When I tell people that I grew up in the Bahamas, I’m often asked “What are you doing up here?” Naturally, this conjures images of sunny beaches and blue waters. While these things are indeed true, I must confess, other aspects of this seemingly idyllic life leave me wanting more. Bahamian public libraries are a bit behind the curve. Some charge membership fees, and interlibrary lending is difficult to facilitate, especially without a supportive community.
When I was still in grade school, the only library I visited was at my school. I remember lining up in our classrooms every few weeks, marching over to the library, and spending what felt like hours combing the stacks for books. I would carry my one allowed book up to the desk, and watch with fascination as Ms. Albury removed the card inside the book’s pocket, stamp, and record the due date with the finest and most deliberate script. I was captivated by the ceremony of it all.
One day, I heard news of a brand-new public library opening in a nearby neighborhood, and I was eager to see what they had to offer. Unfortunately, soon after their grand opening, and despite the police department next door, the library was vandalized. Windows were broken. Walls graffitied. People were frightened to go inside. For years, I thought public libraries everywhere were scary, unsafe places, and so I never visited one.
As an undergraduate student, I worked at my university library, and it was there that I began to consider going to graduate school for library science. Surely, I would work in academic libraries — in my mind, someplace much safer than the public library. Thankfully, I’ve come to not only recognize, but understand and advocate for the importance of libraries to their communities. After graduate school, my first library job was at a public library, and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences in my professional career. Now, as the new Director of the Kent Memorial Library, I hope I can help our community understand that a public library is a resilient force, and nothing to ever be afraid of.
All April programs, events, group meetings, and book discussions are subject to postponement pending further updates regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Please contact the Kent Memorial Library by phone (860-668-3896) or by web (www.suffield-library.org) for details.