Nassau, Bahamas – A beacon that symbolizes Bahamian scholarship and national development, the Harry C. Moore Library and Information Centre – named after a man who devoted his life to the advancement of education – was officially opened on Friday April 8th.
Although constructed on the Oakes Field Campus of The College of The Bahamas, the library’s operations, focus and impact will extend far beyond the boundaries of the tertiary institution in honour of Mr. Moore’s legacy and The College’s mission. The opening was an historic day for many people, including the College community to national leaders and friends and supporters of The College.
“The great promise of this Centre is the utilization of cutting-edge technology to make access to information and library resources, particularly on The Bahamas, easier and more direct for every island and community in The Bahamas,” said Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham.
“The possibilities provided by the Harry C. Moore Centre are boundless. They include expanded distance learning connecting students at COB with universities around the world and integrating communications technologies in various academic disciplines.”
He added, “Some of the most innovative websites today are a collection of contributions from others. Likewise, the great success of this library and information centre must include the contributions from others who will add to its collection of print, photographic, audiovisual and other material.”
The $28 million library was constructed to meet the needs of a growing student population, expanding baccalaureate and master degree programmes and the increased demand for library services and holdings by the College community and the public. It was named in honour of the late Harry C. Moore, former Chairman of the Lyford Cay Foundation. Mr. Moore was an outstanding friend of The College and advocate of the library project. He persuaded members of the Lyford Cay Foundation and friends to contribute, securing an extraordinary $5 million commitment from the Foundation; $3.5 million for the furnishings, fixtures and equipment and $1.5 million for the Virtual Library. The project also received in excess of $5 million in financial support from the government which also guaranteed a $23 million loan facility.
Proud that her husband’s dream of a library worthy of a university had been realised, Mrs. Monique Moore said while looking at the modern structure that opens the doors to new worlds of knowledge that “the best things in life are worth waiting for.”
“I am only sorry that Harry could not wait around long enough to see his dream become reality. He would be standing here, his slow smile breaking into a broad grin, that twinkle in his eye sparkling, and he would nod his head in approval. Yes, he would say, this is good,” she said.
“Harry’s insistence on a major library was part of his belief in the need for education, a need that was matched only by the determination to find a way to pay for it. Every time he played a round of golf, he hit neighbours and friends and golfers up for money for the Lyford Cay Foundation. He had taken on the leadership of the Foundation when it had no funds. I warned him that people would stop accepting his invitation to play golf because they recognised it was just a pretense for fund-raising. He would grab his clubs, laugh and say as he walked out the door, ‘They can afford it. Don’t you worry.’”
In addition to approximately $120,000 donated by faculty and staff over the years, the Sir Lynden Pindling Foundation gave $300,000 toward a $500,000 commitment. The library will house a permanent exhibition in honour of the life and legacy of former Prime Minister Sir Lynden Pindling.
College Council Chairman Mr. T. Baswell Donaldson admitted that there were times when it seemed like the project might never be completed.
“There were changes in major players; issues related to costs that created critical challenges for design, construction and key resource needs. The times when we were compelled to scale back in ways that made persons feel that we were scaling back on an institutional dream,” he said.
“But we persevered. We sought the counsel and advice of university libraries and librarians in the United States, and also the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. We visited some of them and some of them visited us. Our consultations were extensive and also included our surrounding local community. So even our neighbours were consulted because we were concerned about how our project would impact their daily lives. So this day, this structure, also represents the drive of a whole community, our College family and our extended community.”
Minister of Education the Hon. Desmond Bannister lauded the contributions of Mr. Moore to the development of education in The Bahamas and specifically his fund raising for the construction of the new library.
“Mr. Moore’s legacy in The Bahamas will be indelibly etched in the annals of education The Bahamas and the lives of the persons he transformed through his generosity and enlisting others to buy into the vision of tertiary education for Bahamians,” he said.
“I am certain that part of the pride in seeing this library come to fruition is knowing that the government entrusted every facet of this project to Bahamians, thus displaying full confidence in them carrying out a venture of this magnitude.”
With a holdings capacity for 150,000 volumes, institutional archives and special collections, the library’s phenomenal digital capacity facilitates an electronic catalogue, full-text periodical databases and multi-database searching for full information discovery.
A circular design that lends to vistas of The College’s Oakes Field campus, the facility can accommodate approximately 650 library users and has group and study spaces and an auditorium. It also features a 24-hour Internet café and has wireless access throughout the property.