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BOOKS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING AT THE BAA

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March 9, 2002 – Anyone who's driven by the Enid M. Baa Library on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening or a Saturday lately has probably noticed that the gates are open and the lights are on upstairs. Anyone who's been inside the library has probably seen flyers promoting a multiplicity of community outreach programs. So many things are happening at the Baa these days that it's hard to keep up with them all.
So, if you like to read, need to research, could use occasional Internet access and/or have kids who fall into any of these categories, add this link to your "favorites" file or print out this article and keep it handy for future reference.
Baa Library hours
According to Baa librarian Diane Moody, who came aboard last fall after the facility had been without a librarian for several years, here's the current schedule:
Adult section:
Monday and Friday – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Children's reading room:
Monday through Friday – 9-11:30 a.m. and 2:45-5 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Von Scholten Collection:
Monday through Friday- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
No Saturday hours
Baa librarians
Moody holds a master of library science degree, the standard of the profession. She's one of eight MLS holders working in public and private positions on St. Thomas. Since she came aboard, the Baa Library has hired two additional MLS professionals, to work evenings and Saturdays while keeping their "day" jobs.
David Simon, who also holds a degree in environmental engineering, works at the library from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and all day Saturday. He meanwhile also works for the Planning and Natural Resources Department wearing his engineering hat.
Norma Bryan, librarian at Addelita Cancryn School, works at Baa from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and all day Saturday.
Moody makes a point of crediting her two superiors, Sharleen Harris, director of libraries, and Claudette Lewis, assistant commissioner of the Planning and Natural Resources Department as "the leaders of the effort" to revitalize the Baa Library and the people who "make things happen behind the scenes."
The territory's public libraries fall under the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, which falls within Planning and Natural Resources. All of the changes in recent months started with Lewis "and her decision to act on needs at Baa," Moody says. Lewis followed through with St. Thomas Rotary II to get the children's room repainted, refurnished and repopulated with new books, "a project that re-opened that room," Moody says. And it was Lewis whi hired Harris as director of libraries last fall, "putting an MLS person at the top spot, and then putting me at Baa," she adds.
"The division is advertising nationally for public services librarians and cataloguing and archivist personnel" needed to fill positions at the various libraries in the territory, Moody says, and a number of applications have been received from the mainland.
Community outreach
In the coming weeks, the following programs are scheduled at the Baa Library. All take place on the second floor of the library except those for children, which are in the ground-level children's reading room.
Local history:
Wednesday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. — "Bringing History Alive: The Black Contribution to the Building of the Town of Charlotte Amalie." Myron Jackson, director of the Planning and Natural Resource Department's Office of Historic Preservation, will share information about the history of various structures in downtown Charlotte Amalie "and the talented craftsmen who built and furnished them." His presentation will include a slide show.
Help for parents of teens:
Under the umbrella title "How Parents Can Survive Their Teens' Growing Pains," the library is presenting a series of evening programs for parents with youngsters ages 13 to 18. "Various issues will be explored using local experts in formal sessions" that will allow plenty of time for questions and answers, Moody says. For each program, attendees will be provided a bibliography of reading materials available at the Baa Library and from within the V.I. Library System, as well as selected web sites.
– Thursday, March 14, 6:30 p.m. — Julie Dempsey, certified herbalist from the Wholistic Health Center, will lead a program on "My Teen Wants to Be a Vegetarian; Now What Do I Feed Her/Him?" Her presentation will focus on "the nutritional needs of growing teen-agers, and helping with planning and preparing their meals."
– Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 p.m. — Susan Kelly, who holds a master's degree in clinical counseling and is the school counselor at Antilles School, will be the facilitator for "Teens: Yes, They Do Have Emotional Needs." Kelly has worked with youths ages 13-21 in high school and college settings. "As parents we are faced by many challenges when dealing with teens," Moody says. "Teens are adult-size people who are still works in progress learning how to become adults in a world that can be a very scary place."
– Wednesday, March 20, 6:30 p.m. — Ermin Olive, director of the Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity within the Health Department, will present "The Care and Feeding of Growing Teens." According to Moody, discussion will center on "the special nutritional and physical fitness needs of teens and educating your teens about healthy food choices."
– Thursday, March 21, 6:30 p.m. — Attention Deficit Disorder, of ADD, is the evening's topic. Beth Marshall will lead the presentation on "What ADD Is and What ADD Is Not." Moody notes, "ADD has been described at one of the most widely misunderstood afflictions facing the family unit today. Children, teens and adults can all have ADD." Typical behavior of those with ADD, she says, are difficulty in staying focused on tasks, impulsive behavior and excessive activity and physical restlessness.
Bilingual evenings:
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, 5:30 p.m. — "Bilingual Evenings at Baa," a program that started in January, is continuing at least through the end of March. Pairing native speakers with those wanting to polish their skills, it's half an hour of conversing one-on-one in Spanish followed by similar conversations in English. Participants talk about anything of interest, from food to history and heritage to the day's news. The idea, Sharleen Harris, director of libraries, said in January, is for participants to "help each other improve their pronunciation, learn new vocabulary and idioms, and foster appreciation of their native languages and cultures."
Reading to young children
The Baa Library has just started a program called "Mother Goose Asks Why?" that's oriented to parents and grandparents of children 3 to 7 years old "who want to have fun reading with their children and teaching them some science concepts."
Nancy Christie, Carol Lotz, Cynthia Richards and Jane Sheen from the Friends of the St. Thomas Libraries organization are serving as Mother Goose trainers. The program was developed by a not-for-profit organization called The Vermont Center for the Book that offers a series of such reading outreach efforts that also includes "Mother Goose Meets Mother Nature" and "You Can Count on Mother Goose." Linda Creque of the V.I. Institute for Teaching and Learning provided training for the Friends volunteers.
The first "Mother Goose" session at the Baa was held on March 2 and repeated Saturday. Moody hopes to repeat the program in April.
Saturday children's reading program:
This program, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday, was introduced by the not-for-profi
t Friends of the St. Thomas Libraries last spring. Friends members continue to staff the program, but others have gotten involved, too, Moody says. She and Simon, a former librarian at Ulla Muller School, provide guidance, "and we have several high schoolers coming in for community service hours. Parents and grandparents also pitch in to help by reading, coloring and doing crowd control."
Turnout varies from week to week, she says and training is provided on a continual basis for anyone wanting to help out.
The purposes behind the programs
According to Moody, the motivation for these outreach initiatives is to "get folks to use Baa Library as it has been used in the past — as a center of the community and its activities, providing information services and a place for meeting and sharing ideas." Also, she said, "it's to get people in the habit of using a library, despite all the obstacles this site presents."
Such as lack of parking during the day, lack of handicapped access, until recently lack of evening and Saturday hours, and also until recently lack of professional library staff.
A secondary purpose is to gather data "to demonstrate that if a new library is built, it will be used." This applies, Moody adds, whether or not the decision is made to build a new facility at the Tutu Park Mall site that has been proposed by the developers as part of a package to secure renewal of Economic Development Commission tax benefits.
All of the presentations are free and open to the public. The resource people conducting them are "volunteers, doing it for free, not as part of their jobs," Moody says. "The library is hosting the sessions and doing the publicity" but has no budget for the effort, she adds. A grant from the Community Foundation of the V.I. is going to provide books, kits and bags that will be given to parents attending the sessions.
The cyber-library
While the outreach programs are aimed at getting people to set foot physically in the library, Moody says, that step in turn will serve as introduction to information about how patrons increasingly will be able to utilize library services via computer without leaving their offices, schools and homes. "The new library buzzword is 'remote access,'" she says.
The Baa Library, like the territory's other three public libraries — Elaine Ione Sprauve on St. John, Florence Williams in Christiansted and Athalie McFarlane Petersen in Frederiksted — have been providing public Internet access for several years via computers donated by the V.I. Telephone Corp., now Innovative Telephone.
Soon, each library also will receive six computers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that also come with Internet access, as well as software, training for library staff and technical support. And the library system has just been awarded its third annual federal grant to proceed with linking library services territorywide via a dedicated, high-speed wide-area network. (See "Grants to link libraries within V.I., to the world".)
While "we need to replace a few keyboards and mice," the Vitelco computers are functioning fine at Baa, Moody says. Library patrons are permitted to use them 30 minutes per day, "but if no one is waiting, we'll extend the time upon request," she says. Users enter their library card identification number for free access; visitors have to pay a fee of $2 for 30 minutes.
The current Internet public-access computers do not include word processing software, so a student who's working on a school report, for example, has to print out the information found online and then go elsewhere to compose the assignment. "The Gates machines will have software, and one machine will have a Spanish keyboard," Moody says. She says the Division of Libraries and Museums will be reviewing current use policies before these additional computers go into service. Also to be decided is what professional databases the library system will subscribe to.
For more information, call the library at 774-0630 or e-mail Diane Moody at the library.

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