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Harbour Island

History

The Harbour Island Library was named in honour of Sir George Roberts; a native of Harbour Island and President of the Legislative Council. The library originally established in 1853 by Lieutenant Governor is a historical landmark being the second oldest library in The Bahamas. It was dedicated in 1968. Located on Church Street, it was later moved twice before its present location on Dunmore Street. It was through the efforts spearheaded by Dr. Paul Albury that a committee of Brilanders and those interested worked together to raise funds and built a new facility. Mr. Humphrey Percentie brought books by truck and delivered them to the entrance of the new library. Miss Elodie Ling, teacher and Mrs. Rawstron, New Zealander and wife of Dr. Rawstron, the original owner and builder of Tingum Village, sorted and placed the books onto shelves. The library housed historical pictures and artifacts. This new building was dedicated in 1968 and it continues to operate today.

As time passed, the library fell into disrepair coupled with damage from hurricanes, and a lack of funding. In November 2002, a group of interested persons, headed by Mr. Cephas Cooper, administrator of North Eleuthera, Mrs. Eloise Knowles, chief counselor, Mrs. Judith Savage (local library co-chair) and her husband, Mr. Don Savage, winter residents, along with Mr. Pascale Saunders, Mr. Ricky Mackey and a team of hard working local residents set out to restore the library. It took a year and two months to complete.

The re-opening of this library on 23 January 2004 became a reality because of the strong community spirit and the thirst and love for knowledge and information. Through its numerous innovative programmes and activities for children, its theme, “A Vision – Possibilities – People – Community Spirit and ‘Anything is Possible’” is exemplified.

The Ministry of Education has made a commitment to strengthening the library system and upgrading services throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The library’s modern facilities with its wide variety of books and resources such as reference materials, CD-ROMs and easy access to the Internet will have a positive impact on users; enabling them to conduct research and make decisions involving economic, political and social issues.

Location and Directions

  • Dunmore Street
  • Harbour Island, Bahamas

Hours of Operation

  • Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Library Statistics

  • About 50 persons a day visit the library.

Picture Gallery

Membership

Services

Users have access to the following:

  • Quiet study
  • Book loans
  • Reference materials, including newspapers
  • Research materials
  • Internet services
  • Use of computer
  • Photocopying
  • Recreational reading
  • Educational computer lab
  • Book clubs, adult and children 

Staff

  • Library Coordinators – 5 member committee chaired by Mr. Lionel Rolle
  • Ms Branhilda Sawyer – Library Assistant
  • Mr Valentino Hudson – Library Technician
  • Judith Savage – President, Friends of the Library Organization – assists committee and staff

Other Departments

Library Contacts

News and Events

Ongoing Exhibits

  • Bahamian Historical Timeline
  • Coral Reef Model
  • Taino Village
  • Spotlight on the Bahamas – various islands

Educational Computer Lab

  • Individual workstations with computers and educational software offer supplemental instruction and reinforcement in reading, science and mathematics. Tuesday-Friday, 3-6pm, 8 yrs and older

Current Projects

  • Collection of Oral History videos and tapes from Harbour Island residents, their recollections and experiences – the history not found in books.
  • Wall map with photo and descriptions of historical sites on Harbour Island.

Accomplishments – January 2003 to November 2005

“What We’ve Been Doing”

January 2003 to January 2004

  • Held community meetings to present, vision to restore and revitalize the library – defunct for 35 years
  • Six committees formed to plan and begin work on establishing a working library
  • Renovations to building contracted and accomplished
  • Held fundraisers – book sale, boat sale, silent auction to generate necessary funds
  • Produced library note cards to generate revenue
  • Held First Harbour Island Book Festival prior to reopening
  • Held Halloween readings on library steps prior to reopening
  • Held progress open house prior to reopening
  • Cleaned and sorted existing books
  • Organized and developed lending, membership, and library policies
  • Established a Friends of the Library Organization, constitution written and voted upon

January 2004 to January 2005

  • Created library newsletter to inform public (7 issues to date)
  • Planned and held reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony – 2 day event
  • Held second Harbour Island Book Festival (18 guest readers)
  • Recruited and trained volunteers to man the library
  • Second Silent Auction fundraiser held
  • Elected officers for the Friends of the Library Organization
  • Held “Summer Bees” (preschool) story hours weekly during the month of July
  • Started our “Kids Only Reading Club” (ages 7 – 12 years) – weekly Saturday meetings
  • Participated in the local government’s work/study student program – 2 weeks, one student
  • Purchased computers for our learning centre
  • Held Halloween programmes 04 (on library steps)
  • Contracted for and had furniture built and air conditioning installed
  • Movie System installation
  • Began an audio book collection for children (about 35 award winning books on tape)
  • Adult Book Club formed (4 books a year)
  • Held our first Holiday Book Sale – promoting books as gifts instead of toys
  • Hired a part time library attendant – 3 days a week

January 2005 to November 2005

  • Celebrated our first year of operation on January 23, 2005
  • Established a teacher cadet/ junior library assistant program with the All Age School
  • Held orientation and training for 8 students for the teacher cadet programme
  • Created guidelines and established our Board of Directors for the Friends of the Library Organization
  • Held giant book sale of used books
  • Set up a reading skills work station utilizing the Leap Pad
  • Compiled a Harbour Island children’s booklet of “Books Too Good To Miss”!
  • Tested Story Hour time for preschool children (Beatrix Potter favourites) on Tuesdays
  • Held annual silent auction to generate funds
  • Launched our Reach Out and Read, pediatric literacy program – Partnership with clinic in July 2005 – since
  • then close to 200 age appropriate books have been distributed!! Pilot program in The Bahamas

July 2005 – designated as Reef Awareness Month on Harbour Island

  • 2 weekly videos for adults, plus discussion
  • Saturday Reef Awareness Program for children – books, slides, videos, hands on
  • Microscope experiences, children built a 5-foot coral reef sculpture
  • Friday movie nights are held to coordinate with books in the library collection
  • Oral history tape collection – Reflections from the islanders, Thirty (30) years of Independence, The Project and island family life, Sponging, and Bahamian Boat Building)
  • Created an eight (8) foot Bahamian Time Line display in the Reference Room
  • Third Book Festival held (adult and children readers, library art, “reading theatre”)
  • Holiday Book Sale 05 (books instead of toys, new books for sale)

Established and Ongoing:

  • Researching, purchasing, and cataloguing our book collection. To date our collection is 3000+ books and growing, Dewey Decimal System and card catalogue system prevails and is utilized successfully
  • “Kids Only Reading Club” is held Saturdays in November-December 10, January -April, and during the month of July
  • Adult Book Club meets and discusses books
  • Adult classes for “Introduction to Computers” – basic word processing, e-mail, and web access – 24 graduates to date.

Submitted by Mrs. Judith Savage
Co-Chair Local library Committee & Friends of the Library
Sir George W.K. Roberts Library Harbour Island, Bahamas

Edited and partial submissions by Dellarease S. Hield

Research Officer, Bahamas Library Service