Sunday 20 September, 2020

12 memories you’d have if you had old Carnegie Library days

The Carnegie Library in Bridgetown (Internet image)

The Carnegie Library in Bridgetown (Internet image)

The Carnegie Library in Bridgetown may be closed at present but those walls and halls hold millions of memories.

If you ever had the pleasure of entering the library at Coleridge Street in Barbados’ capital you may have some fond times and some dreaded ones as well, because to be honest, many young visitors had a love-hate relationship with the books on the shelves and some of the people behind the desks.

Here are some things you’d remember if you used to visit the library.

1. Babysitters Club

This was the title of a book series that young girls enjoyed but it’s also what some parents thought of the library on Saturday mornings.

Mother: I gine drop you off at de library and come back when I done shop ‘cause you gine want everything and keep stopping and I just waan be in and out.

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2. Children’s section

The second loudest area in the library was outside and up the stairs. Children could be seen running and yelling despite the librarians' constant shouts of “Be quiet! This is a library!”

3. Drama corner

Once you enter the library and turn left it was where books and stories came alive for the little kids with puppetry and even drumming by the aunties including readers like Deanne Kennedy. You just had to walk the book shelves and follow the noise.

4. Reference

As you got older, you dreaded the word ‘Reference’. Walk all the way to the back and up the creaky stairs into an air-conditioned vault of silence. It was the place children loved to hate. It was the one place in the library that silence truly reigned.

5. Bibliography

Who created a bibliography? This was not a good idea! Many a day you had to stand in front the librarian in Reference and painstakingly fill out the card to check-out a file of newspaper clippings or a book and put in the Author, Publisher and everything under the sun that’s found on the inside cover of the book.

You hated the task of filling out the card but sometimes, when you were half-way home, and about to step in the van, you suddenly remembered, “Ughhhh… I didn’t copy the information for the bibliography.” Then you hustle back to the library and into Reference with a big grin to declare, “Umm…can I see the card I filled out earlier please?” If not for that card, you’d be up the creek without a paddle, swimming from shelf to shelf hoping to find back all the books you used.

God bless that card now in hindsight!

6. Photocopying

Before the days of smartphones and snapping a photo of pages. Back then you paid 25 cents per copy and you split the work evenly. If you needed one paragraph from page 24, both pages 25 and 26 and two paragraphs from page 27, trust and believe you and your group partners nicely wrote out the extra paragraphs and only photocopied pages 25 and 26.

7. Library socials

You hated the library but loved the company. “Hey, your mother gone town today too?” And off you were with your library friend. Believe it or not, because of the Saturday library crew, after Common Entrance many children were not scared to go to their new schools because they already knew a few people from different schools.

8. Level playing fields

It’s the month of April and you hear adults talk about good schools and bad schools as May and the 11-plus exam draw near, but when you step in Reference, you know they are so far from the truth.

It’s time to do a National Hero project and Queen’s College, St. James and Springer's students are across two tables sharing the files on five heroes. Over in the corner Harrison College, The Lodge School and St. Leonard’s have another three files, and everyone has been using those two books over there for information on Errol Barrow. Pick a spot and join a group.

The lines of schools and uniforms or even ages were blurred in Reference.

9. Common enemies

Librarian: “Be quiet!”

Random girl: Stupseeeee

Other girl: I can’t stand that one either!

Random girl: My name is….


10. Libation

When it was time for a break, you had the crew whose parents left them with no money, the batch with sno cone money and the others who had drink and hot dog money for the vendors out front.

11. Chill spots

The floor-to-ceiling windows with the concrete bays were the right size for a young reader who wanted to be alone with a book, travelling through its pages to far off lands and cultures.

12. Boss status

When you learned how to use the catalogue in the Main section of the library you were officially a true, true reader and a notch above the rest. Even the librarians sent kids your way for help, and most days you were happy and willing to show them the ropes, unless it was the librarian from number 9 above or you wanted a break... see number 11.

What did you love or hate about your days at the Carnegie Library in Bridgetown?

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