The Virgin Gorda Public Library re-opened on June 28 after an extended closure following hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, government announced on June 29.
However, no information was provided about the main branch in Road Town, which has been closed since 2016.
“I am happy to see the reopening of the Virgin Gorda Public Library,” Chief Librarian Suzanne Greenaway said in a press release. “Once again persons will be able to access the library to obtain precious information that perhaps may not be easily available on the internet — information such as cultural and historical records for the enrichment of anyone wishing to visit the library.”
Ms. Greenaway also reminded residents of the new library card, which features an image of the Virgin Islands and a barcode storing the patron’s personal data.
Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie de Castro also encouraged residents to use the territory’s public libraries as a source of accurate and reliable information.
“Libraries preserve cultural heritage and history, offer free educational resources, promote literacy, provide access to technology, and foster a sense of safety and community,” she said.
The government announcement last week did not provide an update on other libraries in the territory, which have also struggled following the 2017 storms.
Government announced in February 2021 that the East End and Anegada libraries were back open for regular hours, but the main branch in Road Town has not re-opened since shutting its doors in early 2016 because of mould and other issues.
The same year, government began work on a new library in Pasea Estate, but shortly after Irma the facility was converted into a temporary high school,
and it still serves that purpose. In January 2021, then-Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley — who is now premier — announced that plans for a national library and museum were in development, and that government would announce further details soon.
But that didn’t happen, and Dr. Wheatley told the Standing Finance Committee late last year that the facility probably won’t reopen this year either due to a tight budget.
However, he noted the importance of opening the branch as soon as possible, according to a report on the closed-door SFC proceedings.
Building owners, he told the SFC, have offered facilities to be rented to provide a space for the main branch until a national library is completed, but funding hasn’t been allocated for either project.
At the time, there were no plans to reinstate the mobile library either, officials said during the SFC deliberations after Ms. De Castro — then the junior
minister for tourism — suggested that the bus could be a way to engage residents until the Road Town library re-opens, the SFC report stated.
Ms. Greenaway told legislators at the time that reinstating the mobile library would cost about $200,000 initially, but that no funds were available, accord-
ing to the report. She added that along with purchasing a new vehicle, the ministry would need to buy a collection of at least 2,000 new books.
The report, however, did not explain what happened to the books that were in the former library.