Thu, 04/14/2016 - 12:00am
Barbadians have been slow to contribute to the cause of restoring the Carnegie Library, but Sir Henry Fraser, Chairman of the Preservation (Barbados) Foundation Trust, remains hopeful that they will meet the multimillion dollar
Speaking to The Barbados Advocate yesterday morning following a breakfast workshop hosted by the Foundation, Sir Henry noted that approximately $4.3 million is needed to restore the old Carnegie Library alone, and more funds are required to restore the old Supreme Court and other buildings on that compound. “So we are looking to raise $4.3 million in the first instance so we can get started on the restoration work within the next few months,” he said.
With that in mind, he is again appealing to all Barbadians to make even the smallest donation to ensure that the work, aimed at opening the doors of that architectural masterpiece to once again welcome Barbadians and visitors alike, begins. His appeal came as he noted that while there are some philanthropic entities operating in the country, which give generously, it has been difficult getting Barbadians in general to contribute.
“Almost all of the churches in Barbados for example are built entirely by the gift of land and the gift of money to build the churches. Our churches are the result of the great charities of the 19th century, but perhaps in those days people felt that their good works would take them closer to heaven or more likely get them into heaven. We have become much more materialistic society, but our goal of getting the Carnegie Library project off the ground in this our anniversary year is still a goal and I live in hope, I am an eternal optimistic – I hope and I pray that Barbadians in their numbers will come out. And if they haven’t got a million dollars, even a widow’s mite will help to make a difference,” he said.
He explained that with the assistance of the United States Embassy they were able to conduct a full quantity survey of the building to determine the cost of the restoration, and now require the finances to get the project up and running. He said once refurbished, the library will feature state-of-the-art elevators and air conditioning systems as well as modern restrooms.
“It won’t look like one of those space ship libraries, but it will have all the modern facilities within the gorgeous historic core of that Italianate building of coral stone that our artisans built, our ancestors built 110 years ago. It is a gorgeous building and for people of my generation we just loved that building because we used it so extensively and it meant so much to us,” he said.
Sir Henry noted that if just 10,000 Barbadians were to make a contribution of $100 to the project, they would be $1 million closer to their goal. He made the point while explaining that the restoration of the library would aid in the growth and development of this country and as such, he is dismissing the idea that libraries are outdated. In fact, the Heritage Consultant contended that apart from storing vast sources of information, libraries are also cultural centres.
“We all need to make a contribution to growth of Barbados, to the literacy of Barbados, to the knowledge [and] the research. Some people ask why do we need a library when everybody has a smartphone, well let me tell you, right now Sir Woodville Marshall, Henderson Carter, Alissandra Cummins, I and a few others are working on a fabulous Independence celebrations book called ‘The Dictionary of National Biographies’ and it is astonishing, how little information about our great patriots, the people who have built Barbados, it is astonishing how of that little information is available on the web. We have to go into the library, the archives, the museum library, to our books, and our ledgers and our records of every kind to find that information. It is simply not available on the internet,” he maintained. (JRT)