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.