Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jamaica's contribution to LIS scholarship: A distant memory

Last week when I browsed the Annual Reviews of Information Science and Technology, I realised that in the  index/indices of the early volumes, I could find Jamaica. As I moved to the more current volumes, Jamaica disappeared from the indices/indexes. Our glory days in LIS have faded and are now a distant memory.

I remember the story told to me by a retired librarian that in the early days of librarianship in Jamaica, Jamaican librarians were well respected in the international LIS community. We were the first nation to host and plan the International Association of School Librarian conference, as well as supplied one of its President and founding officer, Amy Robertson. In addition, when we went to international conferences, the retired librarian told me, and persons heard Jamaica, all Jamaican librarians could stand tall, as everyone greeted us with respect and admiration.

I further remember a Jamaican student on the exchange program with a Canadian university, telling me that her professors asked her what has happened to Jamaica's scholarship in the field of LIS. The student told me that they had high expectations for the nation's LIS scholarship and has been wondering what has taken place to slow our productivity and influence to date.

Also of mention is Jamaican-born librarian, Dorothy Collings, who contributed to the development of the field of comparative librarianship. Collins suggested that North American librarianship training is not sufficient for tackling the problems and situations of global librarianship (Jackson, 2001). As a result of her own experiences and background, Collings drafted and developed courses on Comparative Librarianship and later became an authority on the matter (Jackson, 2001). Collings’ contribution to the development of the concept of comparative librarianship is cited in a number of studies (Jackson 2001, Bliss, 1993; Lor, 2008).

I ponder now that there is great work to be done in the Caribbean region, but am mindful about how governments are cutting funding to libraries and other information institutions. In short, I see need for a renaissance in LIS.


Bliss, N. J. (1993). The emergence of international librarianship as a field. Libri, 43(1), 39–52. DOI: 10.1515/libr.1993.43.1.39, //1993 Published Online: 19/10/2009

Jackson, W. V. (2001). “The Pioneers: Dorothy G. Collings (1911-1991).” World Libraries, 11(1 & 2), Retrieved from

Lor, P. J. (2008). Critical reflections on international librarianship. Mousaion, 26(1), 1-15.

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