Community libraries can play an important role in reducing crime in TT, National Security Minister Stuart Young said on Friday.
Addressing the opening of a new library at the Mt Hope/Mt Lambert Community Centre, Young said, "One of the ways that we will bring crime back under control, is giving our children opportunities." Those opportunities, he explained, can come from "just broadening your mind."
On a recent visit to the Youth Training Centre in Arouca, Young said the boys who want to reform themselves are constantly using the library established there by the National Library and Information System Authority (Nalis). Young, who is also Communications Minister, said there has been a "decline in reading." He attributed this to the evolution of social media, the internet and the availability of information on mobile devices.
An avid reader as a child, Young said as a father, he enjoys reading to his sons every night. He said the opening of community libraries gives people the opportunity to start reading again. Saying he never expected to be a politician, Young said the only book about politics he ever read was The Singapore Story.
Nalis chairman Neil Parsanlal agreed with Young about how community libraries offer a solution "to the violence that often plagues our communities."
"I have been long convinced that when language ends, the violence begins," Parsanlal said.
Instead of people liming at the pavilion and trying to "paint their lungs black," Parsanlal hoped they could "to take a book and discuss the contents." Recalling the closure of Nalis' library in San Juan in October 2016, Parsanlal said, "The decision to close any library is painful for librarians." The San Juan library was closed after careful consideration, he added. Parsanlal said Nalis is looking to forge new partnerships with community libraries planned for Barataria, Beetham and Moruga. With information being today's currency, Parsanlal said reading books can counter "trumped up information" on social media and the Internet.
Community Development, Culture and the Arts Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said she had been a member of the San Juan library since she was a child. She was sad about its closure. But Gadsby-Dolly was happy to be partnering with the creation of community libraries.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said community libraries were the result of free education created under the People's National Movement. Deyalsingh said one of the best things a government can do is educate its people. He recalled that in the 1950s and 1960s, education was reserved for the privileged few in TT. Deyalsingh said it cost parents $16 in those days to send their children to school. He urged the children in the audience to make full use of the library. "I want to see those books get dog ears."
Mt Hope/Mt Lambert Community Centre board chairman Christopher Alexander said the library bridged the gap between a facility for older people and one catering to the modern electronic age.