EDITORIAL: Restore Carnegie Library


WE have no hesitation in agreeing with Sir Henry Fraser that the Carnegie Library in Bridgetown should be restored. Indeed, we would be bold to suggest that like us, many other Barbadians are of this opinion since they will see the enormous benefits from undertaking a project of that nature.
Barbados still prides itself as an excellent location for learning as the gains made in education are testimony to this. Therefore, when the significance of that building which served as a centre for learning is considered, restoring it would be more than welcomed.
Sir Henry, who is the Chairman of the Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust, spoke recently to The Barbados Advocate on the subject of restoring the building. He related that approximately $4.3 million is required to refurbish the building alone. As he noted, contributions from the public have been slow in coming. However, he is not giving up and is appealing to Barbadians to make even the smallest donation to that worthy cause. 
The point of pressing ahead with the appeal was very evident when he promised “that our goal of getting the Carnegie Library project ... off the ground is still a goal”. With the building having been out of operation for years, it would take substantial funds to have it back in commission where it can once again take its place in that setting in Bridgetown.
The Public Library, as it was also known, has been a key component in the education of our people. No one can deny this. 
There was a time when students assembled there on evenings after school and on Saturdays to engage in serious preparations for school-based studies. 
It was not restricted to students, since adults also found the library a very useful location to read/peruse journals, magazines and books, and to keep abreast of global and regional issues.
There was a seriousness about the place. Upstairs the library there was the Reference Department, which was heavily populated by those who preferred to do their research in an environment ideal for such. What can also be said about that location is that it was conducive for the purposes for which it served.
All of this isn’t to suggest that the present location of the library on Fairchild Street is lacking from what existed on Coleridge Street. That too has proven to be rewarding.
However, what is important is that the strong points made about the Carnegie Library and the role it has played in educational development can be used as a selling point to win more support from Barbadians. Sir Henry has said that the restoration plans include modern facilities with state-of-the-art elevators, air conditioning systems, and modern restrooms. Barbados has a rich history and one can imagine that a refurbished library will have all of the volumes that capture the history of the country.
The fact too that there is an ongoing programme to restore Bridgetown; the project for the library can blend into what is being planned for the historic City. In other words, a restored library will add value to Bridgetown.
Just as the building known as the Old Town Hall was saved and restored, a similar task can be done for the library. Let us all pool our resources and give generously to that project.

Barbados Advocate

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