The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for service to Jamaica in the ‘Organisations’ category.
This award was given for its contribution to nation building on the basis of innovation, creativity, community involvement and outstanding service.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Executive Officer for the NLJ, Beverley Lashley, says members of the staff are enthusiastic about the award.
“We are elated. We are the only government agency that has won the award this year, so you can imagine how proud we are. The award recognises that we have been engaged in fulfilling our mandate to safeguard the collective memories of the nation and are positioning ourselves as the leader and authority in the nation’s cultural conversation,” Ms. Lashley says.
The Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation ceremony was held on April 25 at Jamaica House. A total of 65 persons and organisations were honoured for significant contribution to the economic, cultural and social development of the country.
The National Library has been engaged in several projects since July 2017. These include: The Poet Laureate Programme – The new cycle of the programme began May 2017 with the investiture of Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica.
It seeks to enhance Jamaica’s literary product by providing support to an existing literary infrastructure. The Poet Laureate of Jamaica Programme is managed by the NLJ and was reintroduced in 2014 after being inactive for more than 61 years.
The RJRGleaner Honour Award 2017 – The NLJ was a recipient in the Arts and Culture category for its extensive work across the island in promoting reading and research as well as providing access to information for several generations of Jamaicans.
World Poetry Day, Jamaica – Through the efforts of the NLJ, the Governor General proclaimed March 21 as World Poetry Day, Jamaica. The objective of the NLJ-led initiative is to foster and promote interest in poetry across Jamaica.
Poet Laureate of Jamaica/Helen Zell: Young Writers Prize for Poetry – This is a major poetry prize, which was developed by the NLJ in collaboration with the University of Michigan in the United States.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the NLJ and the British Library – Signed on April 9, 2018, the MOU will facilitate future collaboration of staff exchange as well as sharing of best practices, expertise and content.
Another initiative that has been undertaken is the creation of digital content from the library’s paper-based resources, to keep abreast with changes in technology.
The NLJ holdings constitute a comprehensive collection of Jamaican documentaries of the country’s history and heritage.
To enhance access to its collections, the NLJ has digitised thousands of historical photographs, prints, newspaper clippings, drawings, pamphlets, programmes, manuscripts, books, rare maps and other rare and unique materials that capture Jamaica’s rich heritage. The vast majority of these images are freely available online for public access.
Ms. Lashley is urging Jamaicans to do their part to protect Jamaica’s cultural heritage.
“We are appealing to the private sector, the wider diaspora and individuals not to forget their national library. What is in the collection is about us and does not exist anywhere else in the world,” she added.
The NLJ is a reference library that was established in 1979 under the Institute of Jamaica Act of 1978. It has been the storehouse of Jamaica’s documentary heritage since 1879 when the collection was housed within the West India Reference Library.
It differs from the Jamaica Library Service (JLS), which allows persons to carry borrowed items offsite.
For more information, persons can visit the NLJ online at www.nlj.gov.jm.