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Wednesday, June 12, 2024


Sept. 10, 2001 – If all goes as planned, the St. Thomas public library will soon have something it's sorely needed for the last couple of years: a head librarian.
Diane Moody, a librarian for the last four years at Antilles School, has been offered the position, and she has accepted. "My goal is to improve library services to the community," she said.
The NOPA [notice of personnel action] for Moody is "in the pipeline," Claudette Lewis, assistant commissioner of the Planning and Natural Resources Department, said, adding that she hoped to have an answer back this week.
Moody has the advantage of bringing to the job something that the last couple of head librarians at Baa did not have: a thorough knowledge of the system, its strengths and weaknesses, and its support resources — both within the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums and in the community.
In addition to working as a school librarian, Moody has been active as a volunteer in what used to be called The Friends of Enid M. Baa Library. The not-for-profit group recast its name this year as The Friends of the St. Thomas Libraries — signaling its support for a second library that would particularly serve the large population on the eastern portion of the island.
Moody, the group's vice president and program chair, noted in June that there are two reasons such a library may become a reality on the not-too-distant future. First, Tutu Park Ltd., the mall developer, has pledged in its bid to the Economic Development Commission for renewal of tax exemptions to build such a facility across from Plaza Extra. And second, the library already has architectural plans drafted in the mid-1990s for a structure that had been targeted for the ruins of the historic Tutu greathouse behind Tillett Gardens.
Another priority for the Friends was to see a head librarian in place at Baa. There has been no head librarian, or anyone with a library science degree, on the library staff in the last two years. The last librarian within the system on St. Thomas worked in the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums office, not at the library, and she retired last December.
As program chair, Moody was instrumental in getting the volunteer Saturday reading program for children up and running in the Baa Library children's room last spring. The Friends got a mini-grant from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands to purchase additional books and art supplies for the program and elisted community members to read to the youngsters and interact with them in games and crafts projects intended to encourage a love of reading.
As the program was about to take a break for July and August, Moody noted that the Friends had decided that "We will continue the program when they get a librarian. We want to be there to support a librarian in the work that she or he wants to accomplish."
That should be a "no problem" situation now.
The position of the librarian's supervisor also is vacant at the moment. Simon Caines, who served as director of libraries for about two years, left at the end of July to become executive director of the V.I. Humanities Council. He had previously worked with the not-for-profit council as assistant to longtime executive director Magda G-Smith, who left the position in March.
"It was something I was familiar with and had an affinity for," Caines said of his new post. "I was excited at the prospect of coming back."
But the Humanities Council's gain is the library system's loss, for Caines — and his boss, Lewis — also had been lobbying for a new state-of-the-art library at the mall. And they had taken the initiative to begin upgrading the Baa offerings for adults as well as children, closing the library for a week in May to install new shelving in the Von Scholten Collection area and to remove outdated and damaged books and replace them with new materials.
According to Lewis, the NOPA for the new director of libraries — who oversees all of the territory's public libraries — also is making its way through the government pipeline. She declined to name the person she has designated for the position. Jeanette Allis Bastian held the post for many years before relocating to the mainland a couple of years ago to pursue a doctorate degree.
At Baa, the last head librarian was Tommy Waters, who came from the mainland to take the job in the late 1990s and left after a couple of years. Before that, John Hodges, a St. Thomas resident since 1986, held the position from 1992 to 1995. At that time, the late June Lindqvist was still the librarian in charge of the Baa Library's Von Scholten Collection of Virgin Islands archival books and other materials.
At present, all of the territory's other public libraries — Florence A. Williams in Christiansted, Athalie McFarlane Petersen in Frederiksted, and Elaine Ione Sprauve on St. John, have librarians.
"We did have several candidates" for the Baa position, Planning and Natural Resources public information staff member Annette Morales said.
Moody holds a master of arts in library science from Northern Illinois University. Her work experience includes 11 years in school libraries — seven of them in administration for the suburban Chicago school district of Maywood, Ill. In the culturally diverse district, she said, "I managed five elementary school libraries and teaching library schools, promoting reading and consulting with teachers about literature, library use and other available resources."
She was involved in developing computerized catalogs and circulation for the district's 10 libraries and was instrumental in the formation of a technology committee that succeeded in obtaining a grant of $1.3 million in state and federal funds for library computer rooms.
For the last four years, Moody has been the Upper School librarian at Antilles, where she also has taught 6th grade library skills, 9th grade research methods and Modern Language Association style for term papers. She was in charge of automating the library and managed 16 computer work stations for students. "I taught Internet searching skills; consulted with teachers about library usage, literature and integrating technology into the curriculum; and started the school's technology committee," she said.
In February of this year, the school dedicated its new Henry L. Kimelman Library, which includes a computer center.
"I'm looking forward to working at Enid M. Baa for many reasons," Moody said. "The public library will allow me to serve the larger community, from babies to senior citizens, while continuing to work with school-age childen and young adults. My experience at Kimelman Library will serve me in assisting patrons using printed reference books and searching the Internet to fulfill their information needs."
Beyond the nuts and bolts aspects of the job, she added, "I love talking about books and authors and look forward to sharing that love with others."

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