History of The Alma Jordan Library

The Campus Librarian's Message for 50th Anniversary

January 30th 2020 marked a historic day for The Alma Jordan Library. We celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the formal opening of the iconic building which has housed the main library since the early years of the establishment of the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus. This is our golden jubilee. Fifty years is a major milestone for an institution as it is for an individual.

As the current Campus Librarian, I want to pay tribute to my illustrious predecessors, and to the management and staff who have served the institution over the years. Some are no longer with us, and I invite you to join me in remembering them all. We should reflect on how faithful we have been to their vision, ideals, and core values that they would have instilled and embedded into the library’s operations and its raison d’etre from those early years. Let us respect the passion, dedicated duty, and energy of Dr. Alma Jordan, who would have worked tirelessly to ensure that that the building was constructed in the 1960’s when she herself was a young woman in her thirties, demonstrating that pioneering spirt that we would do well in the present to emulate.

Let me remind you of the vision of the Libraries that was shaped a few years ago, i.e. to be globally recognised as the premier repository and provider of Caribbean information resources and services and to advance learning and knowledge creation. While it may not have been formally stated in 1970, I am sure this was what our founders had in mind for the Library when it was established. The mandate therefore remains relevant as ever. Old challenges have been dealt with, new ones have emerged, and our toolbox, our responses have evolved and must continue to evolve accordingly. In this way we remain relevant as a library fit for the 21st century. Over the last fifty years, we have also celebrated several successes.

Our success over the years has been predicated, in my opinion, on our ability to innovate and increase value for our library clientele and campus partners, exploring new models for service delivery and investing time and energy in relevant information products development. Our path to progress has in more recent times been bolstered by our ability to embed ourselves in new trends, and our capacity to capture and embrace opportunities outside of the traditional library workflows and functional areas. This has been significant, allowing the Libraries and staff members to effectively evolve to meet the demands and information needs of a growing, changing community of students, faculty, and staff.

This year, one of the initiatives undertaken to celebrate The AJL's 50th Anniversary and engage our student community, was the Student Essay Writing Competition. The judges were impressed with all twenty-five entries. The essays received demonstrated critical reflection and intellectual analysis and, as such, were testimonies to the calibre of student we have here at The UWI.

It is our great joy to serve the campus community by supporting teaching and learning and we hope to do so for many more years to come.

 50th Anniversary Activities

Mr. Frank Soodeen Jr.
Campus Librarian

Celebrating Forty (40) Years of Service from the Main Library

Since its construction and the opening of its doors to students on 30 September 1969, the Main Library has continued the tradition of service first offered from the landmark Administration Building. Over the years, the Library has been an important intellectual and social space at the St Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. Its primary focus has been on providing the highest quality resources and services to support the curriculum and research needs of its students and faculty. Throughout the decades, it has also played a critical role in preserving local and regional documentary heritage for future generations.

Today, the Library has evolved beyond its physical boundaries to also provide access to a range of information services and resources in the virtual environment. As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary of service in this building, we invite you to visit the Main Library during our week of celebrations (September 30 – October 07 2009) featuring exciting giveaways and an exhibit highlighting some of the Library’s milestones over the years.


Ms Jennifer Joseph
University/Campus Librarian

Selected Milestones

Nucleus of the library’s original collection is formed with the establishment of the Imperial Department of Agriculture in Barbados.
The Imperial Department of Agriculture and its collection of books and journals are transferred to Trinidad and the West Indian Agricultural College is established.
The Imperial Department of Agriculture and the West Indian Agricultural College are merged to form The Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA).
New building to house the ICTA Library is constructed. The building was referred to as the Registry and Library until 1968 when it was called the Administration Building
The first professional librarian, Miss M.E. Heron is appointed.
ICTA is merged with the University College of the West Indies (Jamaica) to become the Faculty of Agriculture. The ICTA collection becomes the core collection of the St. Augustine Campus Library.
The Library is designated a United Nations (UN) depository.
The first photocopying machine, XEROX 914 is introduced.
Construction of the new Library building is completed with funds provided by the United States Government.
The library begins its move from the old Administration building to its present location on September 2nd and opens to users on Tuesday September 30.
The Main Library known then as the John F. Kennedy Library is formally opened on January 30th . The feature speaker at the opening was Dorothy Collings, Chief of the Education Section of the Office of Public Information of the United Nations. The Library covered an area of approximately 4,366 square metres.
The first expansion of the Library takes place, adding 1,934 square metres to the existing structure.
The first computerized Library system is introduced.
The second expansion of the Library is completed and 2,592 square metres are added.
The Derek Walcott Collection is inscribed to the UNESCO Memory of  the World Register. 
The Eric Williams Memorial Collection on deposit from Erica Williams Connell was formally opened by General Colin L. Powell.
First website launched and the Library's catalogue is published on the World Wide Web.

The Eric Williams Memorial Collection is inscribed to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
The St. Augustine Reference and Research Services (STARRS) and the User Education Centre (UEC) are opened and the 24/7 service is launched.
The C.L.R. (Cyril Lionel Robert) James Collection is inscribed to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
The Assistive Technologies facility for the visually impaired is opened.
A new Integrated Library System (ALEPH 500) is launched.
The Digital Library Services Centre, funded by a grant from former Librarian Mrs. Irma Goldstraw, is launched on September 23rd. The institutional repository, UWISpace, is launched.
The library introduces its Sunday opening hours from 12.00 noon – 6.00 p.m.  on a pilot basis.
On of 28 February 2011, the Main Library at The UWI, St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad and Tobago officially became The Alma Jordan Library
UWIlinC is launched providing patrons a unified interface to access the library's resources.
ACURIL/OCLC Award for Innovation
ACURIL/OCLC Award for Innovation
UWIScholar is launched providing a platform to showcase the research output from the University

The Campus Librarians and Deputy Campus Librarians 1960 – 2020

Mr. Frank Soodeen Jr. (Campus Librarian, 2015 - present)

Ms. Allison Dolland (Deputy Campus Librarian, 2015 - present)

Ms. Jennifer Joseph (Campus Librarian, 2008-2015; Deputy Campus Librarian 2000-2008)

Ms. Claudia De Four (Deputy Campus Librarian, 2009-2015)

 Prof. Margaret Rouse-Jones (Campus LIbrarian 1997-2008)

Mrs. Annette Knight (Deputy Campus Librarian 1997-2000)

Mrs. Yvonne Stephenson (Campus Librarian 1995-1997; Deputy Campus Librarian 1990-1995)

Mrs. Maureen Henry (Deputy Campus Librarian 1995-1996)

Mr. O. O. Ogundipe (Campus Librarian 1990-1994)

Dr. Alma Jordan (Campus Librarian 1960-1989)

Ms. Barbara Comissiong (Deputy Campus Librarian 1963-1989)