Since the East End branch closed, Tortola has been without a public library. Above is the location of the former Road Town branch. (File Photo: CLAIRE SHEFCHIK)

Almost two weeks after the East End public library closed without warning or explanation, government has yet to issue an update regarding when it will reopen or what prompted the closure in the first place.

During a previous interview with the Beacon, Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, said a report on the territory’s libraries was in the works, but this report has yet to be published.

Multiple calls to Ms.Stoutt-Igwe and to Chief Librarian Suzanne Greenaway went unanswered this week. The Anegada Community Library reopened in February 2018, according to a government press release issued at the time, and may now be the territory’s only functioning library.

Main branch

The main branch in Road Town closed in 2016 in preparation for its move to the Clarence Thomas Limited building, but after Hurricane Irma that building was used as a temporary Elmore Stoutt High School campus.

During an April 2019 meeting of the Standing Finance Committee, Ms. Greenaway mentioned plans to build a national library in Road Town, but said there were no plans for a temporary facility in the meantime, according to a report on the closed-door SFC proceedings.

No further information on that project has been disclosed since then.

Ms. Greenaway also told he SFC that she was based at the East End library, which had survived the 2017 hurricanes with minimal damage.

At the time, she said, the facility was offering after-school and Sunday programmes that bolstered traffic there. Additionally, she noted that some of the books belonging to the library were stored in the “F block” of Elmore Stoutt High School and “riddled with mould.”

VG library

Ms. Greenaway also told legislators that the library building on Virgin Gorda was damaged during the 2017 hurricanes, but it was repaired and handed back to the ministry in 2018, according to the SFC report. It is unclear why it remains closed.


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