Unprofessional National Library Service

Submitted by Kim

I have been using the National Library Service for years. Recently I have had to be using their services for copying large documents.

Often times when you try to pay they have no change. No Petty Cash operates there and you are sent next door to the Barbados Lotteries for change, where the Attendants would murmur about depleting their change.  Yet the Library or Director does not improve on this.
When payment is accepted often no receipt is issued even when requested, although there are receipt books.
Then there is the issue of copies.  Sometimes the machine malfunctions or patrons, not understanding the machine, makes prints that are spoils but are expected to pay for same. Library Assistants demand payment for the copies conscientiously but care less about providing correct or adequate change to patrons.  Just recently I was asked to allow them to owe me change because they didn’t have the requisite coins to make change. I refused and was told to go get the exact money from another Attendant.  I was not allowed to walk with the copies to the next work station within the same Branch, but, when I returned, the first Attendant was relieved by another who I paid and who was instructed on the exact amount of money to be collected but was not given the copies he was receiving the money for.  With the aggravation, I did not remember to ask for the copies and the Attendant did not see it fit or just didn’t give a damn to think that he must give something in exchange for my money.  So I did not get my copies on that occasion and had to return another time.  The value of Time and efficiency is lost in this agency.
This behaviour of demanding money and not handing over copies or receipt is totally unacceptable and smacks of fraud.  Having defective machines and demanding patrons pay for useless copies is abuse. Extortion.
These issues could be mitigated if some of the Attendants would take an interest in learning how to operate the various specialist functions on the machines.  Instead, they are proud to say they do not know how to do the unusual aka special functions on the machines.  I get the distinct impression that they only want to sit and stamp books and pack shelves.
I wrote the Director on these issues but they continue to persist.  Still outstanding is a receipt for $28 for copies made months ago.  I still have to go to other service providers to get change for business conducted at the National Library Service. Why? Are we in the stone age or are we in the 21st-century, a technological age?
ARE WE THERE AS YET?

36 comments

  • This is a topic that is very dear to my heart. I have been a member of the library from the age of seven, when Mr.Lebrun Sampson at St. Mary’s Junior School enrolled the entire class two as members in the library. A Miss Hutchinson was in charge of the juvenile section in those days and the library closed for half-day on Wednesdays.. That was sixty-five years ago. I was in the library yesterday. What the writer says is correct. The library is in what one can describe as a time-warp. There has been very little change from what was the norm sixty-five years ago. One is still given cards which the librarian indexes under a date system and searches for the index number when books are returned. There seems to have been no effort made to computerized the system. Sometimes the cards can’t be found( happens often). The bit with the change part is true. No receipts normally are given ( in the past after an audit, it was discovered that the money paid in for over-due books had been pilfered – it doesn’t say much for the pilferer of such a small amount of money-the example cited here is factual). As a matter of fact, the money is kept in a drawer in a can. I have joked with the librarian about the set up. One glaring problem is the use of the newspapers in the reading section .there are copies for the general public use. Invariably, the hand-bag checkers employees grab hold of the papers and the readers do not get to read the papers for days on end. In the past, when I frequented the library on a daily basis, I would complain to the supervisor over this matter. Then there is the problem of the security guards reading the papers on the job, depriving the public of the use of the papers. I have complained in the past about this practice. As I explained to the Supervisor, how can a guard who is paid to guard the library, read papers on the job, surely, the guard is not doing the job that is required. These factors aside, I have had a great association with the library. browsing through the books ( one can spend a lot of time merely browsing). I donate books to the library often one can say a contribution for the great experience I have had. Mr. Sampson is long dead, but I am indebted to him for opening a great experience for me.

    Like

  • The library is sited in rental premises. The rents paid over the past nearly two decades could have used to refurbished National Library original home, which was donated to the people of this island. As I have said previously, Owen Arthur has a lot to answer for. He had the opportunity to refurbish the library but didn’t do so. What a short-sighted man.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Instead of Miss Hutchinson it should read Miss Callender.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I AM SO SAD TO HEAR THESE STORIES ABOUT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY

    AS A BOY I FREQUENTED THE OISTIN’S BRANCH ON FRIDAY EVENINGS PRIOR TO ASCENDING VIA SCARBOROUGH TO THE PARISH CHURCH FOR CHOIR PRACTICE.

    IT WAS THERE I LOOKED ESPECIALLY FOR THE CRICKET MAGAZINES OF THE DAY, AND THERE ALSO WHERE I WOULD MEET ONE OF MY CHILDHOOD GIRLFRIENDS.

    IT SEEMS THAT EVERYTHING IN BARBADOS HAS GONE DOWN HILL, AND THAT BARBADOS IS TRULY A FILED STATE

    Liked by 1 person

  • It may be easier to use an app to scan the pages into a tablet. And use the tablet to read the pages. You may use an app such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, e.g. to highlight text or make notes on the pages.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dr Lucas

    I remember your annoyance at the library disposing scientific journals into the trash!

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  • Was the move to the former Modern Living building suppose to be temporary?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    The decline in reading can be attributed to the neglect of public libraries in this nation. Unfortunately most public services are in decline in respect of service quality since they do not provide enough optics for politicians.
    The more we keep the public in ignorance the better the chance of misleading and misinforming them.

    I would suggest that Kim walks with correct change in the future so that the Librarians can concentrate on Library duties. Any extra change she can contribute to the purchase of books. Are there no coin operating copiers any longer?

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  • @Vincent

    It seems we have to always go with the bandaid. Why can’t we fix the damn problem?

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  • @ Ping Pong October 31, 2019 8:01 AM

    The books could have been donated to the various school libraries around the island. This discarding of books of a scientific nature seems to be the norm.. When the Ministry of Agriculture was relocating to its present site from Codrington, a host of research material from the twenties and forties was dumped. I retrieve some very good books which I have up to this day.. For example ” Bacteriology and Mycology of Foods” by Fred Wilbur Tanner, first published in 1919. I have a copy of the first edition( 100 years old) which was discarded. It is a great book: it illustrates the methods (if one ever found oneself in a truly undeveloped area),how to make from first principles media and so on..

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Vincent Codrington October 31, 2019 10:08 AM

    There are coin-operated copiers but not at the library..

    Liked by 1 person

  • Library, Fibrary, Shibrary but ‘We Gathering’. I won’t comment on the inner workings of the Public Library as I haven’t crossed the threshold of that Institution in many a day. I invite readers to peruse the last manifesto of the ruling Party to see whether they can discover any mention of Libraries, they are not “Mission critical”.

    In the early days of the last Gov’t one Minister (Blackett) mused about asking the Gov’t of Cuba for assistance in refurbishing the Carnegie Library (he was serious). The building should be a source of architectural pride for Bajans (where is the National Trust?) and even if it can’t fulfill the requirements of a modern day facility it can be used as a Reference library where important books, periodicals and documents are stored and where students and other researchers can visit to as part of continuing studies/research.

    “We Gathering”

    Liked by 1 person

  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David BU
    Those who work in GOB institutions have to be on top of their jobs and put the requirements for repairs and new technologies in the budgets.
    The politicians are not hands on. They legislate after the technocrats have done the research and produce the proposals for approval by the ministers. We do have cases where public servants try to second guess the politicians rather than assist him in arriving at sensible positions.
    I must confess that there are politicians who do not know their roles and push the envelope. A good public servant knows how to manage him.

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  • @Vincent

    The library service falls under the prime minister’s office? The property at Coleridge Street was allowed to fall into a state of repair because?

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  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David BU

    Band aids are usually supplied by brainstormers. The fundamental source of the disease requires evidence based analyses followed by the most effective medication/ solution. It takes time and competence. Have you seen much of this recently?

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  • Vincent Codrington

    @ David BU

    I was always of the view that libraries were educational institutions. Why do you think libraries should exercise the attention of the Prime Minister? Are not the physical plant of the GoB the remit of the Ministry of Public works?

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  • @ David October 31, 2019 9:03 AM

    “Was the move to the former Modern Living building suppose to be temporary?”

    So too is the temporary Cheapside Market and the temporary meat market next to the fire station.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Correction “so too is should be SO TOO ARE

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  • @Vincent

    Unless it was moved by this administration it has fallen under the prime minister’s office.

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  • The library is sited in rental premises. The rents paid over the past nearly two decades could have used to refurbished National Library original home, which was donated to the people of this island.

    Barbadian ‘reasoning at its finest’.

    According to the some on these are small fry. Minor details. These things are not a big deal. Don’t sweat the small stuff man. Focus on the grand challenges. LOL.

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  • Which comes first; a poor national library service or a poor economy?

    Liked by 1 person

  • SirSimpleSimonPresidentForLife

    Both the DLP and the BLP have neglected and under-funded the National Library Service. It seems to me that senior library managers, and this includes the many, many Permanent Secretaries under whose responsibilities have included the National Library Service, have not pushed the politicians hard enough and consistently enough. This needs to change.

    BLP the ball is in your court.

    Fix the National Library Service and you will have my vote. I have perhaps only three or four votes left now. Do not disappoint me.

    I am asking not so much for me, but for my grandchildren who cannot yet vote, but who will vote for you (or NOT) for many. many decades.

    Liked by 1 person

  • SirSimpleSimonPresidentForLife

    And in any event, even though the IMF is regarded as a rapacious monster, I am willing to bet that they may be a little soft on libraries.

    Some years ago I saw an architectural plan for a new public library, so it is not as though the BLP needs to start from scratch.

    I am no architect, but I would suggest a return to the old site, retaining the old building for lectures, meetings etc, and casting a concrete floor suspended above the roof of the old building, then building a modern three, four or five story library above the old building while retaining the old building. The old building is coral stone and coral stone buildings are notorious for retaining moisture, modern libraries run on electricity/electronics, so I would go for a concrete building, while retaining the beautiful, but somewhat impractical old building. Since the Supreme Court has vacated their old Colerige Street site I would also also turn over that space to the library service.

    Trinidad has a nice modern library building, so does St. Lucia.

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  • SirSimpleSimonPresidentForLife

    So does St. Vincent, so does Antigua.

    Barbados is way behind.

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  • @ SirSimpleSimonPresidentForLife October 31, 2019 3:37 PM

    It is obvious that you once frequented the old library. You have given an accurate account of the building.

    Like

  • SirSimpleSimonPresidentForLife

    Yes. I still regulary use the library service, and take the grands. It is good to teach them the value of reading and libraries as early as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  • “The library is sited in rental premises. The rents paid over the past nearly two decades could have used to refurbished National Library original home,”

    “So too is the temporary Cheapside Market and the temporary meat market next to the fire station.”

    These temporary arrangements are putting money in the pockets of some.

    Like

  • As a guy from the Northern part of the island, I would go to the library in Bridgetown more often than to the one in Speightstown. That was decades ago.

    It was distressing to read what is happening now.

    Perhaps there should be a national fund where citizens could make voluntary donations to some of the “institutions” in Barbados. We know they will thief some, hopefully not all.

    The government cannot do it all. Citizens must step up. Willing to donate.

    Liked by 1 person

  • The response to this posting by Kim is revealing from my perspective :it seems to indicate either that the majority of Barbadians do not read a lot ( therefore aren’t interested in what happens to the library)or that the social media have had a negative effect on the young when it comes to actual reading.

    Like

  • @Dr. Lucas

    Good observation. With the proliferation of electronic devices it seems this is the preferred medium to read – the question is read what and the volume, quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ David

    Thanks.

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  • @ Bu readers

    I have not said sheeple here because NOT ONE OF DEM GOING CROSS THE DOOR MAT AND ENTER THIS ARTICLE.

    I regularly admit that I am not bright like wunna.

    But here is where Piece the Legend ‘s “expertise” is required

    That going get nuff people here vex as badword as de ole man continues to praise meself!!!

    The solution Kim IS YOUR CELLPHONE AND A VOICE RECORDING APP.

    OR A FRIEND WITH A HIDDEN VIDEO.

    All you have to do is visit them next week AND RECORD YOUR CONVERSATION(S) and post them here.

    And de problem is solved forever!!!

    You are very welcomed for de ole man’s free advice

    Like

  • de pedantic Dribbler

    Absolutely correct David re “… With the proliferation of electronic devices it seems this is the preferred medium to read – the question is read what and the volume, quality.”

    Like others I can’t speak directly to the author’s post as I haven’t stepped into the Pub Lib in B’town in donkey years but like them I also visited it often in my youth …. But away with dat now frankly!

    As u allude to Mr Blogmaster, modern electronics vastly expand the reading opportunities for youth today beyond anything we had …

    So to me the issue with the Lib Services is not about the physical plant principally but all the other things they are or are NOT doing!

    Are books available for electronic download; if yes, how many titles?

    Can a Bajan join the library online and access materials readily without repeated trips to Whitepark or a branch library?

    I went on a spy thriller reading binge a few years ago and read over 20 books from Baldacci, Lee Childs et al and I stepped into a library building maybe twice over the many months of that binge-out….

    I certainly want a welcoming and impressive library building with many very useful books shelved because that has a cachet and touchy feeliness about it…. but realistically getting your kids involved in reading is less about visiting a building as it is about finding the very best App to get them tuned in 😁!

    If photo copying services is still a notable feature of the pub library then it’s no wonder things so dread… As a blogger noted it may be opportune to use the tech and modern Apps to better effect.

    Just saying!

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  • Vincent Codrington

    @ dpD

    Reading printed hard copy material is more productive and less tiring on the eyes than reading electronically. It is quicker and allows one to review matters more effectively. Margins are also good for notes.

    Like

  • VINCENT

    THERE IS SOME MERIT IN WHAT YOU SAY BUT reading electronically YOU CAN COPY AND PRINT WHAT YOU WANT

    I NO LONGER HAVE TO GO TO THE LIBRARY TO READ CRICKET MAGAZINES, I CAN JUST BRING UP CRICINFO, AS I DO DAILY.

    I NOW ONLY READ MY BIBLE AT CHURCH. I CAN READ IT ONLINE WITH A BIGGER FONT

    MOST OF THE BIBLE COMMENTARIES I BOUGHT YEARS AGO AND HAVE IN MY LIBRARY IN BARBADOS, I CAN READ ONLINE, AND QUICKLY CUT AND PASTE ANY DESIRABLE QUOTES I NEED

    I STILL BELIEVE THERE IS A ROLE FOR LIBRARIES THOUGH

    Like

  • I still use the library service. I have used both the main library and my branch library recently and I must say that the branch staff is much more helpful and professional than what is reported here.

    Liked by 1 person

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