July 10, 2020
Hurricane Dorian Updates Press Releases Support

GBPA Recovery Support Helps the Sir Charles Hayward Library’s Progress Toward Reopening

Libraries are integral to communities the world over, and Grand Bahama’s Sir CharlesHayward Library is no exception. The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) has made funds available to the library in excess of $250,000 to assist with mucking and gutting, renovation of the entire interior infrastructure, replacement of computer equipment, books and other supplies, as it recovers and rebuilds following the devastating flooding of Hurricane Dorian.

The library and its contents were severely damaged due to flooding. Floors and drywall needed to be torn out and replaced, computer and other technology equipment was destroyed, and about 8,000 books were lost. Mrs. Geneva Rutherford, Executive Director of the Sir Charles Hayward Library, shared the following thoughts: “We are so grateful to the GBPA for all they do for us and, by extension, the Freeport community. We simply wouldn’t exist without them. We’re also supported by a committed and engaged Board, and by some of our island’s largest businesses. We’re thankful for their partnership as well. With all of that support, we were able to begin restoration work in October last year. Until our closure on March 20th of this year,due to the COVID-19 Executive Order, we were making remarkable progress in restoring the Library.”

GBPA teams continue to assist with the significant amount of renovation work still needed to be completed.  “We are pleased to work on behalf of the Sir Charles Hayward Library to ensure restoration of the premises,” said Deann Seymour, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of GBPA.  “In addition, we provide ongoing building and grounds maintenance, and assist with the Library’s bills to ensure the facility can continue to serve our community.”

The Library was originally named after Mr. John Harvard, of Harvard University, and subsequently renamed Sir Charles Hayward Library, as it was under the GBPA’s patronage.  The library is a true downtown Freeport landmark and has beenrecognized numerous times by the Smithsonian.

“The most difficult aspect for the small team here is our inability to host school groups for lectures, field trips and research,” added Mrs. Rutherford. “In addition, we provide services to adults on a walk-in basis, who are looking for help with typing or copying. It’s heartbreaking not to be able to be there for our community, and we are very much looking forward to reopening and serving the children and adults of Grand Bahama once again.”

Although the library has undergone the first few phases of renovation including mucking and gutting, replacement of walls, all floors and addition of handicap bathrooms, a significant amount of work remains to be completed including replacing all the aluminum windows and entrance doors. “The Library is one of the hallmarks of Freeport and cherished by children and adults alike,” said Sarah St. George, GBPA’s Acting Chairman. “It provides important services to our schools and communities, and we must do what is necessary to get it back on its feet and operational again. There is still much to do with the completion of repairs, ordering, cataloguing and stocking new books, as well as readying the space for COVID-19 protocols. Mrs. Rutherford and the Library Team are doing a fantastic job putting everything back together, as every single book had to be moved and wiped down, which is no easy task. With the support of their Board and Partners, GBPA will do what’s necessary to reinstate the facility’s services, and help return a sense of normalcy to Freeport’s children and families.”

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