The National Library Centenary: A series of literary evenings

August 9, 2009 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Guyanese Literature 

– by Petamber Persaud

A centenary is a significant landmark. For a noble cause a centenary is a significant landmark enhanced many times over. For a noble institution like the National Library a centenary is a monumental achievement, an achievement too important to let slip by without much ado, pomp and fanfare.
The National Library was opened to the public in September 1909 offering lending, reference and reading room services. In 1909, there were 57,000 books and 1,500 members. A 2007-survey records registered borrowers at over 100,000 and a book stock of just under 400,000.
The National Library of Guyana has planned a number of activities to mark its centenary in 2009, most of which are completed. But the best is yet to come.

Apart from the much anticipated award ceremony and grand finale, a series of literary evenings will be staged this month, which promise to be very exciting, educational and entertaining.
The first literary evening which will be staged at the Theatre Guild next Saturday August 15, is labelled, ‘Oral Traditions – Part I’. This event will revolve around a dissertation on oral tradition and would include excerpts from ‘Old Time Story’, drumming with explanation, presentations and performances on shanto and calypso by Roger ‘Young Bill’ Hinds, Amerindian stories by Dr. Desrey Fox, and Balgobin stories by Petamber Persaud.
The second literary evening which will be staged the following Saturday (August 22), at the City Hall auditorium, will include folk games by all present, a medley of folk songs, folk dances, local proverbs and their meanings, and presentations on folklore including Ol’ Higue, Bacoo, Jumbie, Kanaima, Massacuraman, and Fairmaid.

The third literary evening to be staged at the City Hall auditorium on Saturday 29, will centre on a presentation of titled, ‘Many Cultures, One Guyana – A Historical Perspective’.
The final literary evening is a grand finale encompassing samplings from the three previous outings. This will be held under one tent in the National Park on Sunday August 30, under the theme, ‘Cultural Mix’. There will be display of various dishes, dances, songs, and fashion that came with the peoples who came and evolved into a Guyanese culture.
To end, it would be useful to list the objectives of the series of literary events which are to:
• ‘Enlighten young people in the historical, and cultural significance of the oral and folk traditions
• Help the younger generation to see storytelling as a vehicle for the teaching for moral and social values as well as a form of entertainment
• Foster in Guyanese an understanding and appreciation of our cultural diversity’.
Responses to this author telephone (592) 226-0065 or email: oraltradition2002@

• The Guyana Annual magazine is inviting entries to its eight literary competitions namely Open Story and Open Poetry, Youth Story and Youth Poetry, Henry Josiah Writing Story for Children, Rajkumari Singh Writing Poetry for Children, Martin Carter Essay (under 13), Egbert Martin Poetry (under 13) and to its art and photography competitions.
• Be a part of the centenary celebrations of the National Library; see press for details. Make a tangible contribution by submitting relevant photo and recollections for possible publication in the Centenary Souvenir Magazine.

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