Tag Archives: public library

Carib Lit Plus (Mid to Late May 2021)

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back, or, if looking for an earlier installment, use the search window. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information – it is understood that this is the original sourcing and additional research would have been done by me to build the information shared here)

Wadadli Pen News

Our annual awards were held on May 30th 2021. Read all about it here or catch clips on our YouTube channel.

It’s a family affair: Meet Wadadli Pen’s first father-daughter winners.


New Writing

Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters has dropped a new issue with writing from John Robert Lee of St. Lucia, Lisa Allen-Agostini of Trinidad and Tobago, Lawrence Scott, also of TnT, and art from Nadia Huggings, among others. Read the full issue here.

Congratulations Due

Winners of the Antigua and Barbuda Halycon Steel Orchestra 50th anniversary facebook competition: soloist Emmanuel Joseph of Trinidad and Tobago and 5-piece Pantastick Music out of St. Lucia. View also this retrospective, also on facebook, on Petra-The Spectator’s page. It explores the birth and growth of the band, second only to the oldest continuous steelpan orchestra (Hell’s Gate) in panorama titles, and one of the prides of the Grays Green community.


To the regional winners of the 2021 Commonwealth Writers short story prize. The Caribbean winner is the amazing Roland Watson-Grant of Jamaica (author of the novel Sketcher) for his short story ‘The Disappearance of Mumma Del’. Namibian Rémy Ngamije is the Africa winner; Sri Lankan Kanya D’Almeida is the Asia winner; UK writer Carol Farrelly is the Canada-Europe winner; and Australian Katerina Gibson is the winner from the Pacific.

One of the judges, fellow Jamaican Diana McCaulay (whose latest book is Daylight Come) said of Roland’s submission: “A wiseass, pitch-perfect teenager tells the story of a pear tree near to the rail tracks of a bauxite train in a rural Jamaican district – no one will eat from this particular tree – but why? ‘The Disappearance of Mumma Dell’ teems with lightly but perfectly sketched and familiar characters – a hellfire preacher, a scammer, community elders and shadowy politicians. Promises are broken, warnings are ignored, and the now power of social media supersedes the then magic of obeah. Rich, funny and deeply rooted in the Jamaican countryside, this story reverberates with the drumbeats of the ancestors and delivers an incisive commentary on what gets protected, by whom and why.”

Commonwealth Writers reports that they received a record 6, 423 entries from 50 Commonwealth countries this year, making judging very challenging. The overall winner will be announced on June 30th 2021, online for the second year in a row. This is the 10th year of the Commonwealth short story prize. And if you – like me – are from a small island, and wondering if you’ll ever crack this nut, here’s a bit of trivia: this is Namibia first time making the short list and they ran all the way to the head of the class as regional winner. (Source – Commonwealth Writers email and website)


Writing for Children with Joanne C. Hillhouse • Bocas Lit Fest

Capturing the attention and imagination of young readers can be challenging; join prize winning author Joanne Hillhouse for a workshop in writing for children.

For intermediate and advanced writers! Details here. (Source – Bocas)

Click for other Opportunities. ETA: This workshop has been postponed as a result of a surge in COVID cases in Trinidad and Tobago where Bocas is based. An announcement will be made at some point re the rescheduling.

New Books

As a fan of Kei’s last essay collection and his writing generally, I’m looking forward to reading this one, Jamaican writer Kei Miller’s Things I have Withheld, which Rebel Women Lit describes as a great artistic achievement and a work of beauty which challenges us to say the unsayable. Connect here to attend Kei’s upcoming launch event. (Source – initially, the author’s facebook page)


Michael Joseph, pharmacist and former president of the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross and governing board member of the international Red Cross body, has a chapter in a the World Dream book project.

The editors are Taichi Ichikawa and Ibun Hirahara who conceived the idea of gathering dreams from across the globe after attending the One Young World global summit for young leaders. The book is published, in Japanese, by Iroha Publising. (Source – Michael Joseph’s facebook page)

Celebrating Books

The May 23rd issue of Lit Hub’s This Week in Literary History newsletter had a really cool story about John Steinbeck, his dog, and his iconic novella Of Mice and Men. But I’m really sharing because of its shout out to Antigua-born writer Jamaica Kincaid whose birthday week it reminds us is this week. Here’s the quote:

“One of the things that young people need to know when they go into writing is that they ought to stop writing these stupid books that please people. They should write as if they might fail at it. To succeed at something mediocre is worse than to fail at something great.”

It being Jamaica Kincaid birthday week, I’ll list my faves, top to bottom, from her bibliography in the order of my love for them (this list will obviously be limited to what I’ve read and will clearly disagree with how others might order them – hence, my list):

Annie John
See Now Then
A Small Place
My Brother
Mr. Potter
The Autobiography of My Mother

*I linked some of the places I’ve shared my thoughts about Jamaica Kincaid and/or her named books – anything unlinked was read before I started sharing my book thoughts online.


The National Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda has for a while now been celebrating books via its Author of the Month series. The most recent guest of the series has been Turtle Beach author and bookstore manager Barbara Arrindell who spoke about her own books, the role of libraries, and why Antiguans and Barbudans should be building their library of local books.

Previous guests in recent months have included self-help and business guru Janice Sutherland who was in October 2020 the first online/virtual Author of the Month when the series returned after the COVID lockdown began; Floree Williams Whyte, author of three books beginning with Pink Teacups and Blue Dresses, who made a return trip to the platform; the first author of the month for 2021 Joanne C. Hillhouse, author of seven books and more; Shawn Maile whose book How to work Six Jobs on an Island the library describes as “a most interesting read”; another non-fiction author (of three books and counting) T. Lerisa Simon; and Jo-Ann Carr, author of Broken to be Blessed: My Life Story. For these and more library content, including their Career and Entrepreneurship: Tips and Tricks series, visit their facebook and youtube platforms.

The National Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda has a very storied history. The building above (by Mali A. Olatunji), on lower High Street, was destroyed during the 1974 earthquake and eventually torn down in the 1990s while the library continued to operate from upstairs a store front on Market Street, in the main commercial district of St. John’s City. The cramped space meant that the country was without full library services for at least two generations as the new library building project didn’t reach completion until 2014. The new library, pictured below, is at Hailes Promenade, near the East Bus Station, just outside of St. John’s City.


The Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival celebrates Trinidad and Tobago writer Lisa Allen-Agostini’s The Bread the Devil Knead.

Lisa will also be participating in an event at Books and Rhymes on May 21st 2021. Virtually, of course. Here’s where you register.

(Source – Lisa Allen-Agostini’s facebook)


ireadify.com, a new platform for diverse, including Caribbean, audio and ebooks has announced its top April 2021 reads. We can’t promise we’ll be sharing these every time (or any other time, really) but we’re sharing it this time in order to celebrate these books:

Black Girl Magic Sprinkles is by a mother and daughter duo, Chaunetta and Trinity Anderson, who founded the publishing company Black Girl Magic Books out of their home base in Maryland. The illustrator is Nana Melkadze.

Munna and the Maharaja, by Fawzia Gilani Williams with illustrator Deepa Balsavar, is a product of India’s Tulika press.

Abigail’s Glorious Hair (see image below from ireadify’s twitter), a book by veteran Jamaican children’s book author and blogger Diane Browne, with illustrator Rachel H. Moss. Publisher is Jamaica’s Blue Banyan Books.

(Source – ireadify.com email)

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, The Jungle Outside, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on AmazonWordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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About the Antigua Public Library Author of the Month Series

Award winning children’s American author and illustrator of Antiguan descent Ashley Bryan during a visiting event at the Antigua and Barbuda Public Library (this and all images in this post, unless otherwise noted, taken from the Public Library facebook page)

Having recently mentioned the Antigua and Barbuda Public Library Author of the Month series (specifically the launch of a book by Kevroy Graham earlier this year) in the Carib Lit Plus series, the arts round up series here on the blog, it seemed timely (overdue actually, since this is an Antigua and Barbuda literary platform) to give some information on the NPL author series overall.

The series has featured a mid-afternoon tea and coffee, author reading and book signing, and book sale with Brenda Lee Browne and her book London Rocks, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst and his various non-fiction books , Timothy Payne (writer and photographer who died in 2020) , S. E. James (author of several books for children beginning with Tragedy on Emerald Island), Janice Sutherland (who presented her self-help book This Woman Can!), Kimolisa Mings (author of both poetry and fiction, e.g. She wanted a Love Poem and Saving Babylon, respectively), former Wadadli Pen volunteer and activist Claytine Nisbett (who presented her Life as Josephine and led a discussion on ‘the empowered girl’), and Sylvanus Barnes (poet) .

I haven’t had the opportunity to be an Author of the Month as yet but I did reach out to deputy director Carolyn Spencer last year for information and she indicated that the programme’s aim is to introduce the local community to its authors. She explained that authors are invited to display their books and read excerpts, and that selections are done based on availability during the months of January – November. I imagine that with the COVID-19 lockdown everything has been on pause or has been disrupted, I don’t know for sure. I did express my interest in doing something in 2020 – it has been a dream to do an author event and to do more workshop activities at the public library and even, as I’ve proposed, an author/writer in residence programme (where the resident author has office hours and the goal of fostering engagement between the Library and the community’s writers and readers by providing instruction on the craft of writing, serving as library ambassador, and more).

So, fingers crossed for the future.

For more information on the Author of the Month or other library initiatives contact the Public Library at publib287@gmail.com Also find them on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NPLAntiguaBarbuda

Quick history of the National Public Library – it was founded in 1830, four years before Emancipation, as a private venture; the library had its first destruction by quake in 1843 and on rebuilding the government assumed ownership in 1854 and put trustees in place to run things; the second destruction by quake was in 1974

Old library building shortly before it was torn down in the 1990s amid protest. (File photo: Mali A. Olatunji)

forcing the removal of the library from lower High Street to a number of temporary homes including Silston Library, ironically a library founded by someone who had once been denied access to the Public Library as a youth, and then to where I knew it growing up, and where I worked as library shelf duster and stacker one summer, upstairs a Market Street storefront – it had its problems

File photo by Joanne C. Hillhouse

; the long running and sometimes controversial library building project finally culminated with the 2014 opening of the Hailes Promenade new library building, between East Bus Station and Botanical Gardens.

We’ve written about the library’s long plight before here on the blog. And the library is personally important to me, as a space for children like I once was to have access to books irrespective of their resources – which is why I make a point of donating copies of my books going back to The Boy from Willow Bend so that they can be on the shelves for all. Pictured below is the contribution of 15 copies of Musical Youth, a CODE/Burt Award prize winningbook, made by myself and the CODE programme to a library representative invited to the launch in 2014.

File Photo from the launch of Musical Youth, 2014

Initiatives like the Author of the Month series – and the movie events, summer read initiatives (shout out to the Friends of Antigua Public Library), presentations on topics of community interest like glaucoma, environmental matters, and breast cancer, Library Week, Easter camp, book launches like that of Dr. Natasha Lightfoot’s Troubling Freedom, classes in  various skills, workshops like ones I’ve done there (running afoul of and questioning the dress code in the process), and more will hopefully go a long way (and is undoubtedly already going a long way) towards asserting (in a community that had to make-do for too long) the place and value of a library as a literary and community space in modern society.


As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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A & B Arts Round Up — September 7th 2019 —>

December 14th 2019 – also Wesley.jpg


November 30th 2019 –

September 17th 2019 – did you know that the Public Library has a monthly author reading series? well it does – next up is Sylvanus Barnes syl.jpg

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, unless otherwise indicated, this is written by author and Wadadli Pen founder and coordinator Joanne C. Hillhouse. All rights reserved.

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A & B Arts Roundup

Linisa George’s Brown Girl in the Ring featured in Shakespeare in Paradise in the Bahamas. “Erin Knowles, one of the directors of Murder & Poetry, came across George’s piece as a feature in a 2014 Tongues of the Ocean issue that focused on art and literary works from Antigua and Barbuda. Knowles felt instantly connected to George’s poem and had this to say about her choice to have Brown Girl In The Ring included in her production, “The piece focuses on the element of identity and coming to terms with that which we should be proud of. I think it’s an excellent piece to be included in my production because of the language and references to the ring-play that we idolized as young children.” Brown Girl in the Ring is being performed in the round alongside other poems that align with the goal for Paradise Unmasked.” Read more.

Couple weds… “In lieu of gifts the couple requested monetary contribution in support of programs and services of the National Public Library in Antigua and Barbuda. A total of seven thousand-two hundred dollars ($7,200.00) was collected.” Read more.

Actress Francoise Bowen at Oktober Film Fest and launching acting and photography workshop. 12088521_10156134500480013_8342677097546161736_nSee her blog for details.

“I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself.” – Antiguan and Barbudan artist Mark Brown on his participation in the “international collaborative organized by Shackles of Memory, a cultural tourism program that seeks to call attention to slave trade sites and encourage artists to create pieces for exhibition…part of TOSTEM, the French acronym for Cultural Tourism through the Footsteps of Slavery.” Read more.

“The two day workshop attracted 25 persons from the fields of design, writing, music and small businesses and covered the following areas: Overview of Crowd Funding and Social Media Marketing; Opportunities in e-Business for OECS SMEs; Crowd Funding Yesterday and Today; How to run a successful Crowd Funding campaign and the work of regional Crowd Funding platform Vision Funder based in Barbados.” Read more.

See which Antigua-based filmmaker made out at Caribbean Tales. See.

The Antigua and Barbuda Independence programme has been posted and the arts (visual, fashion, singing, music, drama, dance, pan, culinary etc.) are present-please (there’ll even be two days of car racing)…always happy to see the arts represented as they are the best representation of who we are (the arts are as necessary as air to me; yes, that’s how passionately I feel about it)… but no need to check it twice, the lit arts are in fact once again absent (the last lit art contest ended in 2011 with a stirring presentation by the then competition coordinator who recommended a way forward that seems to have fallen on deaf ears… and the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival which was near the head of the pack when it started in 2006 was rumoured to be returning this year after an absence of about five (?) years but like most rumours… well…peep the schedules for yourself) …meantime we can give props to Barbuda for the inclusion of poetry at least in its programme…might be time for a visit to the sister island). But, see below, it’s not formally a part of the programme but the groups and individuals which continue to hustle outside the system aren’t sleeping on the literary arts.

Stories Handed Down

Don’t forget, one of the things I try to do on this site is alert you to Opportunities (for grants, publishing, etc.) and taking it one step further, nag you re upcoming deadlines. This one, Stories Handed Down is specific to Antigua and Barbuda. Get on that.

Sharing some thank you’s from my blog re my participation in the Brooklyn Book Festival: thanks to “the organizers of the Brooklyn Book Festival for inviting me, Musical Youth publisher CaribbeanReads for making it happen, …Beverly George and the Friends of Antigua Public Library …, my co-panelists for a wonderful shared experience, Caribbean Cultural Theatre for all they do to promote the artistes from the region, everyone who came out, family, friends etc etc …and not just thanks but big big props to talented Antiguan and Barbudan designer Miranda Askie of Miranda Askie Designs for outfitting me (in jewelry and clothing) for the event…” Haven’t read the blog or seen the pictures yet? Check it out.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Meet Local Authors During Thursday’s Library Street Fair

This week is library week


and as part of Library Week, there’ll be a street fair (on Redcliffe Street) featuring local authors. Here’s the schedule:

Calesia Thibou, author of Cadriel and Jadiel: a Day at the Beach cadriel – reading between 10:30 a.m. and 10:40 a.m.

Joanne C. Hillhouse, author of The Boy from Willow Bend

Cover design by Heather Doram

Cover design by Heather Doram

, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, and Oh Gad! Oh Gad cover – reading between 11:00 a.m. and 11:10 a.m.

claudiaruthfrancisClaudia Elizabeth Ruth Francis – author of Island Issues, A Bigger Island, Tides that Bind, Road to Wadi Halfa, and Missing – reading between 11:30 a.m. and 11:40 a.m.

Dorbrene O’Marde – author of Send out your Hand Send out you handand Nobody Go Run Me – reading between 12:10 and 12:20 p.m.

Joy Lawrence

Joy Lawrence

Joy Lawrence

– author of Island Spice, The Way We talk and other Antiguan Folkways, Colours and Rhythms of Selected Caribbean Creoles, The History of Bethesda and Christian Hill, and the Footprints of Parham – reading between 1:30 and 1:40 p.m.


Ashfield Thomas – author of Brickdam and The Place of Music – reading between 2:00 and 2:10 p.m.



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Library Matters

The quake that irreparably damaged the building housing the Antigua Public Library (a building located on lower High Street on what is now …a car park?) shook Antigua in 1974.

Old library building shortly before it was torn down.

Old library building shortly before it was torn down.

This means that for some of us when our mothers talk about the library’s glory days we can only imagine, since my generation forward grew up in a country where a library had no such pride of place much less a home of its own. The library was temporarily housed upstairs the Silston’s Library with scaled back services given the size. Even that is something many of us will not remember. Though I remember being told of it by Ms. Phyllis Mayers, herself a library institution, and my former boss since I once held a summer job at the library during my high school years; and by the library, I mean the space above Lolita’s on Market Street into which the library and its services have been cramped since 1978.

The public library building project with its attendant stops and starts has been on our collective radar since the 1990s when the area was identified, the model was presented, and the building began the start and stop dance to construction.

It’s worth noting that the lack of a building of its own did not mean that the team – headed by Mayers (who in the words of her successor “played elegantly the hand she was dealt and kept the library going during most trying times”), later Dorothea Nelson (who succeeded Mayers in 1999), later Ryllis Mannix (since, and I stand to be corrected on this, 2011) – have not worked to provide service to the community. The stacks have been there for readers like me to discover; there have been progressive moves like the digitization of library resources and outreach such as AV Thursdays and the annual summer camp programme which blossomed through partnerships with the likes of the New York based Friends of Antigua Public Library. Think what they could do with proper facilities? No more need to curtail library hours due to vermin or heat; no longer being so cramped neither books nor bodies have enough space to breathe.

I wasn’t in Antigua when the new library opened though I saw many mocking references on my facebook to the “soft opening”. It’s the silly season but it’s also important not to play politics with the record, so I wanted to write something on this from outside of the bubble. I dug around for some dates (as referenced in this blog) and reached out with a few questions to the retired former library chief Dorothea Nelson, who was gracious enough to respond.

Me: Can you remember when the building committee was formed and when construction actually begun?

Ms. Nelson: “Ground was actually broken in the 1990’s. I wouldn’t want to state a specific year for I am uncertain.”

Me: Can you estimate what we have lost as a community not having a home for the library for the past 40 years?

Ms. Nelson: “I think we lost Antiguans experiencing the true value of a library to the all-round development of both the individual and the society. The majority of Antiguans have a very poor perception of the library’s role and value to society. Almost every time someone talks of the library especially of donating to the library, the automatic response is books. People will make comments like I can go to the Internet to get any information I want. A library is much more than a storehouse for books. I hope that the library will be staffed by people who know how to build relationships with the community, plan meaningful programmes for people on every strata of society, and reach out to previously unreached members of society such as people with disabilities. There is so much that can be done.”

Ms. Nelson pictured reading to the children at the Cushion Club during the period when I was an active volunteer with the club and invited her to stop by.

Ms. Nelson pictured reading to the children at the Cushion Club during the period when I was an active volunteer with the club and invited her to stop by.

I also asked Ms. Nelson for her take on where the blame lies for our lack of a home for our library for some four decades. She said, “I am not about casting blame or pointing out who is most responsible. After all, as a citizenry we all collectively allowed it to happen. So blame can be shared all around. After all we are part of a participatory democracy. What we need to do now is look toward and plan for the future.”

What, I wondered, should be the benchmarks going forward. Ms. Nelson had an answer for that, too: “I am sure you realize that I firmly believe in training for staff. Training is essential if staff is to function efficiently and effectively. I would like to see the national library service bill put to parliament and passed. It includes the establishment of a national library board. I put the bill together years ago based on similar bills passed in other countries and had it vetted by a lawyer. The bill should be on file at the Ministry of Education. At the time it was presented it was to be sent to the Ministry of Legal Affairs for further scrutiny. I never heard about it again. I would also like to see branch libraries developed all connected to the main public library and each other via the Internet. A virtual library is needed as well. Items that represent our history and culture should be digitized and made accessible online. We already have the capability at the library. I left a vibrant automation department staffed by well-trained people. All that is needed is certain specialized equipment and that process can begin before all these artifacts are lost to us. I would also like to see the development of a genealogy database. It is past the time when we should be able to trace our individual histories. I know that some of this is ground breaking for the Caribbean, but why can’t Antigua be a trend setter? These things are not beyond the reach of the library.”

Recently, I saw this guest post on the library’s facebook page: “I was reading the book A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid, she had mentioned the library being located above a dry-goods store on Market St., where is it now?” This was about a month old when I saw it. At this writing, I don’t have the witness of my own eyes, and everything I’ve read indicates that there is still a gap between the formal opening and the actual opening but I’m hoping that finally, finally we’re moving in the right direction and that we can finally, finally say, the library is located in its very own home, X marks the spot.

new library

Referenced Links:






 As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!), founder and coordinator of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, are okay, lifting content (words, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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Dorothea Nelson

Chief Librarian of Antigua and Barbuda Dorothea Nelson, was recently succeeded by Ryllis Mannix (well, so was my understanding in early summer when this was originally posted), upon her retirement from this all-too-important role. I learned the hard way, having held a summer job at the Public Library as a teen under Nelson’s predecessor Phylis Mayers, that library work is not all sitting around reading the day away (Had it been that I might have stuck with it when Ms. Mayers, still one of my favourite bosses to date, encouraged me to do so).  The Antiguan and Barbudan librarian has the added challenge of functioning under very trying circumstances given the cramped quarters downtown  that serve as the library facilities while the library building project continues to drag on (the library’s woes began with the 1974 quake which did irrepairable damage to the old library at the bottom of High Street ). These committed ladies though made lemonade out of them sour lemons. So, as she takes her bow, we say “big up” to Ms. Nelson who, based on my interviews with her in my capacity as a journalist, made digitizationof library stocks and services, and community outreach priorities during her 10-year run. Read more about her here You’ll note that the article ends with some of her writing; here’s some more.

For perspectives on the library building project and an interview with new Chief, check out the Spring 2011 edition of the Friends of Antigua Public Library’s newsletter.

POST NOTE: A subsequent article on uncertainty surrounding the Chief Librarian position. You’ll know more when we do.

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