The Daily Herald reports that the Queen Wilhelmina Library officially reopened its doors in the Carmen Simmons Cultural Complex, marking its 90th anniversary with a grand reception held on Friday evening, November 22. The library opened its doors on November 23, 1923, as an endowment given to the island by, and named for Queen Wilhelmina, the reigning monarch of the time during the celebrations of her jubilee. The 90th anniversary was chosen as a symbolic occasion for the re-opening ceremony in the new hall next to the governor’s mansion. Lt Governor Jonathan A. Johnson, Commissioner of Education Christopher Johnson and Commissioner Bruce Zagers attended the official reception, as did Island Council fraction leaders Rolando Wilson of the Windward Islands People’s Movement and Ishmael Levenston of the Saba Labour Party. While recollecting challenges of times gone by, both the lieutenant governor and Commissioner Johnson congratulated the library staff for the upgrades and efforts in engaging the youth to utilise the facilities. Many Sacred Heart primary school teachers attended the event together with parents and children who participated in the programme by reading poetry. Lorna Simmons led the poetry reading moment with one of her poems that was recently published in a Dutch book. A number of children read poems related to the “Importance of Reading” theme. Lionell Charles set up a continuous television loop with digital versions of photographs collected by his grandmother, Saba Cultural Foundation President Carmen Simmons. Simmons was present at the ceremony within the building that bears her name, surrounded by many family members involved in various related organisations. The video slideshow showcased various Royal Household visits to the island over the last 90 years. Librarian aid Tiffany Zagers gave a demonstration of the new machine that will be used in issuing new library membership cards, an upgrade in which the staff takes pride. The library also received six new computers with free Internet access. While the automation and digital indexing of the library is still ongoing, librarian Johanna Simmons is optimistic about finalising the process soon. The staff will receive training in St. Maarten in January to help the library in its efforts to “become digital” and have all records within the online system. Amongst the invited guests at the reception was retired former head librarian on St. Maarten Ans Koolen, who is now assisting and training the staff in Saba. Johanna Simmons is very pleased with the new location. She mentioned that at the temporary location on the school compound in St. Johns, no adults made use of the facility. She said that even before the official opening of the library in The Bottom, many of these clients have returned. She estimates that the library enjoys some 240 members. Flavina Willems decked the library hall in elaborate balloon decorations, making it look like a children’s playground. Under the tents set outdoors, refreshments were served for participants whilst Willems taught the children how to create balloon structures. The organisers set up a decorated box with reading-related gifts and each visiting child was treated to one.
wonderful, so good to have it close by again