The Virgin Islands Library Network...
This project will re-institute the Virgin Islands Network (VILINET) which serves the purpose of providing the Territory of the United States Virgin Islands citizens access to collective library resources of the Territory by developing a cooperative, coordinated multitype network of libraries which facilitate the identification, location and use of print and non-print materials, and of modem [electronic] information and available library services; to avoid duplication and to coordinate the sharing of resources, resulting in improved services for users of all participating libraries; and to serve as the U.S. Virgin Islands link with, and to ensure its integration in regional, national and international library networks.
VILINET, for all intents and purposes has not functioned to even minimal capacity, for over the past twenty years. Its infrastructure by law is still in place. The need to carry out the duties and responsibilities associated with it remain. These duties and responsibilities fall under the office of the Territorial Librarian/Director of the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums (DLAM), Government of the Virgin Islands. This project will:1. Review and document the history of VILINET so as to re-educate all participants in the project in its mission, including library users, library institutions, professional organizations (local, regional, national and international), government officials and the general public. 2. Convene its membership in four major meetings (one each quarter) to assess the status of VILINET, inter-library cooperation (available resources) and host a conference at the end of the project so as to establish a plan for the further development of VILINET. 3. Define the goals and objective of VILINET with considerable focus on determining the impact of existing library and information science and technology on how people of the Virgin Islands access library service and information today. 4. Review and revise, as needed, associated legislation, policy and procedures for VILINET (given the evolution of the Internet, the World Wide Web and electronic resources/applications and other developments in library and information science). 5. To assess the emergency preparedness and recovery plans and capability of membership library systems (all library types in the territory) and revise Virgin Islands statutes to include in their provision of same. 6. Organize and put forth a simultaneous public relations and promotional campaign to raise the level of awareness of the concept of networking for libraries and to advocate for the significance and importance of VILINET in the Territory.
The project director (Territorial Librarian) and the coordinator will guide this project. The current Territorial Librarian/Director has served in that capacity for just over a year and has undertaken this initiative. The coordinator for the project will be retained on a part-time basis. Both have knowledge with respect to library and information science/services programming having served in key roles in the Governor’s Conference on Library and Information Services and the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services. Available resources within the DLAM and its parent department (statutory responsibility) will assure additional and necessary support.
The Danish West Indies were purchased on March 31, 1917 by the United States for the sum of 25 million dollars. They became the Virgin Islands of the United States and were declared “an unincorporated territory” by virtue of the Revised Organic Act of 1954. Situated in the Caribbean Sea, the Virgin Islands include four major islands including St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island, plus 68 small islands and cays for a total of 144 square miles. The people of the Virgin Islands elect their own Governor and Lieutenant Governor and have one non-voting Delegate to the United States Congress. They do not vote in United States presidential elections.
The U.S. Virgin Islands were encountered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 on his second voyage to the “New World”. Originally inhabited by Ciboney, Arawak, Taino and Carib Indian peoples, none of these early inhabitants remained following the European conquest. The islands were ruled temporarily by the Spanish, English and French before the Dutch established the first permanent European settlement on St. Thomas in 1670. Between 1665 and 1733, under the influence of Denmark, the U.S. Virgin Islands developed as European-owned sugar plantations worked by an African slave population. St.Thomas was a key Caribbean port for transshipment of goods between Europe and the Americas and was inhabited by Europeans, African slaves, free Blacks and free Coloreds.
The United States purchased the islands from Denmark for strategic military purposes. Between 1917 and 1931, the U.S. Virgin Islands were administered through the Department of the Navy. In 1931, the administration of the islands was transferred to the Department of the Interior and a civilian government was appointed. In 1968 legislation was passed to permit the popular election of a governor.
The laws of the United States Virgin Islands are contained in the Virgin Islands Code, the Revised Organic Act of 1954, The Government Reorganization and Consolidation Act of 1987 and the United States Constitution.
For administrative and legislative purposes, the U.S. Virgin Islands is divided into two Legislative Districts, St.Thomas-St.John-Water Island and St. Croix. The population of the Virgin Islands is approximately 110,000 with 53,927 in St. Croix, 51,847 in St. Thomas and 4,252 in St. John. There are approximately 35,543 people from under 5 years of age to 19 in the V.I The number of persons 3 years and over enrolled in school is approximately 33,500, 28,341 families are under poverty level. To vote in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a person must be (a) a United States citizen, (b) 18 years of age, (c) a resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Legislative District for at least 30 days.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is divided into three branches, the Executive, the Judicial and the Legislative.
The unicameral legislature is composed of 15 senators who are elected for two-year terms. Seven of the senators are elected from St. Thomas, seven from St.Croix; one at-large senator must be a resident of St.John.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected for four-year terms. The Delegate is elected for a two-year term.
The Judiciary consists of a Territorial Court. The Territorial Court, whose judges are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the legislature, is a court of local jurisdiction. District Court judges are appointed by the President of the United States. This court has the original jurisdiction of a district court of the United States.
The Virgin Islands are located in the Lesser Antilles and is 50 miles east of Puerto Rico 991 nautical miles south of Miami and 1,434 nautical miles southeast of New York.
The population of the Virgin Islands consists of West Indians of African heritage, whites from the United States and Europe, Spanish from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and French/French Creole.
The University of the Virgin Islands (a Land Grant and Historically Black College) is the institution of higher learning and has two campuses, one on St. Thomas and one on St. Croix. There are four public high school in the territory two on St. Croix and two in St. Thomas and 10 public elementary schools on St. Croix and 3 junior high schools. There are 13 elementary schools in St. Thomas and 3 junior high schools. There is one public elementary school in St. John. With the exception of Water Island, each island has private schools.
The infant mortality rate is 2.9% of 1,00 live births; the child death rate is 8.1% per 100,000 children ages 1-14; the rate of teen deaths by accident, homicide or suicide is 132.1% per 100,000 teens ages 15-19; the juvenile violent crime arrest rate 429.8% per 100,000 youth ages 10-17; 11.1% of teens who are high school dropouts; percent of children in poverty 30.6; percent of families with children headed by a single female parent 43.9%; child abuse and neglect referral rate per 1,000 children ages 0-18 6.9%.
Child population…the population figure for 2002 is estimated at 110,026, a small increase of 0.6% over the previous year. By contrast, the child population showed a decline of nearly 6%, from 34,480 in 2001 to 32,517 in 2002. U.S. Virgin Islands children under age 18 now represent 29.6% of the total population, down from 31.5% in 2001.
Of the territory’s children, nearly 54% (17,420) reside on St. Croix, 3% (1,040) live on St. John and 43% (14,056) live on St. Thomas. While each of the three Virgin Islands shows a decreased number of children from ’01-’02, the change is more marked in St. John and St. Thomas. Thirty-two percent of the population of St. Croix is under age 18, compared to only 24.5% on St. John and 27% on St. Thomas.
There were significant changes in the overall racial composition of the U.S. Virgin Islands between 2001 and 2002. The proportion of black residents increased from 78.1% to 81.4% with corresponding declines in the proportions of whites from 10.2% to 9.4% , and Hispanics from 15.2% to 13.9%. This change is magnified in the child population. In 2002 over 85% of children under age 18 were black, 4.9% were white, and 9.6% belonged to other races. Thirty-four percent of the black Virgin Islands population is under age 20, compared to 16.8% of whites, and 35.2% of Hispanics.
The territory’s 2002 population under age 20 was made up of 19,012 females (53.5% and 16,531 males (46.5%), for a ratio of 1.2 females to every male child.
Status of the library
The Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums has six functioning facilities plus a bookmobile. Plans are underway to build new libraries in St.Thomas, and St. Croix, to relocate the Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to a new location thus providing more space and patron access and to establish The Virgin Islands Book Exchange for the purpose of redistributing used books, to purchase two new bookmobiles one for St. Thomas where no bookmobile service exists and to replace the existing one on St. Croix. Vacant librarian positions are being filled in St. Croix and St. Thomas. Funding proposals have been submitted to the Virgin Islands Legislature far surpassing numbers provided in the past. Public hearings by the Legislative Committee on Education are being held to consider initiatives related to public libraries. The main public libraries are open for services six days per week. The Regional Library is open five days per week. A vehicle has been assigned to the RL for the purpose of expanding the capability to reach out to new and existing patrons. The RL collection and patron records have been automated according to National Library standards. The DLAM and its Virgin Islands Automated Library System (VIALS) was one of the first established in the Caribbean, it utilizes Dynix software and contains the bibliographic records of each of the public libraries, three of the four public high schools in the Territory and the two curriculum centers. The library web site (http://www.library.gov.vi) continues to expand to include resources, program information, government information and vital links.
How this project will improve library services and impact the community from improved library services.
Re-instituting the Virgin Islands Library Network (VILINET). The purpose of VILINET (most of the following is the language of the VILLINET Statute) is to provide United States Virgin Islands citizens access to the collective library resources of the Territory by developing a cooperative, coordinated, multitype network of libraries which facilitates identification, location and use of print and non-print materials, and of modem [electronic] information and available library services; to avoid duplication and to coordinate the sharing of resources, resulting in improved services for users of all participating libraries; and to serve as the United States Virgin Islands link with, and to ensure integration of United States Virgin Islands libraries in, regional and national [and international] library networks. The membership of the Network include: (1) all public libraries; each campus library of the University of the Virgin Islands; all secondary school libraries (grades 7-12) and professional and film libraries of the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums (DLAM) and the Bureau of Library Services and Instructional Materials (LSIM) of the Department of Education; and the Archives of the United States Virgin Islands. The Network may include, pursuant to rules and regulations established by VILINET’S governing board, the following voluntary members: (1) libraries serving non-public schools; (2) special libraries; (3) academic libraries; and (4) libraries serving public elementary schools (Grades K-6). (1) The Assistant Director of the Office or such other person designated by the Director of the Office is designated to be the Coordinator of the Network. (A) The Coordinator administers the business of the Network in accord with the policies and priorities set by the Executive Board. (B) The Coordinator provides staff support to the Executive Board and maintains all records of the Network and the Board, and performs all duties as assigned by the Board or the Territorial Librarian. (2) The Network is governed by an Executive Board (hereinafter, referred to as the "Board") which consists of one representative each from the Territorial Library Agency, the Department of Education, the University of the Virgin Islands, and each of the Members Councils as described in the statute. (3) Each representative is a person having substantial responsibilities for library services in the member organization, and the representatives from the Members Council can not be representatives of the other organizations on the Board. (4) Actions of the Network's governing board do not supersede the jurisdiction of the two campus libraries of the University of the Virgin Islands, the Bureau of Library Services and Instructional Materials of the Department of Education, the Office of Libraries and Archives of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the private and parochial school libraries or any of the special or institutional libraries represented in the Network, except in those projects that specifically involve networking. (5) The Board elects a Chairman and such other officers as deemed necessary. The Board [is suppose to meet] at least quarterly. Special meetings may be called by the Chairman or any two members. A majority of the Board constitutes a quorum. (6) Powers and responsibilities of the Board includes: (A) setting overall policies and priorities for the Network; (B) reviewing and approving the Network's budget; (C) advising and assisting the Network's staff in securing outside sources of funds; (D) approving proposed agreements or contracts; (E) establishing rules and regulations for membership in the Network; (F) adopting bylaws for the Network and the Executive Board; (G) approving expenditures of Network funds; (H) delegating to the coordinator any of the powers, duties or responsibilities of the Board, as appropriate; and (I) such other powers and responsibilities as necessary to fulfill the intent and purpose of [the law]. (g)(1) There are established two Members Councils: one Council consisting of one representative of each Network member in the district of St. Thomas-St. John and one Council consisting of one representative of each Network member in the District of St. Croix. (2) Each Members Council elects a Chairman who serves for one year on the Executive Board; Provided, however, That no person who serves on the Board in another capacity shall be able to become Chairman of a Members Council. Each Members Council meets at least annually. Special meetings may be called by request of the Board or as provided by the bylaws which each Council shall adopt. (3) Each Members Council has the following powers and responsibilities: (A) to advise the Board and staff of needed services; (B) to recommend policies and priorities for Network activities; (C) to approve the admission of new voluntary members who meet requirements set by the Board; (D) to consider and act upon such matters as may be appropriate; and (E) to draft and adopt bylaws for the conduct of business of the Members Council; to nominate and elect any other officers it may consider necessary and to set the terms of office for those other officers; and to provide for liaison with the Members Council of the other district.
A number of collaborative library initiatives as relates to library services, exist in the Virgin Islands. They function, however independently of VILINET. Were these initiatives established the context of VILINET, they would further promote and strengthen the development and relevance of libraries in the Territory. The following are just a few examples that will serve as illustration:
a.) The DLAM annually purchases subscriptions/ownership for online resources for use of library patrons and staff. They are accessible in the library and/or from remote locations via the Internet or dial-up with the use of library card id and pin number. These resources are not limited in access to a specific group of people, all that is needed to use the libraries and their resources is a valid public library card. The University of the Virgin Islands also acquires annual subscriptions as well for its students, faculty and staff. There is some duplication; there is no coordinated selection purchase or formal sharing infrastructure. The Department of Education also has established an electronic resource base that includes online reference materials. The students and faculty utilize both the public library and university library resources. There is no common library card, no formal use policy between member libraries of VILINET.
b.) The DLAM through its Virgin Islands Automated Library System (VIALS) maintains the database of books in the public libraries and also for those in three of the four public high schools in the Territory and the two curriculum centers. Students and teachers utilize the online catalog for access to their collections as well as those of the public libraries. Public and private school students make extensive use of the university library resources including: physical and online use. The VIALS infrastructure is set up to handle all the collections and students of the public schools. In addition, it can handle the same for private schools. There is no shared access between the university collections, the public high school collections and the public library collections with the exception of links to their web sites.
c.) The DLAM, The University of the Virgin Islands and the Virgin Islands Library Association have collaborated on LSTA projects and the content is reflected on the web pages of the institutions, however these efforts were independent of VILINET.
d.) Currently each department of government that is responsible for library services is responsible for disaster preparedness and emergency planning. There is, however no collective/collaborative emergency plan for libraries, archives that encompasses all libraries and archives (public and private sector). Such circumstances diminishes the level of priority given to them in times of emergency when the Territory is faced with disaster.
e.) Island nations/states are faced with the common tasks/challenges as relates to acquisition of materials/information resources for the use of its people. Conversely, the materials/information resources generated within their geographical jurisdictions are not as widely distributed and less likely to meet the demands of researchers and other readers such as those of government entities, educational institutions, foundations, etc. Given the capacity of the Internet, the World Wide Web and other computerized/electronic applications available and evolving as of this writing, library and information services in the Territory should be poised to take full advantage of their offerings for the assurance of optimum provision of library and information services to its people.
f.) The White House Conference on Library and Information Services produced over two dozen resolutions/recommendations on Virgin Islands libraries they related to topics associated to libraries and librarianship. They were produced in the Governor’s Conference on Library and Information Service. A functioning VILINET would have, most likely, played a major role in a collective approach to addressing those resolutions and advanced the cause for libraries and librarianship in the Territory. This did not happen.
This project will help establish VILINET as the “backbone of library society” in the Virgin Islands, a society “built on a foundation of collaboration and communication enabled by human and electronic networks”. VILINET can address the needs described in the above illustrations. The quarterly meeting will continue after the project; the VILLINET annual conference will continue; the memberships to library and information organizations will continue and increased as necessary; more member libraries in the Territory will be added.
Impact on the community from improved library services
While it is common knowledge that most people like and support libraries, as publicly supported institutions, they are “politically neutral sources of a diversity of information sources and services, as significant community information resources and physical places, [they do] play a key role in providing public access to the Internet.” The fact remains, however, that libraries continue remain low on the priority list of governments. Importantly, in the Virgin Islands, public libraries have been the focus of the people and government over the past year and have been appropriated and allocated funding at unprecedented levels. It is believed that now is the time to bring VILINET back to life so as to take advantage of the opportunity to further assure optimum library service to the people of the Virgin Islands. VILINET will help librarians and library institutions and organizations, identify the barriers that obstruct the further development of libraries, librarianship and library service in the Territory. VILINET will help in the unification of the voice of library in defining library roles, services, patron needs and support. It will help ensure equitable access to libraries. It will address the issues that libraries in the Territory face collectively associated with the evolving “Virtual Library”. It will define what is unique about libraies in the Virgin Islands, as well as their commonality with library in the U.S. and the Caribbean region. It will take advantage of existing available memberships to regional, national and international professional organizations, not limited to: IFLA, ALA, ACURIL (The Association of University, Research and Institutional Libraries), SOLINET, OCLC among others and their offerings as initiatives are undertaken and goals are achieved. VILINET will research, generate findings, survey, compile data, partner, advise, consult with, examine in accordance with its statutory responsibility.
The goal of this project is to re-institute and make active, the Virgin Islands Network (VILINET) which serves the purpose of providing the Territory of the United States Virgin Islands citizens access to collective library resources of the Territory and beyond, by developing a cooperative, coordinated multitype network of libraries which facilitate the identification, location and use of print and non-print materials, and of modem [electronic] information and available library services; to avoid duplication and to coordinate the sharing of resources, resulting in improved services for users of all participating libraries; and to serve as the U.S. Virgin Islands link with, and to ensure its integration in regional, national and international library networks.
1. To review and document the history of VILINET so as to re-educate all participants in the project including library users, library institutions, professional organizations (local, regional, national and international), government officials and the general public.
2. To convene its membership in four major meetings (one each quarter) to assess the status of VILINET, inter-library cooperation (available resources) and host a conference at the end of the project to establish a plan for the further continued development of VILINET.
3. To define the goals and objectives of VILINET with considerable focus on determining the impact of existing library and information science and technology on how people access library service and information today.
4. To review and revise, as needed, associated legislation, policy and procedures for VILINET (given the evolution of the Internet, the World Wide Web and electronic resources/applications and other developments).
5. To assess the emergency preparedness and recovery plans and capability for the membership library systems (all library types in the territory) and to revise statutes to include its provision.
6. To organize and put forth a simultaneous public relations and promotional campaign to raise the level of awareness of the concept of networking for libraries and to advocate for the significance and importance of VILINET in the Territory.
Action Steps and Activities to Implement the Project:
The majority of the documents as relates to the history VILINET are in the collection of DLAM. A number of individuals involved with VILINET from its inception are still available for interview. The history will be reviewed and compiled in accordance with the availability and content/depth of these resources. The Territorial Librarian/Director of DLAM will call for an agenda and convene the membership of VILINET as it relates to the re-institution of VILINET according to the Virgin Islands Code (legal statute of the Virgin Islands). One meeting per quarter will be conducted to re-institute VILINET. The planned conference will successfully establish VILINET as the official Network for libraries in the Virgin Islands. It will present a plan that will include the successful meeting of the goals and objectives of the project. The Territorial Librarian/Director will identify and hire (part-time) a project coordinator who will be knowledgeable of the history of VILINET, the coordinator will carryout the assignments of the Territorial Librarian/Director for the duration of the project. In conjunction with the meeting process defined in the project, a public relations/publicity/promotion campaign will be mounted. This campaign will be supported with the purchase of commercial content. A permanent VILINET website will be instituted. It will be a major vehicle aimed toward presenting to all concerned and meeting the goals and objectives of the project and the organization. After the conference which is the final component of the project, VILINET will need to hire a permanent coordinator.
Long Range Plan
The current Five-Year Plan for the Virgin Islands Public Library (DLAM) makes reference to shared catalogs for public library and school library. This project will establish that VILINET and the fulfillment of its goals and objectives play a major role in the planning of library and information services in the next Five-Year Plan. It will be factored into the long-range planning of the Department of Education and the University of the Virgin Islands.
The Territorial Librarian/Director has statutory responsibility for the duties and responsibilities for VILINET. The Territorial Librarian/Director, DLAM will direct this project. The coordinator for this project will assist with the implementation of its relevant tasks. The funding for the project administration will be shared with the office of Territorial Librarian (in-kind). The assessment and evaluation of this project will be completed following the VILLINET conference. This project will establish VILINET as the representative library network for the Virgin Islands according to Virgin Islands law.
Wallace Williams, MLS, Territorial Librarian/Director, DLAM
Janice Pasha, Project Coordinator
History of VILINET
Response from: associated
institutions, professionals, library users, library supporters
The re-institution of VILINET will establish the Virgin Islands as an important library and information resource in the Caribbean, United States and Denmark (colonizer prior to purchase by the U.S.). It will ensure that the special collections with the libraries of the Virgin Islands are identified and more accessible. It will limit the procurement of duplication of traditional and online resources while at the same time make more information available to people of the Virgin Islands. It will foster cooperation between libraries of the Territory. It will put the network in compliance with the Virgin Islands Law.
The expenses associated with this project include: Meeting Expenses which include travel of members between islands; Publicity/Promotion which will be purchased from commercial entities (public services outlets will be utilized to maximum capacity); VILINET will for the first time have membership in relevant bodies; SOLINET will be consulted to provide expertise in areas as deemed required including infrastructure revision, legislation, partnership development; the VILINET website will be a vital to the evolution of the network and how it is projected to the world; the conference, which will be the first ever held will serve to pull the network together as a formative entity; the coordinator will be most important as the one person who facilitates the key implementation components of the project.
Meeting Expenses—Two meetings will be held in St. Croix and Thomas/St.John. Four people per meeting. $1,000.00
Publicity/Promotion—the purchase of radio, television, newspaper, online advertisement $3,000.00
Annual membership dues—American Library Association, OCLC, Virgin Islands Library Association, International Association of Library Federations, Association of Caribbean Research and Institution Libraries and others. $2,000.00
Consulting fees—SOLINET $7,000.00
VILINET Website development $2,000.00
First Annual VILINET Conference $5,000.00
Project Coordinator—Part-time employee for the duration of the project. $10,000.00