23 September 2003


Mr. Dominic Kalipersad
Editor in Chief
Trinidad Publishing Company Limited
(The Trinidad Guardian)

Dear Mr. Kalipersad,

The National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS) notes with great disappointment the front page headline of your Saturday Guardian of September 20, 2003 which read “Police officers step in to quell schoolgirls fight – National Library Fracas”.

The incident of September 19, 2003 occurred outside of the National Library Building - in fact, in the middle of Abercromby Street, bringing vehicular traffic to a halt and causing other students to gather. As you are well aware, NALIS has instituted strict measures to deal with the indiscipline of persons on its premises and has issued statements regarding our zero tolerance towards indiscipline. Additionally, our security personnel are aware of the dangers of overcrowding and as such, manage the large numbers of students wanting to use the facility (particularly on a Friday), by instituting a queuing and waiting system; persons can only enter the library, once others exit.

We feel that the media has a role to play in working with NALIS and indeed the rest of society to instill respect for property and persons, the value of learning and the fostering of the reading habit. Headlines such as National Library Fracas, apart from being misleading, shift the focus from the real issues which face our society. The real story here is not the National Library, but the behaviour of young adults in our society. The problem is one which should concern the entire nation and is not restricted to the behaviour displayed at the National Library Building. We will continue to be affected by the non-observance of rules, laws and basic codes of ethics if we do not take corrective action.

We suggest open youth fora, addressing youth related issues, hosted at the National Library and broadcast live, with fair and frank coverage from your newspaper. We invite your sponsorship to engage counsellors and motivational speakers to speak to the youth at these gatherings.

We look forward to working with you and other members of the media to address this very critical issue.

Yours sincerely,

Pamella Benson (Mrs)
Executive Director