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Minister Fitzgerald: Issues of information literacy and preservation of culture impact all nations
By Kathryn Campbell, BIS
Jun 19, 2014 - 3:08:40 PM

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TOP LEFT: Patricia Bazzard receives award for cultural contributions to the Bahamian community from Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology at the opening ceremonies for the 44th Association of Caribbean University Research and Institutional Libraries Conference on June 9 at Melia Resort; TOP RIGHT: Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology and Rev. Dr. Roland Hamilton; BOTTOM LEFT: Junkanoo performers, led by Stan Burnside, wow guests during opening ceremonies; BOTTOM MIDDLE: Dorcas Bowler, president ACURIL addressing attendees; and BOTTOM RIGHT: John "Chippie" Chipman entertains audience with a drum performance (Photos: Communications Department, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology)

Nassau, The Bahamas – Over 250 delegates from throughout the region, the United States, Canada, South Africa and Europe participated in the 44th Association of Caribbean University Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL) Conference held at Melia Resort from June 8-12.

Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald officially opened the conference on June 9 and welcomed the executives of ACURIL, delegates, exhibitors and other distinguished guests. Bahamian cultural leaders and information specialists were recognised for their contribution to Bahamian culture during the ceremony. Music was provided by John "Chippie" Chipman and the National Children’s Choir directed by Patricia Bazzard. Delegates were also warmly welcomed with a Junkanoo performance led by Stan Burnside.

The theme of the conference was “Libraries, Archives & Museums: Gateways to Information Literacy and Cultural Heritage”. The Bahamas previously hosted the conference in 2000. In his remarks, Minister Fitzgerald noted that the   theme of the conference corresponds with Prime Minister Perry Christie’s declaration of 2014 as the "Year of Culture" in The Bahamas. 

He said issues of information literacy and preservation of culture impact all nations particularly the Caribbean region.  “Our governments have to constantly weigh the benefits of economic development and investment against external influences and our cultural heritage.  The results of your deliberations will be available to assist us in navigating this area.”

Minister Fitzgerald said The Bahamas is pleased that the conference provides the opportunity to discuss the importance of information based-agencies such as libraries, museums, archives, galleries and their role in developing information literate users.  

He pointed out that the world is rapidly becoming a knowledge-based society and citizens who do not embrace this direction, will not be able to participate fully in the activities of their society. “This may be a seemingly daunting task considering the fact that technology is rapidly supplanting traditional media - books, newspapers, as the prominent means through which society acquires knowledge,” he said. “You, the gatekeepers of knowledge in our societies must assist our citizens in interpreting and managing the information to which they are exposed.”
Minister Fitzgerald challenged the librarians to make every effort to attract more citizens, particularly students, to visit libraries and other information agencies. He explained that students primarily avail themselves of libraries to conduct research or to use the internet but once school work is finished; their relationship with libraries and other information centres ceases.

“Your respective institutions must come to represent, a place where they are constantly reminded of their history and culture and the men and women who devoted their lives to the ensuring they have the freedoms and the identities they so readily enjoy,” said the Minister.    

He said The Bahamas is proud that ACURIL has provided the opportunity to pay homage to outstanding Bahamian cultural icons including  Edward Charles Carter Sr., James Catalyn, John "Chippie" Chipman, Arlene Nash Ferguson, Percy "Vola" Francis and many others whose “life mission demonstrated their belief in the preservation of our Bahamian culture”.  “They deserve this recognition and for contributing to the “global cultural bank,” he added.   

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