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Introduction

Libraries have the potential to play invaluable educational and social roles within their societies, yet their effectiveness is dependent on the level and quality of service which they can provide.  Libraries everywhere typically face a number of common challenges.  Among these are budget cuts and shrinking resources, staff retention, and delivering innovative services in the internet age. (Peltier-Davis and Renwick, 2007) These challenges can be significantly more pronounced for smaller nations with fewer resources or inadequate infrastructure.  In this blog we explore the library systems in four small island nations: The Dominican Republic, Barbados, Vanuatu and Trinidad and Tobago, and examine the issues faced by each state as well as the ways in which services have progressed and benefited each island.

While all of these states share common issues and difficulties, their concerns also differ widely based upon the specific historical, social, political and economic circumstances within each country.  While Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago have relatively well developed library systems, they are faced with new hurdles in a an increasingly globalized information environment and must tackle challenges associated with cultural preservation.  On the other end of the spectrum, the library system in Vanuatu is still in its early stages of development and faces inadequate funding, book shortages and transient staff.  In the Dominican Republic, library history is steeped in a climate which discouraged free intellectual pursuit and democratic thought, so an adequate library system has been slow to emerge. Despite recent steady economic prosperity and strides in providing Information and Communications Technology (ICT), there is not corresponding growth neither in library services nor in the required training of the country’s library professionals (Mendez and Montero, 2007).

Through examining the cultural and historical contexts of each nation, it is possible to uncover the key issues they face and some of the important challenges within information sciences and librarianship.  These are challenges which confront not just our own societies, but many others worldwide.

References

Peltier-Davis, Cheryl and Shamin Renwick. (2007). Introduction. In Peltier-Davis, Cheryl and Shamin Renwick (Ed.), Caribbean libraries in the 21st century: Changes, challenges, and choices (pp. xvii-xxv). Medford, New Jersey: Information Today.

Mendez, E.M. &  Montero, A.E. (2007). Assessing information professionals in Dominican Republic: Are they prepared to deal with the new democratic libraries?, International Information and Library Review 39, 89-102.

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