Philipsburg Jubilee Library Launches e-Book and e-Reader Collection

POSTED: 06/21/13 12:29 PM

Prime Minister already has the Bible on her BlackBerry

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Librarian Annelies Starreveld demonstrates the eBook search system. In the background on the first row are from left Library director Monique Alberts, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Education, Culture Youth and Sports Minister Patricia Lourens and Ramona Thomas, the assistant of the PM. Photo Today / Milton Pieters

St. Maarten – “I have the Bible on my BlackBerry,” said Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams yesterday at a presentation for the launch of the e-books and e-readers collection at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.  The pastor at the church frowned at first when he saw her using the device, but was quickly reassured because “it was not a sign of being disrespectful.” The prime minister was simply following the sermon along with a digital copy of the Bible. Not long after, she said, “the sermon was delivered by iPad” from the same pastor. Because the library’s e-books collection will be made available to anyone with a library card, there’s “no excuse for those not to make use of e-books as a form of reading,” she added. “The library is keeping up with the times.” Nevertheless, the prime minister urged young people “to become critical thinkers about the knowledge that is widely available, and the information they access” in the information age.

The library in Philipsburg currently has 168 titles available for e-reader use that can be accessed either online for those who already have an e-reader, such as an Amazon Kindle, or computer. They can also come down to the library and use its computers or their free Wi-Fi. It is necessary to have a library card, though, but after that, members can select the books within the selection, and without fear of late fees as access to e-book automatically expires after a certain amount of time. People can have a limit of 3 e-books for up to 21 days.

Many adults have been intimidated by the new technology, but learn they often adapt easier than initially feared. “Fantastic!” said teacher Duana Richardson who spoke of her first experience with an e-book she borrowed from the library. “I thought it was difficult at first,” but once explained how to use it she was “blown away.” She has Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and two other titles on her borrowed e-book and considers it far more convenient to fit it in her bag than 3 large print books.

It’s quite the reverse for young people according to Jenice Forbes, Soualigan Fyah Youth Poetry winner. “E-readers,” like the Amazon Kindle, “attract modern teenagers” because they are tech savvy and “printed books scare them”. She said that e-readers “will increase readership among youth, because they’re more enjoyable than books” for kids who love gadgets.

The MC for the event, Tamara Hughes, an instructional technologist and education specialist at USM, highlighted the potential for applying e-books in schools precisely because of their lightweight and small size compared to printed textbooks. “Imagine if students used e-books for school. How much lighter it would be for them?”

Minister of Education Patricia Lourens heaped praise on the library, saying it “has played a key role on St. Maarten for the past 90 yrs.” She was impressed with how far the library had come and how “improved is its user friendliness.” Though still an avid lover of traditional books, she understood the need to “move with the times” and that “we must take advantage of new technology.”

The downside of the technology, of course, has been the cost of the devices and access to the Internet. Most people who purchase e-readers usually have to have a valid credit card in order to purchase titles online; however, with the launch of their e-collection, the Philipsburg Jubilee Library removed some of the barriers blocking access to the advantages offered by digital books, making the experience easier and more accessible to everyone. They currently have five e-readers available to loan (for a small security deposit). “All citizens should have access to them. They only need a valid library card,” said Director of the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, Monique Alberts.

For more information on the Philipsburg Jubilee Library’s e-book and e-reader program, you can visit their website at or go to the library in town and speak to any of the staff about it.



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