Volume 1 (December 2013)


The blowing of the conch shell has various meanings in the Caribbean: it is a clarion call for all cricket supporters when the West Indies Cricket team does battle, it is the trumpet for religious ceremonies and on one island it is the announcement that boats are arriving on shore with fresh fish. Anyone who has attempted to blow the conch shell knows that it is not easy to do so at first try. And even when that first sound is made, it is often a small sound. It requires patience and practice to deliver a sound strong enough to call a community to attention and action. It is on this metaphor of the conch shell that we introduce the first issue of Caribbean Library Journal.

In 2006 a group of librarians at St. Augustine had a dream; a dream to create an online publication that would showcase the scholarship and innovativeness of practitioners in Caribbean library and information studies. In essence, it was our first blowing of the conch shell. We (Frank Soodeen and Lorraine Nero) who were part of the initial team want to acknowledge the librarians who shared the dream in 2006: Rabia Ramlogan, Jennifer Papin Ramcharan (deceased), Gerard Rogers and Niala Dwarika Bhagat. At that time the movement for open access journals was just gaining momentum and debates in the academic community focused on the credibility and sustainability of such publications. Amidst these uncertainties the dream got deferred, particularly as the UWI did not have an online open access journal in its publication roster for us to use as a marker of precedence. Today the debate still rages on about the nature of open access journals with a recent article published in Science examining the peer review process in several of these journals. Yet, this continuing debate has not daunted the growth of such publications including several of them in the Caribbean.

Langston Hughes in his poem A Dream Deferred asked "What happens to a dream deferred?" In response to his question Caribbean Library Journal says - "It gets bigger, more confident and better!" The new editorial team draws on the enthusiasm and commitment of librarians across the Caribbean region, supported by a cadre of regional and international reviewers. Confident that the systems we have put in place will provide a resource to information professionals in the Region first and then to teach others of our experiences, we are now ready to deliver the first sound from our conch shell.

The articles in this first issue are primarily on the user services aspect of librarianship. Nelson investigates the possibilities of incorporating text messages into our reference services, demonstrating that we have to find ways of engaging our clients with the popular devices they now use. The experiences of Caribbean libraries can also teach other institutions how to find solutions particularly as resources to deliver our services continue to shrink. In the cases presented by Brathwaite and Dolabaille and George and Robinson, it is significant that both teams are trying to find the means to provide library orientation and information literacy on limited resources and to increasing student populations.

The practice of academic librarianship continues to evolve and the case of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Libraries presented by Preddie shows the issues which have to be considered in creating an entrepreneurship library model. As librarians are being asked to support the teaching of entrepreneurship and to also be entrepreneurs, we look to the experiences of institutions like UTT for guidance.

Caribbean Library Journal makes its first sound with this issue. As we continue to generate interest in Caribbean library and information scholarship and to providing access to future issues, we eagerly look forward to growing stronger and bolder.


Bohannon, John. 2013. "Who's Afraid of Peer Review." Science 342 (6154): 60-65. DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6154.60

About the cover

James Hackett, an outstanding visual artist from Trinidad and Tobago captures the essence of this first issue of Caribbean Library Journal with the cover illustration. The vibrant colours create a celebratory atmosphere for the new journal and also reflect the energy of the Editorial Board. The eye cannot help but be drawn to the red conch shell which is a central feature of the art. The Editorial for this inaugural issue draws on the conch shell to metaphorically describe the journey to the publication of CLJ; and the expectations and hope for future issues.

Hackett has developed a distinctive style in his art and fashion designs and plays with the patterns of lattice and lace to achieve visual appeal. In this illustration, lace is subtly used to form a halo around the head of the character. The visual effect is reminiscent of long playing records, CDs and blu-ray discs; formats on which information has been stored in the last century. The black spiral lines take us even further back in time, creating that scroll effect which links us to the evolution of record keeping and early libraries.

The image of the artwork on the cover of this issue of the Caribbean Library Journal is copyright protected.