The main branch of the public library in Road Town has been closed since early 2016, and it probably won’t reopen this year due to a tight budget, Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said late last year during the Standing Finance Committee deliberations.
Dr. Wheatley, however, noted the importance of opening the facility as soon as possible, according to a report on the closed-door SFC proceedings.
He added that some people are ashamed that Road Town hasn’t had a library since before the 2017 hurricanes. Building owners, he said, 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.
There are no plans to reinstate the mobile library either, officials said during the SFC de- liberations after Junior Minister of Tourism Sharie De Castro suggested that the bus could be a way to engage residents until the Road Town library re-opens, the report stated.
Chief Librarian Suzanne Greenaway told legislators that reinstating the mobile library would cost about $200,000 initially, but that no funds were available, according to the SFC 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 did not explain what happened to the books that were in the former library.
There is also no space to park a new mobile library, Ms. Greenaway said, adding that before Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, the mobile library was parked at the Central Administration Building.
She added that the mobile library should be established along with a physical library.
Road Town hasn’t had a branch of the public library for about six years.
In early 2016, the main branch on Flemming Street closed due to mould and other issues.
A new facility was being constructed at the former Clarence Thomas Limited building in Pasea, but after Irma it was repurposed for use by students from Elmore Stoutt High School.
Senior ESHS students continue to attend classes there as new buildings are erected on their main campus in central Road Town.
Buildings to house the senior students on that campus are scheduled to be completed later this year.