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New West Bay Library

Minister Alden McLaughlin cuts the ribbon, assisted by Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler (R).

A West Bay Public Library and Learning Centre, the first in more than five decades, was opened last week during a ceremony attended by government officials, library staff, educators and students.

Commenting that it has been his ministry's priority to promote reading and literacy skills amongst people of all ages, Education Minister the Hon Alden McLaughlin said "I look forward to children, teenagers, mothers, fathers, working professionals and senior citizens alike taking every possible advantage of the services and resources now available in West Bay."

Referring to government's investment of some $450,000 into this library, he added, "When I think of the many who will find their way here, I am confident that we are fulfilling our obligation and commitment to the young people of this country; they deserve the best-possible education and learning support."

Before cutting the ribbon and unveiling the commemorative plaque, he also thanked everyone involved for their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm.

The West Bay facility is the final in a series of conversions of former town halls into district libraries over recent years. In addition to some 6,000 books, DVDs and other resources, a special learning centre offers eight computers, complete with wireless internet access and other IT tools. A separate meeting/presentation room also houses two computers. Residents may access services and use any local public library card, obtainable for a $2 annual fee for adults (free to youths 16 and younger).

The opening event was also a revival of the district's historic building which first opened in 1939. Welcoming attendees, Chief Officer Angela Martins said, "When I began working with the ministry in 2005 the West Bay Library was a dream." She described the renovated facility as a having a wonderful maritime theme.

The new interior, designed by the Public Works Department Architectural Section has a seafaring motif. A schooner replica is at the centre, serving as a reception desk and containing a reading area in the bow.

Appropriately, the original roof of the former town hall was designed as an inverted ship's hull (a design also reflected in several historic buildings including other district libraries).

The West Bay opening also served to introduce a new management structure for the library service. Following Librarian Benedicta Connolly's retirement in February, public libraries were incorporated into the Education Services Department. The new alignment has become a key component of the new Learning Communities programme and West Bay's Learning Community Leader is veteran educator Herbert Crawford.

Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler was also on hand to welcome the facility. "Libraries are gateways to learning, and what we see here today is a transformation of learning opportunities in West Bay," she said. She further encouraged district residents to "construct their own learning paths, and always seek to discover and learn new things. We must become a community of citizens who care about our own learning opportunities."

Mrs Wahler further emphasised the important link between the new library and district schools, especially the adjacent John A Cumber Primary School.

The proceedings also saw the district's Community Development Action Committee (CODAC) group donate $3,000 towards the purchase of children's books, and for promoting youth literacy.

The Lions Club too pledged its involvement and will assist with the children's programme. An outreach programme is also planned for senior citizens, especially those in the Golden Age Home.

'Friends of Library' Chairman Jacqui Smith was also present for the opening ceremony.

The opening hours for the new West Bay Public Library and Learning Centre are weekdays 10am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. The telephone number is 949-7659.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian