Gateway to information
The role of Biblioteca Nacional Aruba (hereafter BNA, or the Library) is a dual one. It serves both as the public library for the island of Aruba, as well as a national library. Its role as a public library has always been to initiate, stimulate, coordinate and guide “library services” in its broadest form imaginable, primarily by way of reading promotion, and providing and disseminating information (in any way, shape or form) to and for the benefit of the Aruban community and public in general.
This important role in the community is being reinforced by a wider range of services it is able to offer to the public. Broader opening hours, and providing the public with more and better opportunities for studying and doing research, are both prime examples of this wider range of services.
In a hybrid world where people read both print and digital, libraries need to expand their roles beyond traditional functions and serve as a bridge between print and electronic formats. To better serve the public in this new, hybrid role, funding stays as important as ever. In a time where people “go digital” in quest of information, news and “facts”, the library finds itself in a unique position, as both a keeper of books, a source of information, of guidance, and as a gateway to information in whatever format, becomes more and more unique, and thus more important, albeit in a changing role. Changing, but not less relevant. The library will assert itself as a center of guidance, of information, of expertise, as well as remaining a center of culture, of literacy, and of reading and studying. In order for BNA to take on this additional role, and to keep developing and keep growing in this role in the near future, increased infrastructural and organizational investments are very much necessary.
BNA will keep playing an active and prominent role in promoting reading and literacy, by organizing reading and storytelling sessions and events, and by establishing and supporting school libraries, partnering with schools, government agencies, NGOs and other community initiatives in the process.
Through their presence in every (projected) MFA—decentralized Multi-Functional Accommodations which are scheduled to open in 5 of Aruba’s districts: Noord, Paradera, Santa Cruz, Savaneta, and San Nicolas—BNA will expand its presence beyond Oranjestad and San Nicolas, and start offering localized services in every district of Aruba within the next few years. Those new library branches will also serve as centers of expertise for E(lectronic)-, Distance, and Computer-assisted Learning, in order to offer, facilitate and expand learning opportunities for Aruba’s population–and provide guidance, if necessary, to be prepared to support the needs and aspirations of (online) learners.
BNA will need to make investments to acquire and provide access to trustworthy, high-quality on- and offline resources, like subscriptions to electronic databases and digital libraries (research, literature, current events) to better cater to these needs. A prime example of catering to the needs of library users is the continuing effort in terms of collection development, and in collection re-development, as is demonstrated in the case of the “young adult” collection.
Apart from BNA’s efforts in the fields of Lifelong Learning and (Adult) Education through the continuous development of its collection, additionally BNA will organize information sessions, workshops, short courses, conferences, and expositions, working closely with its community partners.
In its role as a national library, the national and special collections housed at BNA’s Arubiana/Caribiana department will be fortified by establishing a so-called National Legal Deposit for all publications produced on Aruba, and/or by Arubans. With Arubiana/Caribiana serving as the repository, it can better fulfill its important role as a guardian of national (written/published) memory, conserving and saving this important cultural and intellectual heritage for current and future generations, making it accessible in the process. In order for Arubiana to be able to continue in this important role, ensuring longevity (both digital and non-digital/physical) of its collections is highly urgent and important, and requires immediate attention. This includes investments in digitization infrastructure (equipment, IT-infrastructure, personnel, training) as well as additional and adequate (safe, stable, climate-controlled and fire-proof) physical storage facilities. All digitization efforts will be coordinated, wherever possible, at a national and international level, with partners and counterparts in the cultural, archival, and library fields, using common and international standards.
This focus on conservation, accessibility and digitization also includes BNA’s vast audiovisual collection, produced and maintained by the Library’s Media Department. This department will be modernized and re-equipped, so that it can once again serve as a facilitator and producer of (digital) audiovisual and cultural and educational productions. The Media Department’s role will be expanded to include a role as the main force behind a community Media Lab, as an incubator to stimulate artistic and creative efforts in the community within its field of expertise, by way of workshops, and by future cross-media broadcasting efforts.