The Dominica Library and Information Service is celebrating Library Week from May 17 to May 22 under the theme ‘The Dynamism of Information Access Today and Beyond the Pandemic’.

The Dominica Library And Information Service’s responsibilities and functions are built upon a foundation of library service that stretches as far back as 1843, with the establishment of reading rooms and more formally with the opening of the first library on island on April 4, 1902".

Public library services remained the basis for library and information provision for some time with the expanding of services through the establishment of branch libraries, mobile library services and administering and supporting library services in schools throughout Dominica.

An opening ceremony was held to officially mark the start of library week and was attended by the Minister for Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training and National Excellence, Honourable Octavia Alfred.

Minister Alfred says over the years the DLIS has made access to the public more feasible. She says services by the library are now being offered online.

“As we become more and more in tuned with technological advances, libraries are embracing the need to become more accessible online. Further, the rapid moves in technology are making clear that the role of the library is less about providing physical space for books and more about connecting with readers and connecting readers and learners to knowledge wherever it is. I am proud to note hat the Dominica Library and Information Services has stepped up to the challenge and even amidst limitation of space has managed to provide a welcoming common space that encourages exploration, creation and collaboration between students and the wider community,” Honourable Alfred stated.

The Education Minister commended the Chief Librarian and the staff of the Dominica Library and Information Service for their efforts to expand the library and to augment the public’s interest in the services offered by the DLIS.

“When Hurricane Maria damaged the Public Library and most of our books were destroyed, the library team sourced new materials from donors abroad and ensured that the library was restored with relevant material. They understood that with limited access to internet, members of the public would need a space where they could continue to gather information for studies and work. They made it a priority to provide free internet and computer usage in a quiet space. Their efforts I believe, should show us the public that public libraries in the 21st century are as important and relevant as they were at any other time,” the Minister noted.

Chief Librarian, Mrs. Vernanda Raymond, also spoke of the services of the library. She says even in the difficult times of the covid-19 pandemic the DLIS continues to expand its services.

“This period marks a significant transformation of the library service in Dominica with the May 11th 1907 formal opening of the Carnegie Library that served as the Roseau Public Library and headquarter of the Public Library Services until it was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Today, library services have expaned to include the Documentation Centre that serves as a research arm and depository for Government publication; the Archive Unit a national repository for the islands historical and documentary heritage and Mobile library Service for schools,” Mrs. Raymond explained.

Mrs. Raymond spoke of some of the measures which were put in place for the library from the onset of the covid-19 pandemic in March last year.

“Firstly, work plans were developed for online assignments with teams established to undertake a number of tasks while working from home. This included review DLIS website and electronic databases content; assessment of online data links; increasing access to online resources; updating of membership and registration records; facilitation of contact with friends of library to build online content for the DLIS YouTube channel and online reference services,” Mrs. Raymond listed.

The chief librarian says even in the face of crisis the Dominica Library and Information Service continues to provide information to the public. She says the theme highlights the creativity of the DLIS and commitment to work in the interest of all citizens.

“Even in the face of crisis to a very demanding and diverse clientele with great expectation, we know that the public is our reason for being. And in keeping with our motto, information for development, we strive to ensure that information is available to assist in the development process on a personal, community and national level,” the Chief Librarian added.  

One member of staff, Mr. Roy Tonge, was recognized for his hard work and commitment to the Dominica Library and Information Service for the past twenty-six year. The US Embassy through the American Spaces was also recognized for the relation and contribution to the DLIS over the past ten years.