Special Libraries cater to specific professional or academic
    groups whose information needs are defined by a particular
    subject or activity.



Special Libraries

Special libraries function to provide customized service to a particular clientele, in pursuit of defined organizational goals. The international Special Libraries Association defines a special librarian as: “Special librarians are information professionals dedicated to putting knowledge to work to attain the goals of their organizations. They are employed most frequently by corporations, private businesses, government agencies, museums, colleges, hospitals, associations, and information management consulting firms”.[i]

Since NALIS was formed in 1998, the Director, Information Networks Division (IND) has supervised the special libraries under an ad hoc arrangement, emphasis being placed on providing the technology tools for information access and delivery rather than on the management of staff and administration of services. At that time there were fewer special libraries than the number existing today. Currently, there are thirty-eight special libraries in twenty-two (22) government agencies with one hundred and eleven NALIS positions allocated to date. This Department is now supervised by the Deputy Executive Director of NALIS.

The Department has the responsibility of monitoring and evaluating the operations of all special libraries, to ensure that international benchmarks in information management standards are maintained. The core responsibilities of the Department are achieved mainly through conducting supervisory visits, meetings and training sessions and advising the public sector Heads of Departments on strategic activities affecting their library service. Official administrative documentation for this Department is still pending.


By NALIS Act No.18 of 1998, NALIS is mandated “to provide for the development and coordination of all library and information services in Trinidad and Tobago and related matters”. The Act assigns to NALIS therefore, the legal responsibility for the development of special libraries, building staff capacity in these libraries and entering into formal arrangements with Permanent Secretaries and other Heads for the management and delivery of service. With specific reference to the role of special library services, The Act delegates to NALIS the authority to:

  1. act as the central coordinating agency for library and information services generally by-
  1. facilitating library and information series to schools, government ministries and agencies; and
  2. providing the link for the cooperation between public sector libraries, libraries of tertiary institutions, the private sector and the National Archives;


  1. provide consultancy and management services to the public and private sectors, in respect of matters for and in relation to the establishment and conduct of a library;
  2. provide and arrange for the provision of educational, advisory and informational services relating to the establishment and conduct of a library;
  3. provide a national referral information service, library material and material in other libraries, public and private;
  4. provide a national information service for the benefit of the physically disadvantaged and persons in institutions.


Vision Statement of the SLSD –

To be the knowledge management touchstone for the network of NALIS special libraries


Mission statement of the SLSD –

To provide strategic and expert guidance to government departments for the development of all aspects of special library services by building and maintaining special partnerships


[i] Special Library Association website http://www.sla.org.2009

Contact us:
Special Library Services Department
3rd Floor, National Library and Information System Authority Hart & Abercromby Sts.,
Trinidad and Tobago

Head - Special Library Services Department
Ms. Beverly Williams
Deputy Executive Director (Ag.)
Email: Beverly.Williams@nalis.gov.tt
Tel: 624-4466, Ext 2435; Fax: 1(868) 627-5315

Librarian IV - Special Library Services Department
Ms. Helen Gilbert
Email: Helen.Gilbert@nalis.gov.tt
Tel: 624-4466, Ext 2334; Fax: 1(868) 625-6096



Information regarding the development of Special Libraries within Trinidad and Tobago is not accurately documented and documentation fugitive. The existence of Special Libraries predates the existence of the first Public Library in Trinidad and Tobago.

1851 – 1951:

Prior to the proclamation of Ordinance 2 of 1851 for the establishment of a Public Library in Trinidad and Tobago, there is evidence that shows the existence of “Circulating Libraries”, “Subscription Libraries” and “Special Private Libraries”, all of which can fall into the definition of a Special Library. It can even be argued, that the first Public Library established in Trinidad and Tobago was indeed a “Special Library” since the library, while initially envisaged to be free was a subscriber’s library and in fact only became a free library in 1951.


Historically library services in Trinidad and Tobago were managed by three separate pieces of legislation and entities. These were The Trinidad Public Library and the Carnegie Free Library, as statutory bodies and the Central Library as a civil service department under the Ministry of Education. The administration of these library services were also governed by three distinct pieces of legislation. However none of these acts made specific reference to the administration and creation of special libraries. Hence the development of special libraries took place on a ad hoc basis depending on the specific need of the government ministry or department. By default the Central library of Trinidad and Tobago played a consultative role to the management of Special libraries.


One of the first reports that recommended the need for integration of the library services in Trinidad and Tobago, and greater co-operation between the Special Libraries and Central Library Services was done in 1959 by William B, Paton.[i] He concluded that there was need for closer co-operation between the Central Library and existing Government Libraries at the time, such as the Law Library, Legislative Council Library and the Library of the Registrar-General, of the Caribbean Commission and the Federal Library Federation of the West Indies).

Following the Paton report the need for the administration of Special Libraries by one central unit was recommended in 1968 by the Cabinet Committee on the Integration of Library Services in Trinidad and Tobago[ii] which was chaired by Wilfred D. Best. The report states,

“There is a need for a central organization and maintenance of books for use by the ministries and departments thus saving valuable space and ensuring the proper care and distribution of these books. It is suggested that there be situated at strategic points well-run subject libraries serving all ministries and government departments …”

The need for proper administration and co-ordination of special libraries did not hinder their growth. While in the early 1960’s there were approximately 5 professionally staffed special libraries in Trinidad and Tobago by the late 1960s this number was listed as 20 and by 1972 the number increased to 51. In 1972 two reports were done on library services in Trinidad and Tobago.

The first was the Draft Library Development Plan[iii] produced by the Ministry of Planning and Development which recommended that advisory responsibility to Special Libraries should fall under the Deputy Director of Library Services and that later on “a form of Bureau or Department of Special Libraries should evolve under a full time separate administration of the National Library Service.”

The second report which was completed by UNESCO consultant E.H Morton[iv], did not propose a formal department for Special Libraries instead a liaison between Ministerial Libraries and Non-Governmental Special Libraries was suggested.


Following these reports, in 1976 a Special Library Committee chaired by Patrick Dyer was appointed to present proposals on the National Library Service. The recommendations made by the Committee were similar to those made in previous reports. These were essentially the need for the co-ordination of Government Libraries to accommodate existing libraries and establish new ones. As a result of these and other recommendations, a Library Task Force was appointed by Cabinet in 1978 to consider all aspects of library development and make recommendations thereon. The main recommendation from the Library Task Force was the establishment of the National Library Archives and Information Service (NALIAS) as a statutory body falling under the Ministry of Education and Culture. Two years later the Board of the National Library Information and Archives Service (NALIAS) was established on July 17th 1980 by Cabinet Minute 2764.

In 1985 the Interim Board of NALIAS appointed the Working Group on Special Libraries/Information Network which was launched on 9th April 1985.Its terms of reference were to make recommendations for future policy and development of special libraries in Trinidad and Tobago as well as to assess existing facilities and services to develop future plans for special libraries. To date this is the most in depth report produced on Special Libraries in Trinidad and Tobago. The Working Group on Special Libraries/Information Network was chaired by Dr. Alma Jordan.

Changes in the political landscape meant a new direction for the integration of library services in Trinidad and Tobago. Despite this critical need, in February 1989 the then Cabinet decided that there was no need for the organizational structure recommended by NALIAS to be implemented. Instead Cabinet rescinded NALIAS and established the Council for National Library Information Services (CONALIS) by Cabinet Minute 264 of 1989.

In 1991 the secretariat of CONALIS was established which made recommendations for the integration of library services in Trinidad and Tobago. Emerging from those recommendations a cabinet appointed committee was set up in 1993 to decide the way forward for the integration of Public library services. This committee was chaired by Pamella Benson the first Executive Director of NALIS. In contrast the focus that was paid to Special Libraries by the NALIAS board was not seen in the CONALIS report. In this report no specific section was dedicated towards the integration of Special Libraries within the wider library services of Trinidad and Tobago.

The proposals from this report were accepted and eventually in 1998 the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) was established by Act No. 18 of 1998. Following the establishment of NALIS the responsibility for the co-ordination of Special Libraries fell under the portfolio of the Director of Information Networks Division, however the need was felt by NALIS Executive Management Team that there should be a separate division or unit dedicated specifically to the administration of Special Libraries. In 2012 this vision was realized when the Special Library Services Department was established to act as an interim Division prior to official Cabinet approval for new positions.


Anthony, Michael. First in Trinidad. St.James, Port of Spain:Circle Press, 1985.

Besson, Gerrad. The book of Trinidad. Paria Publishing Company, 1991.

Cudjoe, Selwyn. Beyond Boundaries the intellectual tradition of Trinidad and Tobago in the 19th century.  Calaloux Publications, 2003.

Estimates of Civil service 1901,1959,1960 1963,19661967,1972,1973

Trinidad and Tobago. House of Representatives. Hansard, Friday August 14th, 1998-National Library Bill

Jordan, Alma. Summaries on school and special libraries in Trinidad and Tobago. St.Augustine, University of the West Indies, 1972.

Jordan Alma. The development of a library service in the West Indies through inter-library co-operation. Metuchen, Scarecrow Press Inc., 1970.

Laws of Trinidad and Tobago. Central Library of Trinidad and Tobago Act; Chapter 42:01

Laws of Trinidad and Tobago. No.5 of 1949 Central Library of Trinidad and Tobago

Laws of Trinidad and Tobago Chapter 42. No. 4 Central Library of Trinidad and Tobago

Raymond, Ursula. Planning for Library Services in Trinidad and Tobago.

Working Group on Special Libraries/Information Network. Directory of special libraries. ??



[i] Paton Report. Not located to date

[ii] Trinidad and Tobago. Cabinet Appointed Committee on integration of the public Library services of Trinidad and Tobago. Report of the Cabinet appointed committee on integration of the public library services of Trinidad and Tobago 1993.

[iii] Trinidad and Tobago. Ministry of Planning and Development. Draft library development plan for Trinidad and Tobago, 1973-1988: the challenge of change. Port of Spain, 1972

[iv] Morton, E.H. Trinidad and Tobago development of library services. UNESCO, 1972

Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries

Research Division
Central Experimental Station
Centeno, Arima
Tel: (868) 642-0167; 646-4335
Direct: (868) 646-1643

Fisheries Division Library

Fisheries Division
Tel: (868) 622-1221/ 5; 622-5481

Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs 

Cabildo Chambers
23 - 27 St. Vincent Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-7010; 625-8910 Ext. 2205

Consumer Affairs Division (Library)
Duncan Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-3821

Intellectual Property Office
3rd Floor,Capital Plaza
11-13 Frederick Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 625-9972; 625-1907; 627-0706

Library located at Consumer Affairs

Registration House
South Quay
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 627-2784

Winsure Building 
24-28 Richmond Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 627-1791; 625-9747/ 48 Ext. 1249

Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts

Cor. Jerningham Avenue, Queen's Park East Belmont
Tel: (868) 624-5359

Ministry of Education

Education Towers,
No.5 St.Vincent Street,
Port of Spain

Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries

Levels 15 & 22-26, Energy Tower C,
International Waterfront Centre
#1 Wrightson Road
Tel: (868) 623-6708

South Office
Maska Compound,
South Trunk Road
La Romaine,
San Fernando
Tel: (868) 697-7864; 697-1484; 697-1283; 697-0945; 697-1275
Fax: (868) 697-7013

Ministry of Finance

Inland Revenue Division
Trinidad House
St. Vincent Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-1213

Customs and Excise Division
Custom House
Government Campus Plaza
Ajax Street
Wrightson Road
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 627-3361

Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs

Levels 10-14, Tower C
International Water Front Complex
1A Wrightson Road
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-6894

Ministry of Health

National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Programme (NADAPP)
NADAPP Secretariat,
Ministry of the People and Social Development,
62 Abercromby St, POS
Tel: (868) 627-3506; 627-3527

Port of Spain General Hospital
Charlotte Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-2437San Fernando General Hospital
Independence Avenue
San Fernando
Tel: (868) 6


Caura Chest Hospital
Caura Royal Road

Mount Hope Women's Hospital
Eastern Main Road
Mount Hope
Tel: (868) 662-7153/ 7006 / 5764

School of Nursing, San Fernando
Tel: (868) 657-2772

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

Information Services;44 - 46 South Quay
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-4663 Ext. 2214

Ministry of Labour

Levels 5-6, Tower C, Intl. Waterfront Centre, 1 Wrightson Rd., POS
Tel: (868) 623-7554; 624-2039

Library located at Duke St.
Tel: (868) 299-0300

Ministry of National Security

Temple Court
31 - 33 Abercromby Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 625-5760

Forensic Science Centre
Federation Park
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 622-1011 Ext. 250

Ministry of Planning and Development

Library Services Unit, Level 6
Eric Williams Finance Building
Independence Square, Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-2306 (direct line)
PBX: (868) 612-3000, Exts 2028, 2029
Email: PlanningdevelopmentLibrary@planning.gov.tt
OPAC: https://webopac.planning.gov.tt


Ministry of Public Utilities

1 Alexandra Street,

Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government

Kent House,
Maraval Road,
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 622-1669/1979, 628-1323-5
Fax: (868) 622-4783, 622-5252, 628-7283

Ministry of Social Development and Family Services

ABMA Building
55 - 57 St. Vincent Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-2608 Ext. 1474 or 1475

Ministry of Youth Development and National Service

12 Abercromby Street, Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 625-5622/ 4 Ext. 6050
Fax: (868) 623-0174

Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts

Tower C
Level 8
Intl Waterfront Complex
Tel: (868) 624-1403 Ext. 411

Ministry of Trade and Industry

Levels 11 to 17
Nicholas Tower
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-2931/ 4
Fax: (868) 627-8488


The Environmental Commission of Trinidad and Tobago

Telly Paul Building
Corner St. Vincent & New Street, POS
Tel: (868) 627-3432; (868) 625 - 7353 Ext. 141; 687-5984

Industrial Court

Library webpage

Industrial Court
Port of Spain
St. Vincent Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 623-1304/ 1308 Ext. 5

Industrial Court
6 Irving Street
San Fernando
Tel: (868) 623-8910; 653-5182

Intellectual Property Office

Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs
3rd Floor, Capital Plaza
11-13 Frederick Street,
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 625-9972; 625-1907;627-0706
Fax: 624-1221

The Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Library webpage

Hall of Justice
Knox Street
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 657-339; 652-2152; 652-4254

Office of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago

Parliament of the Rep. Trinidad and Tobago,
Levels G-7, Tower D, Port-of-Spain Waterfront Centre, 1A Wrightson Road.
Tel: (868) 625-7321 Ext. 2382

Service Commissions Department

Servicce Commissions Department
Police Service Commission Secretariat
Cor. Churchill Roosevelt Highway and Pasea Main Road

Tel: (868) 612-0062

Library reports to the Director of Corporate Services

Tax Appeal Board of Trinidad and Tobago

27 Frederick Street, POS
Tel: (868) 623-1330; 624-3038 Ext. 9



Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)

Virtual Library
University of the West Indies
St. Augustine Campus Tel: (868) 645-1205/ 7
Fax: (868) 645-1208
Email: infocentre@cardi.org

Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC)

16-18 Jamaica Boulevard
Federation Park
Port of Spain
Tel: (868) 622-4261
Fax: (868) 622-2792
Email: postmaster@carec.paho.org

Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)

49 Jerningham Avenue
Port of Spain Tel: (868) 624-7524; 624-5642; 624-5928; 625-4492
Fax: (868) 624-5643
Email: e-mail@trt.paho.org

ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean, Caribbean Knowledge Management Centre

Knowledge Management Centre

Caribbean Digital Library
P.O. Box 1113
1 Chancery Lane
Port-of-Spain Tel: (868) 623-5595; 623-1969; 623-5428; 623-7623; 623-7308; 623-5872; 625-2094; 625-3550; 625-5548; 625-8684 Ext. 2102
Fax: (868) 623-8485
Email: registry@eclacpos.org

United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean Area (UNIC)

Library webpage
P.O. Box 130
2nd Floor, Bretton Hall
16 Victoria Avenue
Port of Spain Tel: (868) 623-4813; 623-8438
Fax: (868) 623-4332
Email: library.portofspain@unic.org

*These special libraries are not affiliated with NALIS

Requests for Assistance or Consultation on Your Special Library

Public and private sector corporations may consult with the Special Library Services for assistance in the following areas and according to the NALIS Act, Chap 40:01, sections 4(d) - 4(e), 4 (i):

  • Act as the central coordinating agency for public and private sector agencies in the area of information and library development.
  • Provide the link between these agencies and the National Archives.
  • Provide consultancy services in establishing libraries in the public and private sectors.
  • Recruit, and train library staff for the public sector agencies.
  • Provide a national refferal service for information, library material and material in other libraries, public and private.
  • Assist in library policy development.
  • Advise on library design, layout and the acquisition of goods and services.
  • Et al

Contact details:

Special Library Services Department 3rd Floor,
National Library and Information System Authority
Hart & Abercromby Sts.,
Port-of-Spain Trinidad and Tobago

Head - Special Library Services Department
Ms. Beverly Williams
Deputy Executive Director (Ag.)
Email: beverly.williams@nalis.gov.tt

Librarian IV - Special Library Services Department
Ms. Helen Gilbert
Email: helen.gilbert@nalis.gov.tt
Tel: 624-4466, Ext 2374; Fax: 1(868) 625-6096