A Barbadian who is the editor of the Financial Times in London, Hal Austin, negotiated with the BBC and they offered these books to Barbados through the Israel Lovell Foundation.
“We took responsibility for setting up a library. There were thousands of volumes of research material, mainly material for academic research. We were looking to purchase some containers to set up a public library because the donors felt they could’ve been a tremendous contribution to the development of Barbados in relation to education and other forms of development,”
… Trevor Prescod, Director of the Israel Lovell Foundation comments on the fire that destroyed $2.5 million in rare books and sings the old Bajan refrain: “Wuhloss! We were gonna do something later to protect this irreplaceable asset.“
A Lesson For Our Barbados Museum & Historical Society
Millions of dollars of irreplaceable historical books and papers lost in a fire by the Israel Lovell Foundation. Uninsured. Un-scanned and probably not even cataloged or listed if the truth be known. All sitting in one spot and obviously not sufficiently protected from intrusion or fire.
Just sitting for two years with no action being taken to preserve, catalogue or protect this “irreplaceable” historical asset. Arson? Perhaps, but it could also have been spontaneous combustion due to damp papers oxidizing or fermenting: an event sufficiently common to warrant it being included in the course of study for professional librarians.
The old saying looks to be true… Easy come, easy go.
By all accounts the Israel Lovell Foundation received a treasure of historical documents from the BBC like manna from Heaven, and agreed to accept the materials without sufficient resources and planning to protect or effectively use them. I mean, how many more years would the books have sat deteriorating with nothing happening? Five? Ten? Twenty years until they were dust?
Sorry, but I don’t buy into the story that the foundation was “going to” do anything with them at all.
And if that sounds a bit cruel, and it is, perhaps it will inspire the Barbados Museum and the government that under-funds the museum to think about the thousands and thousands of books and historical records that are “stored” at the Museum without climate control, without a serious ongoing scanning and physical preservation programme and often without being cataloged. It is not an untrue statement to say that the Barbados Museum isn’t able to accurately list more that 60% of its books and historical documents. That comes from the same friend of mine who also expounds upon the Barbados Museum’s folly of keeping one-of-a-kind items in unlocked bookcases in the stairwells.
Public Money Makes It Everyone’s Business
Some may say that this fire was bad luck or unpreventable. I say that this disaster should cause the government and taxpayers to question the wisdom of using tax dollars to support organisations that are never audited or subjected to any tests or standards to ensure that public funds are being wisely spent. How much public money has the Israel Lovell Foundation received in the last five years, and what have they done with it? What are the priorities of the organisation, and is it being managed in a responsible manner?
Organisations can do whatever they want but the minute they accept tax dollars, their business and operations become the concern of every taxpayer in Barbados.
Mr. Prescod says that about 8,000 books and documents escaped the fire because they were stored at another location. Perhaps he can tell the public how his organisation intends to prevent another disaster with whatever remains of the “irreplaceable” historical treasures?
…submitted by BFP reader “CQ8”
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