Eight Mile Rock All Age School in 1934. It was set up in the Lodge Hall. The library was still in operation in 1949, when it is mentioned in the reports of the commissioner of the district.
In 2010 a group called the Pastors Forum, led by Pastor Lindy Russell, took up the charge to establish a Library in the Eight Mile Rock Community where there had not been a library for some time. A building was acquired from the Eight Mile Rock East Township located in Martin Town. The building was the former site of the West Grand ahama Clinic. Renovations were carried out on the building and completed in April 2011. During August 2011 Ms Pam Astwood volunteered to work at the library, sorting the books that had been donated. In addition, she was assisted by eight workers on the National Job and Skills Training Initiative Programme. In September she was joined by Shamika Gaitor, Monique Walker, and Georgina Rolle. These ladies were later incorporated into the 52-week work programme. Other persons from the community formed a committee to assist with the preparations for the library to be opened.
The library was officially opened on September 30th, 2011. The building is in close proximity to the schools in the area and accessible to all students and members of the community. Mrs Linda Dames, former Supervisor, Kemp Road Library, arrived January 31 2012 and served as the librarian until early 2013. Ms Shamika Gaitor is now the library supervisor.
The Mission of the West Grand Bahama Library is to inspire Life Long Learning, and to provide Quality Materials and Services to support the Recreational, Informational, Educational and Leisure Reading needs of the residents
Sir Charles Hayward Library
Sir Charles Hayward Library started out as a tiny grass-roots library in the 1960’s and grew into a proud building bearing the name of the father of Sir Jack Hayward (Sir Charles Hayward).
The very first subscription was issued by Eileen Maguire, an early library volunteer on November 8, 1963 to Mrs. Julian O’Reilly. Started by a small group, including teacher’s wife and librarian Nora Brown, the library was open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:30p.m. – 5:30p.m.
The library was started with two (2) crates of books supplied by the British Council, which aids voluntary organizations overseas at no charge. Jack Hayward also provided other necessary materials. Ernie Skogg, a local Freeport businessman, who owned the Camera Shoppe, also assisted the library. He made a speech to members of the Jaycee Club of North Miami, who organized a one-day drive and shipped more than one thousand, two hundred (1,200) books on the freighter Out-Islander. Among the early volunteers were Lilla Gonsalves, wife of the General Manager of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA); Lucita Craig, whose husband was in the Freeport Oil Company Limited (FOCOL); Yaga Tyminska, wife of the Harbour Master; and Nadine Catren, who was for a long time the mainstay of the operation.
On May 11, 1965, it was decreed that a deposit of one pound (£1) was required to ensure the return of up to two (2) books a week. Without their return, both the one pound (£1) and the membership would be forfeited. Today, the subscription rate is fifteen dollars (id=”mce_marker”5) a year and a subscriber may take out three (3) hardbacks, six (6) magazines, one (1) audio book and one (1) music tape.
The library also received timely aid from millionaire James Rand, developer of the dial telephone and airplane brakes. In 1940 he had founded the Colonial Research Institute (CRI) in Panama. Retiring to Freeport in 1960, he built another branch beside the hospital as well as a large library to house the medical books for CRI and hospital personnel. A graduate of Harvard Medical University, he named the library the John Harvard Medical Library. When CRI did not have the desired success, Rand’s wife Dorothy suggested the little library should move into the CRI library, leaving one end free for the medical books.
Dr. Barbara Bailey was another volunteer who had retired to Freeport with her husband in 1969. When Dorothy Rand realized that the CRI was not going to need it, she allowed more library space to be used. In 1983, just before she died Dorothy Rand revealed that she was no longer able to bear the cost of maintaining the library (about id=”mce_marker”8,000 a year), and asked whether the GBPA would take it on, and suggested that it be called the Sir Charles Hayward Library. She claimed that it would be nice for him to be remembered since he was the first chairman of the GBPA. At a public ceremony on October 14, 1983, the late Dorothy Rand’s daughter, Shanda Tuccio, handed over the deeds of the library to Sir Jack.
Today, the Sir Charles Hayward Library boasts five hundred twenty-one (521) adult members, and a team of twelve (12) part-time volunteers augmented to thirty (30) in winter by northerners wintering in Freeport.
Elaine Talma, a professional librarian, of Cambridge, MA, retired to Freeport with her husband in 1982. She offered her part-time services. Nine years later, the Chamber of Commerce gave her the Distinguished Citizen Award in the Civics category for her services in training volunteers and in helping schools and libraries on the island. In 1994, when the GBPA turned the auditorium at the side of the building into a children’s library and appointed a full-time librarian there, they offered Mrs. Talma the same job in the preexisting library.
The Norwalk Library in Ohio adopted the Sir Charles Hayward Library in 1996 and sent books, ideas and financial help to the library. Mrs. Talma also at one time had a ‘wish-list’ which was published in an Ohio newspaper, which resulted in the library receiving eleven (11) boxes, each containing twenty-five (25) books.
Summer Camp 2015
The seed for the East End Missile Base Library was planted in 1988 when Mrs. Carol McCutcheon moved to Freetown and began loaning residents books from her private collection. In 1989, when she began teaching at Freetown Primary School, Mrs. McCutcheon began purchasing children’s books, which were made available to students. When the ‘Let’s Read Bahamas’ program began, she initiated a bookmobile using her private car. Later, as Reading Coordinator for East End, she requested and received a van from the T-Com site to be used as a bookmobile.
While attending a reading class on ‘How to Teach Your Child to Read’ taught by Mrs. McCutcheon, Mr. Preston Cooper Jr. suggested the development of a library in Freetown. Reverend and Mrs. Cleveland Cooper met the idea with favour and a library was started in Freetown Lodge Hall. Books were donated from the Sir Charles Hayward Library.
When the Lodge Hall was needed for other purposes, the books were moved to the Missile Base. During this time, the bookmobile was continued and books were available upon request. Father Grant, an Anglican priest from High Rock suggested the vacant telecommunication building on the main highway be used for a library. Mr. Godfrey Bethel was contacted. On December 20th, 1995, Mr. Bethel submitted Mrs. McCutcheon’s proposal and a covering letter to the Ministry of Works.
On March 13th, 1996, Mrs. McCutcheon received a letter from Mr. Lester DeGregory stating that the application had been approved. Mrs. Demaris Thompson was notified, as the project was a direct result of ‘Let’s Read Bahamas.’ Books were transferred to the building and men from the Ministry of Works assisted in transporting filing cabinets, bookcases, desks and other equipment.
During the summer of 1996, Mrs. Vayle Lorien and Mrs. McCutcheon worked daily cataloguing the books and during the summer of 1997, a Government sponsored enrichment program took place. In 1998 Mrs. McCutcheon completed a Ministry of Education sponsored Library Science course at The College of The Bahamas (COB).
The first Ham Day was held at the Freetown Primary School in January 1998. One goal of the Library’s Board of Directors was to preserve the historic significance of the Missile Base and the part The Bahamas (Grand Bahama Island in particular) played in the United States space program. For this reason, the Board chose to select as its annual fund-raising celebration January 29th, which was the anniversary of the chimpanzee ham’s flight into space. The board also felt that a chimpanzee would have a special appeal to children as a library mascot.
The second Ham Day was held the following year at the East End Missile Base Library with Mr. Peter Carpenter reading from a book he had prepared especially for the occasion. The third annual Ham Day focused on the donation of the library to the Ministry of Education thus fulfilling the agreement set out in the original proposal. The primary speaker this time was US Ambassador Arthur Schechter. Also in attendance were the Honourable Zhivargo Laing, Minister of Education and Youth, Kenneth Russell, Member of Parliament, Demaris Thompson, Ministry of Education, Administrator Cash, Dawn Palacious (Alan Shepard’s cousin) and the library board members. Demaris Thompson accepted the key on behalf of the Ministry of Education.
In February 2000, the library served as a resource center for the Lucayan International School during its environmental studies workshop. A committee has been formed to research the history of the Missile Base.