Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 30th 2015 Contents 12 UWI TODAY -- SUNDAY 30TH AUGUST, 2015
A Pioneer in the
BY JOEL HENRY
Some of The University
Library advances have been:
Movement from print to digital resources
-- with more than 280 online databases and
thousands of ebooks, students can access the
vast majority of information online from anywhere
and at any time.
Computer access for students -- the library
has two spaces: STARRS (the St. Augustine
Research and Reference Services) and UEC (USER
Education Centre) which give students access to
computers for online research.
Cross-campus electronic gateway --
Through UWILinC (the UWI Library and
Information Connexion), students can access
information across all campuses.
Expanded Unique Caribbean Resources --
Through the digitisation of many resources within
West Indiana and the development of UWISpace
(the repository of UWI in-house research), students
have greater access to electronic resources unique
to the region.
If a university is like a society in small, then information
is its currency. And the Alma Jordan Library is UWI St.
Augustine's treasure trove. For more than a hundred years
now, even before UWI was UWI, there has been a repository
of knowledge -- texts, documents, lm, artifacts -- for the
students of St. Augustine. e students have changed and the
library has evolved, but its essential mission has remained
"Our purpose is to provide support for all aspects
of the teaching, learning and research of the university
community through a range of services and resources," says
Ms. Jennifer Joseph.
As a senior member of the library's team for 17 years,
Campus Librarian at St. Augustine since 2008 and University
Librarian (coordinator for e UWI's entire library system)
since 2009, Ms. Joseph is more than an authority on the
subject. In her time at the UWI, she has not only assisted
thousands within the university community in their
acquisition of knowledge, she has also played a major role
in the development of the library system.
On the eve of her retirement, Ms. Joseph looks back
at her career and the evolution of the library system of the
University of the West Indies.
By the time this article is published, the 2015-2016
academic year will be well underway and upward of 4,000
new students will be beginning their courses of study on the
St. Augustine Campus. For every last one of them, the Alma
Jordan Library will be a vital resource. ey will bene t from
a library system that has evolved from largely print-based
resources to a collection that is more than 80% electronic.
eir research will be facilitated by new computer systems,
new online resources, a massively expanded repository of
Caribbean-speci c items and even an overnight reading
room. New students will enjoy assets that represent more
than 15 years of e ort by the sta of the library to meet the
demands of the university's exploding student population.
Ms. Joseph played an integral part in the process:
"It was exciting -- for it was the time of transition, when
we were just launching fully into the world of technology,
moving from print to electronic, changing from the
traditional card catalogue to the Online Public Access
Catalogue (OPAC), developing new services and providing
sta with training in the use of technology. My predecessor,
Professor Margaret Rouse-Jones, who had been appointed
as Campus Librarian in 1997, was leading this process and
the library had been set on a new path."
Ms. Joseph joined the sta of the library in 1998. It
was still called the Main Library at that point (it would be
renamed the Alma Jordan Library in 2011 a er Dr. Alma
Jordan, who was Campus Librarian from 1960 to 1989).
By then Ms. Joseph had already had a successful career in
"I joined the sta at a senior level in the Librarian stream
having already had 22 years experience as a professional
librarian in the public service (several ministries), the state
sector and at an international level (the World Bank)," she
Her first assignment was in the West Indiana and
Special Collections Division, the heart of Caribbean-focused
information. She then moved relatively quickly to become
Liaison Librarian for the Faculty of Social Sciences. It was in
1999, as the library sought to evolve its services by employing
a management consulting rm. Out of this initiative a new
strategic plan and a Library Senior Management Team was
created, which expanded the leadership structure to include
"While I was not a 'head' I was invited by the Campus
Librarian to serve as a member of that team," Ms. Joseph
says. "I was given the Finance portfolio (monitoring our
budget and nancial procedures) to ensure compliance with
UWI procedures and standards. For me it was certainly an
opportunity to contribute to the development of the library's
operations and to be part of the team that was shaping the
future development of the Campus Libraries Services."
Her dedication to the advancement of the campus
library and her capability in the leadership position spurred
further advancement. By December 2000 she attained the
position of Deputy Campus Librarian and eight years later
she became the Campus Librarian of the Alma Jordan
She shared her guiding vision: "The library plays
a most important role in assisting students. We provide
the necessary information resources and the systems for
locating this information. In doing so, the library must
provide a welcoming and comfortable space for users, and
competent persons to provide, training, assistance and
guidance in accessing resources. e library must also work
closely with faculty to ensure that the relevant information
is selected and made available in a variety of formats."
Ms. Joseph has been integral to some of the most
important modernisation activities carried out by the Alma
Jordan Library and the Campus Libraries System. at work
will now be continued by Mr. Frank Soodeen, Head of the
library's Information Technology Services Division, who
will take up the post of Campus Librarian on September 1 of
this year. With 22 years' service at the Alma Jordan Library,
Mr. Soodeen, like Ms. Joseph, has been a major player in the
technological, systems and service provision improvements
over the last decade and a half.
But technology and processes aside, what about the
human component of library service?
"Students should look forward to guidance and support
from a team of dedicated persons who are intimate with
the information resources," Ms. Joseph says, adding that
"they should expect to be provided with prompt responses
to their questions and a smooth and cordial interaction on
all administrative processes."
Looking back on her life as a librarian, she says, "I feel
satis ed. I have had a long and rewarding career in various
aspects of library services in Trinidad and Tobago -- through
the public service, e UWI and the Library Association of
Trinidad and Tobago. I feel that I have utilised my training
and skills and made a good contribution to the development
of library services at the national and the regional level
through e University. I have had the privilege of managing
the St. Augustine Campus Libraries and leading a team of
persons who are dedicated to their task. I have been at the
helm at a time of moving from traditional library services
to the new age embracing all that technology can o er."
Retirement does not however mean work stops. e
drive and inclination that motivated her in her professional
career is guiding her towards community development
through her Methodist faith. The keeper of books has
embraced a suggestion to write a book of her own -- on the
Methodist Church in Trinidad and Tobago.
She laughs, "I anticipate that I will be very busy!"
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