Highest score for St. Martin books at Philipsburg Jubilee Library in February

February saw one of the highest use in recent years of St. Martin books by school children, young people and adults, said Morenika Charles Arrindell, public relations officer at Philipsburg Jubilee Library (PJL).

From 15 St. Martin books published in 300 years, to 100 books in 30 years - Black History Month exhibit at Philipsburg Jubilee Library included children and teen titles. (PJL photo)

From 15 St. Martin books published in 300 years, to 100 books in 30 years – Black History Month exhibit at Philipsburg Jubilee Library included children and teen titles. (PJL photo)

The island-wide Black History Celebration and the February book exhibit at Jubilee Library might have had something to do with this unique rush on books.

Around mid-February, PJL users had already emptied the library shelves of many of the exhibited St. Martin books, according to Arrindell.

“The exhibit was put up in celebration of Black History Month. We decided to showcase literature on St. Maarten, the wider Caribbean and beyond,” said Arrindell.

Robin Boasman’s Lizzy Lizard was featured in the children’s exhibition; and every Saturday, storytime was dedicated to the Black Experience. The adult section featured both Deborah Jack and Lasana Sekou and their books were displayed with other books published under the House of Nehesi umbrella,” said Arrindell.

The largest group of borrowers of St. Martin titles was probably school children. St. Maarten Academy teacher Kim Lucas Felix kept her high school students busy with assignments that called for use of the nation’s books. “I am trying to get the students interested in local literature” said Felix, “now that the books have been made available, I am happy.”

Publisher Lasana M. Sekou invited by Philipsburg Jubilee Library to view exhibit of St. Martin books in February 2014. (PJL photo)

Publisher Lasana M. Sekou invited by Philipsburg Jubilee Library to view exhibit of St. Martin books in February 2014. (PJL photo)

The comment by Felix about the availability of books is probably one that PJL can relate to – having celebrated its 90th anniversary last November. “In 1984, there were no more than 15 books and booklets readily known to have been published on or about the island of St. Martin in over 300 years,” said author Lasana M. Sekou.

Between 1984 and 2014, no less than 100 books and booklets have been published in or about St. Martin,” said Sekou. House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP) has published at least 50 of the St. Martin titles that have appeared during the last 30 years.

Over the last 10 years, HNP has used comments and figures from library officials, teachers, and bookstore owners to track or report on the movement of its books with book buyers and readers on the island, said Sekou, who is also projects director at HNP.

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