The Roseau Public Library and the Dominica Gazette of 1950


The Roseau Public Library since 2017

Judge Irving W. Andre and I met at the Roseau Public Library on or about the third week of January 1975. He was an upperclassman at the Dominica Grammar School (DGS), and I was in the 3rd form. We formed a close bond over reading books at the Roseau Public Library. We consumed some shelves –especially on history – in entirety then went on to the research section where the books could not be borrowed.

In later years we had to stick with it until closing time, consuming encyclopedia Britannica and American Yearbooks. The Roseau Public Library was a fountain of knowledge gifted to Dominica by Scottish-American iron magnate Andrew Carnegie at the urging of local Administrator Hesketh Bell in 1905. When our family returned to Dominica in 2004, twenty years ago, we did not forget to return to the source to add reading material for our population.

For those in the digital age who are unfamiliar with the encyclopedia yearbook, that work contained all major happenings around the world in a particular year. It was in the yearbooks that I learnt that [one of ] the worst train disasters in the world took place at Kendal, Jamaica in 1957. The Kendal Crash was a train accident that occurred on September 1, 1957.

It is noted as the worst train disaster in Jamaican and Caribbean history and the second-worst rail disaster in history up to that time. The overloaded train was carrying about 1,600 passengers, mostly members of the Holy Name Society of St. Anne’s Catholic Church. Even today, in my mind’s eye I can recall the photograph of a sad-looking Chief Minister Norman Washington Manley looking down at the train wreckage.

I state all this to remark that [it] is a national disgrace that, despite the efforts of those of us at home and in the Dominica Diaspora appealing to the government to assist [to] rebuild the national library, there has been no substantive response. Since the destruction of the Roseau Public Library following Hurricane Maria in 2017, we have seen mansions built for politicians, a billion-dollar airport contract given to a mystery man from the Middle East without public tender, and no attention paid to the rebuilding [of] the Roseau Public Library.

Early photo of the Roseau Public Library in the 1930s

It was at the Roseau Public Library we would read the Dominica Gazette and learn about what was going on in our country. The colonial government, for all its shortcomings, had a trend towards meticulous recording keeping, and organization of governmental affairs in the public interest. Can we say that about the current regime [in] Dominica?

Today we can get old copies of the Dominica Gazette in the online archives of the University of Florida. Where are the Dominica archives online for our students and scholars? Where is our national library? What does it say about the country that we have two airports, with a third being built, and no library? This sad state of affairs strengthens my belief that the current regime of Dominica is keen on having Dominicans be ignorant of our heritage and the importance of knowledge acquisition and record-keeping in nation-building.

In the interest of sharing such knowledge, I share the link to the Dominica Gazette archives at the University of Florida (UF) here. Official gazette – Dominica – UF Digital Collections ( That UF archive also provides online copies of old Dominican newspapers as well. The knowledge gained perusing those archives should urge every Dominican to become better informed and so eradicate ignorance and misrule on our island.

Finally, I have taken the liberty of attaching the Dominica Gazette of 1950. That gazette meticulously lists those who had been given government scholarships since 1941: medical doctors, Desmond McIntyre, Dorian Shillingford, and A.J. Watty are on that list, alongside one E.O. LeBlanc for beekeeping, H.L Christian for social welfare, and Cecil Burton for training in electricity at the University of Puerto Rico among many others.

The Dominica Gazette paid close attention to the procurement laws of public tender, and the public announcements of appointments in the public service were recorded. Most telling is the fact that the Dominica Gazette notes the names of all those who are naturalized as citizens and had the oath of allegiance taken. Today, thousands of people who know little of our nation, or its history and culture are being naturalized. Do they take a naturalization exam as those who seek US citizenship must do?

With Dominica’s government having citizenship agents in many foreign locations ridden by strife, are accurate records being made of how many citizenships have been granted or monies earned by the sale of such citizenship? Are those transparent and accountable policies we once had recorded in the Dominica Gazette still in place? Or have they been
abandoned in favor of nepotism, cronyism, and a government system deformed by partisanship?

It is clear that ignorance begets ignorance. We have to dedicate ourselves to studious effort and that requires knowledge of our past and a keen commitment to excellence in the arts and sciences – to include understanding how government works.

That was, and is, the mission of the Dominica Academy ( and organizations such as the Nature Island Civil Liberties Foundation (

It behooves all Dominicans to rally to the cause of the rebuilding of the Roseau Public Library which was our de facto national library. We need the public library to be rebuilt and we are willing to play our part in that venture. In the meantime, we ask that Dominica’s President Sylvanie Burton put the State Palace to beneficial use by setting aside certain rooms for bookshelves to serve as the public library until a new library is built. Such innovative use of an under-utilized public space will demonstrate that the government cares about banishing ignorance among our populace. Such a gesture would be a good symbol of government [and] concern about the education of the nation – particularly children.

The Dominica State House – Proposed site for temporary National Library

It is my hope that by sharing…our traditions of knowledge acquisition via the public library, and governance in the public interest, as exemplified by the Dominica Gazette, we can have a better country.

See Tribute to the Roseau Public Library:


See historic files:

Dominica Gazette 1950

Download (PDF, 21.84MB)

Dominica Discovery Day Magazine 1965

Download (PDF, 3.72MB)

Public record of Carnegie donation

Download (PDF, 36.55MB)


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  1. Missing Our Library
    April 12, 2024

    Sadly the Roseau Public Library is not important to the education system and also to our policy holders. Common we are in 2024. Hear the cry of the people. We want the library space back. Activities are on hold. space is limited. No motivation. But plenty hotels. Have a conscience.

  2. Peter
    April 11, 2024


    Why do you think it is that “none if any” of the past ills of colonisation have been rectified after 46 years of independence (where all 3 main political parties have had an opportunity to govern)…???

  3. Truth
    April 10, 2024

    Not much – if any – rectification of the pass ills of the colonial regime can be seen on Dominica. We lack an honest and/or competent government. We are a colony now to a bunch of plundering passport peddlers and have lost our independence. I am sure Gabriel would not disagree with that sad assessment. He was one of those who agitated for independence while at high school. That independence is yet to be attained. That the library he knew lies in ruins is testament to our decline.

  4. April 10, 2024

    I have many fun memories of the Roseau Public Library and the staff.

  5. Roger Burnett
    April 9, 2024

    “In the meantime, we ask that Dominica’s President Sylvanie Burton put the State Palace to beneficial use by setting aside certain rooms for bookshelves to serve as the public library until a new library is built.”

    In my March 25th, 2022 DNO Letter to the Editor “Before It’s Too Late” I went a step further:

    “A bold but alternative solution is to let the State House serve as the new library and the restored historic Carnegie library building serve for hosting government receptions. I am sure that visiting dignitaries would be impressed by being entertained in a building of cultural and historical significance and they would be equally impressed by what would then be an impressive new library across the road. This arrangement would help to solve the parking problem for library users and the vulnerability of housing irreplaceable archives in the original library building.”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  6. Peter
    April 8, 2024

    “The colonial government for all its shortcomings…” Mr Christian can you please elaborate on some of those “shortcomings” which post independence governments have rectified…???

    Thanks in advance


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