Book Steps....exploring the libraries of Jamaica
St Catherine Parish Library
It is shortly before noon on a Thursday morning in November, and the St Catherine Parish Library (SCPL) is already busy. Upstairs, all seven computer stations are occupied; and the adult reading room is where several young adult students have comfortably spaced themselves across tables, attending to their assignments.
Of the SCPL network, Miss Benjie says that there is a well-stocked reference collection that includes audio visual materials, but the stock needs to be increased and diversified so that supplemental reading material for students, and also reading for pleasure, is covered. Meeting that need is never far from the librarian's mind.
"We need a better collection of paperback fiction. Our adult readers like intrigue. Some of the popular authors are James Patterson and Danielle Steele; and in romance they like Sandra Brown, Catherine Coulter and Joanna Lyndsay. They read westerns, mystery, romance and thrilers. Our children will read just about any kind of book that we make available for them, but love mystery stories," Miss Benjie says.
The parish of St Catherine has nurtured several cricketers for Jamaica and also the West Indies, so it was good to see some books on the sport including Beyond a Boundary by CLR James and the autobiography of Michael Holding, No Holding Back; hopefully Arnold Bertram's Jamaica at the Wicket is a part of the wider SCPL network book stock.
The SCPL was started by public subscription in 1947 in the Old House of Assembly (what is now the parish council building); a year later it came under the management of the Jamaica Library Service, and moved to its current location in 1975. Its annual programme of events includes senior citizen computer classes; a homework programme; a readers and writers club and a Spanish club for primary school age children; weekly reading and storytelling in the children's ward at the Spanish Town Regional Hospital and also to the boys at the Rio Cobre Juvenile facility. Miss Benjie says that the library intended to resume regular visits to serve the inmates living at the three adult correctional facilities that are in the parish.
The library is eager to receive donations of recent paperback fiction that meet the guidelines of the JLS, especially books that have about 300 pages.
The SCPL library is at 1 Red Church Street with ample enclosed parking. It is open daily from Monday to Friday 9AM - 6PM and 10AM - 5PM on Saturdays. From November to the end of January, the library closes at 5PM. Telephone: 984-2356. Email email@example.com.