The Municipal Library
An underutilized resource fades away

September 1st, 2009
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Young library visitors from French Harbour public school in the main reading room.

Young library visitors from French Harbour public school in the main reading room.

When the Jarred Hynds Community Center Library opened its doors in January 2006, it was to be the center for the culture and education on the island. More than three years later the building sees little regular use.

The two-story, 6,500 square foot bright yellow library building was constructed with Municipal funds thanks to the relentless efforts of Catherine McCabe, an American retiree who lived on Roatan at the time.

The Roatan Municipality is paying the operational costs of the library, but doing little else. The damage from the recent 7.1 earthquake is visible in cracked walls. The ample spaces designated as a children’s library and a driver’s education center are closed and filled with junk.

Joanne Dixon, the head librarian, says that sometime no one shows at the library during the entire day. Other times there can be as many as 16 people, mostly students whose teachers require them to do assignments using library books.

“If you pick up this library and put it in Coxen Hole maybe it would work [and attract more readers],” says Dixon, who believes that the French Harbour location just isn’t urban enough to attract readers. Of the approximately 130 people that have current library memberships half are children and the other half are expats. “Not a single [adult] islander ever came to the library,” says Dixon.

According to Dixon the books in highest demand are books in Spanish – novels, dictionaries and history books. Three years ago Dixon was responsible for cleaning the library, but when the position of a head librarian opened, Dixon got the job. [/private]

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