Education officials have given high marks for the quality of work on the National Public Library in the wake of a tour on Monday.
The walk-through of the two-storey building located close to the East Bus Station was done by Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, Executive Secretary of the Board of Education D. Gisele Isaac Arrindell and members of the media.
“I’m very pleased with the quality of the work that has been done. I would be more pleased if we were further along but I am confident that we will open the library within the first term of the academic year,” Isaac Arrindell said.
“I look at the work that has been done, I look at the bathrooms, I look at the tiling of the floor and I think the work here rivals what you would see in private homes. I think when the second level is painted like the first level then the true beauty of the building will really come to the fore and when the yard is done I think we’ll have a magnificent building of which all Antiguans and Barbudans can be proud.”
The Board of Education, which took financial control of the project in recent years, has had to allocate more than $10 million for its completion.
The board secretary said it is not possible to give a final figure, adding, “Financially we are right where we are supposed to be which is we have money to pay for what we have to pay for.”
When completed, the facility will include Lower and Upper Children’s Libraries, Lower and Upper Adult Lending rooms, Newspaper and Periodicals, two lobby areas, a basement, Reference Library, IT Centre, server rooms, lunchrooms and bathrooms and toilets.
It has been challenge, according to architect Lowell Jarvis, who cited uneven walls and underground water.
To counter the problems, he said, one of the lobby floors had to be replaced and the basement excavated.
He was circumspect about when the building will be available for full use.
“We haven’t received some of the material that we expected like the door locks, which we expected to have since February and I would not like to venture a date,” he explained.
“I certainly think that within the first trimester the building will be fully finished and awaiting furnishing to make it fully functional.”
Minister Quinn-Leandro said she is “pleasantly surprised” and “excited” about the progress made so far.
She anticipates a September opening.
“Mr Jarvis did not give an indication of an actual date and we don’t want to give a date because we have given so many dates and we have passed so many deadlines that we are saying certainly within the first (academic) semester that we are going to have this library open,” she said.
Public Works is responsible for the groundwork and landscaping though not much progress has been made.
Work on the National Public Library began in the 1990′s after the then facility was damaged by earthquake in 1974. The country has operated a ‘temporary’ library since.