Open Journal Systems

World Libraries| Volume 17 | Issue 1

Book Review

William Vernon Jackson

Caribbean Libraries in the 21st Century: Changes, Challenges, and Choices.

Edited by Cheryl Peltier-Davis and Shamin Renwick.
Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 2007.
ISBN: 978-1-573-87301-7, xxv, 387 pages,
22 illustrations. US$49.50.

In the Introduction (p. xvii) the editors tell the reader that the purpose of the collection is "to document the state of Caribbean libraries by examining the responses by these institutions to the changes, challenges, and choices in an increasingly electronic and virtual environment." Rather than doing a pre-planned volume (as does Library Trends). they appearently issued a call for papers related to this theme. They received 36 proposals from 55 potential contributors; the resulting volume contains 25 articles by 41 library and information science professionals in 10 countries, including Canada and the United States (p. xv). These papers are presented in the following eight parts:

  1. Historical Perspective
  2. Management of the 21st Century Library - Collections, Staff, and Services
  3. Innovative Services
  4. Integration and Impact of Information Technology on Library Services
  5. Library Cooperation and Resource Sharing in the 21st Century
  6. Education and Training of Library Users
  7. Distance Education
  8. Caribbean Librarians

By way of example, here are authors and titles for four pieces: "School Libraries in the Caribbean: A Jamaican Case Study"(by Cherrel Shelley-Robinson), "Out of the Darkness: Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled in Trinidad and Tobago" (by Annette Wallace), "The Impact of Modern Information Technology in the Caribbean: Exploring the Challenges for the Technical Services Division" (by Gwyneth E. George), "The Caribbean Library is Diaspora: Perspectives from Scholarship and Librarianship " (by Nancy Cirillo, Linda Naru, and Ellen Starkman).

Despite the title, Caribbean Libraries, the reader soon realizes that all but two of the articles deal with library and information service in the English-speaking Caribbean (the remaining two trace the development of libraries in Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles). There is no explanation of this important limitation. Was it part of the original plan? Did no potential authors submit proposals? Perhaps the editors could consider planning another volume dealing with the nonEnglish speaking areas. This is less urgent for Cuba, because nine articles on the library scene there appear in World Libraries (volume 13, http://www.worlib.org/vol13no1-2/index.shtml) and were reprinted as Aspects of Contemporary Librarianship in Cuba (River Forest, Ill.: Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University, 2005).

Given the great diversity in history, culture, and socio-economic conditions even in the English-speaking Caribbean, it would be helpful to readers outside the area to find an opening piece with basic "facts and figures."

This work features a very useful Index (21 pages) which, in addition to locating specific institutions and topics, also contains geographic references (e.g., Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname) and entries under four types of libraries (academic, public, school, and special).

In the final pages one also finds a list acronyms, and brief biographical information on the editors, reviewers of the manuscripts,, and the contributors.

This volume gives evidence of careful planning and execution. This reviewer found almost no typographical errors. Citations, to both publications and online resources, appear to be both accurate and complete.

The lack of recent studies on the Caribbean makes this work especially welcome to both those interested in the region and to teachers of international and comparative librarianship.

About the Author

William Vernon Jackson is Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Texas at Austin, and also Senior Fellow, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University.

© 2007 William Vernon Jackson

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